Community Greets New Palm Beach State President


By Dale King  The Pineapple Contributing Writer A gathering of community, county and education officials welcomed and offered praise and good luck last month to the new president of Palm Beach State College (PBSC). Ava L. Parker, a lawyer and former executive vice president and chief operating officer of Florida Polytechnic University, began her tenure at PBSC last summer. She was chosen last March from a field of 161 applicants to succeed former PBSC President Dennis Gallon, who retired June 30, after 18 years at the helm of the school that has four campuses – soon to be five – in Palm Beach County. According to Parker, she has already visited all four existing campuses, including the main college site in Lake Worth and others in Boca Raton, Belle Glade and Palm Beach Gardens. At a reception on Oct. 1, Parker praised PBSC Provost Dr. Bernadette Russell for taking her around to the other college locations and arranging the reception at the clubhouse of Indian Springs in Boynton Beach. “She has done a wonderful job,” Parker said. The PBSC District Board of Trustees selected Parker unanimously following a six-month search for Gallon’s successor. She earned her bachelor’s in Journalism and her J.D. degree from the University of Florida. She is a partner with the Jacksonville-based law firm Lawrence & Parker. One of Parker’s first duties will be to prepare for the opening of the new PBSC campus in Loxahatchee Groves, scheduled to open in the fall of 2016. Parker will draw upon some of her own expertise to develop the new campus. She said she built the Florida Tech facility “from scratch.” “My job is to encourage the good to be better. With the faculty and staff, we will enhance the educational experience for students,” said Parker. “The Boca campus is one of the great campuses of the college,” said County Commissioner Steven Abrams, a former mayor of Boca Raton. He welcomed Parker to the area, saying, “You are going to be in a position of taking what we have to the next level.” County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor welcomed the incoming president as well. “You will continue the legacy of Dennis Gallon,” said Taylor, who recalled having attended Parker’s wedding. Palm Beach State “is a great school with great leaders,” said Highland Beach Mayor Bernard Featherman. Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Karen Granger also welcomed the incoming education chief. “Dennis did a great job,” Parker said. “I could let it continue or challenge myself to make it better. The students who graduate will be the best employees and they will create the best businesses they can.” Parker and her husband, Joseph Gibbons, have 5-year-old twins.