Interim Chief of Police Capt. Kathleen Vacca presents the Officer of the Year Award to Sgt. Kelley Masten

Serving communities and saving lives is often quiet work, performed humbly—and, sometimes, thanklessly—by local law enforcement.

Publicly recognizing these efforts means a great deal to those who perform their duties, and New College of Florida does this every year during its Campus Police Department (CPD) awards ceremony.

“Every person at the CPD is supportive of one another and our vision is clear—to provide safety and exceptional service to the communities we serve,” said CPD Sgt. Kelley Masten.

The CPD—led by Interim Chief of Police Capt. Kathleen Vacca—serves and protects New College, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the greater local community. On January 19 in Sainer Pavilion, Masten earned the CPD’s Officer of the Year Award.

“I am truly honored, and I’m thankful to be a part of such a great police department and community,” said Masten, a 12-year CPD veteran who coordinates the department’s social media and the property and evidence unit (and played a key investigative role in a recent high-profile criminal case). “I’m very thankful and lucky to have had people in my life that have both inspired me and influenced me along the way.”

CPD Community Safety Aide Mike Kepto was named Civilian of the Year for 2021.

“I received the reward with very mixed emotions. First, it was an honor to be selected and recognized by my fellow workers. Second, it was a little embarrassing because I was recognized for doing a job that I was hired to do,” said Kepto, who joined the CPD a year ago, and has utilized his extensive criminal investigation background during late-night stakeouts. “I love this job and it is a pleasure to work here, and I feel there are other employees more worthy of this honor.”

Meritorious Lifesaving Awards were given to Officer Pilar Mahady, Sgt. Jennifer Coley, Officer Michael Clary, Officer Ryan Welch and Acting Sgt. John Chirgwin. Clary, Chirgwin and Sgt. Christopher Rivett received Perfect Attendance Awards. Commendation Awards were also distributed to members of the Holmes Beach Police Department, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Ringling Security, and New College Assistant Director of Student Activities and Campus Engagement Lesley Nickels for their assistance with a community-based incident.

“There are few things in life more rewarding than knowing you contributed to saving the life of another,” Chirgwin said of the award he received (for having helped rescue a non-college community member after a Fentanyl overdose). “It’s nice to know that you are appreciated.”

Clary agreed.

“Receiving a Lifesaving Award is extremely gratifying. To realize the award represents an event that I responded to along with Sgt. Coley and Officer Welch, and that we were able to make a difference in a person’s life, makes it even more special,” said Clary, who helped respond to an opioid overdose off-campus. “There are times that we have to respond to a life-threatening or critical event with very little or no time to prepare. I’m thankful that I was able to rely on my training and my team to help save a person’s life on that specific day.”

For more information on the CPD, call 941-487-4210 or visit

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.

From South Lake Tablet, January 14, 2022


LSSC Signs Transfer Agreement With New College Of Florida(left to right) Dr. Suzanne Sherman, NCF Provost; Dr. Heather Bigard, LSSC Provost & EVP; Dr. Stan Sidor, LSSC President; Dr. Patricia Okker, NCF President; and Dr. Michael Vitale,
LSSC SVP Academic Affairs; pose for a picture at the ceremony on the New College of Florida

Lake-Sumter State College students have a new transfer opportunity after completing their associate in arts degree – New College of Florida in Sarasota, the state’s Honors College.

New College is a member of the State University System of Florida.

Through this new agreement, any non-high school student who completes an A.A. degree within eight semesters of enrolling at LSSC and maintains a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher is eligible for guaranteed admission to New College.

Transfer students who are admitted to New College receive generous guaranteed scholarships, making New College an efficient and cost-effective option for Florida A.A. completers. New College offers seamless academic pathways for students in a wide variety of disciplines, including biology, chemistry, economics, marine biology, and psychology.

Read the entire article here.

Throughout the pandemic, the Campus Police Department (CPD) has served and protected New College, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the greater local community.

On June 14, during a long-delayed public ceremony in Sainer Pavilion (originally intended to be held last year but canceled due to COVID-19), the members of the department were honored for their work and dedication. Newly-appointed officers were sworn in, and numerous awards were given.

“I am so incredibly honored to work with the members of the CPD and happy we were able to recognize the officers for their exceptional achievements,” said Sgt. Kelley Masten. “This goes to show that the CPD has a commitment to our profession, our agency and the communities we serve.”

Sworn-in officers included Jemal Felicien, Kaili Insalaco and Pilar Mahady. Meritorious Lifesaving Awards were bestowed to Felicien, and Officers Danielle Pruner and John Chirgwin. And Officer Michael Clary was named the 2020 Officer of the Year.

“Working with the staff of the CPD is an honor,” said Chief of Police Michael A. Kessie. “This shows the department’s continual move forward as a professional and progressive police department that will always serve the community.”

Felicien, who came to the CPD last year from the North Port Police Department and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, received two Meritorious Lifesaving Awards (with a third on the way).

“It makes me happy knowing that the CPD is close enough to respond to somewhere quickly to save lives,” Felicien said, referring to the CPD’s role in the Sarasota-Manatee community (when necessary, officers respond to calls near the college campuses). “The swearing-in ceremony also meant a lot to me. Both my parents are retired from law enforcement in New York City, and it makes me happy knowing I followed their footsteps. Seeing them smile at the ceremony was just amazing.”

Chirgwin, a member of the CPD since 2018, received his third Meritorious Lifesaving Award for his role in an opiate overdose save in December.

“This honor means the world to me, and I have always been most proud of receiving lifesaving awards,” Chirgwin said. “For 2019, I was awarded Officer of the Year (and I have received that honor at other police departments that I have worked for), but there is nothing more rewarding than knowing you saved someone’s life. It is precisely why most of us decide to become police officers.”

Insalaco worked as an officer in California for six years before coming to the CPD in February, and she is proud to be part of the current team.

“There are a lot of officers who work for this department who do an amazing job every day, and it was great to see them being recognized at the ceremony for all of their hard work,” Insalaco said. “Additionally, it was amazing to see all the people who came out from both New College and USF to support us. It was wonderful to be able to share this moment with my family as well as with my new law enforcement family.”

For Mahady, the ceremony was an emotional moment.

“I first started with the CPD in late February of this year. The ceremony marked the beginning of my career as a police officer and being able to have my mother pass the torch of our profession (my mother was a police officer in New York),” Mahady said. “I want to thank my department and New College for the warm welcome, and I look forward to becoming a part of this community.”

Pruner, a CPD employee for 3½ years, appreciated the recognition.

“This experience [of receiving the award] created a nice feeling, as I was able to help save someone’s life,” Pruner said. “I love my job. It puts me in the area where I can assist with community relations, and it gives me the chance to meet people from different cultures.”

Clary was humbled to receive the Officer of the Year Award for 2020.

“It is an absolute honor,” said Clary, a four-year member of the CPD. “I have never been comfortable getting an award for anything unless it was team-oriented; however, I believe what I strive to do, day in and day out, every other officer and supervisor does as well at the CPD.”

The challenges of the past year made the honor even more significant, Clary said.

“With everything that has happened over the last year, and having to persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a very trying year for many students, faculty and staff on campus,” Clary said. “I feel privileged to be part of the CPD—a team that never gave up and came into work to serve the campus and community every day, every hour of the pandemic.”

For more information on the CPD, call 941-487-4210 or visit

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.

New College of Florida will host a series of lectures on campus during February and March as part of The Colette Project Sarasota. This monthlong celebration honors the prolific and provocative French writer Colette (1873-1954) and the centennial of her 1920 novel Chéri. New College will host speakers from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Sainer Auditorium:
Colette and American Women of the Left Bank
Isabelle de Courtivron, MIT Professor Emerita
Wednesday, February 12
Colette Finds Her Voice: From Pantomime to Writing
Frédéric Canovas, Arizona State University Associate Professor of French
Wednesday, February 19
Colette’s One Thousand and One Gardens
Évelyne Bloch-Dano, Biographer, Novelist and Critic
Wednesday, February 26
Enchanting Colette: Ravel’s Musico-Magical Setting of The Child and the Spells
Maribeth Clark, New College of Florida Associate Professor of Music
Wednesday, March 4
Chéri, Cent Ans Apres (in French)
Marie-Françoise Berthu-Courtivron, Université de Rennes 2 Professor of French Literature
Wednesday, March 11
For more information on all of the events that are scheduled for The Colette Project Sarasota, visit:

Entertainment at the annual Celebration of the Arts included Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Sarasota Contemporary Dance and the Jazz Club of Sarasota

The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota gave arts leadership awards to some familiar names at a ceremony Monday night, including Sarasota Ballet founder Jean Weidner Goldstein, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs and philanthropist Beverly Koski.
……   Winners of the John Ringling Tower Fund Grants were Monica Cross in performing arts, Pamela Callender in visual arts and the Hermitage Artist Retreat in historic preservation.
Read the entire story here.

Last fall, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens announced a collaboration between the Gardens and New College of Florida, providing the opportunity for students from the college to work with Selby Gardens professional staff on plant science, conservation and public outreach. This April 20, the inaugural class of six students will present the findings of their research at an evening in their honor and hosted by Selby Gardens, and collectively receive the first annual Calusa Prize for their efforts.

For being “a leading voice for the environment, and for inspiring a generation of Floridians,” Audubon Florida honored New College’s Julie Morris as its 2012 Florida Woman in Conservation. (more…)

May 18, 2012 — With a generous donation from the Dr. Christine Hamilton-Hall ’78 and the Stanley Newmark family, New College will name and dedicate its dock behind College Hall in memory of Hamilton-Hall’s mother, Joan Marciak Newmark. The Newmarks made Sarasota their home in 1981. (more…)

October 10, 2011 — The Sarasota County Branch of the NAACP honored President Gordon E. “Mike” Michalson with a 2011 Freedom Award at the 26th Annual Freedom Awards Banquet in Sarasota on October 6. The Freedom Awards are presented to individuals, organizations and businesses that have significantly contributed to furthering the local and national goals of the NAACP. (more…)

(November 2, 2010) — New College of Florida honored 45 faculty and staff members Friday for their dedication and years of service to the College at a special Employee Recognition Lunch. President Mike Michalson announced each award recipient with his characteristic comic wit while faculty and staff enjoyed a catered lunch outside historic College Hall along the serene Sarasota Bay. (more…)