Monthly Archives: January 2021

Sandy Shugart Guest Stars on Good Morning Valencia Podcast

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Our Student Development student leaders recently interviewed College President Sandy Shugart on the podcast, Good Morning Valencia. Hear from Sandy on this student-created podcast, “Legacy,” as he talks about retiring from a his role in higher education after serving 21 years at Valencia College and more than 40 years as a higher education senior leader, as well as his journey on becoming a college president and his greatest challenges in the role.

To listen to the podcast as well as other Good Morning Valencia episodes, click the button below and select “Episode 5: Legacy.”

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Join the PJI Common Read Book Club

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Join the PJI Common Read, a book club initiative by the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma, healing and resilience.

The Common Read initiative is open for community members and Valencia College faculty and staff as part of PJI’s larger community resilience work. Its theme is also the focus of PJI’s annual conference — Creating a Resilient Community: From Trauma to Healing (Save the dates: Tuesday, April 20 and Wednesday, April 21, 2021).

In advance of bringing Donna Jackson Nakazawa as the conference keynote speaker, the group will read her impactful book “Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal.”

With the generous support of Valencia’s Courier Services, PJI can now mail a copy of this book directly to your home so you can participate in the Common Read. There are 100 remaining books that will be mailed out in the order they are requested. To request a book, please complete this brief request form by Thursday, January 28, 2021.

The Common Read of “Childhood Disrupted” will run for 10 weeks — from Monday, February 1 through Sunday, April 11, 2021. Each week, there will be two discussion prompts posted in the PJI Common Read Facebook Group on Mondays and Fridays for participants to respond to and engage with in written, photo or video format.

The club will also host two Zoom meet-up sessions to discuss the book.

Session 1:

Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Time: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Zoom – Register for Session 1 here to receive the Zoom link.

Session 2:

Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Time: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Zoom – Register for Session 2 here to receive the Zoom link.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

View the Spring 2021 Employee Development Schedule for Educational Opportunities

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Spring 2021 Employee Development Schedule is now available, offering both live and on-demand personal and professional development opportunities to all Valencia College employees.

Our spring schedule looks slightly different this year: For instance, now you may search for courses based on featured opportunities or by month. Similar to last term, the schedule offers courses in a variety of topics and modalities. This term’s schedule also highlights new sessions on Finding Workplace Harmony and Implicit Bias Training for supervisors.

Back by popular demand are weekly guided meditations and courses to explore new features in Microsoft Teams and Zoom, as well as opportunities to participate in hour-long “learning boosts” — sessions that complement content in LinkedIn Learning courses and videos. During these sessions, participants will explore how topics such as emotional intelligence, building relationships and managing change apply to our everyday work at the College.

Please note that courses and learning sessions on the Employee Development Schedule are not eligible for Faculty Professional Development (PD) credit.

To view the full Spring 2021 Employee Development Schedule with descriptions, along with links to register or launch courses and sessions, click the button below.

For assistance with the registration process or launching a course, please email the Employee Development team at or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Celebrating Educational Advancements — Spring 2021

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Valencia’s recognition program is robust — including the educational advancement program for full-time employees.

For non-instructional employees who have been employed in a full-time position for a minimum of six months and who have subsequently earned a degree from a regionally accredited institution, the College awards employees a one-time, lump-sum payment, barring any degree that is a required qualification of the employee’s current position. Please note that staff members are compensated for only one award per first academic degree earned.

Through this program, the College recognized the following staff members for achieving a post-secondary degree:

  • Jennifer Bhagirath, coordinator, career program advisor, master’s degree
  • Cheryl Miller, staff assistant II, bachelor’s degree
  • Alebia Mina, executive assistant, master’s degree
  • Roberto Ospina, sales associate, associate degree
  • Francisco Quintero, emerging technologies library specialist, bachelor’s degree
  • Alexis Ramos, coordinator, career program advisor, master’s degree
  • Victor Rivera Rodriguez, air conditioning technician, associate degree

Tenure-track and tenured faculty who complete the advanced degree process will be placed at the salary commensurate with the advanced degree earned at their current step upon successful completion of their degree. In order to be considered for the salary change, faculty must make sure their course of study is approved in advance by their supervisor and submit evidence of degree completion.

Annually appointed faculty members also receive a salary adjustment commensurate with the advanced degree upon completion of the advanced degree process.

Through this program, the following faculty completed a post-secondary education recently:

  • Tyler Branz, professor, political science, masters+30 to doctorate
  • Bonnie Cross, professor, English, masters+30
  • Tammy Gitto, professor, humanities, masters to masters+30
  • Mahendra Gossai, professor, computer programming and analysis, masters+30 to doctorate
  • Kinyel Ragland, professor, political science, masters to masters+30
  • Ryan Sandefur, professor, mathematics, masters+30
  • Ramon Velez-Cruz, faculty, New Student Experience, masters+30 to doctorate

Congratulations to these employees for their fantastic achievements. Please congratulate them in the comment section below.

For more information on the educational advancement policy and salary raises for faculty, please refer to College Policy 6Hx28-3C-04 Total Rewards: Recognition of Full-Time Employees for Educational Advancement. For questions, email or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Learn About the Four Stages of Change During Learning Day Keynote

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

If you haven’t registered yet for Learning Day — which will take place on Friday, February 12, 2021 — now is the time. Join your colleagues for a time to learn, celebrate and inspire one another. Click here for details on registration.

Keynote Speaker

This year, Manu Shahi, an educator, business owner, author and the founder of Homework in a Cafe — a place for 5th-8th graders to improve student confidence and academic performance while making learning not feel like homework — will present on “The Four Stages of Change: Using Your Past Experiences With Change as a Field Guide to Help You Navigate Through Your Upcoming Transition.”

Shahi has been in the after-school industry for 13 years, formerly running a highly successful Kumon Math and Reading Center for 10 years. She is still impacting students’ lives by coaching thousands of children and developing systems that build their study skills and excel in their academic endeavors. Through her extensive training from the Boston SMART program and Rush University in Chicago on executive functions, study skills and coaching, Shahi’s programs are designed to help students and parents with academic stress, advancement and motivation. Her additional training for Project Wayfinder, which the Stanford Design School designed, brings a social-emotional learning aspect applied to her students and clients in every interaction.

Get Your Zoom Ready

For the very best virtual Learning Day experience, please make sure your version of Zoom is up to date. To update within the Zoom application, click on your photo or initials in the top right corner. Then, click “Check for Updates.” Updates will be completed automatically.

Please note that it will be necessary to use your Valencia College credentials (username/login) to access the Zoom sessions. Please do not use personal credentials.

For additional information on Learning Day, attendance and participation, read the Learning Day Frequently Asked Questions found on this webpage.

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

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Celebrate Data Privacy Day With New Home Internet Security Course

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Thursday, January 28, 2021, is Data Privacy Day, and what a great opportunity this brings to raise awareness on the topic and promote data privacy.

To that end, Valencia College is leveraging its partnership with KnowBe4, an online security training service, to provide a Home Internet Security Course for employees and their families. This course will provide you with the tools you need to ensure your personal data and privacy are secure.

The course is free and can be accessed by clicking on this link and entering the password “homecourse” (please, do not enter the quotation marks).

In addition, each year, various organizations — from government agencies, private businesses and educational institutions such as Valencia College — participate in this nationwide campaign to promote data privacy practices by sharing tips on how to best secure our data and privacy.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, you can check out this link from the National Security Alliance that provides details on how to check your privacy settings for devices and applications on your mobile devices.

We live in a mobile world and our devices contain a large amount of personal data and are always connected. We hope you find the above information helpful as we continue to promote data privacy awareness so that you and your data can stay safe.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Valencia’s Network Will Be Down January 26 in the Evening

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Valencia College’s network will undergo updates from 10 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26 to Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at 4 a.m. and will be unavailable for use during this time. As OIT employees conduct maintenance that will improve the resiliency and security of our network, the following services will be unavailable:

  • Valencia College website
  • Atlas
  • Banner
  • Skype for Business (includes phones, video calls and IM)
  • VPN connectivity
  • *Student Access to Canvas
  • *Student Access to Office 365 and Email

*Faculty and staff will have access to email, Office 365 and Canvas; however, due to the differences in how our students, faculty and staff authenticate (on Valencia’s servers vs. the cloud), STUDENTS WILL NOT HAVE ACCESS TO OFFICE 365, EMAIL OR CANVAS. 

Faculty and staff may access Canvas directly here and for details on how employees may access Office 365, click here.

Students were notified of this outage on Monday, January 25, 2021; however, please provide leniency for assignments.

If you have questions about this email or require assistance, please contact the OIT Service Desk at You may also submit a service request through the OIT online portal.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

Encourage Your Students to Take Advantage of Osceola’s Virtual Humanities Events This Spring

Friday, January 22, 2021

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

Thanks to generous funding and logistical support from (and collaboration with) Student Development, the Osceola Campus Humanities Department is happy to have online cultural event opportunities available for our students this spring as we continue navigating being online.

The events will be held in the Humanities Digital Venue (HDV), which features timely virtual museum and art gallery exhibits, virtual theater, and a virtual speaker series that includes but is not limited to “Sign of the Times: Student Art Show,” “Valencia Voices: Pandemic Podcast,” “Race, Myth, Art and Justice,” “Frank Lloyd Wright Tour,” and “Immigration Under A New Administration” by Sara Mora. As a digital forum, the HDV leverages the capabilities of new media to facilitate many conversations. You can view the events at the Humanities Digital Venue by using the link found on this calendar or clicking here.

Please promote and encourage your students to participate in these events. Also, feel free to reach out to Kathryn Cairns, part-time faculty, humanities, at if you have any questions or if you would like to participate in a future event.


Monthly Archives: January 2021

College Update: January 21, 2021

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

Welcome back to Spring Term 2021! I hope you enjoyed genuine rest and deep fellowship over the holidays. You certainly earned it. So much has happened since the last collegewide message; I hope you’ll allow me to comment on just a few.

Valencia students are persisting in their studies.
You may have read that postsecondary enrollments are down across the country, and most especially at community colleges. This is true in Florida as well, where nearly all of the 28 Florida Colleges are experiencing enrollment declines in the 10 to 15% range this spring — except Valencia. Valencia’s enrollment grew considerably last summer, continued to grow modestly in the fall and is essentially holding steady in the spring.

As in the rest of the country and state, many graduating high school seniors are delaying their enrollment in college. Our First Time in College numbers for this fall and spring are down (-13.2% headcount; -9.7% FTE). But growth in other areas is offsetting this delayed enrollment, and I expect, with a little creative effort, many students who have delayed their entrance into college will join us in the fall. Most importantly for learning, we continue to have high levels of returning students, with less than a 1% decrease in term to term persistence over the course of this whole “COVID” year.

I wonder why Valencia’s students are having such a different experience than those of our peers. It isn’t our geography or economy, not our program-mix or our finances. In all of these respects, we’re similar to many institutions whose students have not persisted in their studies. I believe the answer lies in Valencia’s radical commitment to treat students as persons, not enrollments.

Our faculty have made thoughtful and flexible adjustments for students requiring many accommodations during this unusual time. Brilliant innovations in the ordinary things students have to experience (grades, eligibility for financial aid, scheduling, remote access to learning support and other services), were developed and implemented with such creative collaboration, based on seeing our students as students to be served, not problems to be solved or counted. Perhaps most notably, many have granted extraordinary access to students for personal support and help, often in ways “off the radar,” but also in very intentional and proactive ways. With coordination from Student Affairs, staff from across the College have made more than 100,000 outbound calls of support and assistance to students since this crisis began.

I can’t express how grateful and proud I am for all of this work and all of you who have done it. As you know, I’ll be moving on in a few months. This personal attention to our students is the best going away gift I could imagine. Thank you.

Speaking of moving on…
The presidential search process concluded in December, with the District Board of Trustees unanimously selecting Kathleen Plinske, executive vice president and provost, to be the fifth president and CEO of Valencia College. The search was thorough and challenging (just ask Kathleen), and I think it showed the power of collaborative wisdom in the final selection. She is a magnificent servant leader and will serve the College exceptionally well for years to come. Thanks to all who participated in the process.

In order to give Kathleen time to build her own team, complete the academic leadership tasks that can’t easily be handed off and get a little much-deserved rest before beginning her service as president, I will continue actively in the presidency until Thursday, July 1, 2021, at which time Dr. Plinske will fully assume the role.

There is much to sort through to ensure that this is the smoothest and most effective transition we can imagine. Kathleen and I will be close partners in this work. She will want to consult widely within the College on many of her early decisions as well. Watch for a direct collegewide communication from her in the next few days to set the stage for this work.

More relief funds are on the way.
A new federal relief bill was signed into law in December providing $900 billion for a wide variety of relief and other activities. Valencia College is expected to receive nearly $60 million to support our efforts to serve students through the pandemic and prepare to open more face-to-face classes safely. This is a huge sum, but it is non-recurring money restricted by rules that are still in development. A large portion will go to students, some will go to defray COVID safety costs, and other uses have yet to be determined. It may take a few weeks for the rules to be issued. We will approach this as we have previous relief funds, through a transparent and collaborative planning process. Normal operating expenses, especially personnel, salaries, raises etc. are unlikely to be eligible for these funds, but the costs of things like contact tracing, deep cleaning, PPE, technology to support remote services, etc. will be. We’ll share more as the rules are released.

Communication is important, now more than ever.
It is hard to overcommunicate in times of change and uncertainty. For this reason, I expect that I, Dr. Plinske, faculty leaders, campus leaders and others will be sharing messages like this a good bit more often over the next few months. We don’t mean to bury your inbox but do want you to be knowledgeable and included in all that is underway. I hope you find this helpful.

Monthly Archives: January 2021

You’re Invited to the February Supervisor Summit

Thursday, January 21, 2021 

Date: Friday, February 19, 2021
Time: 9 – 10:30 a.m. 
Location: Zoom 

Supervisors, we invite you to attend our February Supervisor Summit, focused on “Finding Work-Life Harmony” and supporting your team members to do the same.

During the session, participants will:

  • Acknowledge accomplishments from the past year;
  • Identify current or anticipated challenges; and
  • Explore resources designed to help supervisors plan for conversations with their teams.

To help you begin thinking about this session, check out this short video “Strive for harmony, not balance” from LinkedIn Learning.

A portion of the summit will focus on timely updates, including information on virtual development opportunities. Also, to make the most of your Summit experience, be sure to update your Zoom. To update within the Zoom application, click on your photo or initials in the top right corner. Then, click “Check for Updates.” Updates will be completed automatically.

All  Valencia College supervisors have received a meeting request in Microsoft Outlook. If you haven’t received the invitation, email Employee Development at