Dr. Mark Strickland joined St. Petersburg College in 2000 as a College Recruiter. In 2003, he was promoted to Coordinator of Enrollment Management and soon thereafter became the Director. Strickland left Enrollment Management in 2011 to become the Associate Provost at the Downtown Campus. In addition to his contributions as an Associate Provost, he also served as the Athletic Director until 2015, when he moved into his current role as Provost of SPC's Seminole campus. Strickland also has been an Adjunct Instructor for St. Petersburg College, Barry University, and the University of Tampa. He has assisted and served on numerous college initiatives, along with state-wide committees. Strickland currently serves on the Steering Committee at the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (ISPS) at St. Petersburg College. Editors' note: This transcription is an edited version of a much longer recorded conversation - which you can hear by pressing the play triangle.
Years in St. Pete
I have been at St. Pete College almost 24 years. I moved to the Pinellas County area in 1991.
Organizations involved in
I currently serve on the ISPS board. I also serve on the Seminole Chamber of Commerce board. Recently, I was named to the Pinellas County Charter Review Commission, an appointment by Commissioner Janet Long, where we have the ability to review the Constitution, essentially, of Pinellas County. I’m a part of that group that will be meeting for the next year, so if you ever see those amendments on the ballots during the election cycle, that’s the work that comes from this charter review group.
What gets you out of bed every day?
Right now, I’m at the Health Education Center. These are frontline staff members: The nurses, dental hygienists, radiography. Their future goal is to work in a hospital or in a clinic to help and serve others, and we do that on a broader scale and a larger scale in how we serve our students. I’m happy to come to work because of that.
Why St. Pete?
I’ve lived in Egypt. I’ve lived in Italy. I’ve lived in Germany. I’ve lived in Alabama, which I often say is another country (no offense if you’re from Alabama.) I’ve lived in Oklahoma. I’ve lived in Virginia. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else than St. Pete or Pinellas County. We have so much to offer. From the arts and entertainment to the concerts, the Bucs and the Rays and the Lightning, and then we have these great institutions like St. Pete College, University of South Florida and Eckerd College. There’s just so much to give and offer our residents and the tourists. We live where people vacation. There’s just so much about this area that thrives and is vibrant, and that’s why people come here, and they want to move here and live in an area like this because it’s awesome.
What is one habit that you keep?
I do various readings. I guess that is a habit because it started early on in my life. My dad would give me the sports section of the newspaper, and I would read that, and then it morphed into, well, here’s the Tampa Bay section and now here’s the front page. It’s become almost this habit that’s an obsession, if you will, that I have to read content and news right when I’m up in the morning. I like to find out what’s going on, and it’s something I can’t live without.
Who are some people that influence you?
Bono influences me. Also Dr. Dre, Dr. Williams. I love music and I incorporate that and infuse that if I’m ever given the opportunity to do a lecture, or if I go to a conference, I’ll somehow weave in pop culture or music into the content that I’m delivering. These are individuals, mostly the folks who are in the music business or in the arts industry, who have this freedom of expression that I gravitate to.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
The best insight I have is that you don’t get lucky. I don’t necessarily believe in luck, and I know it’s cliche to say this, but it’s merely hard work. You end up becoming lucky, the harder you work.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
That we would be doing this Zoom thing! Although [this technology] is awesome, I still value that in-person connection. Once this technology came to fruition, we would stack these meetings one after the other without a break in between, and I found myself not having that interpersonal connection that you would once have in the hallways between meetings and just seeing people in person. So, what I wish I knew then is just to prioritize that gap in between the meeting to come down from what you just learned or take a break.
I’ve put my kids first in that I want to see them graduate from high school. I’ve had opportunities for possible presidencies at other colleges in the U.S., but I’m not ready to leave St. Pete yet. I’m happy to still be a part of the St. Pete College family, giving back to the community when I can. It’s a beautiful place to live, work and play, and how fortunate are we to be able to do that? So, if it doesn’t work out in the presidential search, then I’m happy where I’m at.