Monthly Archives: April 2020

A Message of Thanks from Wendy Givoglu and Information About Town Hall Meetings

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

Greetings, East and Winter Park faculty and staff,

As we close out the first week of April, I am awestruck by what our faculty and staff have accomplished in response to the coronavirus, which has led to circumstances beyond what we could have ever imagined at the start of our spring 2020 term.

I sincerely thank all of our campus communities for the adaptability, courage, strength, innovation and thoughtful engagement they have demonstrated. We are all in this together.  I appreciate how many of you have responded to the immediate needs of our students and have called them to see how they are doing. To date, we have spoken on the phone to more than 13,000 Valencia students. This is incredible!

Many of us are not only working from home but also doing so with other responsibilities — including the added layer of having our school-aged children at home with us. I absolutely loved this week’s Juice article, Creatively Thinking about Structuring Your Workday with Children regarding how to approach being home with our children and helping them with their learning while balancing our own work and sanity. Not to mention preserving precious time to be present with one another at home to connect, laugh, play and commune with nature.

Thanks to Director of Organization Design and Developent Katie Tagye’s recent article, my husband and I have incorporated more creativity within our daily schedule and are now using a whiteboard with a mix of kindergarten learning goals and other activities of my son’s choosing. I look forward to hearing about your success strategies as well.

Starting next week, I will begin hosting a series of virtual Town Hall meetings in Zoom to occur every few weeks. The first meeting will take place on Friday, April 10, 2020, at 11 a.m. (WP Town Hall Meeting) and at 12 p.m. (East Campus Town Hall Meeting). This will be an opportunity for us to connect regarding college updates, as well as a time to ask questions and check in with one another. A Zoom invite will be sent to your Valencia email next week with the meeting password.  In the meantime, I would like to remind you all to refer to Valencia’s COVID-19 website for updated announcements and FAQs.

I sincerely want to thank our Academic Affairs and the Organizational Communications teams that help coordinate and write our Campus Concentrate. This month’s edition was written and edited prior to spring break, and we thought a lot about whether to publish our Concentrate as usual. My feeling is that the infinite accomplishments of our campus communities still need to be illuminated and shared and will only continue to fuel the innovation, creativity and dedication to learning that our faculty and staff radiate — even in our most challenging days.

Please continue to take good care of yourself and loved ones. I look forward to seeing you soon in forthcoming virtual meetings!

Monthly Archives: April 2020

International Chess Grand Master Visits Winter Park Campus

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

Since summer 2019, Technical Support Specialist Fernando Gutierrez and the Orlando Chess Club have teamed up to host Thursday night chess events on the Winter Park Campus. Valencia and surrounding college students, staff members and community members who have a United States Chess Federation registration can attend these events. Members of the Orlando Chess Club often participate as well.

On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the Winter Park Campus received a surprise visit from International Chess Grand Master Julio Granda. He was visiting Orlando and heard about the chess nights from community chess members. Julio wanted to test the professional players from the Orlando Chess Club. More than 25 people attended the event and were astounded as Julio played over 10 games at the same time and hadn’t eaten lunch that day.

Rollins Student Martin Hansen holds the National Master Chess Title, less than 1% of rated chess players are awarded this prestigious title. Martin attended the chess event that Julio visited and was thrilled to play against him and win.

Julio stated that he was pleased to find a club in Orlando that plays chess regularly and that he is looking forward to visiting Orlando again. To see Julio in action, view the video below:

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Interdisciplinary Collaboration Showcased With Kevin The Robot

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

In the fall 2019 semester, Professor of Humanities Dan Dutkofski was walking past Professor of Computer Programming and Analysis Dave Brunick’s office and noticed Kevin, a telepresence robot standing proudly near the door. At that moment, a plan was set in motion to have Dave speak to one of Dan’s spring classes without ever leaving his office.

Dan asked Dave to talk to an Introduction to Philosophy class with the objective of focusing on human nature: what makes us human and what constitutes our individuality. The catch? Kevin the robot was the one who visited.

As Kevin entered the room, the students, who are generally animated and engaged, were focused on the device and began to interact with him. Dave explained the technical side of computer interactions, and building on what was discussed in the previous class, the students were asked just one question: Was Professor Brunick present?

The students were unable to escape the implications of this science on their understanding of intelligence, learning and personhood. The discussion that followed was exciting and thoughtful.

While showcasing the link between the humanities and computer programming and analysis on East Campus, one thing became clear: what happens in the philosophy classroom does not stay in the philosophy classroom. Computer science has a presence in other departments as well. Hopefully, students can realize an intentionality to the curriculum, a relationship between the various disciplines and that all of us want to learn what is truly going on around us.

Interdisciplinary collaboration develops stronger critical thinking skills and in-depth perspectives for students involved. Contact Dave at or 407-200-5000, extension 2360 if you are interested in having Kevin visit a class.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Honors Student Places Third in Writing Contest

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

Professor of Education Jane Maguire accompanied eight East Campus honors students to the Florida Collegiate Honors Council Annual Conference in Palm Beach Gardens, which took place from Friday, February 7 to Sunday, February 9, 2020.

East Campus Honors Student Erin Najarro placed third in the “Writing Contest for Fiction” competition. Her winning piece was a myth essay that was assigned in her favorite Valencia class, Humanities – Greek and Roman Honors, that she took during the spring 2019 semester. The assignment was to explain a natural phenomenon such as a hurricane, tornado, tsunami or similar phenomena. Information regarding what she had learned about Greek and Roman mythology was required in her essay. Lastly, her myth had to be a completely original piece with no further research, and she had free range to make up her own characters or use ones from the Greek and Roman Pantheon.

“At first, I was unsure about this assignment because I was not well versed on this type of storytelling,” said Erin. “When it was time to sit down and write my myth, I felt prepared because I had a better understanding of Greek and Roman mythology. I chose to write an original love story titled “Rainbow: Bridge of Love” to explain the natural phenomenon of rainbows.” Erin truly enjoyed writing this story because it allowed her to apply what she had learned while showcasing her creativity.

Erin complimented her Humanities – Greek and Roman Honors teacher, Dottie Ivey, part-time faculty, humanities.“Professor Ivey is an excellent faculty member who promotes a collaborative learning environment through thought-provoking discussions,” Erin shared. “Her class had the perfect balance of lecture, peer-to-peer learning, discussions and creative expression.”

Erin is also a work study student for the Office for Students with Disabilities on Osceola Campus.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Black History Month Commemorated on East Campus

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

The Valencia learning community celebrated Black History Month on East Campus with events throughout February 2020. This year’s national theme designated by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History was “African Americans and the Vote.”

The Peace and Justice Institute and African American Cultural Society (A2CS) kicked off the beginning of the month-long celebration by hosting a breakfast on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Community members shared their life stories and a mantra of inspiration to the audience of faculty, staff and students.

Later that evening, students gathered to watch the movie “Fruitvale Station,” based on a true story. The following two weeks were filled with great panel discussions titled “Black and Educated” and “Love Matters – Loving Thy Self.”

On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the East Campus Mall was filled with beautiful sights, sounds and smells as the A2CS presented “The Global Lens: African Diaspora Circling in the Americas.” Angel’s Soul Food and BBQ from Sanford catered both the kick-off breakfast and the Global Lens events. Students experienced cultures of different countries in the African diaspora thorough traditions, dance, food and spoken languages.

Closing out Black History Month, A2CS hosted Orlando’s Finest Showcase on Thursday, February 27, 2020. This event featured local student artists demonstrating their talents for a night of entertainment and education.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Students Visit Amazon Fulfillment Center

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

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 15 students from Valencia’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Computing Technology and Software Development degree program attended a tour of Amazon’s $132,000,000 fulfillment center in Lake Nona. About the size of 40 football fields, the Amazon hub opened in August 2018.

Students watched the distribution process as products arrived through truck bays and were loaded onto conveyor belts that travel 10 miles within the facility. Then, products were transported to a process point and put into large yellow containers. Robotic arms moved the containers to specific areas where products were then boxed, labeled and shipped out.

Professor of Computer Programming and Analysis Jerry Hensel and Dean of Academic Affairs Michelle Foster accompanied the students. Everyone who toured was in awe of the size, technology and capability of the fulfillment center.

“I would love to have an entry level job at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in order to work my way up to get a job in information technology or programming while I go to school,” shared one student.

In fact, Amazon pays 95% of tuition and fees for their employees.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Modified Campus and Location Hours for Employee Access

Friday, March 20, 2020, 11 a.m.

A Message from Mike Favorit, Managing Director, Safety and Security

Thank you for continuing to work toward our mission to transform lives, strengthen our community and inspire individuals to excellence, while also maintaining personal safety measures. To improve employee safety and decrease the amount of time our Security team members are on our campuses, we will modify campus hours for employee access.

Please note that Lake Nona, Poinciana and Winter Park Campuses will close the evening of Saturday, March 21, 2020, until the College resumes normal operations. If you need to access these campuses, please visit the campuses during the following hours, no later than this Saturday, March 21, 2020. Please bring your Valencia College employee ID.

Lake Nona Campus
7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Poinciana Campus
7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Winter Park Campus
7 a.m. – 10 p.m.


As of Monday, March 23, 2020, at 6 a.m., hours for other campuses and locations will be as follows:

District Office
Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
407-582-3000 (In case of emergency and you need access to the District Office outside of the days and times listed above, please contact West Campus Security at 407-582-1000.)

East Campus
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Osceola Campus
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

School of Public Safety
Monday through Saturday, 5:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

West Campus
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

During the times listed above, the Security team will maintain its primary safety obligations, as well as provide access for employees on a case-by-case basis to ensure they have what they need to be effective in their roles. If you plan to come to campus, please request supervisory approval prior to coming to campus, unless you have specifically been assigned to work from one of our locations. When you arrive, please call the campus’ Security office at the number listed above and have your Valencia College employee ID available. Please note that due to a decreased staff, door opening requests may be slightly delayed.

In case of emergency or if you have any questions, please either call your campus/location Security office, or if your campus is closed, contact your Region’s Security office. Security will be available at East, Osceola and West Campuses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also call 407-582-1000 to connect to the Security dispatcher or me directly at 407-416-3314.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

New Grade Options for Students

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

A Message from Stanton Reed, Faculty Association President, and Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

Over the last few weeks, we have been engaged in many conversations with faculty and academic leaders about how to mitigate the impact of the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic on our students and their academic journeys. We appreciate your untiring commitment, ideas, and collaborative spirit in addressing our students’ academic and emotional well-being.

Today, we will send this email to all students enrolled in Spring courses to introduce two new grade options:

  • Unenroll from a course in the spring term and retake the course in the future
  • Elect into an optional satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system

The lives of all students, like all of ours, have been significantly disrupted, and these new grade options are designed to have no impact on a student’s GPA. Students will have the opportunity to choose these options on a course-by-course basis; students who elect neither option will maintain our current letter grade scale.

Unenroll/Retake Option

Students who choose to unenroll and retake a course will be removed from the course with the opportunity to retake the course in the future. This option will appear as an R20 for the spring term on their transcript. Students who retake the course in Summer 2020 will have tuition and fees for the course waived. The opportunity to retake the course at no cost will be extended into the Fall if the course is not available during the summer or in consideration of other special hardships. The final grade assigned to students when they retake the course will be posted on their transcript for the term during which they retake the course, and the R20 grade will remain on their transcript for the Spring 2020 term.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Option

If students elect into the optional satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system, they will receive one of the following grades:

  • Satisfactory + (S+), representing a grade of C or better
  • Satisfactory – (S-), representing a grade of D
  • Unsatisfactory (U), representing a grade of F

A grade of S+ will satisfy prerequisite and graduation requirements that require a grade of C or better.

Final Grade Assignment Process for Faculty 

The process of assigning final grades will not change for faculty as the result of these new options. Students who choose the retake option will be automatically removed from your Canvas shell. For students who elect the satisfactory/unsatisfactory option, the final letter grade you assign to the student will be automatically converted to an S+, S-, or U as described.

Feedback from Faculty

We have had to make decisions about these new grade options more quickly than our normal collaborative design processes would allow in order to make them available to students this Spring. We collected feedback from our Faculty Association membership about both options in late March, and received nearly 250 responses. While there was not unanimity in the responses, there was overwhelming support for both options.

We have heard concerns that some students who were not performing well in their courses before the pandemic emerged will have the opportunity to choose one of these new options and receive a “free pass” this semester. While we acknowledge the concern, every student has been impacted by the pandemic in some way, regardless of their course standing prior to spring break. We have concluded that the opportunity for flexibility provided to all students outweighs the potential of a few — whose circumstances we do not fully understand — taking advantage of these new options.

Suggested Text to Share with Students

While we will send all students an Atlas email today, we encourage you to share this information with students as well. Please feel free to copy/paste the following language:

To limit COVID-19’s disruption to your academic plans, offer you increased flexibility, and ease your academic stress, Valencia College is introducing two new grade options. These grade options include the opportunity to:

  • Unenroll from a course in the spring term and retake the course in the summer 2020 term
  • Elect into an optional satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system

For detailed information about these options, including details that can help you decide if these alternatives are a good choice for you, please click here.

Once you have reviewed this detailed information, you can elect the retake and/or satisfactory/unsatisfactory option until Friday, April 17, 2020, at 10 p.m. You’ll find information on how to elect these options on this webpage.

If you would like to connect with an advisor to discuss your individual situation and if either of these grade options are a good choice for you, please contact your advisor or email us at International students should contact International Student Services at

A Special Thank You

We sincerely thank you for all of the ways in which you are supporting our students during this incredibly challenging time. We also deeply appreciate the grace that you are extending to them, to one another, and to us. We will thrive through this, together.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Valencia Staff Association Hosts Health Fair and Chili Cook-off

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

To celebrate American Heart Month and raise awareness about heart health, the East Campus Valencia Staff Association (VSA) hosted a health fair on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

Community organizations, including the YMCA, Track Shack and The Florida School of Holistic Living, provided attendees with information regarding healthy living. Valencia College’s Organizational Development and Human Resources department and UnitedHealthcare representatives shared information regarding Real Appeal and health benefits. The Gym and UFIT were also represented at the tabling event.

Additionally, employees donated 13 pints of blood during a OneBlood blood drive. Each unit of blood saves three lives, so that’s 39 lives that will be saved in our community.

The Winter Park Campus VSA organized a chili cook-off contest on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. The contestants consisted of nine staff members, and 65 students judged the chili entries. Professors of Mathematics Genie Mogollon and Damion Hammock tied for the winning chili and now share the trophy.

The association is actively recruiting new leaders for the year 2020-2021, and a communication email was sent out last month. Please consider becoming part of this association that serves as a voice for positive change and innovation. To learn more about VSA’s key areas of focus, click here. For additional details, contact Susan Howard, coordinator, academic affairs, at or 407-299-5000, ext. 2057.