New Phase 4 Guidance and Update

A Message From Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources

As we prepare to move to Phase 4 of our Roadmap for Reopening on Sunday, August 1, 2021, we continue to monitor the spread of COVID in Central Florida. Like many of you, we have watched the growing number of COVID cases in our region over the past several weeks and have continued to talk regularly with Orlando Health while monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

Throughout the pandemic, you have trusted us to make decisions that prioritize your health and safety and that of our students and ensure the continuity of our students’ learning. In light of the CDC’s recent guidance that all individuals (vaccinated and non-vaccinated) wear a mask indoors in regions where the spread of COVID is “substantial” or “high,” and in consultation with Orlando Health, we will continue to require masks indoors and accommodate physical distancing as we begin our Phase 4 operations.

The time to be vaccinated is today, and I strongly encourage you to do so as a measure to protect yourself and others. Notably, Central Florida health officials have reported that more than 90% of those hospitalized with COVID are not vaccinated, and they echo our guidance to get vaccinated immediately. We recognize that some of you may not be able to be vaccinated for medical reasons and are here to support you in keeping yourself healthy. Valencia is partnering with local health departments to provide COVID vaccines on our campuses, free of charge. In addition, Valencia continues to provide up to 12 hours of paid vaccine leave available to all employees so you can get the shot and, if needed, have a bit of additional time in case you have symptoms after vaccination.

We look forward to seeing you on campus as we prepare to serve our students and assure you that we will continue to monitor local, state and federal guidance regarding the protocols that help us maintain a healthy and safe environment. We strongly encourage you to take measures to protect yourself including being vaccinated, staying home if you don’t feel well and wearing a mask when you are indoors.

I welcome your questions and feedback directly at abosley@valenciacollege.edu or 407-299-5000, extension 8255.

Return to Campus OIT Support

Friday, July 30, 2021

A Message from Melissa Pedone and Stanton Reed, Interim Presidents, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

For faculty and staff who may need help reconnecting, testing or updating their equipment as they return to campus, the Office of Information Technology has created a Bookings form through the campus-specific links below. Appointments for assistance may be scheduled starting on Monday, August 2, 2021.

To book an appointment, choose the campus link below, select “Return to Campus Support” and provide contact information. Once submitted, a confirmation will be sent and a technician will arrive at the desired location on the chosen date and time.

Return to Campus Support – Osceola Campus
Return to Campus Support – Lake Nona Campus
Return to Campus Support – Poinciana Campus

Campus Co-presidents Excited for Phase 4, Start of Fall Term

Friday, July 30, 2021

A Message from Melissa Pedone and Stanton Reed, Interim Presidents, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

On Sunday, August 1, 2021, we will reach a milestone in our journey through the pandemic, the end of Phase 3 operations and the start of Phase 4 in our Roadmap for Reopening. It is very exciting to celebrate the return of many staff members next week, followed by faculty beginning Tuesday, August 17, 2021. We want to acknowledge and thank all of the faculty and staff who worked onsite to support campus operations and student learning throughout the pandemic.

Faculty Welcome Back activities will begin on Tuesday, August 17 and will include both virtual and onsite activities. The collegewide Academic Assembly will take place virtually and is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 19, 2021. After Academic Assembly, College President Kathleen Plinske will host three open virtual town halls. Learn more about Academic Assembly and the town halls here. 

Campus-based faculty activities will take place on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. Individual faculty work time is allocated for the mornings and virtual division-specific activities will take place at or after 4 p.m. We are still in the process of developing our region and campus faculty engagement plans, which will offer both in-person and virtual options for participation.

While we officially begin Phase 4 next week, the pandemic is not over, and we will continue to focus on our two priorities of protecting the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students and supporting the continuity of learning for our students.

We have heard the concern coming from many of you about how will we return to campus. Please be sure to view this latest update from Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources Amy Bosley that we will continue to require masks indoors and accommodate physical distancing as we begin our Phase 4 operations.

We encourage you to continue sharing with us your range of emotions and using our Optum Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as you deem necessary.

Let’s continue to be available with grace, patience, and understanding for one another. Remember we want to always honor and respect the emotional and physical space that others may need to feel safe. Let us continue to be present, as well as value and serve each other and our students with care and thoughtfulness. We are looking forward to our return to campus and serving our students, staff, and faculty.

And remember, your campus leaders are here as resources to support you throughout this process. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your dean, director or campus president if you have questions or need assistance.

 

Faculty and Instructional Development is Available

Friday, July 30, 2021

A Message from Melissa Pedone and Stanton Reed, Interim Presidents, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses

As you’re wrapping up your summer courses and beginning course preparation for the fall, please remember that the Faculty and Instructional Development team is available to support you.

Whether you’re looking for guidance on how to submit your final grades (which are due by 9 a.m. on Thursday, August 5, 2021), designing learning activities and assessments for classes, copying existing course content and/or talking through your ideas for professional development, please reach out to a Faculty and Instructional Development team member.

Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity: Sample Syllabus Statements and Other Faculty Resources

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Last month, we provided an update on Florida House Bill 233: Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity, which took effect on Thursday, July 1, 2021. Teaching content and practices have not been changed by this law; instead, the law reinforces the value of viewpoint diversity, gives students a vehicle to record certain parts of a course and outlines consequences for improper recording usage.

Recently, a flash work team was assembled and charged with developing guidelines and resources to assist faculty and deans with two of the new components of the law: the shielding and recording provisions. In particular, the work team developed sample syllabus language associated with this legislation for those who would like to incorporate it in their fall 2021 syllabi. 

Composed of faculty, deans, Organizational Development and Human Resources, legal counsel and Faculty Development, the Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity work team has been working diligently to create support materials such as a document outlining classroom management strategies, a frequently asked questions (FAQs) document to assist with responding to student questions and sample syllabus language. The work team was asked to consider questions such as: 

  • How do we ensure that the sanctity of trusting, collaborative faculty-student relationships, and safety therein, is upheld, in contrast to the adversarial relationship that the “threat” of recording may elicit?
  • What is our best guidance for faculty and deans regarding the prohibition of shielding students, faculty or staff from protected free speech and certain expressive activities?
  • How might we minimize unintended consequences; for instance, that faculty shy away from engaging in difficult/courageous conversations with students?
  • How will the law intersect with existing course policies restricting the use of technology in the classroom?

The classroom management strategies and FAQs are in development and will be shared via deans and in communications closer to the start of the fall term. In the meantime, the syllabus recommendations subteam created a set of design principles and sample syllabus language. 

The subteam proposed that syllabus language associated with the recording and shielding provisions of Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity:

  • Uses objective language, connected directly to the law itself;
  • Is purpose driven and understandable to students, serving as a tool for learning; and
  • Is brief.

The syllabus recommendations subteam also encourages faculty members to review their syllabi for policies or rules that may be in conflict with these new provisions, for instance, a “no technology use” policy. 

Sample Syllabus Language

If you choose to update your syllabus in light of this legislation, you may find this recommended language useful.

Stay tuned for classroom management strategies and FAQs in future communications from your dean closer to the start of the fall term. 

Brainfuse Provides 24/7 Online Tutoring Support

Thursday, July 29, 2021

A Message from Landon Shephard, Dean, Learning Support

Starting this fall, the College will transition to Brainfuse as the online tutoring vendor for 24/7 tutoring and for essay submission.

If students need tutoring assistance outside of the hours provided by Valencia’s tutoring team, or students need tutoring in a subject that is not offered through Valencia’s online tutoring (e.g., nursing and information technology), they can access additional tutoring services through Brainfuse.

Student utilization of a third-party vendor tutoring service has significantly decreased since the start of the pandemic, likely because our students prefer to work with a Valencia tutor or Learning Support staff.

Smarthinking is working with the learning support team to make the transition to Brainfuse. We anticipate faculty will have access to Brainfuse resources in mid-August, and students will have access early Fall. We will share more details as they become available.

This video gives an overview of the Brainfuse platform:

If you have any questions, please email me at lshephard@valenciacollege.edu.

Faculty Governance Update — July 2021

Thursday, July 29, 2021

A Message from Patrick Bartee, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

Hello, my Valencia family.

First, I am so excited to see another day, week and month. Here we are in June and as I have said every month, I am a different kind of president. In this month’s update, I am bidding the seat of Faculty Council president farewell.

As I reflect back on my presidency, I must again thank my Valencia family for stepping in and holding down the duties during my recovery for the fall semester. I am so grateful and appreciative for everything that you have done. A special thanks again to Stanton Reed, interim president, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses, for not only being my voice, but also holding the position for an extended period. I must give a heartfelt thank you to Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, and her phenomenal team for being a part of my cancer fight. The West Campus Communication department and my speech team family walked systematically with me — thank you.

I will be participating as past president and allowing Michael Robbins, incoming Faculty Association president, and Doreen Watson, incoming Faculty Association vice president, to create their leadership paths. Much success to you two and the Council. I know the team will gain knowledge about the Council and all it entails, because Michael is a detailed man.

I am most excited for our new leadership in the role of college president, Kathleen Plinske. She is AWESOME to say the least. I am super excited to see what direction she will take us in as our president. We the Valencia family are indeed fortunate to have this fantastic woman open doors to new adventures.

Well I shared that this would be a brief letter of thanks to my Valencia family, and I stand true to that. Have an awesome start of the semester and continue to mold minds and develop leaders, because that is what we do and who we are. This chapter of my life has ended, and I am opening the door for new opportunities and challenges to grow and learn more about my beloved Valencia College.

As always, make it a great day, week and month and always make a positive difference in the lives of others.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me via text at 407-529-6595 or email at pbartee@valenciacollege.edu.

Meet Your New Faculty Association President, Michael Robbins

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Welcome English Professor Michael Robbins to his new position of Faculty Association president. Elected to the role by Valencia faculty, Michael will serve in this capacity through July 2022 while on full reassignment from the classroom. During this time, Michael will act as the voice of the faculty in all matters of college governance, faculty rights, privileges, responsibilities, curriculum and teaching/learning matters.

As Faculty Association president, Michael intends to focus on faculty engagement.

“I sincerely believe governance provides a place for faculty to come together and consider the opportunities coming to Valencia College; faculty can be the vanguard, using their expertise and direct connection to students to ensure we build the best learning environment possible. We faculty are capable and prepared, and I will be calling for inquisitive minds that strive to help Valencia serve the community and prepare our learners.”

Michael, who is the discipline coordinator for English at the Poinciana Campus, has been active in the Honors College, is a former Phi Theta Kappa advisor, has traveled on multiple service learning trips, and has served as a facilitator for the Teaching/Learning Academy as a Faculty Assembly president for both the Osceola and the Poinciana Campuses.

“Michael Robbins is not just an English professor; he’s a leader in every way and I’m extremely proud of all that he has done for the faculty, staff, and students at the Poinciana Campus,” shared Jennifer Robertson, executive dean, Poinciana Campus. “Michael was actually the very first professor we hired for the campus back in 2016, and he has been instrumental in the work done with faculty onboarding, peer mentoring, tenure-track faculty development, writing across the curriculum and many other initiatives. As discipline coordinator for English, Michael spends a lot of time developing and mentoring our part-time faculty, not to mention the countless hours he spends grading papers and creating videos to give students feedback on their writing. I’m extremely excited for this coming year … as many others will be able to benefit from his experience and leadership.”

View an article about Michael when he joined the Poinciana Campus. 

Michael invites you reach out to him directly at mrobbins9@valenciacollege.edu.

The Office for Students With Disabilities Assists With ADA Nuances

Thursday, July 29, 2021

By Deborah Larew, Director, Students With Disabilities

One of the nicest compliments I received from a work colleague is when a dean told me that in his previous institution, he felt he needed to protect his faculty from the disability services staff. Here at Valencia, however, he said he encouraged his team to work with the Office for Students With Disabilities as he knew that the team supported faculty as well as students. I’d like to think that is true.

While the team is tasked with providing approved accommodations, modifications and other aids to students with disabilities, it is also our passion to assist faculty with the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) nuances in order to provide equitable opportunities for students with significant barriers under that law. It is in that spirit that we offer the following case study. We will summarize the lawsuit against Lewis and Clark Law School (2010) and the professor, provide a link to the findings, and relate the findings to assist you as faculty members.

A student in the Environmental Law class at the Lewis and Clark Law School (2010) was approved for extended time on exams due to a disability. Her final exam for Environmental Law class has a limit of five hours for all students. However, the professor reasoned that test should only require three hours; he only allows five hours to assist the students with breaks, etc. Thus, he reasoned that for a three-hour test, the extended time for the student with disability related accommodations would be four and a half hours. Therefore, the faculty member did not permit the student a time extension beyond the same five hours allowed to all students.

The student completed only seven pages of typed answers instead of the required 11. While there were other irregularities found in this investigation, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) determined that by allowing the student the same amount of time as all the other students, that the college did indeed discriminate. They advised that because the student did not receive additional time, she was not provided the appropriate, approved time and a half. OCR found that the college had violated Section 504 of the rehabilitation act and entered into a Settlement Agreement, which included the student’s right to file a private suit in federal court. You can read more here.

In my experience, the faculty at Valencia College are committed to fairness for all students. Sometimes in the search for fairness, we may mistake equality for equity.

When extended time on exams is an appropriate modification (also called an accommodation), it is typically limited to time and half or double time, dependent on the student’s needs. This is a required academic adjustment/modification according to the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADAA) to ensure that the exams are measuring the intended learning outcomes and not the limitations of the student’s disabilities.

To fully provide this accommodation, faculty members are required to adjust time for the student with the approved accommodation. This adjustment must be done on an individual level and cannot take the form of a universal time adjustment for all students in the class. If this happens, the student with the approved accommodation is then entitled for time in addition to what has been allotted for the rest of the students.

If there are concerns regarding an approved accommodation, please know that we partner with faculty to find academically sound solutions that will both provide equitable access to the material and protect the rights and academic rigor of the course objectives.

For more information on how we might partner together, contact me at dlarew@valenciacollege.edu or Nikkia Gumbs, assistant director, disability services, at ngumbs@valenciacollege.edu.

Faculty Highlight: Heff Heffernan Reinforces Law Enforcement Officer Learning Through Local Affidavit Lesson

Thursday, July 29, 2021

By Wendy Jo Moyer

Dave “Heff” Heffernan, professor, criminal justice technology, and Osceola Campus Criminal Justice program chair, expands the critical thinking and ethical skills of law enforcement, corrections and probation officers through practical activities that reinforce their learning — including some exercises that may hit close to home.

As part of the Criminal Justice Experiential Learning Program, Heff teaches three, six-credit Field Experience Courses that include both coursework and work-based learning for sworn officers who are pursuing an Associate in Science in criminal justice technology. Many of the courses’ assignments involve analysis, ethics and writing, which are important skills for their careers.

“That’s what they do day in and day out in their jobs,” Heff explained. “They have to look at complex issues and analyze ethics…We start out with understanding some of the ethical philosophies and then apply them to some of the difficult situations that they have to deal with as a law enforcement officer.”

For example, Heff assigns students to review the affidavit for Markeith Loyd, who allegedly fatally shot Orlando Police Department Master Sgt. Debra Clayton in January 2017 at a Walmart on Princeton Street after she tried to arrest him for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December 2016. Additionally, Orange County Deputy First Class Norman Lewis was killed in an accident during the pursuit of Loyd.

“This affidavit with Markeith Loyd, if you read it, you see how mercilessly he [Loyd] executed her [Clayton] when she was on the ground,” he explained. “So, law enforcement officers have to be aware of this — on the one hand — but they also have to be the servant, because they’re out there to serve.”

After reading the affidavit, Heff asks students to identify five criminal statutes that could be applied to the case. Then students must identify the statute by number, title and specific element of the law that was violated.

“I’m asking them, what are the elements of the law that this individual violated, because as a law enforcement officer, you have to be able to articulate that. If you are alleging that you have probable cause that someone committed a crime, you must know what the state statute is, what’s the content, what does it prohibit — for example — and determine their prohibited behavior. Then you must be able to articulate that,” he shared explaining that students must include all of these details when they write arrest reports.

Not only does this exercise make students think critically and improve the writing of their arrest reports, it also shows them how much of their reports are publicly available. Additionally, as this case plays out in court — the trial is scheduled for October 2021 — students will see the actual application of the amendments and laws that they are learning in class.

The exercise, Heff admits, does create some sensitivity in the classroom as many of the students were colleagues of Clayton and Lewis, and others were involved in the pursuit of Loyd. But Heff uses this exercise because it’s an active case, and most officers are aware of the case and many of the details, but they have not seen the affidavit or the specific details of the incident.

“It has a much different educational feel than a fictional case that is very abstract to them. People remember things better when there’s some kind of emotional attachment,” he said, adding that many officers have a hard emotional shell. “One of the things that I do both in this class and my general classes is to try to strike at the emotional level to soften that exterior shell.”

Heff follows this exercise with a tribute to Clayton, where they learn about her community involvement and commitment to the citizens she served.

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at  The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.