All posts by Cory Skeates


Dr. Kent Ingle named president of Southeastern University

Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., has named its next president with the selection of Dr. Kent Ingle of Washington state.

Meeting in special session Wednesday to consider their Presidential Search Committee’s recommendation, the Southeastern Board of Regents interviewed Dr. Ingle in the morning and then voted to elect him in the afternoon. Their action caps a 20-month search that the Board search committee conducted with the help of SIMA International, an executive search firm.

Dr. Ingle, 48, currently dean of the College of Ministry at Northwest University in Kirkland, Wash., is scheduled to begin serving his term as president of the central Florida private, liberal arts school on February 1. Northwest, like Southeastern, is one of 19 U.S. colleges and universities that are affiliated with the Assemblies of God USA. Together with its international organizations, the Assemblies of God is the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, and Southeastern University is its largest institution of higher education.

Dr. Ingle spent Tuesday touring the university and talking with its administration, faculty, staff, students, as well as some local business leaders.  Following Wednesday’s vote, those university groups seemed well pleased with his selection and excited about what they anticipate will be great days ahead under the Ingle administration.

The Rev. Wayne Blackburn, a member of the Board of Regents who was recently asked to chair the Presidential Search Committee, was very pleased with the selection of Ingle. “This (recommendation) came about after grueling interviews and expansive evaluations by the Search Committee and SIMA,” said Blackburn, pastor of Lakeland’s Victory Church and a Southeastern University alumnus. “Dr. Ingle surfaced as a credible candidate with a vision for the future, the academic credentials and an understanding of the university system, and a heart for students.  It became clear that he was the person who could best lead Southeastern University into the future. I believe that, after Dr. Ingle familiarizes himself with Southeastern and its faculty, staff and students, he will move forward with a vision plan that will lead us toward an even higher level of excellence.”

Dr. Ingle has been a Northwest dean since 2004 and an ordained Assemblies of God minister since 1988. He went to Vanguard University of Southern California to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism and a master’s in Theological Studies; he earned a doctorate in Ministry from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Mo.

Dr. Ingle’s experience includes eight years as a college professor and 15 years of pastoral leadership to two congregations – one in Los Angeles and the other in Chicago.

Dr. Ingle will take charge of the 75-year-old private, liberal arts school which Acting President Charles Kelly recently described as “strong in every way – academics, spirituality, finances, enrollment, personnel, students, alumni, community support, and campus development.” During the past 10 years, student population nearly tripled, numerous academic courses and programs were added to the curricula, and the 87-acre campus underwent a massive upgrade. Last spring, the university graduated its largest class ever; 388 students received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at commencement.

During the past two years, while the country was experiencing a severe economic downturn, Southeastern fared remarkably well. For example, the university concluded its most recent fiscal year with an increase in total net assets from operating activities of close to $1.7 million.  Additionally, development of the campus master plan has continued; last spring, Southeastern completed a $3 million project that improved, widened and beautified the road that borders the campus’s west side and passes its front entrance. There are plans for other large projects, as well.

Enrollment has remained remarkably steady. While many other private colleges and universities are showing significant decreases in enrollment, Southeastern’s fall 2010 semester enrollment was 2,867, only 83 students, or 2.8 percent, down from the previous year’s fall enrollment.

After Dr. Ingle’s selection as president Wednesday, Dr. Kelly, a Southeastern alumnus and longtime member of the Board of Regents, said he was delighted by the committee’s recommendation and the board’s approval. He added that it was a “wonderful privilege and high honor” to have been of service as acting president during the transitional period.

Dr. Ingle and his wife, Karen, have three teen-age children who were adopted from Romania.

Southeastern University has 44 academic programs that lead to bachelor’s degrees and eight to master’s degrees. For more information, call (863) 667-5000 or visit the website at


FedEx National LTL Gives Back This Holiday

On Thursday, Dec. 9, FedEx and the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation delivered 600 trees to military personnel at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla, which is home to approximately 7,500 military personnel. Col. Lenny Richoux, who is Commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, kicked off the tree giveaway by speaking about FedEx and the Christmas Spirit Foundation.

More than 40 team members and military personnel were on hand to help unload the trees from three trailers including two FedEx Special Delivery trucks. FedEx team members also assisted family members with their tree selection from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The trees were distributed to active duty military and their families on a first-come, first served basis. “It’s awesome. It’s very generous. Thank you,” shared one soldier. Another solider said, “I think it is a great opportunity and a great thing to do for all the troops. It is appreciated.”

Volunteer Tiffany Harkness, accounts payable representative in Lakeland, Fla., said, “A whole new meaning of Christmas was revealed to me when volunteering for Trees for Troops. The expression of happiness on the children’s faces is just indescribable.” Volunteer Michael Guerrero, manager- Development & Special Projects at FedEx National LTL, agreed, “Volunteering for Trees for Troops is my small way of showing my deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by our military and their families.”

“FedEx National LTL has participated in the Trees for Troops for five consecutive years and it is truly an honor for us and for me personally to have the opportunity to be part of this wonderful program. I am extremely grateful for all our service personnel do for our country,” said Jeff Baker, FedEx National LTL senior vice president-Operations.


USF Poly Students Fed With Love

Displaying items collected for the USF Polytechnic Food Pantry are (from left) students Yuri Aguilar and Virginia Underwood, Conseling Specialist Emily Mahoney, student Erica Garza and Instructor Patricia Young. Photo by Tom Hagerty, USF Polytechnic

“Sometimes students have to make a decision to buy food for their family or stay in school, and we find that unacceptable,” says Virginia Underwood, a student at The University of South Florida Polytechnic. To address that problem, Underwood and classmates Yuri Aguilar and Erica Garza started Fed With Love to help stock the USF Poly Food Pantry. Together they collected more than 900 donated food items for students and their families.

“We worked to fill the needs of the USFP student food pantry, to spread the word around the community while seeking donations, and to raise awareness of the needs of college students who are facing tough economic times,” says Aguilar.

Fed With Love arose from the Human Relationship Skills class, which required students to plan and coordinate a community service project.

“The course requires that they find a need in their community and then find a way to meet that need,” says instructor Patricia Young.

Because each of the three students lives in a different community — Underwood in Lakeland, Aguilar in Frostproof and Garza in Hardee County — they decided the community they had in common was USF Polytechnic.  Recognizing a need on campus, they decided to support the Student Food Pantry, which was started in January 2010 by the faculty and staff of USFP in an effort to help students.

“We wanted to try to ease the burden for those individuals who are trying to better their education and still take care of a family or meet other needs and obligations,” says Garza.

She, Underwood and Aguilar say the Fed With Love project provided an excellent hands-on learning experience.

“We learned how to compromise, divide up work, respect one another and those who we collaborated with, and through the course of the project we began to develop citizenship, knowing we are helping our college community.   We also learned that there are other ways we can help the community and are excited to do so.”


Tobacco Free Partnership of Polk County Announces Flavored Tobacco Resolution

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Polk County (TFP) and the American Lung Association of Central Florida are pleased to announce a resolution was passed by the Board of County Commissioners that encourages retail outlets in Polk County to ban the sale and marketing of flavored tobacco products where youth would have access.

Jordan Bontrager, Students Working Against Tobacco member, led a presentation showing how flavored and alternative tobacco products are marketed to youth.  These marketing tactics continue to lead minors down a path that encourages usage and lifelong addiction. The resolution was passed unanimously with a 5-0 vote.

In 2009, the FDA banned the sale of flavored cigarettes, however; smokeless tobacco, cigars, cigarillos and other products are not regulated. Each and every day, our youth are drawn in by the allure of tobacco products and thanks to the addictive nature of nicotine, they likely become daily users. Almost 90% of adult smokers started before the age of 18, according to the American Lung Association.

“The use of tobacco products of any type has a severe negative economic impact on the lives of the citizens of our state and nation.  The American Medical Association has documented the health risks related to the use of tobacco products for many years”, said Commissioner Bob English.

The Tobacco-Free Partnership of Polk County and the Board of County Commissioners urges all local retailers who sell tobacco products where youth have access to their store or products to cease the sale and marketing of all flavored tobacco products, in order to reduce the exposure and use of tobacco products to Polk County youth.

About the Tobacco-Free Partnership of Polk County
The Tobacco-Free Partnership of Polk County, Florida is a community based coalition mobilized to impact policy and systems change, prevent initiation and reduce the use of tobacco products.

The Tobacco Free Partnership meets monthly on the last Thursday of the month at United Way in Highland City.  For more information or to become a partner on this project, please contact Colleen Mangan, Tobacco Program Coordinator at (863) 519-7900 x 11334 or via email at


You’re Invited… Red Cross Open House in Lakeland

The American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region is proud to announce the opening of the Red Cross Lakeland branch office in the heart of the downtown area. To celebrate the official grand opening, the American Red Cross Polk County Chapter will host a ribbon cutting event this week.

  • WHO: American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region, Lakeland community, members of the Chamber of Commerce and community leaders

  • WHAT: Ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating opening of Red Cross office in Lakeland, refreshments following ceremony

  • WHERE: New Lakeland office of the American Red Cross, 256 North Kentucky Avenue, Lakeland, FL

  • WHEN:  Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 10 a.m.

  • WHY: Lakeland sees more local disaster responses than any other city in Polk County

“Lakeland is an integral part of the Polk community and we have long wanted to open a location here,” said American Red Cross Polk County Chapter Executive Chad Magnuson. “This allows our volunteers who live in this community to have a ‘home base’ as they work one-on-one with clients after a disaster like a house fire and its lets everyone know that the Red Cross is here to help.”

The Polk County Chapter will remain open in Winter Haven with staff operating the office during regular business hours. The Lakeland office will open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers will also be able to access the building after hours to work on client cases.