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Press Release

Monday, June 14, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida College System Welcomes New Presidents

~ Chancellor Holcombe announces new college system presidents at four colleges ~

TALLAHASSEE – Florida College System Chancellor Willis N. Holcombe today commended the Boards of Trustees at several Florida Colleges for the successful completion of their searches for new campus Presidents. The changes come at a critical time for Florida’s College System, marked by record enrollment increases and growing budget constraints. Florida’s College System remains the primary point of access to higher education in the state despite these challenges.

“The current economic environment has made leading a college more challenging than ever, and the Boards of Trustees have recognized the economic and educational needs of their communities by selecting candidates who will be able to match those needs,” said Dr. Holcombe. “I’m excited to work alongside the new college presidents, and am eager to continue providing the quality education our students deserve.”

At Florida Keys Community College, Interim President Dr. Larry W. Tyree has been selected by the board to serve as president through June 2012. Tyree, who took the helm in November, will officially shed the “interim” title and become “President” June 15, 2010.

A native of Pensacola, Fla., and a graduate of Pensacola Junior College, Dr. Tyree is now serving in his ninth presidency and eleventh community college. Dr. Tyree served as a community college CEO for 26 years at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., the Dallas County Community College District in Texas, and Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla. He also served as interim president of five other institutions.

At Hillsborough Community College, the board has approved a three-year contract for Dr. Ken Atwater as the college’s seventh president. Dr. Atwater, 58, will assume the position effective July 1, succeeding Dr. Gwendolyn Stephenson who is retiring after 13 years of outstanding service.

Dr. Atwater has spent the last 30 years in higher education administration, and is the former president of South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Dr. Atwater has also served as Vice President for Student Services at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Mich., Vice President and Dean of Students at Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., and Vice President for Student Development Services at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, S.C., among other positions.

At Northwest Florida State College, Dr. Ty Handy also signed a three-year contract and will officially begin his duties June 21. Dr. Handy is a Florida native currently serving as the president of Vermont Technical College, and has previously served as Chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana.

Dr. Handy also served as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville, Dean of Academic Affairs at Elizabethtown Community College in Kentucky, and Dean of Business Technologies/Social Sciences at Jefferson Community College, Ohio.

Dr. William Law Jr. began his presidency at St. Petersburg College June 7 and will remain at the helm through June 30, 2013.

Before joining St. Petersburg College, Dr. Law served as president of Tallahassee Community College and also spent 10 years as the first president of Montgomery College (now Lone Star College-Montgomery) in Texas. In addition to planning and developing the college, Law designed the first university center for the college district, resulting in Montgomery College offering 28 bachelor’s and 26 master’s degrees through a consortium of six Texas universities.

Dr. Law has been replaced at Tallahassee Community College by Interim President Dr. Barbara Sloan, who was previously the Vice President for Academic Affairs, a role she will resume once a permanent president is appointed. A comprehensive search for a permanent president is underway.

The new Presidents will join The Florida College System’s Council of Presidents’ advisory board to provide guidance and direction for the system moving forward. To learn more about The Florida College System, visit