Monthly Archives: August 2020

What’s New With Zoom?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Zoom has released a number of new exciting features and enhancements. Check them out below:

Meetings and Webinars

  • Video filters: Apply video filters to alter the look of your video with color grading, foreground and frame filters. Filters can be turned off in your web settings at any time.
  • Adjust Touch Up My Appearance: This new ability adjusts your skin smoothness applied with the Touch Up My Appearance feature.
  • Adjust lighting: Choose to adjust the brightness of your video automatically or manually with a slider in your video settings. This feature is useful especially in low-light environments.
  • Improved background noise suppression: You can adjust the background noise suppression applied, choosing to enable Low, Medium, High or Automatic background noise suppression.
  • Improved Waiting Room notifications: The meeting host now receives more notifications about attendees entering the waiting room, including during screen share, and when Zoom is minimized/hidden.
  • Improved video and content sharing: Video and content sharing has improved video quality, decreased bandwidth and CPU usage, and improved text clarity.
  • PowerPoint presentation virtual backgound: You may now use a PowerPoint presentation as your virtual background, so you may present your video on top of your slides. Please note that this feature is still in beta, so it may not yet work perfectly yet. For more information, click here.

Meetings only

  • Additional meeting reactions: In addition to the clapping and thumbs up reactions, meeting participants can now react with a heart, surprised face, laughing face or party emoji. Those receiving the reactions will also need to have the latest version of the Zoom client to see them.
  • Security section when scheduling a meeting: To allow easier access, Passcode and Waiting Room settings are displayed under the Security section when scheduling a new meeting.


  • Record and send a voice message: You and your users can now record and send a voice message in a one-on-one chat or a channel.

To access these features, update the latest version of Zoom (if it hasn’t auto-updated itself). If Zoom says that the client is up to date, then you are already running the latest version with all of these features.

Monthly Archives: August 2020

When May You Return to Campus After COVID Illness or Close Contact?

Tuesday,  August 25, 2020

Based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the exposure and infectious period, Valencia College has implemented a new symptom- and time-based approach as opposed to our former test-based approach to determine when employees or students who are affected by COVID-19 may return to campus. This updates the requirement for negative testing and medical clearance in lieu of a time-based approach while monitoring symptoms to be consistent with current medical guidance.

To view the former and new protocols, click the button below:

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

Monthly Archives: August 2020

Osceola’s Science Dean Participates in SACNAS Webinar

Friday, August 21, 2020

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

Osceola Campus Dean of Science Anitza San Miguel was a speaker during a recent “Insights to Success” webinar for the local chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Anitza spoke on the topic of “Balancing Work, Family, and Life.” You can view the video below. Congratulations, Anitza!


Monthly Archives: August 2020

Cultural Event Opportunities for Students This Fall

Friday, August 21, 2020

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

The Osceola Campus Humanities department, in collaboration with Student Development, is sponsoring a varied lineup of amazing online cultural event opportunities for the Fall 2020 semester. Please click here for a calendar of events, which you can share with your students.

The events will be held on our new Humanities Digital Venue (HDV), which features timely virtual museum and art gallery exhibits, virtual theater and a virtual speaker series. Topics include the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment; Valencia Voices: Immigration Stories; Art from Latin America; The Narrators: Pandemic Stories; and student artwork. As a digital forum, the HDV leverages the capabilities of new media to facilitate many conversations. You can view the events at the HDV by clicking here.

Please encourage your students to participate in these events; additional events will be added throughout the year. Also, feel free to reach out to Kathryn Gualtieri, part-time faculty, humanities, at if you have any questions or if you would like to participate in an event in the future.

Monthly Archives: August 2020

Faculty, Here’s the Who’s Who of Faculty and Instructional Development

Friday, August 21, 2020

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

Faculty and Instructional Development team members are just an e-mail away!

Please reach out to Faculty Developers and Instructional Designers Kevin ColwellLauren KelleySam Meyers or Gary Kokaisel for support with educational technology ideas, items on the Start of the Semester Checklist for Canvas, equity-minded course design/development and planning your professional development.

Team members may also reach out to schedule some time with you if you’re new to the College, teaching in a modality such as Real-time Virtual (RTV) or online, teaching part of term like TWK, the Digital Professor Certificate or participating in the Course Review Process.

You are also welcome to contact Campus Director of Faculty and Instructional Development Shara Lee or submit a ticket request for support from the first available collegewide Teaching and Learning team member anytime. The team looks forward to connecting with you.

Monthly Archives: August 2020

Encourage Students to Attend the Virtual Resource Fair

Friday, August 21, 2020

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

Help students become familiar with our online resources, from tutoring to counseling, Student Development has created a Virtual Resource Fair, where students will have access to videos submitted by more than 25 departments and staff members. The videos describe services, hours of operation, contact information and other pertinent material that may help them succeed.

Check out the Virtual Resource Fair, which will go live on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, using this link, and please provide the link to your students. The information will remain available all semester.

Monthly Archives: August 2020

Starting Right This Fall

Friday, August 21, 2020

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

As we prepare for the fall semester to begin on Monday, I cannot help but feel an enormous sense of gratitude for all of the planning and preparation in which you have participated to create the conditions for our students to start right this fall.

Many of you have been involved in transitioning all of our student services online, including the Answer Center, the Advising Center, our Campus Store (where students can purchase their instructional materials and have them delivered to their homes) and Learning Support, where students can access free tutoring online, as well as a brand-new service, virtual tech support. For a handy reference guide to all of our online services, please click here.

Betty Fenner, professor of humanities, is very excited to have earned her Digital Professor certification. Here she proudly sports a special custom sash celebrating her achievement.

Nearly 200 faculty from the Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses completed their Digital Professor Certifications over the summer to improve their practice as online educators. Faculty who are interested in earning their Digital Professor Certification this fall can fill out this online interest form.

In addition to all of this high-quality virtual work, many of you have been engaged in preparing for safe and successful on-campus courses for students this fall in limited discipline areas. For more information about our plans for limited reopening, please view our Roadmap for Reopening Phase document.

While we’ve done our very best to prepare, this still remains a stressful time. Please be sure to take good care of yourself; if you find that you need support, please reach out to your supervisor or our confidential Employee Assistance Program. If you notice one of your students in need of assistance, please connect with our amazing Valencia counselors via our Counselor Referral Form.

Thank you for all that you do to support our students and their learning, not only in this most extraordinary time, but in all of the ordinary times as well.

Monthly Archives: August 2020

Establishing Boundaries Within Your Work Team With Simple Tech Tools

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A Message from Ken Rivera, Director of Network and Infrastructure 

I have been managing teams for over 20 years; primarily serving nationally recognized and highly collaborative organizations. Here at Valencia College, I manage a team of six individual contributors responsible for maintaining access and security for wired and wireless connections to internet and college-hosted services, as well as voice and Office 365-based services (email, Microsoft Teams, etc.). Prior to transitioning to Valencia College, I worked remotely for three years, supporting a national non-profit with offices in several major cities from my home office in Orlando, Florida.

If I had to use one word to sum up what I view as the fundamentals for a successful team, I would say that word is boundaries. Establishing and managing boundaries to support individual contributions, within and across teams, can positively influence trust and promote wellness.

I am going to share some tips you can leverage to establish and support boundaries for yourselves, and within your teams.

Boundaries for Communications and Response

When it comes to individual or team responsibilities, I strongly believe that if you do not define and manage expectations, you allow everyone you work with to define it for you.

Take time to consider and communicate the best way to reach you, when they can reach you, and how quickly you can respond.

My preferred communications is email or MS Teams, my availability or “online hours” are 6 a.m. – 3 p.m., and I prioritize responses accordingly: I respond to critical emails within one hour, and to non-critical ones within two business days.

Communicating these boundaries is as important as establishing them, and related communications should be consistent. You can automate this by using automatic replies in Outlook, or using the set status message function within MS Teams. Use your email signature to indicate your communication preferences, for example, the best way to reach me is via email.

Boundaries to Promote Focus

One of the benefits of working remotely is the potential for reduced interruptions. However, without establishing boundaries to manage your productivity, you can easily find yourself answering calls, emails, and chats all day. That is, when you are not bombarded with back-to-back meetings.

To help transition my team (and myself) to remote work, I have promoted techniques such as time-blocking to set aside time to focus on our work in an intentional manner. The intention-setting begins with understanding our work and what is within our control, then scheduling time to dedicate focus towards completing that work.

We know we have daily work such as monitoring services and related requests, reviewing and responding to emails, as well as other administrative work, or light work. Individuals can schedule blocks of time to dedicate focus on light work daily or throughout the day. Personally, I schedule three blocks each day for light work (morning, midday, and afternoon).

For individuals who work on projects, facilitate changes, research, or perform other tasks that require sustained focus, larger deep work blocks can be scheduled throughout the week. Of course, this depends on related workload on can be modified to support it. Scheduling this time in advance and leveraging technology features such as using the “do not disturb” option within Skype for Business and MS Teams can ensure you have time to focus throughout the week.

To learn more about deep work, check out the LinkedIn Learning course Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (Blinkist Summary) based on the book by Cal Newport.

You can also utilize time-blocks to set intentions around recovery, three well-placed 15-minute blocks of time can allow you to grab a snack or use the bathroom in between meetings. Additionally, you can use the calendar options in Outlook to end meetings early, giving you time in between each meeting.

It is important to note that blocks you have created can be adjusted. You can also leverage Microsoft’s MyAnalytics to jumpstart your calendaring efforts.

Below is a screen shot of my current calendar to demonstrate the types of blocks you can create. The free spaces accommodate meeting creation at peak times and utilize the “end meeting early” feature to allow me to adjust mindset and prep in between meetings (or use the restroom or make some coffee).

Boundaries for Engagement

One of my favorite Valencia College employee competencies is “Self-Management and Awareness”. I view that competency as a critical foundation in building a self-organizing team. To support self-management and awareness, I directed our daily communications into a MS Teams private chat channel shortly after the application became available. Since that shift, the team has maintained high communications, utilizing mentioning where my attention is required. You can adjust your notifications and the channels you follow to ensure you are only alerted when it is actionable, even while in “do not disturb” mode. This practice allows me to adjust my orbit as the available information requires and make suggestions that promote peer engagement around recommendations versus simply providing answers.

Being highly communicative within MS Teams also limits the needs for regular meetings. Over the past two years, I have transitioned to online forms-based capture utilizing Microsoft Forms and SharePoint lists for the majority of our operational tasks from change management to monthly reflection surveys and weekly Polly polls in teams. During the transition to remote work, I scheduled daily virtual stand-ups in the morning wherein each team member relayed how they were doing at home, what they were working on, and if they needed any help.

Once we got into a rhythm, I reduced the daily stand-ups to a Monday morning stand-up to essentially make sure everyone is feeling okay about the week ahead. These will transition to Polly Polls, which will limit team meetings to our monthly soft-skill support and bi-weekly one-on-one meetings.

Example: Polly Poll use in MS Teams to support mental health check-ins

My recommendation is to openly discuss experimenting with some of these methods within your team. If you explore these topics with an intention to promote wellness, solicit feedback, and adjust to support observed gaps, you will find the right mix. I would love to hear about your journey and let me know if you would like to explore any of these methods further.

Monthly Archives: August 2020

College Update: Valencia’s Leadership Transition

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

This morning, we experienced an Academic Assembly like no other. Our usual gathering of the faculty in the Performing Arts Center on East Campus evolved into a collegewide Zoom webinar. Although I’m sure some missed the coffee and pastries and, most of all, the in-person connections with friends, the opportunity to gather all of our colleagues in one conversation was extraordinary.

In the assembly this morning, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske, Faculty Association President Stanton Reed and I focused on both the critical near-term work of the fall semester in the midst of a pandemic, balanced with the careful examination and planning for our future in our next Impact Plan. You’ll find a complete summary of the assembly in next Tuesday’s edition of The Juice. As we concluded the assembly, I shared an update on leadership succession that I want to ensure you have each received.

Serving as the fourth president of Valencia College, being a part of this extraordinary team of faculty and staff, serving each student in a meaningful way and impacting our community has been a privilege beyond measure. This year has demonstrated more clearly to me the strength of purpose, the deep competence, the collaborative spirit, the love for students and the creativity of Valencia College like none other. And though we still have challenges to overcome as we continue to navigate the storms of a pandemic and its economic fallout, the College has a clear sense of mission and the confidence to achieve it. After much personal reflection, I believe it is the right time for Valencia’s District Board of Trustees to discern who should lead the College into the future.

I have informed the Board that it is my intention to retire effective at the end of this academic year and have encouraged them to launch a search for a new president this fall. We have an excellent Board that will conduct a wise, collaborative and effective search for the right leader. We have remarkable faculty, dedicated staff and a deeply experienced leadership team on which to build. Personally, and for Valencia, this is the right time to begin a transition.

There will be time for farewells and memories in the spring term. For now, I will just say that serving with all of you at Valencia College has been the most important, gratifying and humbling work of my life and career. I am grateful beyond words to and for all of you. And I plan to finish this, my 21st year as president, with the same commitment to our students and to each of you.

Monthly Archives: August 2020

Talent Sharing Program Shows Growth and Promise

Thursday, August 20, 2020

By Camille Hernandez, Assistant Director, Conferencing and College Events

The Talent Sharing program started in mid-July to help connect employees who have availability and capacity with teams and departments that have a need for additional support. Since its inception, we have received 18 requests for talent, and more than 30 employees willing to share their talent.

An example of one of our matches includes Kassy Holmes, project director, ENGAGE STEM, who requested assistance for the virtual mentorship of students who are part of the LSAMP Scholars showcase. In Kassy’s request, the talent sharers would help students design and develop a safe, hands-on research project topic that can be completed by students at home within one semester, allowing students to complete at least 40 hours of research.

The talent sharer would meet with students at least bi-weekly, review and provide feedback and guidance on the students’ research poster. The right match would be available for one to three hours per week, although students may need more support at the start of the fall semester as they design their projects.

There would be very little training needed, other than one meeting with the LSAMP project director to gain a better understanding of the program and commitment.

After receiving Kassy’s request for assistance, the Talent Sharing team matched Lab Supervisor Robby Pletcher and Instructional Lab Assistant Paul Eisenbrown to this program. Although they have not been paired as of yet, they are working on brainstorming ideas and will get started mentoring in the coming weeks. We look forward to following this partnership and sharing the projects they will work on with the mentees in a few weeks.

The temporary sharing program follows our Temporary Duty Policy. Participants will work at their current rate of pay, and assignments will last no longer than six months. When thinking of this opportunity, please think critically about the current workload of each member on your team.

If you need support, please discuss your team’s need with your supervisor to determine if there is additional support that can be offered from within your division. Consider what needs are required in your area, such as duties/tasks to be completed. Does the project require specific access? How much support is needed? If support is unavailable, complete the Talent Sharing Program Request Form.

If you have any questions, contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 5786.