2021 Benefits Open Enrollment Begins Today

A Message from Tom Keller, Director, Total Rewards

Today marks the beginning of the Valencia College Open Enrollment period. Now, more than ever, is the time to review your benefits and determine which selections are right for you and your family. This year’s Open Enrollment period is Monday, October 19 through Friday, October 30, 2020, and is your once-a-year opportunity to enroll, opt out or make changes to your health, dental and vision plans, flexible spending accounts, and life and disability insurance.

Open Enrollment Process
Like last year, you may participate in passive enrollment, which means that most of your 2020 benefits selections will roll over to 2021, unless there is an active change made during Open Enrollment. To review your current 2020 benefits elections, open the Benefitfocus portal and click “Employee Summary Report” under My Documents on the left menu.

However, you should participate in active open enrollment in the Benefitfocus Portal or via the Benefitplace app if you want to:

  • Add, drop or change any of your benefits coverage
  • Add, drop or change any dependents’ benefits coverage
  • Participate in a Medical or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for 2021 (the 2020 enrollment amount does not roll over for 2021)
  • Enroll in, increase or maintain your Health Savings Account (HSA) employee contribution for 2021 (the 2020 employee HSA payroll deduction will not roll over as a payroll deduction amount for 2021)
  • Opt out of medical coverage in 2021
  • Decline medical coverage in 2021
  • Add medical coverage if you opted out of medical coverage or declined medical coverage in 2020

So, how do you enroll? Watch the video below for steps on how to complete the enrollment process:

To start the process to enroll in your 2021 benefits via the Benefitfocus Portal from your computer:

  1. Log in to your Atlas account.
  2. Go to the Employees tab.
  3. In the My Human Resources channel, select Benefits & Wellness.
  4. Click on the Benefitfocus Portal link.
  5. To review your current 2020 benefits elections, click “Employee Summary Report” under My Documents on the left menu.
  6. To start your 2021 enrollment, click the “Get Started” button. Then, you’ll be on your way to making the most of your Valencia Total Rewards.

To enroll in your 2021 benefits via the Benefitplace app:

  1. Search for Benefitplace in the Google Play Store for Android users and Apple Store for iPhone users, and download the app.
  2. Open the app and enter valenciabenefits as the company ID.
  3. Log in using your Atlas Username and Password.

Win an Amazon Gift Card

Review and complete your 2021 enrollment in Benefitfocus or the Benefitplace app during the first week of Open Enrollment, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for one of three $100 Amazon gift cards*. The deadline for entry is Sunday, October 25, 2020, at 11:59 pm. Be sure to click the “Complete Enrollment” button at the end of your review in order to be entered in the drawing.

Dependent Eligibility Verification and Re-verification Review
In January 2021, Consova will conduct a verification of new dependents and re-verification of select dependents enrolled in the medical, dental and vision plans for 2021. The review will be conducted on behalf of Valencia to ensure that only eligible dependents are enrolled in appropriate plans:

  • All newly enrolled dependents added to the plans for 2021 will go through an initial dependent eligibility verification review.
  • Spouses, domestic partners and some child relationships, except natural born or adopted children, that were previously verified prior to Wednesday, July 1, 2020, will be re-verified.

Need help? There are resources available to assist you with making the best 2021 benefits decisions:

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

*Any property or service provided to employees of the College valued at $100 or more is taxable and will be added to your W-2 earnings.

Ghosts and Goblins, Tricks and Treats; We Want to Share Your Halloween Photos

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Calling all ghosts and goblins! Although Halloween is almost certain to have a different feel this year due to COVID-19, many of us will still be marking the beloved holiday in special ways. So, if you are still carving pumpkins, decorating your home or work environment in creative ways, dressing up your kids, your pets or yourself, please email your photos to the_grove@valenciacollege.edu by Monday, November 2, 2020. We’d love to feature them in a photo montage on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Also, for a series of festive Zoom backgrounds you may use as you enjoy autumn events, click here. Then click on the download button on the top right side of the page.

Spring 2021 Term Update

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

As previously shared in our October Provost Update, the majority of our spring 2021 courses will remain online with a limited number offered on our campuses.

We are preparing to offer about 50 additional courses in a face-to-face or mixed-mode format this spring as compared to fall. Some courses in the following programs will be offered on our campuses.

  • Accelerated Skills Training
  • Allied Health
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Biotechnology
  • Continuing Education
  • Culinary
  • Engineering
  • Nursing
  • Physics
  • Plant Science
  • Public Safety
  • YouthBuild

In addition to most courses, we anticipate that most services will also continue to be offered virtually. On Friday, October 30, 2020, the Conditions to Reopen team is going to meet to review operations that may require some functions to reopen on the campuses. More information on campus operations, including student services, will be shared in early November.

Valencia Presents its First Online Theater Production: ‘She Dreams of Heroes’


Date: Friday, October 23  and Saturday, October 24, 2020
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Online

Date: Sunday, October 25, 2020
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Online

Valencia College Theatre is stepping onto the virtual stage this fall with its first ever online production, “She Dreams of Heroes.” This mystical and nostalgic play is an original production devised by the ensemble and led by Rebekah Lane, director and professor, School of Arts and Entertainment, appearing online for free Friday, October 23 through Sunday, October 25, 2020.

“She Dreams of Heroes” brings the stories of amazing women out in the open. Filmed from the homes of the actors in their own personal environment, the ensemble cast comprised of men and women will play vagabonds, gathering from the depths of the internet to tell stories of women who inspire them, and in doing so, help soothe “Mother Internet” to sleep.

For details on how to reserve an online ticket, visit the Valencia News site.

Celebrating 30 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

By Mary Asbury, Coordinator of Disability Support Services

Date: Monday, November 2, 2020
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Zoom

The Office for Students with Disabilities and the Disability Inclusion Alliance invite you to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act on Monday, November 2, 2020.

You are encouraged to join in a virtual celebration to honor the men and women who fought for disability rights, accessibility and inclusion. Guest speakers include Director for Students with Disabilities Deborah Larew, Valencia alumnus Issac Thomas and bilingual autism advocate and author Anthony (Tony) Hernandez Pumarejo.

In addition, we invite you to tell us how the ADA has impacted you. If you or a loved one have a disability and a personal story to tell, we’d like for you share it via a recorded video or audio. Some topics or questions you may want to share in your video could include:

  • How has your life has changed since the ADA became law?
  • What words come to mind when you think of the ADA?
  • What has been the most important protection the ADA has provided?
  • What has changed because of the ADA?
  • If you were born after the ADA became law in 1990, what does it mean to you to be a part of the ADA generation?

Once you decide what you want to say about the ADA, simply write it down and then you can record an audio or video response. Advanced technology equipment is not required — you can use your phone, tablet, laptop or another device to record and upload your message. A few video tips to keep in mind as you record include:

  • The video or audio should be approximately 30 seconds long.
  • Make sure you have good lighting.
  • Use a simple background.
  • Please use landscape orientation to record.

Please send your video and audio files to masbury@valenciacollege.edu by Monday, October 26, 2020. The videos and recordings will be viewed at our virtual celebration, on Monday, November 2. Interpreters will be available at the event.

Our Role in Encouraging Students to Vote

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A Message from Isis Artze-Vega, Vice President, Academic Affairs

Our democracy relies on participation, yet historically, young people have voted at lower rates than older adults. Individuals least likely to be civically engaged include those from racially and ethnically underrepresented groups, the children of parents with less formal education, and individuals living in poorer neighborhoods. Our Valencia College general education outcome of ethical responsibility includes demonstrated awareness of personal responsibility in one’s civic life. We therefore have a responsibility and opportunity to engage our students in the democratic process, in a variety of non-partisan ways. Encouragement from faculty, staff, and other students has been shown to make a significant difference in student registration and turnout.

Can you really encourage voting? You may be wondering if you will be crossing any lines or doing something inappropriate by encouraging your students to vote. As an institution that receives federal funding, we are required by the Higher Education Act to promote voter registration; and as College employees, we may inform students of the upcoming election, make students aware of which positions and initiatives will be on the ballot, without endorsing a particular candidate or position, and encourage them to talk to their peers and families about voting.

Here are three approaches you might take:

1. Assist with voting planning. Since our students have busy lives and many dates and deadlines to remember, we can be mindful of and remind students about key dates, avoid scheduling exams or having major assessments due on election day, and/or show students how to make a voting plan. A voting plan might include where they will vote, how (by mail or in-person), when (early or on Tuesday, November 3, 2020) and whether they have the necessary documents to vote. Using the State of Florida Voter Information Lookup, students can find their polling place, a sample ballot and their vote-by-mail ballot status.

  • Early Voting Period for the General Election: Monday, October 19 – Sunday, November 1, 2020
  • Vote-by-mail Ballot Request for the General Election: Saturday, October 24, 2020
  • Vote-by-mail Ballot Return Deadline: by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, 2020

2. Share resources on voting and media literacy. Valencia’s Library staff prepared a LibGuide to help the Valencia College community apply research skills to become informed voters. The LibGuide also includes guidance on how to prepare to respond to ballot measures, such as proposed constitutional amendments.

3. Discuss elections or ballot issues in a non-partisan manner. Given the polarized nature of our political landscape, discussing elections or ballot issues with students can be challenging, yet these discussions represent an important opportunity to promote learning. It has been well established that engaging in constructive conversation with fellow students can improve students’ listening skills, teach them to respect differing views and develop their ability to think critically about complex topics. Living Room Conversations Guides, explicitly designed to provide a structure for discussing important issues across differing political affiliations and backgrounds, include discussion norms and conversation templates and can thus help you carefully design discussions. In general, students should be asked to make evidence-based contributions, and faculty should take great care to facilitate a respectful conversation, and to avoid injecting their own partisan beliefs, thus modeling how to discuss politics in a civil, nonpartisan way.

If you have questions about the information or suggestions above, please email me at iartzevega@valenciacollege.edu.

Civic Engagement Committee

Chairs: Robyn Brighton, Director, Strategic Learn Initiatives; Emilie Buckley, Librarian; and Stefania Salerno, Student Government Association Osceola Campus President

Members: Kelly Astro, Director, Horizon Scholars Program; Joshua Austin, Director, Student Development; Joy Benjamin-Fieulleteau, Assistant Director, Bridges Program; Marsha Butler, Faculty, New Student Experience; Scott Creamer, Dean, Humanities/Social Science; Diane Dalrymple, Librarian; Kimberly Foster, Faculty, New Student Experience; Adrienne Mathews, Professor, Political Science; Mia Pierre-Wall, Faculty, New Student Experience; Landon Shephard, Dean, Learning Support; Dhiya Suresh, Valencia CEEP Fellow; Marlene Temes, Interim Dean, Academic Affairs; and Daniel Turner, Faculty, New Student Experience

Immerse Yourself in Divergent Thinking During Caffeine Buzz

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Date: Friday, November 6, 2020
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Join in for a Caffeine Buzz on Friday, November 6, 2020, co-hosted by Katie Tagye, director, organizational design and development, and Maryam Khan, assistant director, talent acquisition.

The Buzz is an opportunity to become immersed in a divergent-thinking environment to explore innovative ideas around the world while also networking with colleagues.

To review a resource shared during the October 2020 Buzz, click here. Watch a video of the October Buzz below:

Vehicle Rental Contract Change Effective Now

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 

A Message From Yaremis Fullana, Managing Director, Procurement

There has been a contract change for rental vehicles at the College, as Valencia now has a five-year contract for employee travel with Avis and Budget Car Rental, part of the Avis Budget Group.

This means employees who made reservations with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a company no longer in our contract, prior to Wednesday, September 30, 2020, when the new contract took effect, should check the status of their reservation to ensure it has not been canceled.

Valencia College employees may receive significant car rental discounts for personal use or receive reimbursement for business travel provided they use the Avis Budget Group from this point forward.

For a detailed look at the policy and view contract pricing, visit the Procurement page here.

Employees who have questions may email Procurement directly at valenciaprocurement@valenciacollege.edu.

Alternative Medical Insurance Resources for Dependents and Part-time Employees

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A Message from Tom Keller, Director of Total Rewards

Benefits Open Enrollment is now underway and must be completed by Friday, October 30, 2020. Although Valencia offers four medical insurance options as a benefit to full-time employees, those plans may not fit your family’s needs. In addition, part-time employees not eligible for Valencia health insurance may seek resources for medical insurance coverage for themselves and/or their families.

The good news is that many more choices exist in the health insurance landscape today. Years ago, there weren’t many options outside of employers’ plans. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the marketplace for consumers has expanded.

Here are some alternative resources for medical insurance:

Healthcare.gov (also known as the Health Insurance Marketplace)
Although the Marketplace Open Enrollment doesn’t begin until Sunday, November 1, 2020, the 2021 plans and prices should be available to view by the end of October. The Marketplace offers a variety of bronze, silver and gold plans from multiple medical insurance vendors, which are comparable to those provided by Valencia.

Florida KidCare
Through Florida KidCare, the state of Florida offers health insurance for children from birth through 18 years of age, even if one or both parents are working.

Florida KidCare includes free, subsidized and full-pay options based on family income. Monthly premiums depend on your household’s size and income. Children in families with income between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty level ($34,848 and $52,404 for a family of four) are eligible for subsidized coverage through Florida Healthy Kids. Families who do not qualify for free or subsidized coverage may purchase a competitively priced full-pay plan.

Applications can be submitted through Florida KidCare or by calling toll free 888-540-KIDS.

A Licensed Insurance Agent or Broker
Agents and brokers can help you navigate the plan options available from health insurance companies. It is best to research or ask for referrals from family and friends to find the best agent/broker to assist you in finding coverage for your family’s needs.

Drop Dependents from Valencia Plans Through Monday, November 30, 2020
As employees ourselves, the Total Rewards team understands the need to be mindful of our colleagues’ search for alternate health insurance coverage for their families — whether through a spouse’s employer or other resources noted herein — and that there may be conflicting enrollment periods. Whether or not you will cover your dependents on Valencia’s health plan or seek alternate resources, we ask that you do two things:

  • Reach out to the Total Rewards team to discuss your options by emailing HR4U@valenciacollege.edu or calling the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).
  • Enroll your dependents in Valencia’s plan prior to the Monday, October 30, 2020, open enrollment deadline.*

*After Friday, October 30, 2020, you will have a one-time opportunity to drop your dependents’ health insurance coverage through Valencia if you find coverage elsewhere. The deadline for dropping dependents’ health insurance coverage is Monday, November 30, 2020, and must be done by contacting the Total Rewards department. You may not, however, add dependents after the Friday, October 30, 2020 deadline. There will be no exceptions.

If you have any questions or need assistance, email HR4U@valenciacollege.edu or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Spotlight on Undergraduate Research — Marina Worden

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Valencia College has developed an undergraduate research initiative — based on nationally recognized models — that expands opportunities for students to partner meaningfully with faculty members to pursue a specific course of research. As most community colleges only offer undergraduate research as a very small boutique opportunity for a few students, Valencia has become a leader in community college research. Last year, hundreds of Valencia students worked in one or more modalities of research. This is vital for students exploring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) -related professions through transfer, both to better discern their purpose and pathway, and to have experiences comparable to their peers at the university to which they transfer.

When student Marina Worden graduates from Valencia College with an Associate in Arts in May, she plans to enroll in the University of Central Florida’s Biomedical Sciences-Neuroscience bachelor’s degree program. With the end goal of obtaining a Ph.D. in neuroscience and pursuing a career in research in a laboratory or university setting, she knew that gaining skills in research was important early in her educational journey.

In 2018, Marina learned about the Seneff Honors College and applied to the Undergraduate Research track. Then she launched her research experience with the course, Honors Research Process with Professor of Education Jane Maguire, followed by completing an Honors research project under the guidance of her mentor, Part-time Faculty of Psychology Dale Maynard. Her project, “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Autism” involved investigating the academic learning experiences of undergraduate students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“For me, research is both an opportunity for growth and discovery on the part of the researcher and a rigorous process for developing knowledge to advance the quality of human life,” Marina shared, adding that she has always loved science and learning new things.

“Research has benefited my acquisition of the skills and knowledge needed in my chosen career field,” she said. “It has expanded my knowledge of neuroscience and helped me develop many skills vital to practice in the field, including critical evaluation of scientific claims, analysis of data, creative problem solving and communication.”

To nominate a student doing great undergraduate research or for questions about Valencia’s undergraduate research initiative, contact Melonie Sexton, professor, psychology, and coordinator of undergraduate research, at UR@valenciacollege.edu or 407-299-5000, extension 5632.

The YMCA is Open; Enroll in a Membership Today

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A Message from Tom Keller, Director, Total Rewards

If the quarantine has caused you to put on a few pounds, get in shape for the holiday season by joining the YMCA. Whether you’re interested in strength training or cardio, or maybe group exercise is more your speed, the YMCA has programs for every member.

Through your Total Rewards, full-time employees and their families can enjoy preferred pricing on a YMCA of Central Florida membership. Valencia will subsidize 20% of your individual or household membership, and the YMCA will waive the Join Fee for full-time faculty and staff. Payroll deductions will be set up for the remaining portion of your YMCA membership after the Valencia subsidy amount is subtracted. Additionally, those enrolled in a Valencia College YMCA membership are eligible for member pricing on programs, including aquatics, summer camp and sports leagues.

And now, full-time employees may enroll, change or cancel a membership through the end of the year.

Learn more about these special YMCA rates by clicking the button below:

This year, employees can enroll for their YMCA membership in one of two ways:

list of YMCA safety protocols and an FAQ are available here.

To find a YMCA location nearest you, visit ymcacentralflorida.com.

If you have questions or would like additional information about our YMCA benefit, contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at HR4U@valenciacollege.edu , or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748). If you have any questions about the Y’s programs, email valenciacollege@cfymca.org.