Local News

Leitzel takes office as SFSC's 4th president

SEBRING - Thomas Leitzel was the new man campus at South Florida State College on Monday, becoming the institution's fourth president since it was established in 1965 as South Florida Junior College. A rainy morning greeted him on his first day. "It's a beautiful day; it's just filled with opportunities," he said in his office. Leitzel noted it's a short week and a "down week" due to the Fourth of July holiday and with many college employees on annual leave.
"It's the perfect time to start a new job; it's just perfect because coming in new the learning curve has got to be steep and that way I get to ramp up with others," Leitzel said. Leitzel wore a tie with diagonal stripes of the college's orange and blue colors. "I am trying to get as close as I can, but the tie doesn't match the exact color palette," he said. Community Relations Director Deborah Latter explained that the orange in SFSC's colors is called a "burnt orange" and the blue is called "midnight blue" because the college is trying not to confuse them with the orange and blue school colors of the University of Florida. Leitzel said has one priority for himself, which is to get to know the "fine" people of the college and afford them the opportunity to get to know him. "I am looking forward to getting out in the community and meeting people through the various organizations that exist," Leitzel said. "We look forward to doing what we can do to continue the excellent level of service that has been established here at the college." He noted the accomplishments of just-retired president Norm Stephens Jr. and Stephen's predecessor, Catherine Cornelius. "The college is in great shape and Dr. Stephens just did an incredible job here," Leitzel said. "It's a privilege to serve on the shoulders of Dr. Cornelius and Dr. Stephens." As he becomes acclimated to the college, the new president said he is already looking ahead for a big milestone. "We are coming up on our 50th-year anniversary," Leitzel said. In 2015, the college will celebrate a half a century of service in the tri-county district, he said. "We will make sure people know the legacy of the college and what it does, I think, to change lives in the community and build better communities," Leitzel said. College Board of Trustees Member Timothy Backer stopped in Monday morning to greet Leitzel. "I just wanted to come in and welcome him to the college and let him know we are here to help him out," Backer said. "It's going to take him a little while to get used to everything so we want him to get comfortable." Vice President of Administrative Services Glenn Little said: "He's a great guy; it will be a wonderful fit." Before coming to SFSC, Leitzel, 56, served as president of the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort, S.C., mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826