Monthly Archives: October 2020

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2020

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

And for something a little different, Osceola’s own Brian Sage, professor of biology, was recently interviewed by Universal Orlando’s Discover Universal Blog because of his love of Halloween Horror Nights. He attends the event multiple times every year! You can read the entire interview here.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Collegewide Sustainability Leadership Team Meeting

Friday, October 30, 2020

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

The news is filled with stories about the effects of climate change, as well as organizations announcing their carbon neutrality goals and plans as they seek to eliminate their carbon footprints. Have you ever wondered about Valencia’s plan?

Valencia recently formed the collegewide operational Sustainability Leadership Team comprising students, faculty and staff who are working on planning our path to carbon neutrality. The team will also address other critical environmental sustainability issues facing our College, ranging from grounds-related topics to transportation.

If you are interested in learning more about Valencia’s operational environmental sustainability efforts, you are invited to attend the upcoming Sustainability Leadership Team meeting on Thursday, November 5, 2020, from 1 – 2:30 p.m. via Zoom.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, contact Carrie Black, director of energy conservation and sustainability, at 407-299-5000, extension 1706 or

Monthly Archives: October 2020

A Student Success Story: Talitha Pollok-Barbosa

Friday, October 30, 2020

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

With most faculty and staff working from home, it can be hard to make connections with students and see their achievements close up and in person. I’m happy to share this profile of a success story, a student who persevered to complete her degree. I hope it reminds us that our students are able to overcome challenging circumstances even with the extra layer of a pandemic. Talitha Pollok-Barbosa will be graduating in December, and I know she’s headed for great things.

Osceola Region Counselor Alina Siddiqui has worked with Talitha, and reports that she has exemplified persistence. Alina says, “Upon talking to her and looking through her academic history, I learned about the various obstacles she had overcome to reach the point of graduation at the college. She is an excellent example of resilience for all students because despite the challenges, Talitha is graduating with a strong academic standing and a defined path for the future.”

Now, from Talitha in her own words:

Q. How did you decide to come to Valencia?

A. I chose Valencia because I was paying out of pocket and it was an affordable college where I could acquire my Associates degree. My mom told me how she graduated from Valencia and that it didn’t matter if I started at a community college, as long as I kept going and never stopped. That motivated me to want to follow in her footsteps.

Q. What’s your major/area of interest? What do you want to be when you grow up?

A. My area of interest is programming; I’ve always been interested in programs and how they function. Growing up, I wanted to be a Systems Analyst like my mother is, and I still do. There’re countless things people can do with programs, and I can work on programs and construct them to make the world a better place.

Q. What was your biggest challenge while at Valencia?

A. My biggest challenge was balancing my personal life with my school life. For the longest time, I was in a bad place mentally. In my first classes at Valencia, I didn’t get good grades. I became accustomed to withdrawing from classes when they got too difficult, and I didn’t want to bother my professors for help. I also knew that the only thing that kept me going and made me feel accomplished and have a sense of control in my life was school. By the time I realized that, I was almost kicked out of Valencia for having a low GPA after attempting many classes. I had a reality check and decided to do better for myself if I wanted to progress and have a better life for myself. From that point on, I started to dedicate my life primarily to school. I spent hours studying, worked ahead on my assignments, reached out to professors more if I didn’t understand a subject/lesson. I became a tutor to my classmates because I went the extra mile for them. I didn’t have somebody do that for me when I struggled.

Q. What are you most proud of?

A. I am most proud of improving both academically and mentally. I became stronger not only in my academics, but I learned to value myself more and grow some confidence. I learned to help myself by helping others and realizing that the best way to progress in life is by reaching out. I’m proud to say that I’m finally graduating Valencia after four years (2016-2020). I’m proud to say that I’m finally going to UCF after getting admitted and becoming a Knight. I’m proud to say that I made it to where I wanted to be for the longest time even after I thought that it wasn’t possible.

Q. Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

A. I would like to give a huge shout out to not only my mom, but also my dad, who didn’t give up on me and always told me that I could make life how I wanted it to be. That my life is in my hands and I get to decide if I want to stay beaten down or pick myself back up again. To my mom for not only dealing with me but staying by my side and supporting me. To myself, for accepting the will to change.

Do you know of any students who are beating the odds or showing remarkable fortitude? If you’d like to see one featured in the Week in Review, please let me know the student’s name and how you encountered the student by emailing me.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Presidential Search Update: Semi-finalists Named

A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources

Our District Board of Trustees met yesterday, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, and approved the unranked slate of semi-finalists for the Valencia College presidency, as recommended by the Presidential Search Committee. We appreciate the feedback and interest shared by the members of the College community during the search and look forward to this next phase of our process.

Each semi-finalist has been invited to respond, in writing, to a set of questions approved by the Presidential Search Committee. In addition, each candidate has been scheduled for a set of virtual interviews to be held on Wednesday, November 4; Thursday, November 5; Friday, November 6; or Monday, November 9, 2020. The candidates will meet first with the Presidential Search Committee, then in an open town hall with employees, and finally, in an open town hall with students. Each town hall will be recorded and posted on our Presidential Search webpage for review.

Recognizing that there are many candidates, many meetings and many recordings, we have created a Semi-finalist Interviews page on our Presidential Search site so that you can find all of the information, including Zoom links, in an easy-to-access format. On this site, you’ll also find the semi-finalists’ letters of interest and curriculum vitae for your review.

Feedback from the College community is a critical component of a successful search process, and your insights are needed by the Presidential Search Committee as it discerns who among the semi-finalists to recommend as finalist candidates. Throughout the search process, feel free to share your comments via the “Contact Us” button on the Presidential Search webpage. The questions and comments shared through this function will be provided directly to the Presidential Search Committee in its next regular meeting.

We also seek your feedback on each semi-finalist via a Qualtrics survey. The survey will open on the morning of Wednesday, November 4, 2020, and will close at 5 p.m. on Monday, November 9, 2020, so that the feedback can be aggregated, analyzed and presented to the Presidential Search Committee in preparation for its meeting on Monday, November 16, 2020.If you’d like to take notes on each candidate before you input your feedback into the survey, you may find this PDF version of the survey helpful. Please note, however, that no feedback will be collected outside of the Qualtrics survey.

The Presidential Search Committee will identify an unranked slate of finalists in its meeting on Monday, November 16, 2020. This recommendation will be presented to the Valencia College District Board of Trustees in a special meeting on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. We will share more information about the finalist interview process and opportunities for engagement with those candidates in the coming weeks.

Thank you to the members of the Presidential Search Committee and the staff supporting the search process for their deep engagement, significant commitment of time and thoughtful discussion in our meetings. If you would like to review the recordings of any Presidential Search Committee meetings, you may do so by visiting the Presidential Search webpage.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly at

Monthly Archives: October 2020

You’re Invited to Digital Professor and Tier Credentials Information Sessions

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Thursday, November 12, 2020
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Zoom

As more faculty members earn their Tier 2 credential, the Online Learning Excellence Team invites you to learn more about upcoming Digital Professor and Tier Credentials during upcoming information sessions.

Join Faculty Fellows for Online Learning Excellence Liza Schellpfeffer, professor, speech; Rick Dexter, professor, biology; Upasana Santra, professor, mathematics; and Geni Wright, director, online teaching and learning, for an hour-long Zoom session as they share insights about Digital Professor Certification as well as the Course Peer Review process, and clarify the Faculty Preparedness Tiers in our evidence-based credentialing.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

We’re Celebrating Our Students’ First 15

Thursday, October 29, 2020

While the pandemic may have delayed our celebration of students who have completed their First 15, we won’t let it stop us. Finishing the first 15 credits is a big deal, as data suggest that the completion of 15 college-level credit hours is a significant milestone on a student’s academic journey and is highly correlated with degree completion. 

Late this week, our Student Government leaders will email the approximately 9,000 students who reached the first 15 milestone in spring 2020 or summer 2020. In the email, the students will be asked to complete a short form in our Student Development engagement platform, Engage, and we will then ship each student a First 15 T-shirt, along with a care package designed by our SGA leaders, which includes information about helpful campus resources for students, including advising, counseling and learning support.

View a sample of the email to students below:

Students will be encouraged to share a photo on social media wearing their First 15 T-shirt. So let’s get together and show our First 15 pride. Cheer these students on for their great accomplishment and encourage them to keep going to complete their degree.

For more details on the First 15 program, visit the First 15 webpage. Students who completed their first 15 in fall 2020 received a message this week.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

TLA Offers Upcoming Courses

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Teaching/Learning Academy (TLA), a community of practice, supports new professors, counselors and librarians as they develop Individualized Learning Plans, a fundamental phase of the tenure process designed to assist tenure candidates to expand and improve their professional practices and students’ learning. The goal of the TLA is to help tenure-track faculty members develop a reflective approach to their teaching that is anchored in the tenets of action research and the Essential Competencies of a Valencia Educator. The TLA provides support on pedagogy, course design, student development and professional portfolio development.

TLA will offer the following courses:

PRFC2264 – Understanding Professional Commitment

Date: Friday, October 30, 2020
Time: 2 – 4 p.m. 
Location: Online

This interactive course is designed to help participants understand the many opportunities within professional commitment and assist participants in matching their interests and skills to professional opportunities on and off campus. Participants will engage in small group activities as well as meet tenured faculty as they share their journey in serving students, the community and their practice.

View the event flyerTo register, click here.

INDV7311 – Creating a Safe Space for Dialogue


  • Kickoff: Thursday, November 12, 2020, 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Wrap-up: Thursday, March 25, 2020, 2 – 4 p.m.


  • Kickoff: Friday, November 13, 2020, 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Wrap-up: Friday, March 26, 2020, 2 – 4 p.m.

This course will demonstrate techniques for establishing a respectful and inclusive environment that promotes healthy classroom dialogue. Dialogue can assist students in moving information from a memorized or theoretical understanding to a more integrated, tangible and lasting knowledge. Participants will engage in best practices designed to promote discussion as a pedagogical tool.

View the event flyer. To register for either session, click here.

INDV2151 – Inclusion and Diversity

Date: Thursday, November 19 or Friday, November 20, 2020
Time: 2 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Online

In this seminar, participants will investigate learning opportunities that acknowledge, draw upon and are enriched by student diversity and create atmospheres of inclusion and understanding. Participants will reflect on ways to increase inclusion and minimize exclusion in the classroom and explore some theoretical underpinnings of inclusion and diversity.

View the event flyer. To register, click here. To register for either session, click here. 


Monthly Archives: October 2020

Faculty Governance Update — October 2020

Thursday, October 29, 2020

A Message from Stanton Reed, Past President and Interim President, Collegewide Faculty Association

Coming off of last week’s Inclusive Excellence Speaker Series with New York Times Bestselling Author Austin Channing Brown has left me curious and caused me to pause, as she reflected on her experience as a Black woman at predominantly white institutions.

Brown’s experiences were fresh, which made me realize that we need to continue to create spaces for all faculty to share their stories and experiences to enrich our Valencia community. Our stories help to create spaces for us to continue to learn and grow. One of Our Peace and Justice Institute Principles for How We Treat Each Other, Principle 2, comes to mind: “listen deeply”. Listen intently to what is said; listen to the feelings beneath the words. Strive to achieve a balance between listening and reflecting, speaking and acting.

Additionally, Brown’s experience made me reflect on my own journey of being a faculty member and how easy it is to miss opportunities to listen deeply and grow from the stories and experiences of others. Let’s continue to ask the following questions: When do we step out of our personal space for the inclusiveness of others? How can we acknowledge others’ experiences and strive to do better? Let us join together to create spaces for our colleagues to share their stories and embrace their trust and confidence in our ability to listen without judgment.

Today’s Teaching Environment and Providing the Right Conditions for Learning

We’re in a state that I’ve never seen before in our online world, which makes me wonder how we are navigating the new opportunities we have to deliver learning differently. How are we managing in our new office spaces with our new “co-workers”? We have a good framework to support us in providing the right conditions for learning. We continue to create an atmosphere filled with grace and empathy. We are willing to encourage and offer assistance to our colleagues without judgment. Let us not forget the human traits of imperfection and failure that afford us the opportunity to experience progression and success. When we practice self-care and care for our colleagues, our students will learn sustainable values of treasuring human beings. And as we continue to do this, our processes are improving as well, some more quickly than others, but we are not where we were months ago.

I encourage you to continue to invest in providing the right conditions for learning, talk to your dean, meet virtually with a co-worker who you respect and can feel vulnerable with, or contact the Centers for Teaching/Learning Innovation. Remember, we are on a journey. Be the game changer you are meant to be and experiment with different learning strategies as you go. They may or may not work, but you’ll benefit from your efforts. We learn as faculty and students in the same space. Let’s join hands (virtually) and learn together.

Thank You Faculty Volunteers

Thanks to our many faculty members for getting involved in our College’s work. During the Faculty Council’s Thursday, October 8, 2020, meeting the following nominations were made:

Undergraduate Research Advisory Board 

  • Ciara Hensley, emerging technology librarian
  • Charlene Ingwell Spolan, professor, nursing
  • Gandhy Pierre-Louis, professor, biology

College Curriculum Committee 

  • Communications Alternate: Chris Borglum, professor, English
  • Mathematics Representative: Niraj Wagh, professor, mathematics

Academic Integrity Standing Committee

  • Shea Faulkner, professor, English
  • Mahendra Gossai, professor, computer programming and analysis
  • Tim Grogan, professor, biology
  • Angela Hall, librarian
  • Deidre Holmes DuBois, professor, speech
  • Sharon Shenton, professor, cardiopulmonary sciences
  • Susan Yawn, professor, criminal justice technology
  • Jerry Reed, professor, computer programming and analysis

If you have any questions or just need to talk, please contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 4224. Or, you may contact President-elect Michael Robbins at or 407-299-5000, extension 6103.


Monthly Archives: October 2020

Teaching for Equity: Introduction to Transparent Assessment

Thursday, October 29, 2020

A Message from Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice President, Teaching and Learning and Isis Artze-Vega, Vice President, Academic Affairs 

Teaching for Equity: Introduction to Transparent Assessments 

Last month, we launched this new series of communications by describing some of the fall term collegewide efforts associated with equity-minded teaching and learning. Since then, we have heard about many regional and discipline-based equity efforts, and we look forward to featuring your insights in future editions. This communication features transparent assessment design, a practical equity-minded teaching practice with a strong evidence base that benefits both students and faculty. We hope it helps with putting the finishing touches on upcoming fall assessments, and that you’ll consider revisiting the transparency resources when refining your spring assessments. In spring, we will invite you to a new course in the Equity-minded Practice Series, Equity-minded Assessment: Transparent Assessment, and before winter break you can explore transparency within the Equity-minded Assessment: Introduction to “A New Decade” Reading Circle.

What does transparent assessment entail?

Essentially, transparent assessment design entails making the implicit explicit in your assessment guidelines. Transparency has been recently popularized by the Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education project (TILT), an award-winning national educational development and research project. Lead by Mary-Ann Winkelmes, executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Brandeis University, a core feature of the TILT project is the Transparent Assignment Template, a framework for developing, explaining, and discussing in- and out-of-class activities and assignments in any course modality. The template consists of three parts: purpose, task, and criteria, as described in the table below.

This summer, during a just-in-time course on transparent assessment design, our faculty affirmed that transparency is even more critical in an online learning environment. “In many regards you must/should be hyper transparent in an online course, more so than the face-to-face mode requires,” shared Meg Curtiss, professor, graphic design, and West Campus program chair of graphic and interactive design. In a face-to-face class, “you can qualify things more easily,” whereas online, “students aren’t able to ask questions as readily — or don’t — therefore, clarity/transparency is paramount to success and to outcomes being reached,” she added.

The principles of transparency also apply to tests and exams. As the University of Waterloo Centre for Teaching Excellence advises, informing students of the purpose and parameters of an exam is an important part of test preparation. “Being aware of why we are testing students and what exactly we want to test can help make students’ and instructors’ experience of exams more useful.” They provide helpful suggestions for communicating your goals for any test, helping students study effectively, and anticipating student questions about the test content, form, and how you will mark it (award/deduct points, etc.).

If transparency sounds like a reduction in rigor, consider instead its effect on motivation. Of course, we want our courses to be challenging and level-appropriate, and high expectations are central to student motivation (Ambrose et al., 2010). However, we don’t want the challenge of a project or test to be in deciphering the instructions, as this results in flawed measurement. Instead, an assignment or test’s level of rigor should represent the challenging cognitive tasks you are assessing.

How do we know transparency works? 

In courses where students perceived more transparently designed assignments, they reported gains in three areas that are important predictors of success: academic confidence, sense of belonging, and mastery of the skills that employers value most when hiring. For first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students, those benefits were larger. First-generation students and multi-racial students experienced medium-to-large effect size differences in all three domains (academic confidence, belongingness, and mastery of the skills employers value) (Winkelmes et al., 2016).

One reason for these successes is that, as experts in our fields, certain tasks have become second nature to us, and we fail to notice their complexity. We sometimes forget that what seems perfectly clear to us may be confusing for our students. Deciphering what professors want and why they want it can be frustrating for them, and can have a cascading impact on students’ self-efficacy and motivation. Thus, clearly communicating our expectations helps them learn and creates a more equitable learning environment.

Faculty also benefit from transparent assessment design. It can make grading easier, describes Kasey Christopher, Ph.D., teaching assistant professor, genetics, development, and science education, Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University, as more students submit work well-aligned with faculty expectations. She notes additional indirect gains: “First, by removing the confusion about basic requirements, I find that students worry less about what their assignment should look like, focusing more energy on content … Additionally, putting the purpose into writing forces me to think carefully about designing assignments that truly help students meet learning objectives. Creating specific criteria for success helps me anticipate common problems, thinking preemptively about what constitutes an [effective] response.”

How/where can I learn more?

The TILT project website includes templates and sample assignments from varied disciplines. To learn more about the project and transparency, please visit the following web resources, including a resource guide developed this summer by the Teaching and Learning team and faculty facilitators:

Again, please stay tuned for details on a new course in the Equity-minded Practice Series, Equity-minded Assessment: Transparent Assessment, to be offered in the spring. This term, you can explore transparency within equity-minded assessment by engaging in the Equity-minded Assessment: Introduction to “A New Decade” Reading Circle, or explore other essential equity-minded practices in the INDV3121 Implicit Bias/Microaggressions course (there are only seven seats available in the course that starts on Monday, November 9, 2020.). Please watch the Valencia EDGE and the Faculty Insight for updates.


Ambrose, S. A., Lovett, M., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Christopher, K. (2018, April 16). “What Are We Doing and Why? Transparent Assignment Design Benefits Students and Faculty Alike.” The Flourishing Academic.

Winkelmes, M. (2015). Recent Findings: Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Winkelmes, M., Bernacki, M., Butler, J., Zochowski, M., Golanics, J., & Weavil, K. H. (2016). A teaching intervention that increases underserved college students’ success. Peer Review, (1-2), 31.


Monthly Archives: October 2020

FAFSA Frenzy Is Here for Students and Parents

Thursday, October 29, 2020

FAFSA Presentations
Dates: Every Tuesday, through November 10, 2020
Time: 6 – 7 p.m.
Location: Online 

FAFSA Help Sessions
Dates: Wednesdays and Thursdays, through November 12, 2020 (excluding Wednesday, November 11 as the College will be closed for Veterans Day)
Time: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Location: Online

Do you find that some of your students could use a little help completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

If so, Valencia College is here to help. The College is hosting FAFSA Frenzy, an annual event, to assist students as they fill out their applications, all in a virtual setting.

Students and parents interested in becoming prepared for the application process can attend FAFSA Presentations every Tuesday until November 10, 2020, from 6 – 7 p.m.

Those who need expert, one-on-one assistance with completing their FAFSA application may attend FAFSA Help Sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays through November 12, 2020 (excluding November 11), between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

For students to receive financial aid, whether in the form of grants or loans, they must complete the FAFSA yearly.