Magic Diversity Game Changer: Dr. James Michael Burkett

Name: Dr. James Michael Burkett

Game Honored: Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors (4/1/22)

Dr. James Michael Burkett, President of Florida Technical College, has an extensive background in higher education and a life-long commitment to public service. He is a Marine Corps Veteran and former Police Lieutenant.

During his tenure as the higher institution’s president, Florida Technical College has added:

  • Blended learning options
  • Six new programs fully-taught in Spanish
  • A three-year bachelor degree option
  • Expanded trades, hospitality and health allied program offerings
  • Established a partnership with University of South Florida to create a path for post-graduate education
  • Built a new commercial-grade kitchen, designed to provide high-quality training to the next generation of culinary leaders in Kissimmee and South Florida
  • Achieved the MSCHE accreditation, among other innovations in academic progress and excellence. 

Adding to his contributions to the college, Dr. Burkett has stepped forward with this commitment to future students with the establishment of new scholarships, including:

  • Hurricane Maria Relief Scholarship
  • The Sgt. Richard Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter Memorial Scholarship
  • The Healthcare Heroes Scholarship
  • Reach Higher Scholarship in partnership with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Opportunity Scholarship in partnership with the African American Chamber of Commerce.  

Since 1993, when he began his law enforcement career in Central Florida after serving in Desert Storm with the United States Marine Corps, the Orlando Business Journal’s Outstanding Diversity Helping Hand 2019 Award Recipient set his sights on a personal goal – to promote growth in others, especially those often overlooked by society.

As an active board member of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC), Burkett advocates for protecting the rights of undocumented Hispanic students to receive an education free from discrimination.

The Certified Florida Cultural Diversity Educator uses his voice and leadership role to empower students from minority background to achieve their educational aspirations, and most importantly to close the racial wealth and opportunity gap.

Aware of the importance and benefits of giving back to your community, in his current role Dr. Burkett promotes volunteering as a training ground for honing students’ skills and to achieve higher standards of living and quality of life for the communities that it serves.

Some of the Community Involvement Initiatives under Dr. Burkett’s presidency:

  • Voto Latino: FTC joined forces with Hispanic Federation to mobilize young voters and increase participation from the Latinx college community
  • Let VETS Choose: FTC supports and advocates for veterans’ access to education
  • Back to School Event: FTC donates every year over 7,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to kids across the state, and also provides free haircuts and medical checkups
  • Hope on the Streets: the FTC’s outreach program provides medical supplies, clothes, food and free haircuts to the homeless community in Orlando. This initiative earned the institution the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor. This distinction is the highest honor a college or university could receive for service-driven initiatives.
  • Miami Dolphins Foundation Food Relief Program: as the Official Culinary School of the Miami Dolphins, FTC joins the team three times per year to distribute thousands of packaged meals for families in need in South Florida 
  • Adopt a Road in Partnership with Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO): FTC executives, faculty and students along with HCCMO members rolled up their sleeves to clean the streets and create public awareness of the litter problem along the Osceola County’s roads.
  • Responders-First: FTC donated medical and sanitary supplies to keep our first responders safe during the Covid -19 Response.
  • Teen Moms Prom Day: In alliance with Teen Moms Organization of Kissimmee, FTC cosmetology faculty and students donates their time and skills to do the makeup and hair for teen moms on their prom night

In 2021, FTC received Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings’Exceptional Commitment to Serving our Community Recognition for their exceptional contributionsto the regionand the Unity Award 2021 given byKissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce to an organization or individual who truly embodies the essence of the Chamber’s three core values, “Embracing Heritage,” “Creating Opportunity,” and “Building Unity.”

Florida Technical College is a Trustee of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando.