Monthly Archives: December 2020

Valencia College’s Annual Security Report: Reporting 2019 Crime Statistics

A Message from Misty Ellis Peaslee, Assistant Director, Security

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to disclose certain timely and annual information about campus crime and security policies.

The Valencia College Annual Security Report includes statistics for the previous three years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus or on property owned or controlled by Valencia College. The report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies concerning sexual assault and other matters; information on Valencia security and training efforts; the Clery Act and how to report an incident; and a listing of resources and contacts.

In 2019, there were 38 crimes reported on our Valencia campuses. Through our collective awareness and vigilance, each of us can help to keep our campus safe and secure as Valencia continues to grow and expand.

You can obtain a copy of this report by clicking the button below.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact your campus Security Office.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Season’s Greetings from Valencia College

Monday, December 21, 2020

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we holiday, we still know what the holidays are all about: joy and the comfort of family. We invite you to enjoy this holiday video greeting:

Please remember to prioritize your health and safety this holiday season. During this time of family gatherings, we encourage you to keep the following practices recommended by our partner, Orlando Health, in mind as you prepare to celebrate:

  • Limit the number of people gathering, as well as keeping in mind the ages of family members and being careful not to gather if sick;
  • Abstain from gathering in small or poorly ventilated spaces;
  • Organize Zoom get togethers in lieu of in-person gatherings when possible;
  • Limit travel [Please note if you are travelling internationally, you may be required to use your sick or vacation leave to quarantine for up to 14 days before returning to campus.]; and
  • Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

And as a partner in the Safer, Stronger, Together initiative, Valencia also promotes adherence to safe practices to show care and respect for others in our community. So remember to:

  • Wear a mask or face covering in public or when you are not able to maintain physical distance;
  • Practice good hygiene by remembering to wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible; and
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces. For more information on #DoYourPartOrl, click here.

With these tips in mind and joy in our hearts, we look forward to this holiday and the hope that the new year brings. Thank you for all you do to continue to inspire and transform lives through all that 2020 has brought us. From our Valencia College family to yours, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Valencia College’s Fifth President Selected

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

I am pleased to share that just moments ago, Valencia’s District Board of Trustees selected Kathleen Plinske, executive vice president and provost, to serve as Valencia College’s fifth president.

In addition to her current role, Kathleen also serves as the interim campus president of Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses. Prior to joining Valencia in 2010, Dr. Plinske began her career at McHenry County College, a community college in her hometown of Crystal Lake, Illinois. She was hired as an instructional media specialist in 2001 and moved into a number of different roles over the next nine years, including vice president of institutional effectiveness and, ultimately, interim president. You can read her full bio here.

As you know, each presidential candidate participated in a rigorous search process, including on-site interviews, virtual interviews with our governing councils, Student Government Association leadership, and a panel of community leaders as well as virtual town hall meetings with employees and students. With feedback from all of the search components considered, Dr. Plinske emerged as the leading candidate.

The next steps in our process include developing a contract for the District Board of Trustees to approve during its meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, as well as planning for a seamless transition of leadership. We will, of course, keep you apprised of this work via our College communication channels.

Thank you, again, to the members of the Presidential Search Committee and the staff supporting the search process for their deep engagement and commitment, as well as all of the faculty, staff, students and Valencia community for the participation and feedback throughout the search.

If you have questions, please feel free to reach out directly to me at

As we prepare for winter break, please remember to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your families.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Top 10 Things I Am Grateful for at Valencia

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Special Message From Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

As we wrap up the Fall 2020 semester and the holidays approach, I hope you will allow me to share a few short reflections on our work and experience.

In a “normal” year, we would be enjoying live celebrations, gift exchanges, toy drives for the less privileged and special music and words. Alas, little has been “normal” in the past 10 months, much less the last few weeks, and my own family’s experience reminds me that this has been a season of loss for many of us. Thank you for the thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement you have shared with those who have experienced loss of family members this past year, including Jane and me. Still, even while we carry these losses, there is much to celebrate from the past year.

A sociologist/philosopher friend of mine sometimes says, “Coherent communities are formed around objects of common love.” This is a powerful idea, and it has been my experience of Valencia for these past 21 years. Valencia College is, in spite of our scale and distribution, an uncommonly coherent community because, in the midst of our remarkable diversity, we also have many common loves. One way of discerning these loves, especially in this season, is to recall the things for which we are deeply grateful in our work. All of them emanate from core values into which we fervently intend to live — that every person has transcendent value; that everyone can learn what we have to teach; that we need each other in deep collaboration to call out of our students the best of their talents; and that our best work is rooted in evidence, rigor and grace.

With this in mind, I’d like to share the top 10 things about Valencia this past year for which I am most grateful.

  1. We’re all in this together.  While the higher education workforce across the country has been reduced by more than 10%, Valencia has had no layoffs, reductions-in-force or furloughs. In fact, for those whose work couldn’t be done remotely, our talent sharing programs have not only allowed them to contribute, but also to discover much potential and many new talents for our future work.
  2. Our Board of Trustees has allowed us to lead the College and make difficult decisions on the basis of the best scientific and medical information. Our trustees trusted us and our collaborative processes to make the best decisions for our students and staff, including the schedule, whole new approaches to assigning grades and the distribution of millions of dollars in federal relief funds to students.
  3. Our amazing faculty “leaned in,” both in the remarkable conversion of instruction to remote models and also to serving our students with deep compassion, empathy, flexibility and encouragement. They did this with remarkable support for one another and from our teaching and learning staff in faculty development, learning support, instructional design and online learning.
  4. Staff members have done what had to be done. Many have converted vast areas of face-to-face services to remote models, without precedent or complaint. Others, whose services were required on campus, have faithfully kept the campus facilities safe, clean, beautiful, sustainable and ready for our eventual return.
  5. We’ve doubled down on our culture of collaboration. While many organizations revert during a crisis to top-down, high-control cultures, Valencia has found new ways to include many voices in important decisions. I don’t think the College has been more “together” in all of my years here. The communication has been stunning and involvement across typical “silos” to make decision for all of our students and the whole College together has exceeded all expectations. We are, paradoxically, more connected, engaged and communicative about every decision than we’ve ever been. And the presidential search about to be concluded has been the most transparent I have ever witnessed.
  6. Our partners have stepped up to support our mission. These include our own Valencia College Foundation, making it possible to serve all of our students with emergency support whether they met eligibility criteria for the CARES Act or not. Also worth noting are the local government leadership, local employers such as Orlando Health, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World and CareerSource Central Florida.
  7. The federal and state support has been generous through the emergency, especially the CARES Act funding and support for our short-term career training. While we have to take care of the College, our mission is to take care of our students and the community, with special attention to bringing the marginalized into the mainstream through education that leads to family-sustaining employment. Our students have received more than $18 million in direct support distributed through the College and many millions more in support of their learning and preparation for new careers.
  8. Even in the midst of the health crisis, our work in equity has been energized. We’ve learned as a college that we can have uncomfortable conversations and reexamine our assumptions and practices for the purposes of assuring that Valencia’s promise of opportunity is real for everyone. And this work, which belongs to all of us, can be joyful as well as challenging.
  9. A spirit of kindness, compassion and community toward our students and one another has marked so much of what we’ve done these past 10 months, even when many have been deeply fatigued or when their patience has been stretched beyond all normal limits.
  10. The courage and persistence of our students has been exceptional. All that we have done would be for nothing if our students weren’t willing to join us on this journey. They have persisted and performed at levels we could not have predicted, adjusting to new learning and service modalities as well as new life circumstances. They really are amazing.

These are just a few of the things for which I am grateful, things that point to our “common loves.”

I pray that your holidays, however they may be adapted to the public health crisis, will give you a time of deep rest, deep connection and the deepest of hopes for the future.

P.S. If you’d like to listen to a sampling of some music recorded by Valencia College student producers and engineers with a broken-down old president, you can sample a CD just about to be released by checking out this site:

The first tune is a Christmas classic.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Learning How to Unplug Like a Boss

Thursday, December 17, 2020

With the advent of multiple technologies making immediate access to communication — and work — as easy as a quick swipe of the smartphone, it’s hard to unplug these days.

This is especially true for supervisors, who typically work longer hours and face greater responsibilities. But burnout can affect everyone, supervisors included, and many are finding that their inability to recharge is leaving them drained and less productive at work.

To help you disconnect for a bit, we’ve created this list of tips that will hopefully help you to detach from work, get rest and replenish your energy.

Put your phone down and go out for a walk
Create other opportunities to not take your cell phone with you. You may consider skipping bringing your phone into a meeting or even leaving it home for a day. This is difficult, we know, but it can help you not only disconnect from work but be more present for those people actually in front of you. You may also find yourself contributing more during meetings.

Consider giving up that smartwatch
We’ve all had a conversation with someone who kept staring at their phone or reading constant notifications on their smartwatch and felt frustrated because it felt like they were not paying attention. That’s because, odds are, they weren’t. Many studies have shown multitasking is a bit of a myth. In truth, the human brain can only handle so much information at once, so it’s best to focus on one thing or project and then move on to the next.

Delegate authority
This is hard for some supervisors for several reasons, among them the belief that the supervisor can do a better job than the employee, lack of trust and a reluctance to invest time or resources to develop employees enough to help them perform a task. Delegation, however, is an efficient way to redistribute workloads, develop employees and build trust within a team. Although delegation may require you to carefully consider which employees within your team are best suited for a particular task or even provide some training to bring them up to speed, the initial investment of time will free you up later.

Don’t do something just because it ends up on your desk
Make sure you don’t become responsible for every task that lands on your lap because it does not seem to belong to anyone else. Find someone within your team you trust to do a good job and then assign those tasks to that person. You may also find an employee who performs tasks that somewhat align with the responsibility and give the task to that person.

Plan meetings or events and allow other employees to run them
Empowering others within your team or organization can be incredibly motivating to some employees, particularly those eager to advance their careers. You may even consider allowing employees to choose agenda topics and gather all necessary materials for such. At first, you could watch the meeting unfold without participating. But eventually, you should be able to completely disconnect and allow your team to completely run the meeting without you, again freeing up your time for other tasks or for needed rest.

Take vacation time
Yes, it’s possible to work hard and play hard. Make sure you schedule vacation time in advance and prepare your team for your absence. Plan ahead for coverage and delegate tasks if needed during the time you are away. Also, remember that managers set the tone for the rest of the work team. Inadvertently, a manager who does not take vacation is sending the signal that work is more important than rest, so think of this as an opportunity to reinforce an institutional culture that values a work-life balance. After your return, you may find that, in your absence, the organization was able to run well without you. This should hopefully give you enough peace of mind to make this a much-needed habit.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Appreciating Your Employees During the Holidays … Remotely

Thursday, December 17, 2020

In a recent employee survey about the fall term, some employees shared that they don’t feel appreciated in our virtual environment. During this time of year that’s usually filled with potlucks, in-person comradery and face-to-face thank yous, it can be even more difficult to feel appreciated with the loss of in-person connections. How can we help our employees feel appreciated during the holiday season? Here are some ideas:

Consider a virtual party, happy hour or coffee break. Set up a time for your team to Zoom without a work agenda. Maybe lead some holiday trivia or an at-home holiday scavenger hunt. For example, recommends a scavenger hunt in which all team members find the weirdest item in their fridge.

Or, your celebration could include a virtual gingerbread war. suggests sending each of your participants a gingerbread kit in the mail that includes gingerbread people, frosting, candies and more. Then, you can build your sugary homes together or in advance and show them off for a sweet competition.

For additional ideas, check out the games that Assistant Vice President, Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs Daniel Barkowitz’s team played during a Financial Aid team meeting.

Send your team members cards or small gifts. If it’s in your budget, send your team members a card with a personal note or a small gift to their home address. It could be as simple as made-at-home cookies or a small gift card for a cup of coffee or a smoothie. Or, consider sending an e-gift. For example, Amazon eGift cards are available starting at just $1.

Organize a recipe exchange. With employees eating and cooking at home now more than ever, try a recipe exchange. Check out this recipe exchange — an actual holiday cookbook — developed by our Organizational Development and Human Resources team.

Host a virtual photo booth. also suggests hosting a holiday photo booth. Take screen shots of your Zoom celebration using these fun, downloadable Shutterfly photo booth props. Or, bring your own props like Santa hats, reindeer headbands, garland or hats and gloves (especially fun in Florida).

Make a good old-fashioned phone call. With Zoom now the workplace rage, sometimes it’s nice to just go old-school and not have to fix your hair prior to a call. Give your employees a ring and thank them for their hard work and wish them a happy Winter Break.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Managing Smart: Five Tips to Care for Yourself as a Supervisor

Thursday, December 17, 2020

As supervisors, it’s easy to get so caught up in the happiness and success of our team members that we forget to think about ourselves. But, to be a good leader, we must take care of ourselves. Follow these five tips to care for yourself, so you can be the best supervisor for your team.

1. Set boundaries. As a supervisor, we know there are emergencies, but, on most days, 1 a.m. emails are not necessary. Set a schedule and try your best to stick to it. And even with an “open door” policy (now more like “open text” policy with many of us working virtually), ask your team to wait to text you about non-emergency sick days until you’d most likely be awake in the morning.

2. Give yourself grace. Performance Consultant Abe Turner explains in Insperity’s “5 Self-care Strategies for Leaders During Stressful Times” that “when you’re in a position of leadership, you might feel like you have to solve everything immediately. In the process, you might create unrealistic expectations or timelines for yourself.”

He shares that “leaders help organizations when they’re present and available for their employees, empowering them to devise solutions and execute them in the process.”

So don’t put so much pressure on yourself. And what a more perfect place to empower your employees than in Valencia’s collaborative environment.

3. Understand that everyone makes mistakes. According a Get Lighthouse blog post, “To Be a Good Manager, Always Start With Yourself,” accept and embrace that you will always significantly contribute to the success and failure of your team. Taking risks, trying new approaches and being creative are essential to innovating and bringing out the best in your team. And if mistakes happen, fix them and try again.

4. Seek support. When you need it, support is available for you right here at Valencia College. If you’re having challenges with a team member — such as performance or disciplinary issues — or you have questions about other human resources topics such as Family and Medical Leave, payroll or hiring, the Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR) Regional Solution Centers are available to assist you. Contact ODHR at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Additionally, the Supervisor Summit provides opportunities for supervisor networking and development. Read upcoming issues of the Supervisor Segment and watch your Outlook email for invitations to future events. The Summit is an excellent opportunity to build a network of supervisor peers that you can reach out to for support and encouragement when you most need it.

The Employee Development team also offers additional supervisor development opportunities throughout the year that will also be shared in the Supervisor Segment as they are offered.

5. Take a break. With Winter Break just days away, take that nearly two weeks to unplug. Don’t check your email. Don’t try to get caught up. Take a nap. Wrap some gifts. Read a book. Spend quality, uninterrupted time with your family. Then start 2021 with a fresh outlook (we all need it after 2020). For more tips, read Learn How to Unplug Like a Boss.

And after Winter Break, don’t wait for Spring Break to take your next vacay. Take advantage of your vacation days to gift yourself some rest and relaxation.

Monthly Archives: December 2020

2020 Year in Review

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

What a year this has been. From campus closures last spring due to COVID-19 and a quick transition to online work, to our Roadmap for Reopening protocols, 2020 sure brought changes to our lives. But Valencians did what we do best: we soldiered on while never losing sight of our primary mission, helping students succeed. For a look at the year in photos, click on the slideshow below:

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Presidential Search Update: Board to Select Next President on Friday

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

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

Thank you for your participation in the Valencia College Presidential Search finalist interviews in early December. In addition to the open town hall meetings and on-site and virtual interviews, each of the three finalists had an opportunity to visit our campuses, have their photos taken by Valencia College Photographer Steven Sobel, and learn more about our programs, our students and the communities we serve.

Feedback from all components of the finalist interview process was collected and compiled last week — including the feedback you shared via survey — and has been provided to our District Board of Trustees for their review and consideration. On Friday, December 18, 2020, the board will select Valencia’s fifth president. Details for the meeting, which is open to the public, can be found on the Presidential Search Meeting Schedule webpage. The meeting will be live streamed via Zoom and will be recorded and posted for later viewing.

We anticipate that the selection of Valencia’s fifth president will draw interest from many in our community, including the local media. Though we strive to ensure that our employees hear important news first from the College, we know that those attending the meeting may share the information via social media in real time. Thus, in an effort to share our news first, we plan to announce the board’s decision via Valencia’s social media channels at the adjournment of the meeting and will send an internal message with the announcement immediately following that will also be posted in The Grove.

Please know that we are doing our very best to deliver this important announcement to you in the most expedient and timely ways possible. Ensuring that you are informed has been a top priority throughout the search process, and we will continue to maintain this priority through the conclusion of the search.

As always, feel free to reach out to me directly at if you have questions about the search or next steps in the process.

Best regards,

Monthly Archives: December 2020

Playing Games at Work

Thursday, December 17, 2020

By Daniel Barkowitz, Assistant Vice President, Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs

Any way you look at it, it has been a tough year. We have all had to think creatively on our feet, move services online in a way we could never imagine, and work at odd hours in heretofore-unknown ways to make sure that our students received the services they needed to further their education.

It is serious work that requires serious attention. And that’s why we chose to play games in our last Financial Aid staff team meeting.

I was looking for a way to celebrate the amazing effort our team has accomplished this year, and what better way than to take one of our bi-monthly all team meetings and turn it into a fun game-themed thankfulness celebration!

First, the details:

Our financial aid team (all 46 of us) meet twice a month on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 p.m. on Zoom. Usually, this meeting is a time to share updates, provide training on new topics or answer questions from team members about issues currently confronting them. Before the pandemic, we met as a complete staff on Skype once a month, and immediately after we went remote, we had been meeting on Zoom weekly, but we have now settled into our current routine and it works for us. Of course, we have plenty of smaller group meetings all month long, but it is important for us to all see each other at least once monthly.

It happened that two of our Zoom meetings this year occurred on the Tuesdays right before a holiday break, once the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and once the Tuesday before Winter Break. Since Thanksgiving week is usually a slower week for us, and in recognition of all of the hard work that the team had done (and the milestones they had accomplished), the management team composed of Tamika Martin, director, student financial aid services; Martin Denizard Anglero, director, financial aid systems; Donna MacDonald, director, student financial aid operations; Denise Asselta, VA specialist, and I decided to have a celebration in lieu of our regular meeting.

We started off the meeting with a Zoom poll. I asked in our poll for people to provide their favorite kind of pie (provided answers included pumpkin, pecan, peach, apple, pizza and 3.14159). People were also invited to add comments in the chat about other desserts or Thanksgiving food they were most looking forward to.

We then began a game of “This or That.” Using a PowerPoint that I based on one Katie Tagye, director, organizational design and development, had done before (and adding some of my own), we displayed two images side by side and asked people to pick the one they preferred (examples: coffee or tea, roses or daisies, Disney or Universal, sunlight or moonlight). They indicated their preferences by using the Zoom annotate feature, where they could add a stamp or a mark on the slide visible to everyone else on the call. It was a fun way to get people in a playful mood.

About a week before the meeting, I sent an email to staff members asking them to send me two little known facts about themselves for use in a trivia game. I took all of the answers provided and created a Kahoot trivia game. Inserting random other members of the team as wrong answers and adding a fun image pulled from a Google image search, I created a trivia game which we played next as part of our staff meeting.

With Kahoot, players join in from their cell phone, and we all enjoyed chatting about the surprising answers revealed (who among our staff is a secret video gamer; who among the players has been to 22 countries). I announced there would be prizes, and I am awarding our top three players a small cash prize (an Amazon gift card which I am contributing personally) as a way to motivate people to play and compete. It was terrific!

We next played a round of Scattergories. This is game where you are given 10 to 12 categories (animals, board games, sports teams, capitals, etc.) and also a starting letter of the alphabet. Your job is to come up with an answer to each category that starts with the letter you have been assigned. You get points ONLY if no one else playing has your answer as well, so creativity is encouraged. After a predetermined number of minutes (two, usually), you then read aloud your answers to see if anyone else has the same answer. We used a free version of the game here.

With that, our one-hour game time was done. Staff members loved it and we all wish we could have played for longer. I had a number of other games ready to play, but didn’t need them. They included:

  • Zoom Pictionary using the drawing tool on Zoom along with the word list found here.
  • Never Have I Ever, using team members suggestions to see who has done what; and
  • Game of Phones, a game that uses your smartphone to bring friends together by asking you to respond to challenges by finding things like messages or photos on your smartphone or taking selfies with the camera.

We will certainly do this again! We all enjoyed our game time together and it was a great way to get to know each other better with very little financial commitment. What games can you suggest? Feel free to share in the comments below.