A Message from Patti Smith, Chief Information Officer
As we have become even more reliant on the stability of our network services over the past year, the Office of Information Technology team has worked to add a secondary internet service provider to our systems. Adding the second provider requires us to take our systems down for a period of time. We first informed you on Friday, January 22, that a network outage was scheduled for Tuesday, January 26, 2021. On Monday, January 25, we followed up with an email update that Canvas would not be accessible for students during the planned network maintenance. We recognize that the planned outage impacted our faculty and students due to the way that students authenticate to the network, thus rendering their Canvas access unavailable during the planned outage.
Unfortunately, yesterday, a separate incident resulted in our need to cancel the planned network maintenance just before it was to begin. An external provider experienced a fiber cut in our direct link between our West Campus and Lake Nona Campus data centers. Because we were unsure about the full impact of the fiber cut and the timeline for repair, we decided to postpone the planned network maintenance. All employees received notification of the canceled outage on Tuesday, January 26, 2021, at 7:34 p.m. Faculty, please note that students did receive notice that the outage was planned via email, an Atlas announcement and social media. Once we realized the outage would be postponed, the Atlas Alert on the Atlas sign-in page was updated and messages were posted on our social media accounts to inform them that the outage was postponed.
I recognize the disruption that any outage causes (planned or unplanned) and will continue to work closely with our partners in Student Affairs and Academic Affairs to reschedule the addition of the secondary internet service provider at a time when the impact can be lessened on faculty, staff and students. We will communicate that planned outage, along with any implications to service accessibility for employees and students, as soon as we are able.
As always, I welcome your feedback and thank you for your support.
Patrick Bartee is a fighter. After surviving two bouts of cancer, the last of which caused him to lose his vocal cords, he is back and ready to fill his position as Faculty Association president, to which he was selected last year.
Patrick, professor, speech, was scheduled to begin in his new role at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, but his illness delayed his start date. His position was temporarily filled by Professor of Business and Accounting and Faculty Association Past President Stanton Reed Stanton Reed until he recovered.
However, Patrick’s cancer did not hold him down, and he said in a recent interview that he feels optimistic and energized.
“It is very important that Valencia is aware of my cancer and know that I’m a fighter,” he said.
“I want them to know because it may help someone going through an illness and not knowing how to feel. I want them to know that all things are possible if you keep pushing through and fighting to live and make a difference … I am now functioning without vocal cords so I have labeled myself as the speechless speech professor (SMILE). I have found that I am more driven than I could have ever imagined,” he added.
He also stated, with great hope, that he has an implant in his neck that will eventually give him back his voice.
“It will not be the God-given voice I had, but I will speak again,” said Patrick, who was a professional singer prior to his illness. “Until then, Stanton Reed has agreed to be my voice [if needed]. I am so grateful to him for that.”
Patrick holds a bachelor’s degree in television and radio reporting from Bethune-Cookman University and a master’s degree in rhetoric and theory of mass communications from the University of Akron in Ohio. He is also a “proud brother” of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the first intercollegiate African American Greek-lettered fraternity in the United States.
He joined Valencia in 2002 as an adjunct speech instructor, where he worked on several campuses before making West Campus his home. He earned tenure in 2014.
Before joining Valencia, Patrick was an adjunct professor of speech at the University of Akron. He also held various development director roles at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the American Lung Association of Florida, the Central Florida YMCA and the Metropolitan Orlando Urban League
But it’s being a professor at Valencia where Patrick has felt the most at home.
“When all is said and done, being a professor has been rewarding, and I want to make sure that our voices are heard. So here I am, ready to serve and make a difference,” he said.
Although Patrick cannot verbally speak, he is eager to communicate and support fellow faculty members. He has urged his colleagues to email him at email@example.com or text him at 407-529-6595 should they have any questions or need assistance.
How might we encourage high school students to attend college? How might we assist more students in graduating? And what are all the ways we can support students’ adjustment and transition to baccalaureate programs?
We need answers to these questions and more to help us meet the goals outlined in our Strategic Impact Plan.
You are invited to participate in our upcoming strategic planning idea gathering sessions starting next week. While our 2030 Strategic Impact Plan describes the “what” and the “why” of our work in broad aspirational goal areas, we are now ready to explore how we will reach the goals in that plan, and we need your input.
Beginning on Monday, January 25, 2021, several sessions will be offered where you can share:
Your ideas about how Valencia can reach the goals in the Impact Plan;
Your experiences as an employee or student (or both) that can help identify areas of improvement and;
Your thoughts about how to streamline current efforts and initiatives related to the goal areas of access, graduation, career credentials and transfer success.
A variety of idea gathering sessions will be offered that provide you with opportunities to focus on all four or specific goal areas, as well as options to participate at a time that is convenient for you. Session types are as follows:
Forum Sessions: Forums will start with a presentation about the process and time for questions and answers, followed by small group discussions.
Brainstorming Sessions: These sessions will start with a creative warmup activity, followed by group discussions and idea generation in small groups.
On-demand Sessions: Don’t have time to participate in a scheduled Forum or Brainstorming Session? You can still participate and share your ideas via an On-demand Session. This option will allow you to complete individually or with your team at a time that is convenient for you. All ideas generated in this space will be visible to all who participate. For details on how to participate in the On-demand Sessions, click here.
Your participation and input is so important to this process. I encourage you to attend a session or take advantage of the On-Demand option to share your ideas, thoughts and experiences that will shape our institutional plans. I look forward to seeing you there.
A Message from Patti Smith, Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology
I am pleased to share that this spring, Atlas will be upgraded with a new look. Atlas, our web portal, is an essential part of our day-to-day activities at Valencia College, for both employees and students, and has been for nearly two decades.
In 2014, we launched a new Atlas portal that featured a new interface, easy access to Office 365 and email, along with enhanced content organization and a search feature. Since that time, and with the rapid changes in technology and software, our current platform is in need of an upgrade. With this new upgrade, you will have access to all of the content currently in Atlas, with an enhanced user experience.
In March, the Office of Information Technology will move Atlas to a new platform that will allow for:
Enhanced user experience: Provides a cleaner look and feel that will facilitate site navigation
Mobile responsiveness: Allows for Atlas to display properly on mobile devices
ADA compliance: Meets the ADA accessibility guidelines with the use of tags and labeling that can be read by screen reading technology
In preparation for the launch of the new Atlas in March, a group of faculty and staff members have been assembled to perform testing and documentation review throughout February. This will help us to ensure functionality of the site and update any documents or trainings that include screenshots or references to specific content housed in Atlas.
We will continue to keep you informed as we get closer to the launch date. Stay tuned to your email for more information, including a sneak peek of the new portal. If you have questions or feedback, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-299-5000, extension 5411.
A Message from Katie Tagye, Director, Organizational Design and Development
Yesterday, we kicked-off our Strategic Planning Idea Gathering sessions with a Forum focused on the goal area of access. This session was the first in a series that will be held over the next three weeks for you to share your ideas about how Valencia College can reach the goals in our Impact Plan. As shared last week, there will be a variety of idea gathering sessions and types of sessions where you will be able to let us know your thoughts on the goal areas of access, graduation, career credentials and transfer success, or all four.
On-demand Sessions are one of the three types of sessions offered where you can participate at a time that is convenient for you.
How can you access these On-demand Sessions and what can you expect?
There are three ways (options) for you to share ideas via On-demand sessions, and you may participate in one or all as many times as you would like.
On-demand Option 1 – Robust Ideas: Have you had ideas bouncing around in your head for weeks, maybe even months or longer? Are you eager to share them and how they might connect with one of our Impact Plan goals? If yes, you can submit your idea using this On-demand Survey.
The On-demand Survey option for idea sharing will:
– Give you the opportunity to share as much information as you have about your idea. You will be prompted to answer these questions:
Briefly describe your idea.
Which of our Impact Plan Goal areas do you think your idea would support?
How will this idea support progress toward one or more of our College goals?
Each of our Impact Plan Goals contain Valencia’s commitment to equity. They set ambitious goals for students of all races and ethnicities. Please describe how your ideas help to support our institutional value of equity.
Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?
– Include as much or as little detail as you’d like. You are able to skip any questions and submit the survey as is.
To start the survey, click the button below:
On-demand Option 2 – Emerging Ideas:
Are you interested in thinking about potential solutions that could become an idea? Would you like to read the thoughts of your colleagues and see how that might connect to your ideas? If so, consider participating in On-demand Option 2.
Using Stormz collaboration software, you can share your initial ideas on virtual cards in response to questions that spark your thinking. In addition, all virtual cards posted will be viewable to anyone who participates, adding to the idea generation process. Watch this How to participate in Stormz video for an overview on the process.
Get started adding your ideas by clicking the button below.
This On-demand Emerging Idea session will conclude with an opportunity to give detailed information on an overarching idea. Throughout the period of idea gathering, you will be able to return to the survey to contribute additional ideas.
On-demand Option 3 – Team Session:
If you would like to have someone come to an existing team to host a session during a time when your team can meet, email your interest to Brandon McKelvey, assistant vice president, analytics and planning, at email@example.com.
So there you have it: three On-demand options and three different ways you can participate in addition to the forum sessions and brainstorm sessions. I invite you to take advantage of one or more of these On-demand options in a way that works best for you. Your participation and input is so important to this process. I do hope that you are able to add your ideas, thoughts and suggestions in one or more of the idea gathering sessions, as your input will help shape and inform our institutional plans.
Analyzing how the pH balance of hair products can negatively impact hair, exploring the effect of white noise on plant growth and examining contaminant levels in tap and reclaimed water are activities one might associate with being present in a lab environment.
In her role as LSAMP project director, Kassy is responsible for overseeing activities associated with the Central Florida STEM Alliance (CFSA) — a multi-institutional project funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in which Valencia College is the lead institution.
The overarching goal of the LSAMP program at the College is to support racially and ethnically minoritized students who have been traditionally at a disadvantage within STEM fields. The goal? Seeing them complete associate degrees and go on to pursue baccalaureate degrees in STEM.
More specifically at Valencia, this means facilitating meaningful programming for underrepresented minority students which includes the LSAMP Scholars program, a two-semester opportunity for students to engage in hands-on research under the guidance of a faculty or staff mentor, the Summer STEM Institute, a summer bridge for incoming freshmen interested in STEM, and the STEM Summit, a yearly alliance-wide conference. LSAMP also hosts numerous other events for students that include industry field trips, college tours and travel to attend national STEM conferences.
This all sounds somewhat dry on paper, but Kassy says it’s far from what her job entails.
“This job is actually a lot of fun,” she said, adding that besides coming up with programming ideas, she also gets to experience her students’ success firsthand as she and her colleagues cheer them on.
“I enjoy the opportunities to see our students present their research at national STEM conferences and to hear students reflect on their own STEM story and share what they have learned in front of peers and the Valencia community during our LSAMP showcase. It is a very rewarding job.”
At Valencia, where she started in 2018, Kassy is proud of helping students transition online during the pandemic, including offering them virtual lab opportunities.
“Honestly, I wasn’t sure if we would be able to continue to support students in research without being able to meet on campus,” she said. “But we have continued the LSAMP Scholars program with the support of our wonderful faculty mentors and students have completed research virtually and at-home on a variety of fascinating topics.”
She also expressed satisfaction with the LSAMP team’s efforts to support students in completing the Summer STEM Institute virtually. Students completed hands-on STEM activities from the comfort and safety of their own homes, participated in virtual field trips and interacted with guest speakers.
The LSAMP team has also leveraged technology during the pandemic to offer webinars for students, which have included notable and inspiring industry speakers, such as astrophysicist Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi; and former NASA astronaut Nicole Stott.
Kassy enjoys the extensive collaboration among other colleagues who support LSAMP. She also praised the involvement of academic STEM deans and faculty across the College as well as Valencia’s robust support services offered to students, such as advisors, librarians, lab staff and many others.
“It is thanks to the hard-work of the LSAMP project team, specifically our dedicated STEM advisors and our project implementation coordinator, and the support of other departments at Valencia that our programs have been successful” she said. “LSAMP really wouldn’t be possible without the kind of cross-division collaboration we currently have.”
At Valencia, she said she is also deeply inspired by the students she meets.
“The students in the LSAMP program are incredibly inspiring as many of them are first-generation college students, working multiple jobs, pursuing challenging STEM degrees and are often faced with other personal and academic challenges that could easily derail their journey in STEM and yet they continue to persist in pursuit of their goals,” she said. “As we continue to cope with a global pandemic, I am particularly inspired by our students’ abilities to adapt to these challenging and unprecedented times.”
But she is also inspired by Valencia, a place where students can access opportunity and feel comfortable and “as though someone genuinely cares about them.”
“I know everyone who works in the LSAMP program genuinely cares about the students we serve and work with. And we want students to feel comfortable around us and to come to us if they are struggling in an LSAMP assignment or program.”
Her supervisor, Eda Davis Lowe, assistant vice president, partnerships for educational equity, agrees that Kassy has made significant contributions to her team.
“Kassy started her position at Valencia during a busy event season for the project team,” said Eda. “Early in her tenure, she demonstrated how well equipped she is to lead a project designed to advance diversity in STEM degrees and careers. Kassy makes significant contributions at Valencia and beyond, as she fosters collaborations around equity-minded practices to engage and retain in STEM racially and ethnically minoritized students.”
Before joining the College, Kassy, who holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Rollins College and a master’s degree in environmental conservation education from New York University, worked as program manager for the Girl Scouts Citrus Council and as a climate program coordinator for the Rainforest Alliance in New York City.
In her free time, Kassy enjoys reading, riding her bike and spending time outdoors or with family. She also finds time to volunteer at the Nehrling Gardens, a historic garden in the Orlando area, where she is also a board member and where she continues to assist with programming.
“It is a lovely historic property,” she said. “Walking around the gardens is great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.”
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.
A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost
As we enter the last week of January, I would like to echo Dr. Shugart’s kudos and gratitude for your support of our students’ learning and success. I am struck by the number of December graduates who have reached out to express their appreciation for the College’s support during this difficult time. One graduate reflected on having taken her first class at Valencia College back in 1994 and marveled at finally completing her degree in the middle of a pandemic; another shared that she had lost her mom and was about to give up until she received a College email that created a sense of personal connection that gave her the courage to continue. It is clear that your efforts, big and small, make a huge difference in the lives of our students.
I am honored to have been selected as Valencia College’s fifth president and am excited to have the opportunity to continue to serve our students and community with you. Between now and July 1, 2021, I look forward to continuing to serve as executive vice president and provost and campus president of the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses. This spring brings a number of opportunities to collaboratively design our future: we must plan for the summer and fall semesters as we begin to imagine emerging from the pandemic; we will continue to invest in initiatives underway to support our pursuit of equitable outcomes; we will apply what we have learned during the last year to reimagine our institution to meet our students’ and community’s post-COVID needs; and, beginning this week, each of us is invited to contribute to the development of our Institutional Plans that will describe our strategies for reaching the bold goals we have identified in our Strategic Impact Plan.
This type of work is where Valencia shines. I look forward to engaging our discipline of collaborative design to intentionally include your voice in creating the best possible future for our students, colleagues and community. And, while many of us find this work exhilarating and exciting, I also recognize that moving toward the unknown can also create anxiety, particularly in the larger context of the challenges that each of us is facing. Nevertheless, I am confident that we will emerge stronger, together.
Feedback on Organizational Structure and Campus President Searches When Dr. Shugart announced his retirement, his original timeline, understandably so, called for conducting campus president searches this spring. Many of us are craving stability in this time of uncertainty, and the selection of campus leaders would help us move in that direction. I also personally feel a sense of urgency about finding the next campus president of the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses before I begin my new role.
At the same time, I can make a strong case for delaying the search timeline. First, we have talented interim leaders who are providing stability and thoughtful leadership. Second, we already have our plates full this spring; multiple campus president searches would require significant, additional institutional and individual bandwidth. Third, as we reimagine our institution in a post-COVID world, we may wish to consider a different organizational structure, including my current position of executive vice president and provost.
In the interview process, I committed to listening with “new ears” if selected to serve as president. While I have not officially begun in the new role, I am eager to begin the process of listening and gathering your perspectives, insights, and feedback, particularly before making significant organizational decisions, such as launching searches for campus presidents.
If your schedule allows, I invite you to join me at an upcoming virtual town hall to share your thoughts about our academic organizational structure and the timing of our campus president searches. Dates and times for the town halls are as follows:
If these dates/times do not work for you, please reach out and I’d be happy for us to set up a Zoom call or, as always, I also welcome your thoughts by email. Over the next several weeks, I will also meet with Faculty Council leadership, deans, our current interim campus leaders, and other members of Senior Team to gather additional input. I’ll share an update based on these conversations before the end of February.
Timeline for Developing the Summer Course Schedule Many of us are eager to know what the summer and fall terms will look like at Valencia; the picture should become clearer by Spring Break. Maintaining our focus on our two key priorities of the health and safety of our students, employees, and community, as well as providing for continuity of student learning, our Conditions to Reopen Team and Senior Team continue to seek guidance from Orlando Health in order to make a recommendation about which phase of our Roadmap for Reopening would be most appropriate for the summer term. Our Course Schedule Design Team, composed primarily of faculty and deans and who crafted the recommendations for our fall and spring course schedule, will meet in early February to make a recommendation to Senior Team about the Summer Course Schedule. You can expect to hear more about our plans for summer by the last week of February.
Opportunities to Recognize Outstanding Students Our Office of Alumni Relations is looking for your help to identify the 2021 Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate. The deadline for students to apply is Friday, January 29, 2021. If you know students who have graduated in summer 2020 or fall 2020 or will graduate in spring 2021 and who inspire our mission, who tell our story, and would empower others to overcome whatever challenges they face, please encourage them to apply.
Additionally, the Valencia College Black Advisory Committee (BAC) is seeking applications for the 2021 BAC Incentive Awards and the Eula Pearl Jenkins Scholarship. Both opportunities seek to honor with financial support students who highlight Black voices and stories, who may be involved in social justice and equity initiatives, and who have achieved academic success despite adverse circumstances. The BAC welcomes faculty and staff nominations as well as self-nominations from students. I encourage you to share this opportunity with your students and consider submitting a nomination of a deserving student. Nominations are due by Friday, March 5, 2021.
I hope that you are taking good care and staying safe, healthy, and well. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with your thoughts, questions, comments, or concerns.
The recognition — known as Coach Clifford’s Social Justice Game Changer — is given to those engaged in outstanding efforts in their community to bring about social change. As part of the honor, Rachel has been invited to attend an Orlando Magic home game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, January 29, 2021, where her accomplishments will be recognized during the game and shared with the audience.
“We have worked hard for years to address issues of race and inequity at Valencia College, to create a more inclusive and welcoming culture for our students and employees,” Rachel shared. “Bringing the work to the community, through dialogue and education, creates the possibility for justice, equity and a more peaceful community for us all. I am grateful to Coach Clifford for honoring the work.”
The Coach Clifford’s Social Justice Game Changer initiative was started by Orlando Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford, who has strongly turned his attention to those making significant changes in the Social Justice movement in Central Florida. During the NBA offseason, he’s actively participated in several causes in support of equality and social justice for all in our community.
This past year, the Peace and Justice Institute moved to the virtual environment to host the annual Resilience Conference, the PJI Teachers Academy, and workshops for organizations across our region to promote racial awareness and conscious leadership. Currently, the institute is facilitating Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission’s Dream Series, a six-part community dialogue series exploring race, bias, systems of privilege and oppression, with an overarching goal of strengthening the value of relationships, community and trust within Orlando.
Kudos, Rachel, for all the work you have accomplished.
The City of Orlando recently produced videos highlighting Valencia College’s 18-week Mechatronics program, showing the valuable skills our recent graduates have learned that will help them secure careers in this high-demand manufacturing field. To view the videos, click the button below.
Stressed? Need to talk to someone? Valencia College offers resources to help for both full- and part-time employees.
Optum Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
For full-time employees, Valencia College’s Optum Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you, your dependents and members of your household to help you cope with these types of life events. Call 866-248-4094 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) and use the access code: Valencia. You may also log on to www.liveandworkwell.com and use the access code: Valencia. Optum EAP provides confidential, short-term counseling at no cost to the employee.
And, for employees who have Valencia College UnitedHealthcare (UHC) plans, UHC and Optum Behavioral Health now offer Talkspace online therapy, which provides virtual access to thousands of licensed therapists — 24 hour a day, seven days a week — who are fluent in 30 languages.
To explore and register for Talkspace, visit talkspace.com/connect. After completing a form and entering UHC information, you can:
Easily find a therapist with an online matching tool
Start therapy within hours of choosing a therapist
Receive daily responses
Schedule live video sessions (when needed)
Download the Talkspace app via mobile phone or desktop computer
For part-time employees, Optum is offering a free emotional support help line. This help line will provide those affected access to specially trained mental health specialists. Optum’s public toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as necessary. This service is free of charge and open to anyone. Specially trained Optum mental health specialists help people manage their stress and anxiety so they can continue to address their everyday needs. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.