11/19/2008


NICEVILLE--Ray Sansom, an Okaloosa County native who attended Okaloosa-Walton Junior College as a student in the 1980's, will be returning officially to the school -- now known as Northwest Florida State College -- as vice president for development and planning.

The college's governing Board of Trustees appointed Sansom to the position November 18 at the board's regular meeting in Niceville. Sansom is scheduled to begin the new job on December 1. He will fill a vacancy created through the retirement on November 30 of the college's long-time foundation executive director, Jim Chitwood, who, along with his wife, Vicki, is relocating to Baltimore, MD.

According to NWF State College president Bob Richburg, Sansom's new position as vice president will have expanded responsibilities that will include oversight of the college foundation and also the development of agreements with local governments for training related to the college's new Community Services Complex and other endeavors.

"The work that I will be doing at Northwest Florida State College is something I've been preparing for throughout my career.  I'm honored and excited to be associated with an institution that's at the forefront of educating the workforce that will sustain the economy of northwest Florida well into the future. Beyond that, it means a lot to me to return to an institution that my wife and I both attended as students and that enabled me to get a college education.  Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have tried to help the college grow and prosper, precisely because its success is so important to the future of our region."

Ray Sansom

Sansom, who was sworn in this week as the 84th speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, has a graduate degree in education administration and previously served as a foundation executive for the Okaloosa County School District.

"Ray Sansom and I have enjoyed a long and productive relationship and we are both committed to the development of the state college as a leading institution of higher education in Florida," said Richburg.

"My wife Tricia and I both attended the junior college," said Sansom. "I know the school brings so much opportunity to thousands of students -- to help enrich their lives and enable them to find good jobs through obtaining a higher education. Northwest Florida is obviously on the move and I am committed to working with President Richburg and other colleagues to help the college meet the region's evolving education needs."

Richburg said one of Sansom's first responsibilities is to assist the college president in his work with sustainability and growth issues as the college prepares for the training, education, and support responsibilities that will result from the location of the U.S. Army's 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to Eglin Air Force Base from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the opening in the county by 2011 of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Training Center.

Further, Sansom will work to formalize agreements with local governments for training emergency personnel and for the use of the college's Community Services Complex during times of natural disaster. The 120,000 square--foot facility, currently under construction on the college's Niceville campus, will house the Okaloosa County 911 Emergency Operations Center, college athletic and instructional programs, and serve as the county's primary hurricane shelter. Sansom's new role will include leading the conferencing and training efforts of the college, including statewide training opportunities related to the joint use facility.

During the first half of 2009, Sansom's responsibilities will be conducted on a part--time basis while he exercises the duties and responsibilities of the Florida Speaker of the House. The adjusted salary will total $110,000 annually, Richburg said. Funding for the position will come from college funds that are separate from the school's annual state appropriation. The position does not include health or retirement benefits, he said. It is anticipated that in July 2009, Sansom will become a full-time administrator at the college.

First elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2002, Sansom was officially elected Speaker of the House this week, a two-year assignment that will expire in 2010 with the completion of his final term in office. Prior to accepting the position at NWF State College, Sansom was economic development representative for PowerSouth Corp., and worked for the Okaloosa County School Board, directing its foundation, and as a fundraising director for Covenant Hospice. Sansom previously served for ten years on the Okaloosa County Commission, chairing the commission five times. In addition to his Associate's degree from OWJC, Sansom holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University and a Master's in Education degree from the University of West Florida.

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