Dr. Jackson Sasser has been an innovator at Santa Fe College since becoming president in January 2002. Under his leadership, Santa Fe was named the number one community college in the nation by winning the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The college has been in the top 10 of U.S. community colleges since 2012.
During his presidency the college has built four new campuses and a construction institute. Fifteen years ago he began addressing diversity needs, which led to his creating My Brother’s Keeper, a college support program to increase retention of African-American males; Navigating the College Experience, a college-wide success initiative with early alert and progressive advisement; and the East Gainesville Initiative, a comprehensive outreach effort with faith-based partners that serves a disadvantaged region of the community. Under his direction, the University of Florida has become the college’s best partner with a series of educational collaborations that include pre-selected UF College of Engineering freshman applicants beginning their coursework at Santa Fe. He contributed to the region’s innovation economy by establishing Santa Fe’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development, which includes an incubator to provide training and resources to entrepreneurs. His commitment to the arts and sciences led to completion of a planetarium and a fine arts hall on campus and the college’s designation as an All-Steinway School. At the college’s Institute of Public Safety he secured funding to construct a fully-operational replica of a small-town “Main Street” to be used for scenario-based training exercises. One of Dr. Sasser’s first acts as president was implementing Internationalizing the College Initiative, which weaves a global perspective into every course and program. Since then the college has launched an international studies certificate, hosted four Fulbright Scholars, and served as a lead community college partner for two U.S. Department of State Community College Administrator Program grants.
Before arriving at Santa Fe, Dr. Sasser was president of Lee College in Baytown, Texas, and interim president at Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Alabama. He serves on the board of the American Association of Community Colleges. He was 2008-2009 chair of the Board of Directors of the League for Innovation in the Community College, 2007-2008 chair of the Florida Community College Council of Presidents, 2006-2007 president of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, and 2003-2004 chair and still a member of the American Association of Community Colleges Presidents Academy. He is a past member of the board of the Institute for Community College Development at Cornell University. He conducted post-graduate work at Harvard University and upon invitation participated in a University of Oxford Round Table on higher education. He was tapped as a member of Florida Blue Key, the University of Florida’s prestigious leadership honorary, in April 2015.
Dr. Sasser is a graduate of the League for Innovation’s Executive Leadership Institute class of 1990.