FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence-Darlington Technical College is refocusing on its mission of workforce development in the Pee Dee, interim president Ed Bethea said Monday at a Florence Rotary Club meeting.
Bethea noted that the college has taken some financial hits over the past few years, including a the depletion of the operating reserve fund from $10 million to less than 12 days’ worth of cash on hand and lower student enrollment.
“We are indeed a smaller institution today, but that does not mean that we are less of an institution,” Bethea said. “I prefer to think that we are rightsizing our institution to serve students more efficiently and effectively.”
Bethea said since March 2018, the college has increased its capital reserves to more than $10 million. He also said he hopes in the next few weeks the college will be able to announce that it has approximately $2.5 million in operating reserves once an audit is complete.
Bethea said though FDTC has fewer students enrolled than in years past (4,200 now compared to 6,200 in 2010), the college’s health care programs and industry program, such as welding, HVAC, industrial maintenance, engineering and technology and machine tool technology, are thriving.
Dental hygiene, medical laboratory technology, associate degree in nursing and practical nursing programs all have a 100 percent pass rate for licensure exams, Bethea said.
In jobs such as welding, HVAC and industrial maintenance, engineering and technology and machine tool technology, Bethea said all students have a guarantee of a high-paying job upon graduation. He noted that some of the students can find jobs before graduating from the program and choose to leave for a job.
FDTC will begin maintenance projects on the campus, including renovating a stairwell, crumbling walkways, demolishing an unusable building, replacing the HVAC chiller and repairing roofs, Bethea said. The maintenance projects were made available by the state legislative delegation securing $6 million for the college.
Bethea also told rotary members about FDTC’s involvement in the Continuum, the educational facility funded by the Darla Moore Foundation, in Lake City. Bethea said the partnership with Francis Marion University and local school districts will bring “unprecedented access to education to students in lower Florence County.”