TALLAHASSEE—Florida Senator Bill Montford was named the 2016 recipient of the James L. Wattenbarger Award for exceptional commitment to the Florida College System at the recent Association of Florida Colleges Convention.
Sen. Montford is an alumnus of Chipola College (1967) and has been a champion of public education in Florida for his entire life. In the Florida Senate, Montford represents a large 11-county district which includes numerous universities, colleges and schools. He serves as Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and as Chair of the Committee on Agriculture. He also serves on the Education Pre-K-12 Committee, as well as the Appropriations, Banking and Insurance, Reapportionment and Rules committees.
Dr. Sarah Clemmons, Interim President of Chipola College, says, “Sen. Bill Montford is a worthy recipient of the Wattenbarger Award. He is a product of the Florida College System who has dedicated his life to serving the citizens of Florida.”
Sen. Montford’s contributions to Chipola College have been tremendous. In 2015 and 2014, he served as guest host of Chipola’s Endless Summer Event which has raised more than $50,000 for a Scholarship Endowment in his name. Montford said, “Chipola College has a great reputation built on generations of success and respect. People trust and appreciate Chipola, and I am proud to be associated with an institution that benefits so many students.”
Sen. Montford delivered the commencement address at the Chipola graduation ceremony in 2012. He also is a regular supporter of the Chipola Quail Calcutta which has raised more than $100,000 for college scholarships.
After graduating from Chipola in 1967, Montford went on to FSU where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education and Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision. He began his career as a math teacher in 1969 and went on to serve as a school administrator for 26 years, including 18 years as a principal. He served two terms as a Leon County Commissioner and was elected Leon County Superintendent of Schools in 1996. Since 2006, Montford has served as CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.
Sen. Montford’s outstanding public service has been recognized by local and statewide organizations. In 2006, the William J. Montford, III, Educational Scholarship was established by the Florida State University College of Education. In 2008, the Leon County School Board named the William J. Montford, III, Middle School as a tribute to his lifelong contributions to education.
The late Dr. James Wattenbarger is credited as being the Father of the Florida Community College System. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Florida outlined a master plan that the state used in 1955 to create the modern community college system.
Presidents from the 28 college in the Florida College System submit nominations for the Wattenbarger award. Nominees must be a student, faculty member, administrator, trustee, or alumni of one of Florida’s colleges or be a supporter of a college and/or champion for the Florida College System, or be a state legislator or member of the executive branch of state government.