Monthly Archives: March 2019

JP Morgan Grant Brings A.S. Programs to Toho High School and Toho High School Students to East Campus

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

In June 2016, United Arts of Central Florida, Valencia College and the School District of Osceola County were awarded $350,000 as a two-year grant from JP Morgan Chase Foundation to develop a Careers in Creative Arts program for the new STEAM high school in Osceola County, Tohopekaliga High School (a.k.a. Toho High), which opened in August 2018. The program was modeled after our work at Evans High School, which was also funded by JP Morgan Chase. The funds allowed Valencia College’s School of Arts and Entertainment faculty to assist the Toho leadership with planning for facilities, equipment, curriculum, hiring of teachers, camps and workshops for Toho students and teachers. The four Associate in Science (A.S.) program areas of focus are digital media, entertainment design and technology, graphic design, and sound and Music technology. Toho High opened with 560 students enrolled in the four A.S. program areas — this huge enrollment caused them to hire a second full-time graphic design faculty member.

With remaining grant funds, we sent Valencia College faculty members to Toho to work with faculty and students during the week of March 4, 2019. Our faculty visited Toho to observe classes in their fields, team teach, view student work and meet with Toho faculty one on one. The Valencia College faculty were Julio Falu, professor, graphic design; Kristin Abel, professor, theater technology; Rob McCaffrey, professor, digital media; and Peter Van der Sande, professor, music production technology.

Next, Valencia College brought 35 Toho students to East Campus’s School of Arts and Entertainment (SAE) building for workshops and panel discussions. On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, the students, along with the four key discipline faculty from Toho, had a tour of the SAE building, small-group workshops and a panel/Q&A with Valencia College students from our four program areas. Jeff Janelle, graphic design professor; John Q. Pearce, theater technoloy professor; and Katie Roetzer, theater technology professor, were additional faculty who helped with the East Campus event.  Also, staff members Stephen Stull, instructional lab supervisor, and Kara Guambo, entertainment services technician, helped with the visit. The Valencia College students shined, and the students from Toho were nothing short of awesome — super friendly, engaged, smart and fun.

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Join Our UCF Colleagues for Ice Cream and Coffee

Date: Thursday, April 4, 2019
Time: 2 – 4 p.m. 
Location: Osceola Campus, Building 4, Room 234

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

Next Thursday, April 4, 2019, join our University of Central Florida (UCF) colleagues for ice cream and coffee at UCF Osceola Campus’s annual open house. Meet new faces and enjoy an afternoon treat while learning about the opportunities available for our students and staff. Stop by the UCF suite in Building 4, Room 234 from 2 – 4 p.m.


Monthly Archives: March 2019

Women’s Leadership Panel Gathers Valencia College Leaders

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

In honor of Women’s Empowerment Month, the Osceola Campus held its first women’s leadership panel on Wednesday March 20, 2019. Student Development sponsored the event, which was held in the Osceola Campus Auditorium.

I was pleased to join my colleagues, Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs; Terri Daniels, executive dean, Winter Park Campus, Stacey Johnson, president, East and Winter Park Campuses; Edna Jones Miller, dean of students, Downtown Campus; and Melissa Pedone, interim executive dean, Osceola Campus. These women are just some of the influential women in leadership roles at Valencia College. Even as I shared my own experiences in my path to leadership, I was impressed by the thoughtful comments and advice from the other participants, and encouraged that so many students were at the event to learn from our collective experiences.

During the panel discussion, we were able to share insight on our careers, leadership philosophies and lives as a whole. We discussed what motivates us every morning, what hardships we have overcome, how to conquer procrastination and how to deal with mom guilt. The audience gained new perspectives on what it means to be a woman in a leadership position.

Student Development received encouraging feedback from this event and plans to hold it again next year.

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Division Updates: Science

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

The Osceola Campus Science Division has been hard at work this spring semester. Dean of Science Anitza San Miguel shares the following update.

On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, the Science Division, in collaboration with Learning Support Services, hosted the first Science Fair at the Osceola Campus. Selected students in Professor of Biology Sharon Sookhai Mahadeo’s Introduction to Environmental Science class presented their class projects. Students, faculty and staff engaged in hands-on activities such as Micro Pipetting for Biotechnology and Microbiology. There were also demonstrations describing Calibration and Operation of an Electronic Scale and Microbiology Inoculation, along with a showcase about The Bounds of Music. Information tables were set up outside Room 105 (Building 4) to showcase our LSAMP Bridges to Baccalaureate program, Project SALSA, our Allied Health program, Science Club, and Science and Math Depot.

During the event, Professor of Biology Marie Trone discussed her Amazon River pink dolphin research with students while referring to a conference poster that was on display. She promoted study abroad experiences, such as the Environmental Science in a Developing Country course that she led with Professor of Biology Dheeraj Verma last May. Marie also shared experiences from her Introduction to Marine Biology course, which includes a field trip sponsored by Student Development using photos and marine artifacts.

Professor of Earth Science Sven Holbik has been doing some cool things in class with his students. He has been using a scanning electron microscope remotely. The microscope is based at Florida International University in Miami. Sven and his students have collected the images below. The first two images are diatoms, which are single-celled planktonic algae that create their shells out of silicon. The third image is of a few pollen grains, and the last image is Radiolaria (zooplankton that makes their tests/shell out of silica). Students use the scanning electron microscope to look at ocean sediment and ocean organisms in his Oceanography class, and they use it to identify unknown minerals in his Earth Science class.
The Science Division garden moved to a new location and is nearly ready for the next round of planting projects. The new beds are in the same general area near Building 4, but now fit in better with the overall landscaping of the campus and are closer to a more reliable water supply. The cilantro had a nice growing season with its seed pods ripening into what you may know as coriander (see pictures below). Giant sunflowers and hemp are planned for part of the upcoming warm weather season. Professor of Biology Rick Dexter will also be planting cherry tomatoes for a post-harvest undergraduate research study.

Tim Grogan, professor, biology, is working with physiology faculty from the University of Florida, the University of Louisville and the California Polytechnic Institute on curriculum projects on sexual development in humans. The work is sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is linked to sex verification in athletic competition, particularly in high performing athletes. The faculty group will be presenting at the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society’s national conference in Portland, Oregon, this May.

Heidi Harne, professor, biology, chaperoned the Hope CommUnity Center service learning trip Friday, March 22 – Sunday, March 24, 2019, along with two other faculty members. “It was a fantastic trip. The experience was even more impactful than I expected, ” Heidi shared. ” I met some amazing professors and students and the immersion aspect of the trip was incredible.” Heidi recommends this trip to students and faculty.

In the physics world, over the last 50 years or so, particle physicists have been able to put together a periodic table of elementary particles, called the Standard Model. Although this marks an extraordinary achievement, it still presents us with a puzzle: Nature seems to repeat itself twice with each type of particle coming in a group of three called a family. Professor of Physics Jay Pérez, along with collaborators at the University of Colima, Mexico, and the University of Florida, have been looking at models that aim to shed light on this puzzle using symmetries often employed in the description of crystallographic structure of solids.

Finally, the Science Division will celebrate its third DNA Day on Thursday April 11, 2019, from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. Information tables will be set up in Building 4, Room 105, of the Osceola Campus to showcase our LSAMP Bridges to Baccalaureate program, Project SALSA, our A.S. degree program in Biotechnology Laboratory Sciences, UFit, Science and Math Depot, and other fun DNA activities. At 1 p.m., two guest speakers will talk about their research.

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Financial Literacy Week Begins Monday

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

Financial Literacy week is Monday, April 1- Thursday, April 4, 2019, and the Financial Learning Ambassador Program is hosting events on every campus. Please encourage your students to attend.

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Textbook Affordability: How Valencia is Tackling the Issue

One of Valencia’s six hypotheses on the conditions that affect student learning and student outcomes is that some students are unable to obtain instructional materials prior to the start of term due to either lack of financial resources or lack of physical access. Of course, the prohibitive cost of textbooks has been a national conversation for years, with many educators, including Valencia faculty and staff, weighing in on the issue. One way Valencia educators are weighing in and determining how the College may be able to implement policies designed to increase affordable (or free) access to educational materials is through a work team that has been commissioned by Faculty Council to examine the instructional materials adoption process and communication plan.

In the article below, Faculty Developer and Instructional Designer Aaron Bergeson highlights other ways Valencia is exploring the issue, particularly as it relates to Open Educational Resources or OERs.

By Aaron Bergeson, Faculty Developer and Instructional Designer 

Why don’t my students come prepared for class at the beginning of the term? This question may represent a common feeling among many faculty members. Textbook affordability is one possible reason students take time getting their textbooks at the beginning of the term. This is why low-cost or no-cost textbooks have been gaining a lot of traction in recent years. The amount Americans pay for various products has seen dramatic decreases over time (relative to overall price increases), but the costs of services like college tuition and fees have soared.

Textbook affordability has been the aim of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, and librarians like Devika Ramsingh are equipping faculty with resources for accomplishing this goal.

As it relates to student preparedness, “students waiting on financial aid sometimes don’t get their textbooks until the second week of class,” she said, adding that some students are on a tight budget in college and often have to decide whether they buy the textbook or skip a few meals.

“As librarians, we are responsible for sharing the benefits of OER with faculty and helping them overcome some of the barriers,” she said.

OER Resources
For faculty who don’t know where to look, Devika created a LibGuide to help faculty find free or low-cost alternatives for textbooks. This in-depth resource shares a wealth of open textbook collections, images, fair use and copyright information, and other open resources. OERs also include the library’s online resources, since they are no-cost to the student. These resources from the databases can be easily linked to in Canvas.

When faculty ask for these resources, Devika pulls materials that may be relevant to various disciplines. All liaison librarians have their own disciplines in which they specialize. Devika also teaches in the Bachelor of Applied Science in Business and Organizational Leadership (BASBOL) program, so she is able to assess for quality in the business division. She is also a liaison librarian for math and education resources. (Because she is not the subject specialist in those areas, she can only guide faculty members to sources within those disciplines, but it will be the faculty member’s responsibility to determine the quality and relevance of the materials for their subject.)

Collegewide OER Committee
Devika gave an OER presentation to Leonard Bass, East Campus dean of learning support. As a result of that presentation, he created an OER committee last summer to approach OER from a collegewide perspective. The committee is made up of librarian representatives at Osceola Campus, East Campus and West Campus. The committee includes Librarians Devika, Diane Dalrymple and Sarah Dockray, Emerging Tech Librarian Ciara Hensley and Emerging Tech Library Specialist Stephanie Mackin.

For a long time, there have been pockets of OER that are happening in different disciplines across the College, but they are happening in silos so we don’t always know what’s going on. That is what Valencia’s OER committee hopes to change. The collegewide committee is working on a standardized message. They are also working on developing a professional development course for faculty.

OER Challenges
One of the most well-known sources of OER, Openstax, provided Devika information on faculty from Valencia who had indicated they were interested in finding more information on free textbooks. She was surprised by how many professors from Valencia were already interested in finding these options for their students and operationalizing the use of OERs.

Despite the enthusiasm from many faculty, it’s also quite common for professors to hit some roadblocks in adopting low-cost or free options for course materials. Some challenges that faculty express when it comes to OER are that they either don’t know where to look, they are overwhelmed with the amount of resources they find, it takes time to revise their courses and some OERs do not have accompanying ancillary activities.

Devika shares some solutions with anyone who has these concerns. If a resource looks interesting but there are no ancillary activities, she recommends reaching out to others online in the OER community to see if anyone else has developed activities for their own classes that accommodate the text.

“Even though the activities are not readily accessible, that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist,” she said.

Another key objection to switching to no-cost or low-cost textbooks is that, for many classes, it would require a substantial redesign of the course. Devika says that her recommendation is that faculty consider applying this redesign when they anticipate a change in the edition of their current textbook.

“When that time comes for the textbook revision, why not consider applying OER resources then?” Devika questioned. “You have to revise it anyway.”

Are you interested in learning more about affordable alternative textbooks? Reach out to liaison librarians if you have any questions.

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Student Recounts Service Learning Experience with New Smyrna Beach’s Marine Discovery Center

On Thursday, January 31, 2019, students from one of Valencia College’s First 30 cohorts completed a service learning project with New Smyrna Beach’s Marine Discovery Center. Funded by the Valencia Foundation and Student Development offices, students learned about Florida’s natural ecosystem, provided assistance restoring the environment and bagged oysters. This experience left a lasting impression on student Adam Gibson. Read about his experience below.

By Adam Gibson, Valencia College Student

Among Valencia College’s First 30 cohort, there is a universal truth: All students strive to achieve success that extends beyond their own academic endeavors with the intent to form long-lasting impacts outside of our local community. That is why the First 30 Service Learning trip to New Smyrna Beach — which took place from Thursday, January 31 – Friday, February 1, 2019 — was both educational and meaningful. Through a series of volunteering tasks, students learned more about the natural ecosystem of Florida, provided assistance in restoring the environment and preventing future damage, and even shucked oysters.

For the first task, the students surveyed the wetlands for any garbage and unwanted material so that it could be collected and later disposed of properly. Various paper and plastic products are easily susceptible to washing up on mud banks near rivers and can lead to harsh consequences for the wildlife. The effort put forth by students to help remove trash from the environment makes itself as clear as day thanks to the students’ teamwork. The cohort in particular was in awe when two students managed to find and retrieve an entire boot that was buried in the mud. Triumphs such as these demonstrate that students can make a positive impact, no matter how big or small.

This was followed by another, arguably more challenging task: bagging oysters. Thanks to the “Shuck and Share” program (and the courtesy of various restaurants in New Smyrna Beach), the Marine Discovery Center accumulated a mass quantity of oyster shells. Students were tasked with gathering oyster shells by the shovel-full and loading them into bags, so they could be later deposited into the salt water and serve a dual purpose: to slow the process of erosion due to waves and to act as a solid surface for oyster larvae to grow on. Although the work was more physically demanding than the collection of trash near mud banks, the activity turned out to be quite memorable among the First 30 cohort. In fact, a competition arose between the students to see who could load up the most bags of oysters. The friendly competition resulted in a mountain of oysters by the end of the day.

The following day, the cohort helped restore the shores of New Smyrna Beach. Students traveled along the coastline searching for any unwanted trash that may have been buried and hidden in the shoreline. By the end of the day, students gathered trash by the bucket full of harmful plastics and other environmentally unfriendly products, which were promptly disposed of to ensure that New Smyrna Beach was a cleaner and even more hospitable area than before. As a token of appreciation, the students received metal straws in the effort to fight against litter and pollution.

The time spent at New Smyrna Beach and at the Marine Discovery Center could easily considered to be some of the most memorable series of activities that the First 30 cohort has participated in thus far. Not only did it allow for the students to learn more about the ecosystem of the Sunshine State, but it also allowed for these promising young men and women to make an impact that will reach beyond New Smyrna Beach and benefit the state of Florida as a whole. Indeed, the First 30 Service Learning trip was an adventure that would prove to benefit all involved, and in a myriad of ways.

Thank you to the following Valencia employees for making this experience possible: Paul Flores, professor, mathematics; Amanda Norbutus, professor, chemistry; Edie Gaythwaite, professor, speech; Karen Borglum, professor, speech; Joshua Guillemette, professor, Mathematics; Saige Klepacki, coordinator, program advisor; Jerry Hensel, professor, computer programming and analysis; Bonnie Clum, administrative assistant; and Chris Borglum, professor, English.

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Accepting Applications Now — Apply for Destination 2019 Today

A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning

We’re currently accepting applications for Destination 2019, Valencia College’s annual faculty development program that brings faculty members together to explore teaching and learning innovations, challenges and solutions. This year’s program will begin Friday, May 10, 2019, and all Valencia College faculty members, full-time and part-time, are encouraged to apply.

Destination 2019 will feature multiple experiences that will bring value to faculty who have participated in Destination previously — and those new to the experience. We are planning another robust program with track topics aligned to conversations emerging from the collegewide insight teams and discussions from Big Meeting. Topics will include equity and diversity, inclusive active learning, culturally responsive pedagogy and preparing action research for publication to join national conversations on student success.

Destination 2019 will offer the following tracks:

  • Inclusive Teaching and Equity-minded Practice
  • SEED I: Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity
  • SEED II: Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity
  • Writing Retreat: Joining the High Impact Conversation

Further details can be found of the Destination webpage. To read about past experiences, click here.

We will also have two special guests join us in May. There will be opportunities to engage with these speakers outside of Destination. Please stay tuned for additional information.

Bryan Dewsbury, Ph.D., is a Gardner Institute fellow and an assistant professor of biology at the University of Rhode Island. He is the principal investigator for the SEAS (Science Education And Society) research program. Their research focuses on questions relating to identity constructs, bias, relationships and the effects of those variables on learning in students (from K – PhD). He is ultimately interested in helping to re-frame the education discussion to better address questions of equity and community-building. His work addresses pressing issues such as student retention in STEM fields (especially in higher ed), the under-representation of minority groups in certain STEM fields and the role of affect (instructor and student) in promoting student learning gains. He also uses the results of those efforts to help faculty develop inclusive curricula and sense of community in the classroom.

Saundra McGuire, Ph.D., is director emerita of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Center for Academic Success and retired assistant vice chancellor and professor of chemistry. She is an internationally recognized chemical educator, author and lecturer who has traveled the globe promoting successful strategies to help students, including those underrepresented in science and math professions, to be successful in their coursework and careers. She has delivered keynote addresses and presented workshops at more than 400 institutions and has been recognized internationally, at the highest levels, for her advances in improving student learning and mentoring students.


To learn more about the Destination 2019 tracks and to apply, click the button below.

Important Note Regarding Compensation for the Summer Program:
All tracks will award $500 for successful completion.* Like Destination 2018, professional development (PD) hours are not offered for this program.

Applications for Destination 2019 close Friday, April 5, 2019, so act fast because seats are limited. Applicants will be notified regarding their participation status by mid-April.

We hope you join us this summer with colleagues from diverse fields in this collegial, immersive, learning experience.

*Your employment status at the time of application will determine compensation. Full-time, non-exempt staff and part-time staff are paid their hourly wage; overtime may be paid, if applicable. Please note that overtime is paid after 40 hours of work, not inclusive of leave or paid time off. If you have any questions about how you would be compensated for participation in the program, please contact Organizational Development and Human Resources at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Faculty Governance Update, March 2019

By John Niss, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

With spring break in the rear-view mirror, it will only be a few more weeks before grades are due, and we can shift into the slightly slower pace of the summer semester. But before we get there, a rush of projects need starting and, with any luck, we can also finish some off.

Vice President of Student Affairs Search
In the category of hopefully finishing something, you should have seen in Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske’s March Provost Update that candidates for the vice president of student affairs role will be visiting all campuses for forums next week. Please make time to attend as many as you can as faculty feedback is a key piece of the selection process; the forums are your opportunity for input. The pool of applicants was very deep, and I have every hope that one of these three individuals will be the leader we need to help move forward the many student-centered initiatives in process at the College.

Campus President Search
The other two pieces needed to get the College’s leadership team back in order are campus presidents for the East and Osceola regions. That search is well underway, currently in the video interview stage. If you’ve been watching how these searches play out, expect to hear about campus forums and the associated opportunities for input soon.

With any luck, this sort of perfect storm of executive-level shifts and retirements won’t hit us again for a long time, and we can all get our focus back on student learning.

Operating Funds for Capital Expenses
One last item. A great question came up at the last Faculty Council meeting, and I would like to answer it in a spot where more faculty may hear (or read, rather). The question was whether Valencia has the same sort of exposure as our sister institution across town for using operating funds for capital expenses. The short answer is no. The longer answer is that although the College has used operating funds for construction (Poinciana Campus, as a recent example), the rules in the State College System are different from those in the State University System. We may get a bit of a closer look from the state auditors, but there shouldn’t be any problems in that area.

As always, if you have concerns or questions, please get in touch.

I’ll let you get back to grading.

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Suzanne Salapa Improves Life for Central Floridians With Parkinson’s Disease Through Dance — Faculty Highlight

By Wendy Jo Moyer

For Dance Department Chair and Professor of Dance Suzanne Salapa, teaching dance is so much more than training future professional dancers. It’s about using her gift and the arts to help the community — even community members you wouldn’t expect to take a dance class. For the past four years, Suzanne has taught a Movement as Medicine class for Central Floridians with Parkinson’s disease with AdventHealth’s Parkinson’s Outreach Center.

When she started this endeavor, Suzanne was approached by then Florida Hospital regarding starting a class for this group, and she received intense training from the Mark Morris Dance Group Dance for PD (Parkinson’s disease) program.

Dance for PD offers specialized dance classes to people with Parkinson’s, their families, friends and care partners in eight locations in New York City and, through its network of affiliates, in more than 100 communities in 20 countries around the world. Dance for PD classes allow people with Parkinson’s to experience the joys and benefits of dance while creatively addressing symptom-specific concerns related to balance, cognition, motor skills, depression and physical confidence.

“We increase the students’ range of motion as well as their flexibility to help them in their everyday life,” shared Suzanne. “I love to see the joy in them and how the physicality of their movement gets bigger and bigger with every class.”

The program’s fundamental working principle is that professionally trained dancers are movement experts whose knowledge about balance, sequencing, rhythm and aesthetic awareness is useful to persons with Parkinson’s. In class, teaching artists integrate movement from modern, ballet, tap, folk and social dancing, as well as choreographic repertory to engage participants’ minds and bodies and create an enjoyable, social environment for artistic exploration.

In fact, Suzanne’s dancers have even performed the program’s choreography. Soon after starting the program at AdventHealth, the dancers participated in a pilot program through the Mark Morris Dance Group Dance for PD.

“We were one of two programs selected nationally to learn a piece of Morris repertory that was adapted for Parkinson’s dancers,” Suzanne explained. “The experience was to be assessed, filmed and submitted to Mark Morris Dance Group Dance for PD. Upon further review, Dance for PD decided that this work would be of benefit to a network of Dance for PD folks, and the project was rolled out a year later nationally.”

And this success has led to live performances.

“Because we were filming and working so hard,” Suzanne said, “I offered the Movement as Medicine dancers an opportunity to showcase their work. They performed the piece at the dance program performance, called ‘Evening of Dance’ [held at Valencia’s East Campus Performing Arts Center]. Due to the positive feedback from that experience, we have been making it an annual event. We believe that by showcasing these talented Movement as Medicine dancers alongside the College dancers that we’re on to something that is important to demonstrate to the public that, even if you have Parkinson’s, everyone can dance.”

Throughout the program, Suzanne has taught 55 students with approximately 12 – 18 students per class. The group meets two days per month for an hour and 15 minutes at the AdventHelath Church in Orlando.

Recently, Orange Television interviewed Suzanne about the program and covered one of her classes. Watch the video below:

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 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.