Tuesday, December 13, 2005


It's always great when you are able to get a big name speaker to address your school's graduation class. Polk Community College landed a bit of a coup when it scheduled U.S. Senator Bill Nelson to be the featured speaker at it's winter commencement ceremony Friday in Lakeland.

However, the PCC board was slightly concerned during it's meeting last Friday, according to Lakeland Ledger political columnist Bill Rufty. It seems that the father of Nelson's likely election opponent, Congresswoman Katherine Harris (R - Sarasota), is George Harris. He is the president of the Bartow-based Citrus and Chemical Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the area (and one of the only remaining locally owned), and has been a huge benefactor for the community college over the years.

While the board did not believe that PCC President Larry Durrence was playing politics with scheduling Nelson, they apparantly noted that the timing was not great...and suggested that Ms. Harris be scheduled to speak at the spring commencment.

By then, the college will be in the hands of a new leader. Durrance is retiring, and the board unanimously selected Dr. Eileen Holden from eight finalists as PCC's new president effectively in February. Dr. Holden is currently Broward Community College's Vice President of Academic Affairs and Technical Education.


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