Monthly Archives: June 2019

Help Wanted — Student Development Is Hiring!

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

Do you have students whom you think would be good student leaders for our campuses? If so, please encourage them to apply for a student leader position by the Friday, July 12, 2019, deadline.

Students can pick up applications in the Student Development Office in Building 2, Room 150, on Osceola Campus.

Monthly Archives: June 2019

Students Combine Studying Abroad With Service Learning

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

Last month, 16 Valencia students, led by Professor of Reading Liz Earle and Professor of Student Life Skills Christy Cheney, participated in an international service-learning study abroad trip in Italy.

In Sicily, students learned about the difficulties faced by immigrants who are seeking to integrate in a new environment. They heard from a man who explained his journey from the Congo to Italy, as well as from a woman who works with women who have been part of the sex trade. The students also spent a day at Casa delle Farfalle, a regional park near the base of Mt. Etna in Sicily, learning how they help to maintain biodiversity of butterflies, insects and plants. A hike to the summit of an extinct volcano for a clear view of Mt. Etna was exhausting but thrilling.

In Rome, students helped clean a kitchen and worked side-by-side with migrants preparing the evening’s dinner. They also heard from a man who described his difficult journey from his home country to Italy and the process of integrating into Italian society and becoming employed. Other students created a podcast, sharing their reflections and personal connections to immigration.

Students’ personal and educational growth went beyond their expectations, and they came home not only motivated to learn more about the immigration process, but also to get involved in helping those in need.

Below are a few testimonials from our study abroad students.

Monthly Archives: June 2019

College Update — June 2019

A Special Message From Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

Welcome officially to summer. We have had quite an eventful few months as we welcomed our new Vice President of Academic Affairs Isis Artze-Vega in February and our new Vice President of Student Affairs Joe Richardson in May, and performed searches for two campus presidents. All this took place as we also moved into the final stages of the work and preparation to open our new Downtown Campus in partnership with the University of Central Florida. So here’s where we are.

Campus President Searches
This spring we were involved in two, almost concurrent, searches for campus presidents: one to replace Kathleen Plinske, executive vice president and provost, as president of the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campus, and one in anticipation of replacing Stacey Johnson, who is retiring from her role as the president of East and Winter Park Campuses. Each search had a strong collaborative team of faculty and staff who reviewed scores of applications. While we were very hopeful midway through each search as we reviewed the talent pools, after on-campus interviews, we discerned that we really had not found the right candidate to lead the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses. One candidate stood out for the East and Winter Park Campuses, and I made a strong offer to him, but he decided to remain in the search at another college in Florida.

So, Dr. Plinske will continue in her dual role, with the support of Interim Executive Dean Melissa Pedone. They are both doing a fine job with the ardent support of deans, faculty and staff on their teams. A renewed search is planned for the fall of 2019.

I am also pleased to announce that Wendy Givoglu has agreed to serve for the coming 2019-2020 academic year as interim president of the East and Winter Park Campuses. Wendy is an exceptional leader, and I am confident in her ability to lead the campuses thoughtfully and creatively. We will commence a renewed search for the president of the East and Winter Park Campuses during spring term 2020. (Please allow me to add my thanks here to Rob McCaffrey for agreeing to serve as interim dean of the School of Arts and Entertainment.)

I encourage you NOT to think of the two past searches as “failed.” The only failed search is the one that hires the wrong person. Our collective expectations in these roles are very high, and we won’t settle for less than Valencia deserves.

Legislative and Budget Update
I am pleased to share that yesterday, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, our District Board of Trustees approved the budget for the upcoming year. The newly approved budget provides for the health of the College by investing in strategic initiatives, including:

Learning and Operational Support

  • Maintaining the tuition rate of $103.06 per credit hour for the sixth year in a row.
  • The $89.9 million state appropriation includes $3.1 million in reoccurring performance funding. Valencia received just over 10% of the performance funding available to all schools.
  • A distance learning fee of $8. This state-authorized fee enables the College to continue to grow and enhance its online programs.
  • The overall proposed operating expense budget for the College is $214 million. This budget represents a 4% increase year-over-year in overall expenses and supports costs associated with the new Downtown Campus, a new customer-relationship management (CRM) tool that will expand proactive advising and Valencia’s recruitment outreach, support new programs and enhance information technology controls.


  • A 2.3% percent wage increase to eligible full-time staff (employees at or above the maximum of the pay grade will receive a lump sum payment equivalent);
  • A 2.3% percent wage increase to eligible part-time staff, annually appointed faculty, part-time faculty and overload pay; and
  • One full step increase plus a 0.5% adjustment to the baseline (an average of 2.3% percent) for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Thank you for all of your hard work and stewardship throughout the years. We will continue to work diligently with our legislators to increase funding, including funding for the Lake Nona Campus Building 2, and to improve the funding formula not only for Valencia but for the entire Florida College System. To view the full 2019-2020 Operating Budget, click here.

Earlier this spring, we celebrated Valencia’s 50th annual commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 5, 2019. With two ceremonies, one in the morning and a second in the afternoon, we celebrated more than 2,000 graduates — the most in Valencia history — as they earned their associate and bachelor’s degrees. As always, thanks to each of you for all the ways you contribute to the learning of our students and its ultimate expression in their earning of a degree.

Monthly Archives: June 2019

Faculty Governance Update, June 2019

By John Niss, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

It’s hard to believe, but my time as Collegewide Faculty Association president is ending.

So, right off, I’d like to express my appreciation to Wendy Jo Moyer, manager, employee communications, Shelby England, coordinator, employee communications, and the rest of the Organizational Communication team. They’ve been a great resource all year to get these updates to you.

Along those lines, one of the biggest discoveries I’ve made this year is the group of people behind the scenes at the College that keep everything organized and moving. Lunch or snacks at that collegewide meeting? Among the many things she does so well, the lunch or snack may well have been ordered by Kari Makepeace, coordinator, academic planning and support. Your paycheck? Without Mary Beth Clifton, assistant vice president, talent acquisition and total rewards, and her team, we wouldn’t be able to depend on getting paid accurately and on time.

As faculty, I think we tend to focus on things that don’t work the way we would like. We don’t hear “the dog that didn’t bark.” So many functions go smoothly and unappreciated at the College; improving processes is important but so is thanking the people who get the work done day in and day out.

To all the staff that have made my work easier this year, thank you.

The second group that I would like to thank are our deans. They have the hardest job at the College. Period. Full stop.

If you have a dean you appreciate, I hope you will tell them. If you want to know the bottom line on working as a dean, talk to your newly emancipated colleagues Marlene Temes, professor, humanities, and Adrienne Mathews, interim dean, behavioral and social science. They have first-hand experience as interim deans and understand the enormous pulls between faculty needs, division needs and the strategic direction of the College; there’s a lot to balance, a lot of local knowledge required and a lot of difficult people to try to satisfy (not all of them students). It’s a hard job.

Thank you to all of our college deans.

Next, I would like to thank our administration and obliquely our governance structure for the authentic voice that faculty have in the guidance of our College. I was pleasantly surprised in this experience in faculty leadership by how important our input, when shared governance goes right, actually is. At senior team and campus presidents meetings, I was pleased to be accepted as an equal voice at the table, particularly when my expertise with curriculum or faculty matters was a topic. I’m not going to argue the details of the budget; that’s not my thing, but, when student learning is at the core, my guidance was accepted as canon. By contrast, I’ve been to two conferences this year and, after talking to faculty at other institutions in similar leadership positions, I’ve come to realize that this level of collaboration is not even vaguely usual.

I specifically want to call out Wendi Dew, assistant vice president, teaching and learning. If you haven’t figured this out as a faculty member, she’s got our back. Everything that happens in the areas of teaching and learning from faculty development to Destination to the Teaching/Learning Academy is in her area of expertise. We’ve met almost weekly this year and that needs to continue with future Faculty Association presidents. One work group we’ve developed is currently rebooting the Program Learning Outcome Assessment cycle in a way that we hope will truly empower faculty to enable amazing gains in student learning.

Monthly Archives: June 2019

Five Things to Know About Canvas: The Final Five

A Message from Page Jerzak, Director, Online Teaching and Learning

Welcome to the very last article in our Five Things to Know About Canvas series. Now that we have fully transitioned to Canvas, we will retire our 22-article series and change to periodic Faculty Insight articles as there are major updates.

Before we say goodbye to the series, here are the final five things to know about Canvas.

1. Reminder, on Saturday, August 3, 2019, Canvas will no longer support Internet Explorer, and on Saturday, August 10, 2019, the new Gradebook will become the default. Please click on the links for more information and resources about these changes.

2. For those of you using the new Gradebook already, the View Filter and Student Name Secondary Info now both include the option to display student group data. This means that you can now filter your grades based on student groups and can add a group label to each student’s name for easier tracking.

3. In Canvas discussions, you can disable the options for students to edit or delete their own posts. The discussions interface will now show this to students so they will already know these options are not available. Students can click on the three-dots icon to see their options within any discussion.

4. Quizzes.Next now allows you to give students extra time or attempts for individual assessments. Simply open the Moderate panel and change the information as needed. In the Moderate panel, you will now see an Accommodations column, which can help you track these changes more easily.

Also within Quizzes.Next, the Question Navigator can now display the assessment point total for you. When you build an assessment, you will now see the point total on the left-hand menu.

5. Need more support for the changes you want to make in Canvas? Try one of these options:

We hope that you have enjoyed the series.

If you need a refresher, you can find previous Five Things You Need to Know About Canvas articles below:

Monthly Archives: June 2019

Writing Across the Curriculum Initiative Focuses on Writing Strategies for Learning

By Aaron Bergeson, Faculty Developer and Instructional Designer

Writing is essential, both as a learning tool and an assessment strategy that can be implemented in any course. That’s the general philosophy of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), which is the topic of this year’s Reading and Writing Conference 2019: Communication Across the Curriculum in the fall.

The challenge is that writing can be different in many subject areas. That’s why a Valencia college WAC initiative started back in 2016 when there was a collegewide discussion from every campus and discipline about writing strategies for learning. After a WAC consultant came in July of that year to talk about building a sustainable WAC culture, the wheels were set in motion in creating that culture at Valencia College.

Valencia’s WAC initiative has already been structured to cover relevant topics for teaching students in various disciplines through writing. In the 2018 WAC Destination track, participants reviewed some of the main domains of WAC, which included reading and thinking critically, writing to learn, writing in the disciplines and assessing writing.

Current WAC Coordinator and Professor of English David Freeman recalls some of the early challenges the previous coordinators, Instructional Lab Supervisor Meena Udho and Professor of English Nicole Spottke, undertook to get started with this initiative. They engaged in partnerships and met with various key players at the College to ideate the Valencia WAC culture. One of the challenges was creating a shared language across disciplines to describe some of these concepts.

“One of the things that we were focusing on at that time was trying to put together the language that we would use for talking about writing,” David said.

Nicole had coined this the interdisciplinary lexicon, because the terminology varies from classroom to classroom from thesis statements to main ideas and other terms.

Writing obviously is applied in nuanced methods. A common assumption that gets made in courses is that students become adept in academic writing in Comp I. However, they still require the technical support in writing a research paper. Professor of English Donna Colwell, who has led many faculty development initiatives in writing such as Write to Learn and the Destination tracks, said that many faculty members like to assign students research papers for their assessment.

“An assumption that gets made in writing is the idea that students are learning how to write a research paper in Comp I,” she said. “That is not a learning outcome in Comp I. It’s a learning outcome in Comp II.”

Both David and Donna have been attempting to bridge the preparation gap for discipline-specific writing in their composition courses with their students. Donna coaches her students how to write in the discipline, whether it is humanities, history or psychology. “The more we can have them in our composition classes practice within other disciplines … the better prepared they’ll be,” Donna said.

David is working on creating an assessment in his class where the student can select the type of writing that is most aligned with their area of academic study.

“I’m starting to shift my thinking,” he shared. “If a student is a nursing student, why shouldn’t I have them do their research paper in APA format since that’s the format they’re going to be using?”

Nicole, along with more than 20 faculty members, participated in a high impact practices plan project that focused on conducting peer review on a writing assignment with participants in math, social science, science and communication. “The thought behind peer review,” Nicole explained, “is if students have the chance to read other students’ work, then they can return to examine their own work with a more critical eye.”

Nicole, David and Professors of English Lauren Gibson, Kat Wells, Rebecca Toole, Angela Blewitt and Erin Grogan recently developed a peer review module that is housed in Canvas Commons, “Multi-Discipline Student Peer Review Module.”

Some other needs that the WAC initiative is addressing include improved academic writing, critical thinking, grading and assessing writing, support for other citation and documentation styles (APA, CSE, Chicago), plagiarism prevention, reading comprehension, active reading and communication skills. David says that these skills are being addressed through the creation of resources for Valencia faculty including a Canvas-based WAC resource for instructors and students, a video repository, workshops and seminars, discipline specific support, and writing partnerships across the College.

To register for the Write to Learn course, click here, sign into Atlas (if prompted) and select the request button to register for the session you wish to attend.

Monthly Archives: June 2019

Register Today for the Valencia College Reading and Writing Conference

A Message from Randy Gordon, Professor, English

Date: Saturday, September 21, 2019
Time: 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: West Campus, Building 8 (Special Events Center)

Join your fellow faculty members at the Reading and Writing Conference, “Communication Across the Curriculum,” on Saturday, September 21, 2019, from 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Special Events Center on West Campus.

Focused on reading and writing across the curriculum, breakout sessions will be conducted by Valencia College faculty from all academic disciplines, and topics will include creative instructional techniques, assessment strategies, innovative technology and more.

Breakout sessions will be available for participants across the following four categories:

Reading and Writing to Learn – Reading and Writing to Learn applies brief, low-stakes writing and reading tasks to the goal of helping students think through and better understand key course concepts. Examples include reading and writing journals, concept summaries, text and article annotations, and classroom assessment techniques such as “Muddiest Point” or “Minute Papers.”

Reading and Writing in the Disciplines – Reading and Writing in the Disciplines aims to introduce students to the conventions and practices common to writing produced, both academically and practically, in a given field, as well as techniques geared toward successfully reading such texts. Examples include research essays, lab reports, business proposals and casebooks/case studies.

Reading and Writing to Engage – Reading and Writing to Engage creates complex, active learning situations that ask students to apply concepts and synthesize ideas through critical thinking. Examples include project proposals, critical analyses and evaluative comparisons.

Inclusion and Diversity and Student Success – Inclusion and Diversity and Student Success seeks to incorporate reading and writing assignments into courses in such a way as to encourage students to consider their cultural, personal and experiential lives and the interrelationship of their positions and those of other people.

All Valencia faculty are invited, and attendees will receive five professional development hours for participation. To register, click the button below.

If you have any questions, please contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 2010. I hope to see you there.

Monthly Archives: June 2019

Lauren Sykes Supports Criminal Justice Students Through Real World Exposure and Experiences — Faculty Highlight

By Dani Moritz-Long

A professor and program chair of criminal justice technology on the West Campus, Lauren Sykes believes in experiential learning. That’s why she draws on her 30-plus years of experience in criminal justice to provide her students ample opportunities to learn through hands-on experiences and exposure to people in the field.

For example, students in the Criminal Justice Club, which Lauren advises, along with select students from her classes, recently toured multiple area facilities, including the Orange County Jail, Orange County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) unit and the Central Florida Reception Center, which holds inmates from area jails sentenced to prison before they arrive at their final corrections destination.

“I want to expose them to corrections and other opportunities for them in criminal justice,” Lauren explained, noting students find the tour of Orange County’s real-life CSI unit to be of particular interest thanks to the popularization of the CSI television series.

Also a part of Lauren’s teaching and learning philosophy is introducing students to an impressive network of criminal justice professionals, ranging from cold-case homicide detectives to criminal justice recruiters. Next week, her class is even hosting Casey Anthony’s lead detective.

These introductions serve as exposure to the field, an opportunity for the students to ask questions and reflect, and a unique chance to leverage Lauren’s expansive network to connect with future colleagues.

Lauren also supports her students’ goals by developing additional programs designed to meet her students’ needs. For example, when she realized that many of her students wanted a career in law enforcement but might not be ready for the physical fitness requirements of the academy, she partnered with her college partner in the Physical Education department, Teaching Lab Supervisor Ron Owens to develop the Get Fit campus-wide initiative, which ultimately benefited the entire West Campus community.

She also partnered with West Campus faculty and staff to create another unique opportunity for criminal justice students to get involved — a Jail & Bail Fundraiser held in November 2018 to benefit the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Through the fundraiser, her students jailed campus personalities like Terry Allcorn, dean, business and hospitality, for “making too much cents” and Melonie Sexton, professor, psychology, for “playing mind games” and raised $1,634.58 and collected needed supplies to help Central Florida’s hungry and homeless.

Her inspiration for going the extra mile? “Passing the torch” to the next generation of criminal justice professionals and, as a Valencia alumna herself, supporting her alma mater.

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.


Monthly Archives: June 2019

High School and Valencia Students Take the Stage in Summer Dance Concert

Date: Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13, 2019
Time: 7:30 p.m. 
Location: East Campus, Performing Arts Center

Come see the culmination of Valencia College’s Summer Dance Institute — a four-week program that provides low-cost instruction to high school students from Central Florida — at the Valencia Dance Summer Repertory Concert on Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the East Campus Performing Arts Center. The performance will feature the work of the high school students, as well as Valencia’s dance performance majors.

As a Valencia employee, tickets cost $10, and you can save $2 per ticket when you purchase online and use the promo code “VALENCIAWEB.” For details on the performance and how to purchase tickets, visit the Valencia News site…

Monthly Archives: June 2019

Happy Belated National Selfie Day!

To commemorate National Selfie Day (officially celebrated on Friday, June 21, 2019), we asked for selfie submissions and you delivered. Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate the faces of Valencia College by submitting your selfie. Below is a video slideshow showcasing your handiwork with a forward-facing camera.

We also posted this video on the Valencia Jobs Facebook and Twitter accounts and the College’s LinkedIn page on Friday, June 21, 2019. Be sure to follow our social media accounts and share the video through social media. This is a great way to show your friends and family what it’s like to work at Valencia College.

Happy (belated) #NationalSelfieDay!