Monthly Archives: April 2020

Sport Your Favorite Denim Shirt or Hat on April 29

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, join the Denim Day movement with the Victim Service Center of Central Florida (VSC) — a day used to protest victim blaming and discuss sexual violence and its misconceptions — by wearing denim, sharing a photo and listening to a Zoom panel discussion.

Denim Day is an international protest against sexual violence and its misconceptions born as a response to the Italian Supreme Court’s overruling of a rape conviction in the 1990s. Although the assailant had been found guilty at the trial, the Supreme Court argued that, because jeans are difficult to remove, the assailant couldn’t have done so without the help of the victim. This ruling sparked widespread protest. The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans and holding placards that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.” The movement since spread to other countries.

Valencia employees have participated in Denim Day for five years by wearing jeans on the designated day. However, this year, since most of our operations have gone online, you’re invited to switch it up and wear other denim fashions — such as hats, jackets or shirts — to raise awareness.

Be sure to take a selfie or a photo of you or your team participating in a Zoom meeting wearing your denim, and share the photo on Twitter and/or Instagram. In your post, tag @VSCFlorida and use the hashtags #DenimDay and #OurValencia.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, VSC will host a Zoom panel discussion on Denim Day on Wednesday, April 29 from 2 – 3:30 p.m. Valencia’s Trisha Whitmire, assistant director, equal opportunity, will be joined by community advocates and survivors to discuss victim blaming and shaming. If you would like to virtually attend this panel discussion, please register here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to participate in the panel.

If you would like to speak with someone regarding sexual assault, contact Ryan Kane, assistant vice president, equity and access and Title IX coordinator at or 407-299-5000, extension 3421, or Lauren Kelly, director, equal opportunity  at or 407-299-5000, extension 8125. To speak with a free, confidential community resource, contact the Victim Service Center of Central Florida at 407-500-HEAL (4325) or via the text line at 407-497-6701 M-F 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. If you have questions or concerns, notify Ryan or Lauren at the contact information listed above or visit the Title IX and Equal Opportunity webpage.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Resources for Staying Grounded During COVID-19

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Are you feeling stressed, overwhelmed or isolated? If so, Valencia College counselors are here to help.

Resources for Employees

Counselors recently created a Self-Care Corner, a weekly message for employees on coping strategies as well as yoga and meditation videos, games and uplifting movies. This virtual space also includes links to community resources, including Valencia’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

“Now more than ever, self-care needs to be a priority in our daily routines. As we navigate these uncertain times, let’s find time and motivation to replenish our wellbeing,” said Natali Shulterbrondt, counselor. “The Valencia counseling team understands the importance of self-care to our overall wellness. We also understand that self-care is paramount to those in helping professions like our own.”

Resources for Students

Valencia’s counselors recently created a virtual space to help guide students through the coronavirus pandemic as well. The COVID-19 community and national resources Piktochart provides videos and tips on staying physically and mentally healthy, managing emotions and staying connected, among others. It also includes a host of resources such as the collegewide counseling referral form, a link to BayCare — our student assistance program — and numbers for multiple national crisis hotlines.

This summer, counselors will launch a Virtual Wellness Summer Series that will discuss various wellness topics and share resources, tips and strategies to help students stay focused and healthy.

Valencia’s counselors provide emotional support to empower students to succeed at Valencia. They accomplish this via short-term, solution-focused personal, academic and career counseling, teaching faculty consultation, crisis intervention, case management, community referral and co-curriculum development and implementation.

Employees are encouraged to share the above resources with students.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

District Board of Trustees Learns About Valencia’s COVID-19 Response in First-ever Virtual Board Meeting

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

During the first-ever online District Board of Trustees meeting held via Zoom on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, College President Sandy Shugart shared Valencia College’s monumental response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Prior to Spring Break, approximately two-thirds of Valencia’s courses (4,276 course sections) were being delivered in a face-to-face or mixed-mode format, he shared. Nearly 50% of our more than 1,800 faculty members teaching this spring were not teaching any online classes, and nearly 50% of our more than 45,000 students enrolled this spring were not taking any online classes.

With support from our Teaching and Learning team, our faculty successfully transitioned 4,085 (more than 95%) of these courses online in only two weeks.

“It was a phenomenal two weeks in every way, and we did what we previously thought was impossible,” Dr. Shugart conveyed to the board. “It’s pretty amazing what our team did in a short amount of time. I am very grateful for the team Valencia College has.”

He explained that Valencia College’s two goals during this time are the safety and health of our students and employees, and the continuity of student learning.

“We know that if we interrupt our students’ educational journey, they may never get back on path,” he added.

Looking ahead, Dr. Shugart explained that we will deliver all classes online for the summer term, and that while enrollment was initially slow, it has now picked up and is currently on track to be at the same level or ahead of last summer. He also mentioned that the College should prepare for an increase in students, as some will be unemployed with a desire to increase their skills; others may not return to an out-of-town college with student housing and turn to Valencia for a more affordable alternative; and others may delay going off to college and turn to Valencia in the meantime.

Sandy also shared:

  • Valencia has acquired 1,000 new laptops that students who express technology needs may borrow for summer term.
  • student technology survey revealed that 35% of students do not have access to a webcam, and that the digital divide of our students is a concern as we focus on equity.
  • As part of the “We’re In this Together” campaign, Valencia employees are calling the nearly 38,000 students who were enrolled in face-to-face or mixed-mode courses that moved online.
  • All student services have been moved online, including the creation of a Virtual Answer Center.
  • All of Learning Support has transitioned online, including tutoring.
  • We are experiencing unique challenges with international students, since many embassies and consulates are closed, routine visa services are suspended worldwide, and there are travel bans/restrictions worldwide and unfavorable exchange rates. To retain students, we are encouraging them not to leave the United States; communicating the challenges of leaving and the difficulties associated with returning; offering tuition grant for summer and fall terms; and offering the ability for students to enroll in online courses in their home country.
  • A human resources update including that employees have been paid for scheduled hours since Monday, March 16, 2020; the majority of employees have transitioned successfully to remote work; the limited employees who are working on campuses are maintaining Centers for Disease Control guidelines for physical distancing; the majority of vacant positions are frozen; and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been implemented, providing employees Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family Medical Leave.
  • The Office of Information Technology team has implemented Zoom video conferencing, distributed computers to employees for remote work and set up key users with VPN for remote access.
  • Campus Operations updates including that our Campus Store operations have moved 100% online; Security still maintains a presence at all locations; and Facilities has conducted a deep cleaning of all campuses.
  • Business and Finance updates including that Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Purchasing are processing remotely, and we successfully negotiated a Tuition Installment Plan contract.

New Grade Options for Students
The board approved adjusting the 2019-2020 College catalog to include the new R20 and S+/S-/U final grade designations, designed to mitigate the impact of the significant disruptions created by the pandemic on students’ academic performance.

Temporary Academic and Student Affairs Procedural Changes
As a result of significant disruptions from the pandemic, trustees approved the College implementing a number of temporary procedural changes in Academic and Student Affairs to support students’ academic momentum and success. For example, students who enroll in a third attempt of a course usually must submit an appeal to request an exception from paying the full cost of instruction. The Board’s action will allow the College to approve an exception for all students who were unsuccessful in their second attempt of a course in Spring 2020 term, without requiring that each student submit an individual appeal. For the entire list of approved Academic and Student Affairs procedural changes, click here.

Faculty Association Update
Faculty Association President Stanton Reed shared his appreciation for the hard work of Valencia College faculty, staff and Faculty Development team during the transition to online learning. He then presented the following video about online immersion featuring Professor of EAP Steve Cunningham, Professor of Portuguese Richard Sansone, Professor of Mathematics Stephanie Kokaisel and Student Jaylin Knibbs.

Other non-COVID-19-related topics covered in the meeting included:

West Campus Traffic Circle
The board approved the College to enter into an agreement with Gomez Construction Company for the construction of a West Campus traffic circle, subject to negotiation of a mutually agreeable contract. The traffic circle will be located at the intersection of Valencia College Drive and Metro Center Blvd.

Online Proctored Testing Services
Valencia currently provides in-person proctoring of assessment testing in our Assessment Centers. In order to support the online modality growth, an online proctoring solution is needed to enhance the services provided for students. Trustees authorized Valencia to enter into an agreement with Honorlock, Inc. for the purchase of a license to use its online proctoring services for an initial two-year term with an option to renew for two additional one-year terms. This is the same vendor that the University of Central Florida uses for online proctored testing services, making for an easy transition for students who transfer.

Legislative Update
Sandy Shugart presented the following bills of interest:

  • SB 72 was passed, which allows a Bright Futures Medallion Scholar to receive a 100% scholarship — instead of 75% — if they enroll at a Florida College System institution.
  • HB171 was passed, which provides for award of credit for military courses, training and occupations and waives transcript fees for veterans.
  • SB 62, failed, which would have required colleges to waive charges to private, secondary schools for tuition, fees and instructional materials for their dual-enrollment students.
  • HB 6001, failed, which would have removed prohibition against concealed firearms and weapons on college campuses.

Additionally, the Lake Nona Building 2 project request was not funded. No new Florida College System projects were funded; only certain ongoing or renovation projects received funding.

2019-2020 Annual Fire Safety, Casualty Safety and Sanitation Inspection 
The State Requirements for Educational Facilities requires that annual fire safety, casualty safety and sanitation inspections be completed each year. During the inspection performed in February and March, there were no deficiencies noted in the inspection of all College buildings, which encompasses more than 2.5 million square feet. For the past five years, there have been no deficiencies.

For more information on the meeting, visit the meeting webpage.

The next District Board of Trustees meeting will be held online on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, via Zoom.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

An Update on Global, Professional and Continuing Education During COVID-19

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Message from Joe Battista, Vice President, Global, Professional and Continuing Education

With our new normal now underway, like other teams, the Division of Global, Professional and Continuing Education has revised its plans for the School of Public Safety, Continuing Education, YouthBuild and Global Education. Read below for details.

School of Public Safety

With overwhelming support from regional public safety leaders and city and county administration, the School of Public Safety has continued the Corrections, Fire and Law Enforcement Academy certification programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Considered mission critical in our community, many students in these programs are sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orlando Police Department and Orange County Corrections Department. Additionally, state rules and codes require these programs be delivered at the School of Public Safety facilities due to the requirements of practical skills assessment for proficiency by each student. All advanced and specialized public safety training and education has been postponed until the College reopens for students.

The Fire Science A.S. staff members have worked closely with colleagues at the College to move all credit courses online through the end of the spring semester and for the summer semester.

Criminal Justice A.S. faculty members collaborated to develop the Criminal Justice Capstone course in an online modality. Students are engaged in various videos of crime scenes and a victim interview, and can now complete the entire A.S degree in criminal justice online. Additionally, after a waiver from Department of Agriculture due to the pandemic, criminal justice faculty members moved the Security Officer Class D license online within the Introduction to Security class.

Continuing Education

Professional Continuing Education
ur teams are working with our client organizations and students to accommodate their situation. For our client organization trainings, all clients have postponed their training sessions to a later date. Many of our open enrollment offerings have moved to an online format or have been postponed.

Accelerated Skills Training (AST)
Our current students are continuing their learning online augmented with creative ways to demonstrate hands-on skills. Approximately 50% of these students are close to completing their programs. We are working with those students on job placement. The great news is that our employer partners are considered essential and are still hiring. The remaining 50% of our AST students were originally due to graduate in late June. We will continue with online learning and plan intensive hands-on training at the end of their programs when access to facilities is approved.

Continuing International Education
All of our face-to-face language programs were converted to online in a matter of weeks, with a new term starting on Monday, April 13, 2020. More than 1,000 students took a leap of faith and enrolled in this new format. Moving forward, we will continue to support our students, instructors and staff on the best ways to teach and learn in an online environment. Our Continuing Education Student Services team has set up virtual walk-in hours, virtual help desks and virtual advising appointments.

YouthBuild at Osceola Campus

Despite a delay in starting our classes after Spring Break, the YouthBuild program is up and running — virtually, versus on the Osceola Campus. Students currently enrolled in YouthBuild are working on their certifications online via multiple platforms including Skype and Zoom. There has been a growing demand for students who want to obtain their GED due to many reasons involving COVID-19. We are doing our best to inform the community and prepare for a large class once the campus re-opens.

Global Education Update

We are grateful for the support we have received from our senior team during this challenging time. All areas of Global Education have been impacted by this pandemic, and our wonderful team has been creative and innovative in adapting all of our programs and services to support our students. Recognizing the unique challenges that international students are facing during this pandemic, including financial instability and being far from their loved ones, the College has provided a tuition grant for summer and fall students in the hopes that this will provide them with some financial relief and encourage them to continue their studies. Fortunately, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) guidelines were updated, allowing international students to study full-time online at Valencia or in their home country. Due to the worldwide suspension of immigration services, for the first time ever, we will offer international students the opportunity to enroll in Valencia online classes from their home country starting in the fall term.

Our advising area for international students in degree programs has set up virtual walk-in hours, virtual help desks and virtual advising appointments. We are thrilled to have come together so quickly and responsively to support our students during this challenging time.

Keeping safety as our top priority, all study abroad programs scheduled for this summer were canceled. In addition, all study abroad programs involving international travel for next fiscal year were suspended. The Study Abroad and Global Experiences office is working closely with faculty, staff, administration and our travel partners to envision a new approach to providing our students with global experiences, including virtual exchanges with students and partners overseas, virtual tours and other activities. Ultimately, the goal is to continue providing students with unique academic and cultural experiences that serve to expand their worldviews and contribute to their future professional development.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Valencia Receives Grant from National Science Foundation to Enhance its Biotechnology Program

Monday, April 27, 2020

The National Science Foundation has awarded Valencia College a grant for $293,976 for the project, “Improving the Biotechnology Internship Experience to Better Prepare Student Technicians for the Modern Workforce.” The project is also known internally as BIO-SPARK, (Biotechnology Internship Opportunities – Student Professionalism, Academic Readiness and Knowledge).

We applied to the NSF Mentor Connect program in October 2018, were accepted in November 2018, and started working with our mentor in February 2019 for an October 2019 submission deadline.

The grant will be used to:

  • Expand Valencia’s existing Biotechnology Workplace-learning program into a robust and purposeful technician-preparation program. The current internship plan has been in place since fall 2016, but no longer meets the distinct needs of the fast growing Biotechnology program.
  • Amplify biotechnology essential skills training for students: The BIO-SPARK project team will create modules for the students to complete as part of their internship requirements. Modules will cover essential workforce skills and enhance curriculum not covered in the current Biotechnology course curriculum. These distinct modules will be administered through a Canvas course.
  • Enhance students’ opportunities to learn about the workplace. An additional Canvas course, titled Internship Resources, will be created to provide students with a centralized location where they can find information regarding internship requirements, internship sites and the process for enrollment.
  • Increase diversity in the biotechnology industry.
  • Enhance the biotechnology community.

“We are so proud of our students and our faculty and plan to use this investment from NSF to implement a comprehensive and robust internship program to supplement the local industry, shared Mike Bosley, executive dean, Lake Nona Campus.

Susan Ingersoll, professor, biotechnology added, “We’re so excited about the opportunities for students provided by this grant. The new modules that will be developed, the new infrastructure for the internship experience and greater opportunity to network within the biotechnology community will better prepare students for their transition into the workplace. It takes the biotechnology internship experience to a whole new level, providing qualified lab technicians to the many biotechnology industries within Central Florida.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Student Leaders Create Weekly Newsletter to Engage with Students

Friday, April 24, 2020 

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

Our student leaders are working hard to continue to engage our students even while on-campus events can’t take place. Under the leadership of Nelson Sepulveda, director student development, they have begun a weekly newsletter full of information and resources; please check out the first and second issues and link to them in your Canvas courses.

Weekly Student Newsletter – First Issue

Weekly Student Newsletter – Second Issue

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Thanks for the Feedback

Friday, April 24, 2020 

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

Last week I experimented with a video greeting, which I am glad to hear through your feedback that you appreciated. I will occasionally produce others, and as requested, Cooper will make a cameo appearance here and there.

For this week’s video, please view below:

Monthly Archives: April 2020

What Do You Do? Pandemic Edition

Friday, April 24, 2020 

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

Before our shift to online learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Week in Review was featuring colleagues from around our region and the varied good work that they were doing to support our students. Now, as we work remotely and encounter unique challenges, many of our faculty and staff are pitching in to help.

This week we will have a first-person look at the work of the region’s faculty fellows for excellence in online teaching/learning, Osceola Campus professor of biology Rick Dexter and Lake Nona Campus New Student Experience professor LaVonda Walker-McKnight. These faculty members have stepped in to assist their fellow faculty members as they move to all-online teaching and learning. Their remarkable work does not go unnoticed.

LaVonda and Rick reveal, “First, we have to say that we work with incredible colleagues! Many have done a wonderful job transitioning their courses online and supporting our students. The first week of the transition was hectic for everyone. We had the chance to support colleagues within our disciplines to ensure they had the resources necessary to move remaining content online. We also assisted colleagues in a variety of disciplines collegewide. We were excited to learn that many of our mentees had previous experience teaching online and felt confident about the transition. We witnessed the incredible creativity of our peers as we brainstormed ideas to convert face-to-face learning activities into the virtual classroom.”

“Most of us have settled into online learning. As a result, our focus has shifted to the summer term. Faculty fellows will continue our involvement with collegewide efforts to support faculty as they transition entire courses fully online. We have been working hard in tandem with the Online Teaching and Learning team to develop a condensed, immersive version of the digital professor experience to support faculty teaching in the online environment. We will also create a new training opportunity for faculty participating in Course Peer Review. We both have extensive experience teaching online as well as supporting colleagues with the Course Peer Review process. It may be helpful for faculty to consider reviewing the Rubric for Online Competencies as they design their summer courses. We are available to answer questions about course design and the Rubric for Online Competencies as colleagues move forward.”

LaVonda also participated in Circles of Innovation on Zoom and developed a video about creating recurring virtual student engagement hours in Zoom. The video includes tips on how to add a link to virtual student engagement hours in the Canvas course menu.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Mark Guillette to Host YouTube Live Event

Friday, April 24, 2020 

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

Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: YouTube

Mark Guillette, professor, sociology, will be hosting a NASA YouTube Live event on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, starting at 2 p.m. It’s titled “NASA: From Earth to Mars and Beyond.” A variety of NASA programs and missions will be discussed, including Hubble, International Space Station (ISS), Mars 2020 and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with Orion space capsule. Faculty, staff and students can access it by going directly to his YouTube channel at 1:55 p.m. and looking for the live event.

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Helpful Resources From Faculty Development

Friday, April 24, 2020 

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

Getting ready to wrap up and begin the new semester? Check out these Canvas End of Semester Checklist and Start of Semester Checklist resources to support you. Please connect with the members of the Centers for Teaching/Learning Innovation (CTLI) team through this link as you finalize and submit grades, copy course content, and plan your summer courses. Make sure to include your preferred contact method for expedited response time!