Monthly Archives: October 2020

Thank You Valencia Scholarship Committee

Monday, October 5, 2020

A Message from Elvin Cruz-Vargas, Director of Philanthropic Programs and Recognition

Over the summer, 70 faculty and staff members participated in the Valencia Scholarship Committee to award more than $800,000 in scholarships for the academic year 2020-2021. Of that, $462,000 has already been disbursed for fall 2020.

The committee was tasked with reviewing 3,000 student applications and making award recommendations within the span of one month. The ultimate goal was to have all scholarship awards posted to student accounts by the fee payment deadline of Friday, August 14, 2020, which made a significant difference in the lives of many students struggling to afford tuition.

Committee members received training through Canvas and were divided into several teams led by Samuel Dunham, assistant director, employee development; Kera Coyer, coordinator, program advisor; Teresa Higginbotham; coordinator, program advisor; Heidi Shugg, coordinator, career program advisor; Bryce Cooke, manager, Poinciana Campus; Grenka Fletcher, coordinator, academic affairs; Guy Miller, administrative assistant; Camille Hernandez, assistant director, conferencing and college events; Donna Kimmeth, coordinator, deaf and hard of hearing interpretation; Michael Blackburn, manager, learning support services; Kelly Holden, assistant director, accounting, business office; and Joyce Romano, former vice president of educational partnerships and Valencia College retiree. On top of their daily responsibilities, they remarkably led the work of this committee. A deep, heartfelt thank you to each and every one of them for their diligence, spirit, and dedication.

Teresa Higginbotham, who has served on the committee for several years, said it was “an honor and privilege” to serve for the College in this capacity:

“The ability to assist a student by awarding a scholarship that may make the difference of their attending college is breathtaking,” she said. “To read the thoughts and dreams of our students is inspiring. Thank you, Valencia College Foundation and College leadership for making these scholarships available to our students and for allowing me to be a small part of this committee.”

Co-chaired with Mike Bosley, executive dean, Lake Nona Campus, the Valencia Scholarship Committee is a great way to bond with colleagues across multiple departments and disciplines, see the big picture of our work at the College and focus on something positive. The committee also serves a vital purpose for our students, especially during these challenging times, when scholarship assistance can make the difference on whether or not a student might be able to afford tuition.

The next round of scholarship awarding will begin later this month. If you are interested in joining the committee, please feel free to contact me at

Monthly Archives: October 2020

College Update: Opportunity and Equity Initiatives

Friday, October 2, 2020

A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

In earlier conversations, and now in ongoing strategic planning efforts, we have discussed our special responsibility, in light of Valencia College’s mission and history, to ensure that opportunity is real for everyone, and that equity, especially in student outcomes, is the test of that opportunity. This core value is one reason Valencia has been and continues to be regarded as one of the boldest colleges in the country in seeking equity in student outcomes — still a central focus of our work.

Recently, the District Board of Trustees approved a model of planning, already underway, around these student outcomes in four areas: Access, Completion, Transfer and Workforce success. All have a powerful focus on equity in both our uses of evidence and our strategies to achieve them. The model also names as the underlying, unifying platform — Opportunity and Equity — as the core of Valencia’s mission.

The planning process has already begun, with hundreds of you convening to develop specific goals in each of the four areas to be presented to the board in December. Goals for Opportunity and Equity are to be developed in the spring. Then, action plans for all five of these goal areas will be developed at the college, campus and unit level.

All of this, done in true Valencia College, collaborative fashion will take some time. Collaboration always does, but it yields better and more sustained results. Nevertheless, I feel urgency, as many of you do, to begin serious and actionable work in the practice of equity at Valencia — things we strongly believe will be good for students and for the College that needn’t wait on the development of a plan — in fact, should help us to discern the right areas to focus on within the plan.

Opportunity and Equity Initiatives
On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, I shared these initiatives with the board, work that I am setting in motion now to deepen our commitment to the practice of equity.

School of Public Safety: Curriculum Review, Redesign and Training
First, in light of the dreadful events and violent encounters with law enforcement officers in many of our communities, we feel a special responsibility to press deeply into our mission to train them through the School of Public Safety. Some months ago, soon after the killing of George Floyd, I met with the senior law enforcement officials in our region to set in motion a deep review and revision of the training we provide. A diverse task force, with representation from the agencies, the community, our Peace and Justice Institute and faculty, and leadership from the School of Public Safety, is charged with this review and revision, to include curriculum, tactical training, ongoing advanced training and leadership development. Already, much advanced training is being deployed with sessions on Fair and Impartial Policing, De-escalation, Racial and Emotional Intelligence, Community Engagement and Peacemaking. The work will certainly involve both actions and recommendations for further work, both immediately and into the future.

Valencia Safety and Security: Training and Development
Second, it is important to look inward on this matter. While Valencia doesn’t operate a police force, we do employ a substantial team of Safety and Security staff. Although they are not armed and do not have the power to arrest, they have already contributed much to the safety of the campuses and our readiness to thrive through all manner of potential threats. Their daily role, however, is to serve as ambassadors for safety and security with students and employees. In many ways, because they are the first Valencia staff the public is likely to encounter on campus, they serve as “directors of first impressions.” There is great potential here to help everyone on our campuses know they are welcome, that they belong at Valencia, and this is a safe place for all. There is also potential for conflict, misunderstanding, biased interactions and distrust.

Our safety team has already stepped up its training for equity, cultural competence, diversity and inclusion. I have asked Loren Bender, vice president, business operations and finance, and Paul Rooney, assistant vice president, operations, to lean in and develop comprehensive plans for this area, including diversity and commitment to equity in the leadership structure of Safety and Security.

Organizational Development and Human Resources: Policy and Practice Review and Redesign
Third, Valencia cannot achieve its goals for students and make opportunity and equity real for them unless it continues to improve in practicing opportunity and equity with its own staff and faculty. To this end, I have asked Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, to empanel a diverse design team to thoroughly review and redesign our policies and practices of recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, promoting and evaluating employees at every level. I have also asked that all of our systems and our professional development programs move toward making equity-mindedness an essential competency for Valencia employees in every role. This work is ongoing, but we expect meaningful changes before the next busy hiring season.

There are many other areas of policy and practice in need of review with an eye toward opportunity and equity. For example, the student discipline policy is currently in such a review, requiring conscious attention to issues of disparate treatment or impact, cultural sensitivity, and diversity and inclusion. Therefore, at its September meeting, the District Board of Trustees approved amendments to Policy 6Hx28: 1-09 – Policy Development, Review and Approval that requires regular review of all Valencia policies and ensures that equity will be an important element of every review.

Leadership for Equity and Opportunity: Infrastructure Design
Fourth, you can see there is much to do, even in a college that has been considered a leader in its focus on closing gaps in student outcomes. So much, in fact, that I am convinced we need focused leadership to guide our reviews, facilitate redesign and implementation, and build accountability into our systems. We are not ready to simply appoint a person with this general charge yet, and given our leadership transition, it seems to me that decision should fall to the next president. But, we can and should design the functions and support systems of such an office that will make it effective. Therefore, I am also commissioning a design team for developing a plan of Leadership for Equity and Opportunity, to be completed by the spring. And we will seek, even in a time of constrained resources, to steward what we have to begin implementing early.

The Road Ahead
All of these initiatives will be managed through the existing frameworks for collaborative governance and with a sense of urgency to do good for all we can. In some ways, it might feel like new work. It may even feel like we are reacting to public events. I would say that public events have opened a conversation and shone a light on matters that will help us live into the DNA Valencia already has. We will do these things and more, not as a departure from the focus that makes the College a special place, but in fulfillment of the values and goals we already share.

What I have described here are institutional responses rooted in our mission and purposes as an “opportunity college.” But we should bear in mind that this work is informed powerfully by the lived experience of students, colleagues and community. Listening deeply to their stories, persisting humbly in conversations that can be uncomfortable, and engaging in the personal work of transformation and reconciliation are indispensable resources for our shared work.

The work we do at Valencia has always, even when difficult, brought us joy. I believe this will be joyful work as we move closer to fulfilling our original promise of opportunity for all.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Teamwork, Safety Lead to Learning at Lake Nona Campus

Friday, October 2, 2020

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

Although most of our classes are online this semester, some faculty and staff are leading the return of students to our campuses. The biotechnology program at the Lake Nona Campus, led by Professor of Biotechnology and Program Chair Susan Ingersoll, Instructional Lab Supervisor Sothy Kien and Laboratories Manager Justine Monsalve, is offering two sections of Biotechnology Methods I (BSC2426C). These colleagues are working together to teach on campus while ensuring that the College’s safety requirements, for both labs and COVID-19, are met.

Susan, Sothy and Justine note that students are happy to be back on campus because this course is a hands-on learning experience, and they appreciate being able to be in the lab conducting their experiments. And while mask wearing while goggle wearing is proving to be challenging, they continue to search for solutions to reduce goggle fogging. Justine says, “We’ve seen some creative attempts to stop the fog, like taping the top of the masks.”

Instead of one lab per section, the course is now taught in three separate labs, with additional equipment borrowed from labs on West, East and Osceola Campuses to ensure students have the same learning experiences. Susan, Sothy and Justine each facilitate a class of five or six students, utilizing Zoom to communicate with each other. Students are assigned to groups and rotate once a week, working in different lab spaces and having opportunities to get to know the facilitators. Not only are students getting more one-on-one time, but also they are exposed to a variety of presentation styles. They learn in the process that there are lots of ways to get to the right answer, especially when it comes to lab math.

The group also has the help of the Biology department and its lab supervisor, Christine Rodriguez-Rutkowski, who provides lab staff. Laboratory Assistants Genesis Reyes, Toni Walters and Stanley Hibbert help implement new systems and perform cleaning and resetting of experiments and lab groups. A recent graduate from the biotech program, Stanley relates well to the students, sharing his experiences in the laboratory and helping to lead the setup of the labs.

Susan notes that the entire team at Lake Nona Campus has a hand in supporting the biotech labs, from OIT and security to custodial. Executive Dean Mike Bosley, who checks students in and asks if they have completed the CDC self-checker as they enter the building, has been invaluable in their return to campus.

For those that are returning to campus in the spring, Sothy says that patience is key and having the ability to adapt to the changing situation is important. She also suggests being kind to yourself and others. “We are living under a pandemic, so things will be harder and take longer to happen but have faith, things will get better.”

Monthly Archives: October 2020

East Campus Phase 2 Reopening Update

Thursday, October 1, 2020

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

I would like to thank the many teams that have assisted in making the health and safety of faculty, staff and students Valencia’s top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic and during Phase 2 of our reopening. Maintaining campus safety is a team effort, and with the start of fall term underway, protocols have been put in place for students who are attending one or more of the 27 face-to-face classes held on East Campus.

An administrator on duty has been assigned to the campus when classes are taking place. This person is responsible for welcoming students, reminding them to perform their daily health assessment through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and providing sanitizer prior to entering a classroom. A cart has been positioned at the welcome check-points that contains hand sanitizer, gloves, masks and shields for students in need. Thank you to Sal Navarro, manager, campus operations, Winter Park, for keeping track of sanitation supplies and replenishing stock.

Specific parking lots have been designated for classes to minimize student interactions while on the campus. On the first day of class, students were directed to specific building doors in which to enter and exit. Security is always on campus to lock and unlock classroom doors that are used as well as monitoring campus activity.

Classes are separated by at least 45 minutes to provide sufficient time for our custodians to sanitize and prepare classrooms and labs for the next class. The Facilities team is using new sanitizing misters and UV light sanitizing machines to increase their efficiency in cleaning areas of the College where we have face-to-face classes.

The cafe, library, Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation and student and learning support services are currently closed on campus, but there is an information desk, staffed by security personnel in Building 5 and online services are available.

The lobby of the Performing Arts Center has been transformed into a distribution center for technology and classroom resources. Over the summer, it was used for laptop pick-up and drop-off. This semester, in addition to laptops, students are picking up items such as calculators, sewing machines, large light fixtures and clay, all used for class instruction.

Thank you to the many people who have assisted in keeping everyone safe on campus. From the Facilities teams who sanitize our spaces, to Security personnel who ensure the classrooms are unlocked, every Valencia employee plays a part in the success of keeping our health and safety protocols in place.

Feel free to view the video from the Thursday, September 24, 2020, East and Winter Park Town Hall, which highlights what it’s like to be at the East Campus this term.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Nominate a Colleague for the League Excellence Awards

Thursday, October 1, 2020

In recognition of the long tradition of excellence in community college teaching and leadership, the League for Innovation in the Community College established the League Excellence Awards — formerly the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards — in 2012. These awards are open to League Alliance member institutions to celebrate outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty and staff. Recipients are recognized in a series of activities and promotions and honored at special events at the League’s Innovations conference each spring.

All full-time employees of the College, including full-time faculty (i.e. annually appointed faculty, tenure-track and tenured) and staff, are eligible to be nominated for this honor, provided they have not received the award in the last five years.

Each president has established the following criteria for nominations:

East and Winter Park Campuses’ Criteria:

  • Contributes to the advancement of innovation and creativity on East and Winter Park Campuses.
  • Provides leadership through participation in divisional, campus and collegewide initiatives.
  • Exhibits expertise/scholarship in his/her specific field/discipline and work.
  • Demonstrates outstanding contributions to campus and college learning communities.

Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses’ Criteria:

  • Exhibits spirit of innovation that goes “above and beyond” what’s expected.
  • Recognizes that our students are amazing and demonstrates a commitment to helping them reach their full potential.
  • Makes a significant contribution to creating the right conditions to support learning on campus.

West and Downtown Campuses’ Criteria:

  • Demonstrates innovation and creativity for improving learning at the West and Downtown Campuses.
  • Advances expertise or the scholarship of teaching and learning in their field/discipline or area of work.
  • Contributes significantly to achieving remarkable outcomes for a division, campus or collegewide initiative.
  • Strengthens partnerships with external organizations and agencies to improve student access, retention, and completion.

Please consider nominating a worthy colleague before Thursday, October 22, 2020.

For details about eligibility, selection, nomination and recognition, click here.

For additional information, call your campus president’s office:

  • East and Winter Park Campuses: 407-299-5000, extension 2216
  • Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses: 407-299-5000, extension 4101
  • West and Downtown Campuses: 407-299-5000, extension 5588

Monthly Archives: October 2020

You’re Invited to a Virtual Medieval and Renaissance Fair

Thursday, October 1, 2020

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

Welcome to a virtual trip to the past! The Winter Park Campus will begin hosting an interactive website on Thursday, October 15, 2020, featuring living crafts and artisans who will demonstrate the skills and knowledge of a Medieval and Renaissance village.

In keeping with the mission to preserve the history of community through the study of Medieval and Renaissance periods, featured offerings will range from the arts of hearth and home in addition to the sciences as found in the trades of the village guilds. The live sessions are planned for next semester — this fall semester we will be hosting recorded sessions and student created assignments.

This is the first time non-profit living history groups have partnered with a college to share their knowledge. Craftsmen and artisans from The Society for Creative Anachronism have graciously agreed to share their skills and knowledge via video.

To view the interactive website — which will officially launch on Thursday, October 15, 2020 — click here. The site will be ongoing.

Contact Elizabeth Faulcon, part-time faculty, humanities, at for more details.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Valencia Librarians to Present at Virtual Conference

Thursday, October 1, 2020

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

East Campus Librarian Courtney Moore and Winter Park Campus Emerging Technology Librarian Adam Johnson will be two of the representatives of the collegewide librarian team presenting at the 2020 Florida Association of College & Research Libraries Virtual (FACRL) Conference on Friday, October 16, 2020. The theme for this year’s FACRL Conference is “Demonstrating the Value of Academic Libraries during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Their presentation, “Serving Student Research Needs through a Self-Enrolling Canvas Course,” will provide the backstory and process of creating the library’s Research Workshops Canvas course.

“Research Workshops was created shortly after library services transitioned fully online in March 2020, due to precautionary measures related to COVID-19,” stated Courtney. “The course allowed the library to satisfy requests for information literacy instruction that gave instructors and students flexible options for live and on-demand sessions.”

Popular Research Workshops modules for fall 2020 include:

  • Getting Started with Research
  • Introduction to Chicago Style
  • How the Librarian Can Help You
  • What is Plagiarism?
  • Types of Sources

At the end of each module or live session, students take a short quiz to earn a badge for their records. More than 650 badges have been awarded since the course launched in May of this year.

“We’re filling an important need for many of our students during this time, and the impressive scale of student engagement shows how excited our students are to develop their research skills,” says Adam.

Research Workshops works well as a companion to research projects or as a standalone assignment. Faculty interested in assigning the course to their class may access it here. Additionally, there is an assignment template available in Canvas Commons.

Courtney and Adam will be joined by Valencia College Librarians Nardia CumberbatchSarah Dockray and Beth King. For additional information or questions, please contact Courtney at or Adam at

Monthly Archives: October 2020

Reflections on #ScholarStrike

Thursday, October 1, 2020

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

As you know, Valencia participated in the national #ScholarStrike movement, with more than 300 faculty, staff and administrators who removed themselves from regularly scheduled activities on Tuesday, September 8 – Wednesday, September 9, 2020. They engaged in personal and collective reflection time and teach-ins on the topics of racial equity, systemic racism and opportunities to further take action at Valencia.

Personally, I chose to reschedule all meetings and when unable to reschedule, I used the opportunity in these meetings to discuss #ScholarStrike and racial equity. Furthermore, I scheduled time for directed readings, individual conversations and small group discussions.

Some of my activities during #ScholarStrike included:

– I met with the leaders of our East Region Equity Team; Mark Collins, dean, social sciences and physical education, and Keri Siler, dean, math, to collaborate on a forthcoming process and timeline for next steps regarding inventory of our racial equity initiatives. Students will be joining faculty and staff at a future town hall meeting to add their voices to equity employee discussions.

– I participated in a partners meeting for the Universal Orlando Art of Tomorrow program, where colleagues from Valencia’s School of Arts and Entertainment, along with the Valencia College Foundation, Horizon Scholars and Organizational Design and Development met with the Universal Foundation and Orange County Public School partners, to plan our visioning for explicitly including racial equity as a goal for this high school mentorship program in the arts and entertainment fields.

– I took “time in” (instead of time out) to read from Ibram X. Kendi’s  “How to be an Antiracist” book and journaled my thoughts on how to apply what I’ve read to my life and work.

I have heard from so many colleagues about their experiences during #ScholarStrike. I would love to hear from more of you so please send me an e-mail if you would like to share (

Monthly Archives: October 2020

You’re Invited to Participate in the 2020 Ilyse Kusnetz Writing Festival

Thursday, October 1, 2020

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

Each October, Valencia College’s Winter Park Campus hosts the Ilyse Kusnetz Writing Festival, a day of workshops and readings by diverse authors from around Central Florida. Past festivals have featured speakers such as Richard Blanco, acclaimed presidential inaugural poet, Shawn Welcome, founder of the longest running open mic in Orlando, and author Brian Turner, husband of the festival’s beloved founder and poet Ilyse Kusnetz.

Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to submit writings to be included in the festival gallery at Featured works will be displayed for one year, and all types of word-based art is accepted. This includes prose, poetry, audio recordings, video performances and visual arts.

This year’s theme is “reACTION.” Please consider the following questions if you are interested in submitting work:

  • What moves you?
  • What inspires you to make a change?
  • How do you respond to the world around you, and how does it respond to you?

This year’s live event, which will feature submitted work, will take place:

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2020
Time: Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Zoom

All work must be submitted to Teaching Lab Supervisor Chris Brown at by Monday, October 19, 2020.

Monthly Archives: October 2020

You’re Invited: East Region Town Hall

Thursday, October 1, 2020

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

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2020
Time: 3 p.m. 
Location: Zoom

You’re invited to join the next East Region Town Hall where we’ll discuss student support, student affairs and learning support.

For questions, contact Michelle Ames, executive assistant, senior, at or 407-299-5000, extension 2216.