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First day on the job for new Edison president

First day on the job for new Edison president

By Matt Grant. CREATED Jul 31, 2012

FORT MYERS - Edison State College President Dr. Jeffrey Allbritten wrapped up his first day on the job and he already has a lot on his plate.

"It's great to be here," said Allbritten. "Looking forward to getting started."

Before he even got a chance to check his e-mail, Edison's new president faced questions from reporters.

"I'm not used to having six cameras in my face in the morning," said Allbritten.

For Allbritten, this is a homecoming. He spent eight years as the Collier campus president and now replaces Dr. Ken walker, who was fired back in January after more than 20 years at the college.

Allbritten takes over as the college's fourth president following a series of scandals that rocked the school.

"We're addressing the issues, we're continuing to address it," said Allbritten. "And we're putting systems in place to avoid having these things happen again."

Things like nursing students being misled about their program's accreditation status and the college being placed on probation by their accrediting body SACS for, among other things, a lack of integrity.

"How disappointing was it that the college couldn't turn around the integrity violation?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"I'm not sure you can do that overnight," said Allbritten. "I think that takes a period of time."

Allbritten is spending the rest of the week meeting people and getting up to speed.

"It's about transparency, integrity," said Allbritten.

He says it's also about building a trustworthy team. Allbritten hinted at future layoffs when asked about a recent revolving door of administrative firings and resignations.

"There may be more," said Allbritten. "We're going to take a look at the entire team. I've been real open about that. I need to have a team that I have confidence in."

And some students are already showing confidence in Allbritten.

"Oh my goodness 'Team Allbritten," said Allbritten. "I've never had a team before."

After Tuesday's morning news conference, Collier campus students surprised Allbritten by sporting yellow T-shirts with "Team Allbritten" printed on the front.

"We just wanted to come out and support him and show that students are with him," said Edison sophomore Jacob Wynge. " Collier's with him all the way."

Wynge says if anyone can turn things around it's Allbritten.

"I'd just like to see Edison be more transparent," said Wynge.

"And you think Dr. Allbritten can turn the ship around?," asked Grant.

"Yes," said Wynge. "Without question."

The head of the faculty union, Ellie Bunting, told Fox 4 that Allbritten has the faculty's support.

When asked if he would bring back fired vice presidents Steve Atkins and Bob Beeson, Allbritten said he didn't want to revisit issues decided by the board or second guess decisions made before he got there.

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com