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New FSCJ president ready to start turnaround

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Updated: 1/16 8:25 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A college surrounded by controversy is taking its first steps toward rebuilding. Florida State College at Jacksonville has a new president in place. And students said they are finally breathing a sigh of relief.

"I paid out of picket this year and it was $900 for one class," said Joseph Wellingford.

Wellingford knew if he wanted to get a degree at FSCJ, he'd need to apply for a Pell Gant. And then the bottom fell out.

"When I heard that they might be stopping the Pell Grants I was like, 'uh oh,'" he said.

The last year and a half at FSCJ has been a tough one. From Pell Grant problems to investigations into the culture of the college to the subsequent stepping down of former president Steve Wallace, students said it left the school with a black eye.

"I feel kind of more relieved that we don't have to deal with the issue from what the last president was doing," Wellingford said.

But this week, the institution is starting anew.  Dr. Cynthia Bioteau is leading the charge. Thursday was her fourth day as president.

"The foundation is good," she said of the school.

She said after looking at FSCJ's track record, there was no hesitation coming on board. She said she actually helped Salt Lake Community College of Utah overcome similar challenges.

"There were many many issues of credibility and accountability and transparency so it took a period of three years to stabilize that institution," Bioteau said.

Bioteau said trust has to be key moving forward. And she vowed Thursday to hold everyone's feet to the fire to make sure the issues plaguing FSCJ's past stay there.

"We will make right anything that has not worked in the past," she said.

Bioteau said the turnaround won't be easy, but also not impossible. She said give her three years and you will see the difference.
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