You’re Invited to the Next East Region Town Hall

Wedneday, March 3, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses 

Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Location: Zoom

You’re invited to join the next East Region Town Hall where we’ll provide the latest updates on the East and Winter Park Campuses.

For questions, contact Michelle Ames, executive assistant, senior, at or 407-299-5000, extension 2216.

Endowed Chairs Application Now Open for Tenured, Tenure-track and Annually Appointed Faculty

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning, and Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources 

The application is now open for the Endowed Chairs Learning Leadership program, which provides recognition and funding for faculty learning experiences that positively impact student learning.

Tenure-track and Annually Appointed Faculty Are Now Eligible
Over the last few years, faculty and administrative leaders involved with the Endowed Chairs program have received feedback that our tenure-track and annually appointed faculty should be eligible to apply. Faculty Council acted on this feedback, and in addition to tenured faculty, our tenure-track and annually appointed faculty are now eligible to apply for the Endowed Chairs program. Please note that temporary faculty are not eligible to apply for Endowed Chairs. As you begin planning for your proposals, please review the Roadmap to Return Phase 3 information and ensure your plans adhere to the current guidelines.

The application deadline is Friday, April 9, 2021.

For the Endowed Chairs guidelines, click here. To view the evaluation rubric, click here. For more information about the Endowed Chairs process, visit the webpage.

Idea Development Sessions
We are pleased to offer Idea Development Sessions to support you in thinking through ideas with key thought partners across the College. We invite you to join us for any portion of the times listed below.

Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Time: 5 – 7 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Monday, March 29, 2021
Time: 1 – 3 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Zoom 

Please RSVP for the event you are planning to attend here. Here are a few tips to ensure you have a great session:

If you have questions, please contact Samuel Dunham, assistant director, employee development, at or 407-299-5000, extension 5140.

We are excited to provide you with this opportunity and hope to see you at an upcoming Idea Development Session.

Engage in the Strategic Planning Process and Join an Institutional Planning Team

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A Message from Brandon McKelvey, Vice President, Analytics and Planning

Collaboration is an integral part of our strategic planning process. Last month, we concluded our Strategic Planning Idea Gathering Sessions, and as we begin the review of the ideas and suggestions submitted, I invite you to engage in the next steps of the strategic planning process.

Please consider joining one of four Institutional Planning teams to help us build the plans that will inform our Impact Plan goals.

Institutional Planning Teams*

  • Academic Program Plan
  • Equity Plan
  • Learning Plan
  • Student Experience Plan

If you are a full-time faculty member or dean, please look for an opportunity to volunteer through Faculty Council or the IAC (Instructional Affairs Committee). For all other employees, please complete this brief survey to volunteer for one of these teams.

If you choose to volunteer for one of the teams, we ask that you be available to participate in a kick-off meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 3 p.m.

As a member of a work team, you will be tasked with reading over responses submitted during the idea sessions, providing feedback on initial strategies shared by the planning co-chairs, identifying additional strategies that support our Impact Plan goals, and helping to build high-level plans for starting and scheduling work on these strategies. Teams will meet every two weeks for three or four additional meetings.

*Please note: A Community Impact Plan team will be formed after a community survey is conducted.

Thank you, in advance, for helping to bring our Impact Plan to life. Be sure to submit your interest to serve on one of the planning teams by Wednesday, March 17, 2021. As always, please feel free to reach out to me at if you have questions or would like additional information about the strategic planning process.

A New Atlas To Be Unveiled on Monday, March 22

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A Message from Patti Smith, Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology

On Monday, March 22, 2021, the new Atlas site will be live and ready for use, with a soft launch on Saturday, March 20, 2021. This change will bring a new look and a new and enhanced user experience.

With this upgrade, you will have access to all of the content currently in Atlas, accessible in a user-friendly layout. As shared, the transition to the new platform will allow for:

  • Enhanced user experience: Provides a cleaner look and feel that will facilitate site navigation
  • Mobile responsiveness: Allows for Atlas to display properly on mobile devices
  • ADA compliance: Meets the ADA accessibility guidelines with the use of tags and labeling that can be read by screen reading technology

Take a look at the screenshots below for a sneak peek of the new portal.

A New Layout

The most noticeable change in the new Atlas environment is the layout. The tabs, currently located on the top of the page in Atlas, will transition to a left-side menu, which will be open by default upon login.

Mobile Responsiveness

One of the main reasons for the Atlas upgrade is to provide ease of use on mobile devices. On the new platform, our Atlas portal will be able to display properly on cell phones and tablets. Content collapses into a single column to make it easier to read.

Preparing for the Launch: Update Your Materials

Currently, if you have instructions for processes and procedures that are performed in Atlas that you use in your department, and they include screenshots of the older Atlas layout, please make plans to update those to reflect the new system navigation, as the content layout has been reorganized. As a best practice, minimize the use of screenshots in your directions and refer to the menu, channel (portlet) name and the name of the link in the Atlas portal. This will help reduce the number of outdated materials and instructions, as well as reduce the frequency of updates that are required when the portal undergoes a refresh. Additionally, when creating new instructions, refer to the search feature when appropriate to assist in finding resources, which will also minimize the need for changes to documentation.


Leading up to the transition of Atlas to a new platform, the Office of Information Technology has created a webpage — Atlas Upgrade — that includes details about the new Atlas environment and features.

For a quick view of what’s changing within the new Atlas site, read Atlas Upgrade: Here’s What’s Changing.

We will continue to keep you informed as we get closer to the launch date. Stay tuned to your email for more information. If you have questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a message in the comments or contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 5411.

West Campus Vaccination Site Opens Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

A Message from Paul Rooney, Assistant Vice President, Operations

As you know, our West Campus has been selected as a vaccination site by our federal and state emergency management and healthcare leaders. Setup for the site began last week, and the site will officially open tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. It is estimated that this community vaccination site will serve more than 2,000 individuals per day. During this time, there will be increased traffic and activity on and around West Campus while federal and state COVID-19 response teams administer the COVID-19 vaccine. We strongly suggest that you avoid the area if possible.

For those who are working or have business on campus, we request that you use the South Kirkman Road or the Metrocenter Blvd. entrance/exit. The North Kirkman Road entrance will be designated as an entrance only and used solely for the vaccination site. Resource Avenue will be closed. Parking Lots E, F, D and G are being utilized for the vaccination site and will remain inaccessible for faculty, staff and students for the duration of site operations, which will continue for at least eight weeks. Please use Parking Lots A, B or C while on campus.

Click on the map for a larger version. 

As a reminder, while we are honored to host and work with our partners, Valencia College will not be involved with the operations (setup, determining eligibility, scheduling, etc.) or administration of the vaccines. The entire operation will be run by state and federal teams. Currently, the site is planned to be open for:

  • Long-term care facility residents and staff;
  • Persons 65 years of age and older;
  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact;
  • K-12 school employees 50 years of age and older;
  • Sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older; and
  • Firefighters 50 years of age and older.

The state has a preregistration system for COVID-19 vaccinations. To preregister in Florida, individuals can either call the designated phone number for their county or visit

If you have any questions or concerns related to this event, please contact your West Campus Security team at 407-299-5000, extension 1000, or reach out to me directly at or 321-689-7077.

Planning for 2021 Commencement Is Underway

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Our students have worked hard. And now it’s time to prepare for our commencement celebrations.

While we won’t be able to celebrate again this year with a traditional commencement ceremony, we will celebrate our graduates with a virtual commencement ceremony, a socially distanced in-person commencement celebration on campus with photo opportunities and a graduation box that will be mailed to each participating graduate. You can read a draft message that will soon go out to our 2021 graduates here.

Virtual Commencement Ceremony
A virtual commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2021, at 10 a.m. Students can expect ceremony speeches, a virtual opportunity to officially move their tassels from right to left and a reading of all of our graduates’ names.

On-campus Photo Opportunity
With student feedback in mind, we’re creating a red carpet (and socially distanced!) in-person commencement celebration for students and their families. The event will be held in April and will feature multiple photo opportunities, including having an official graduation photo taken on an outdoor stage, along with a celebratory selfie. And to be inclusive of our participating 2020 graduates and provide them with an in-person recognition event to honor their achievements, we are inviting them to reserve a spot to join in on the celebrations. Click here to view a draft message that will be going out to our 2020 graduates this week.

The experience, which will be led by the campus’ leadership teams, will be the same on each campus, and students may select a campus to attend via a reservation system. Dates and times will be shared soon. If you’re interested in volunteering to be a part of the on-campus experience to help celebrate our graduates, please contact your campus leadership.

Graduation in a Box
We know that an important part of the graduation experience is our students taking photos in their caps and gowns, decorating their caps and tossing them in the air. So, we’re bringing that experience to their homes by mailing each graduate a box that contains a cap, gown, tassel and diploma cover. And as a special gift from the Valencia College Alumni Relations office, a Valencia College license plate holder is also included. Boxes will be mailed in early March.

More details will be shared as they are available.

Call for 2021-22 Student Programming Proposals

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Student Activities and Services Fee budget request proposals are now available.

Requestors seeking to submit a proposal for a Student Activities and Services Fee allocation should consider the following guiding questions before submitting their proposal:

  • How do students at Valencia College benefit from the experience or service requested?
  • Is this the most cost-efficient and affordable manner with which to achieve this experience or service?
  • Would the student body choose to fund this experience and service?

Please note that all requests must be submitted to Student Development by 6 p.m. on Monday, March 22, 2021. All requests must be emailed to your campus Student Development director or coordinator. Requests received beyond this deadline will only receive consideration at the discretion of the Budget Planning Team. Please contact your campus Student Development team member or email to receive the budget request form.

Downtown Campus
Ashley Spry, coordinator, student development
407-299-5000, extension 2785

East Campus
Charles Ensminger, director, student development
407-299-5000, extension 2038

Lake Nona Campus
Colleen Eagan, coordinator, student development
407-299-5000, extension 7122

Osceola Campus
Nelson Sepulveda, director, student development
407-299-5000, extension 4159

Poinciana Campus
Barry Congressi, coordinator, student development
407-299-5000, extension 6046

West Campus
Joshua Austin, director, student development
407-299-5000, extension 1486

Winter Park Campus
Sunni Prevatt, coordinator, student development
407-299-5000, extension 6889

Featured Colleague: Shari Koopmann, a Published Author, Considers Herself a Teacher First

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

By Claudia Zequeira

She may have published many poems and a few novels, but Shari Koopmann, professor, English, considers herself an instructor and mentor first.

“First and foremost, I’m a teacher,” said Shari, who has been with the College for two decades. “I also, though, wear several other hats at the College.”

Shari, who currently teaches Freshman Composition and Introduction to Fiction courses on the East Campus, is also deeply involved in facilitating workshops on a variety of social justice topics for the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI), including the PJI Teacher Academy and the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) program, both of which seek to build more inclusive classrooms.

“I’m most inspired by the work of the Peace and Justice Institute both at the College and in the community,” she said.

“The PJI facilitates difficult but necessary conversations on such subjects as racial unrest. Using the Principles for How We Treat Each Other, they create safe spaces for these conversations, they welcome unpopular viewpoints, and they promote change through the sharing of personal experiences — the stories of the self — and the relevant literature and research — the stories of the shelf. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the PJI.”

While at Valencia, Shari is proud to have been the recipient of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award, which she earned in 2010 for developing the first student-run literary magazine — The Alchemist — at the Osceola Campus.

“My Advanced Composition students served on the editorial board and made all of the decisions; they selected works to be included, decided on the layout and even handled the budget,” said Shari.

“Our own Valencia graphics students worked with the editors to design the magazine and were paid out of our budget. The students learned a great deal about writing, editing and publishing, not by listening to me talk about it or by reading it in a textbook but by doing it themselves.”

She also mentioned being particularly proud of her years spent working with the Teaching/Learning Academy (TLA) under the leadership of colleague Celine Kavalec, professor, English.

“The TLA was the most collaborative team that I’ve ever been a part of. We met weekly to develop and refine curricula and strengthen the program,” said Shari. “At these meetings, there were no egos in the room. We all worked toward one goal: helping tenure-track candidates become more reflective practitioners and better educators.”

Shari has also served on the East Campus Faculty Senate and currently serves as an officer for the Learning Council.

Outside of the College, Shari, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in English literature from the University of New Hampshire and a doctorate in education from the University of Central Florida, is a published author.

Her work of literary criticism has appeared in scholarly journals and magazines, and her poetry has found its way to several anthologies and magazines. Shari has also earned awards for her poetry and has published three novels.

Her supervisor, Linda Neal, dean communications, said Shari is gifted as both a teacher and author.

“Shari shares her expertise of writing instruction and curriculum with grace and humility,” Linda shared. “In fact, I believe I can safely say that Shari Koopmann is one of the most respected instructors not only among her East Campus colleagues, but collegewide.”

At Valencia, where she has served on numerous committees over the years, Shari has found multiple opportunities for service and opportunities for growth. Her first position at the College was as a senior instructional assistant in Winter Park’s communications lab. She later became an adjunct, earning tenure in 2006.

Her work here has also been recognized via the Faculty Association Awards for Excellence in Counseling, Teaching and Librarianship and the Academic Affairs Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

But it’s the people who make it ultimately all worthwhile for her.

“I’ve met and worked with some wonderful people who have become family to me. In fact, I met my wife at Valencia,” Shari explained. “We married last March. Not only was the wedding full of Valencians, but one of our good friends in the English Department, Susan Dauer, was our wedding officiant.”

She has also embraced the Valencia philosophy; one which strongly believes in access for all.

“I think that Valencia is revered in our community as an institution whose doors are open to everyone, regardless of such things as educational experience, test scores, race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, sexuality and gender identity. I believe that we’re viewed as an academic institution that nurtures and supports students without compromising rigor.”

When she’s not teaching, writing or otherwise collaborating with colleagues, Shari enjoys learning about nutrition and cooking. She even recently completed the Plant-based Nutrition Certificate program at eCornell.

“I have become, dare I say it, obsessed with creating tasty whole foods plant based meals,” she said. “My most recent success was an oil-free, sugar-free chocolate cake sweetened with banana, apple sauce and dates.”

She also loves listening to true crime podcasts like “My Favorite Murder” and reading comic books.

This year, which brought so many of us indoors, has also provided her with an opportunity to explore new talents.

“My pandemic pastime is learning new skills; after a year, I can knit a pretty mean winter hat and play some Van Morrison songs on the guitar,” she said.

Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.

A Guide to Registering for a Course Through the Valencia EDGE

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

If you’ve recently logged on to the Valencia EDGE to register for a course, you may have noticed some changes to the course session details screen. To view the new options and learn how to register for a course, a new guide is available.

To access the Valencia EDGE and view course options:

  1. Log in to Atlas.
  2. Select either the Employee or Faculty tab.
  3. Click on Access the Valencia EDGE button.
  4. Search for a course by typing in the name of the course in the upper right search box or by using the Events Calendar found under the Learning Tab.

Once you have found the course you are interested in, view the Valencia EDGE Course Registration Guide that provides an overview of the new session details screen.

For questions, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748) or Faculty Development here.

Share Your Spring Break Photos

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

We know this year may present some traveling challenges for some of us, but that does not mean Spring Break has to be uneventful. We want to know how you spent your Spring Break, so please share your photos doing your favorite activity: whether that is taking a trip somewhere, engaging in some remodeling projects or spending needed quality time with family and friends.

Please send us photos of you along with a brief note or caption explaining the photos and we’ll include them in a slideshow we’ll publish on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

Please email all photos and descriptions to by Monday, March 22, 2021. We look forward to hearing from you.