Monthly Archives: February 2021

Thank You for Sharing Your Ideas

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Message from Brandon McKelvey, Vice President, Analytics and Planning

Thank you to all who participated in one of the many Strategic Planning Idea Gathering Sessions that were offered from Monday, January 25 through Friday, February 12, 2021.

Faculty and staff from across the College came together with their colleagues to think about and discuss how Valencia College will support student access and success. Between our Forum and Brainstorming Sessions, more than 400 employees participated, allowing us to generate high-quality ideas.

Over 14 core sessions were offered, with an additional two on Learning Day and several held for teams by requests. Each session had its own collection of wonderful ideas, generative discussions and thoughtful suggestions.

Our survey will stay open until the end of the week for additional idea submissions. Special thanks to everyone who submitted their ideas through our Digital On-Demand and Onsite Idea Collection stations.

I am grateful for all of the participation and the ideas and suggestions that were shared during this process. I feel confident that with our amazing collaboration we will be able to build on this great work to inform our institutional plans.

We look forward to reviewing your input and ideas, and will send updates on emerging themes and the next steps in the strategic impact planning process in the coming weeks. Please feel free to reach out to me at if you have questions or would like additional information about the strategic planning process.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

The Spring/Summer PJI JOURNAL is Now Available

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Peace and Justice institute is happy to announce that the Spring/Summer 2021 edition of the Peace and Justice Institute’s JOURNAL is out, with articles covering a variety of topics.

In this issue, you will read about recent efforts to memorialize the Ocoee Massacre and enter a place of healing; the story of a pastor who learns unconditional love for himself and from God as a gay man; a tribute to College President Sandy Shugart, and a conversation with our very own director of downtown community engagement for UCF Downtown and Valencia College Downtown Elizabeth Thompson, who discusses how she and her family’s efforts to preserve African American history in the Orlando Community led her to her current role.

We are highlighting the following articles, but rest assured, the entire issue is worth immersing yourself in:

You can read the full issue of the JOURNAL by clicking the button below:

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Learning Council Puts Its Equity Lens to Work

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Learning Council convened on Thursday, February 4, 2021, to continue the group’s capacity building in advancing racial equity; apply members’ current racial equity knowledge and ability in several ways, including institutional plan ideation; and engage with updates on the Council’s commissioned work.

The group began the meeting by congratulating Executive Vice President and Provost and President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses Kathleen Plinske for being selected as Valencia’s fifth president and promptly began discussing the book “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. This was the Council’s final discussion of the text, which members had begun reading in July 2020.

After a general discussion of the text, the Council members broke into small groups to discuss how to identify racist ideas and practices in their daily work as well as opportunities for antiracist efforts. Participants responded to questions in the Zoom chat, and many discussed the need to review current policies and practices as well as to better leverage student data.

Lauren Thomas, professor, mathematics, and Osceola Faculty Assembly president, said her group discussed the need to have data that “accurately reflect the demographics our students so that when initiatives/programs are created, they are specifically created for those groups.”

Shari Koopman, professor, English, proposed a “common read” focusing on equity for incoming students. She also suggested embedding “SEED-like” activities in PIVOT 360, Valencia’s leadership program, to expose administrators to equity concepts.

Vasudha Sharma, professor, chemistry, also wondered about mechanisms that would allow faculty to intentionally assess their own practices on racial equity.

Work Proposal Feedback

The Learning Council was reminded of the draft criteria that were generated in December 2020 for work proposal review, ones that further emphasize equity and learning. Council members will consider the extent to which each work proposal makes explicit how equity-minded practice is a lens through which research and work will be completed and will ask specific questions about learning, such as: What is the primary goal and/or learning outcomes?

Wendi Dew, assistant vice president, teaching and learning, provided an update on the Classroom-based Early Alert Work Plan and asked the Council for feedback. Responses were varied, and some suggested focusing on students who have completed 15 credit hours.

“One of our main strategic strategies is to increase the number of students achieving 15 credit hours. How could faculty know which students in the class have achieved this goal?” asked Sonia Casablanca, professor, business, and interim dean of career and technical programs, at the Osceola Campus. “Can the rosters show a code to identify these students so faculty can provide more support if needed?”

Lateshia Martin, manager, student services, asked if all stakeholders would have viewable access to early alerts provided by Valencia’s client relationship management system (CRM). To the question, Wendi answered that “part of our work will be to identify the type of alerts we will use, their purpose and intended outcomes.”

Following that discussion, Leonard Bass, dean, learning support, provided an update on the Post-COVID Learning Support Model Work Plan and asked the council for feedback. Ideas provided in the chat included questions from Aida Diaz, professor, Spanish, who asked if students could participate in a forum in order to discuss tutoring services.

Supporting the Institutional Planning Process

Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs and Learning Council co-chair, walked Council members through the College’s Impact Plan goals. She challenged the group to brainstorm strategies that both advance our targets in each goal area and advance learning. In small groups, council members discussed the following questions, adapted from the institutional planning forums:

– What institutional actions might be preventing students from reaching their goals and learning as much or as well as they could?

  • What institutional actions might be causing barriers for Black and Hispanic students?

– What are all the ways we might support our students, toward both our access, graduation, transfer and career credentials goals and more/better learning?

  • What are all the ways we might support our Black and Hispanic students toward these inseparable goals?

Honors Design Team Feedback Request

Robyn Brighton, director, strategic learning initiatives, shared that the Honors Design Team crafted six criteria in response to data collected through campus forums, surveys, interviews and various activities. Since initially sharing the criteria with governance and on-campus forums in February 2020, the work team is seeking input on the extent to which the criteria will guide the design team in achieving equity by design. Learning Council groups suggested that the design team identify metrics with which to hold ourselves accountable and observed that, as currently stated, the success criteria sound more like traditional notions of “diversity” and “inclusion” than “strategically ensuring equity.”

To help clarify the latter, the group turned to the metaphor of “access” and “diversity” as “an invitation to the dance,” “inclusion” as “an invitation to the dance floor,” and “equity” as co-creation, “choosing the music/teaching the dance moves”, adapted from Tia Brown McNair, vice resident in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and executive director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

Micro-progress Updates

Nichole Jackson, director, learning assessment, provided an update on Learning Outcomes Assessment (LOA), including the fact that the group partnered with the College Curriculum Committee (CCC) to look at course outlines through an equity-minded lens. Almost all general education courses and several others are coming to the February 2021 CCC meeting for feedback.

Wendi also provided an update on the Academic Integrity Standing Committee. The team, Wendi said, has spent “a lot of time thinking about student and faculty perceptions and experiences with academic integrity during the pandemic.” The team is working through this complex issue and is committed to providing resources and support for both faculty and students. Wendi will provide additional updates as the work progresses.

She also provided an update on the Equity-minded Practices Focused-Inquiry Team (FIT), indicating the team will work in four phases:  Phase 1: February –  Literature review; Phase 2: March – Synthesize and evaluate literature and institutional practices; Phase 3: April –  Core recommendations and creation of the brief, Phase 4: May – Submit brief.

Isis also reminded the group that the Withdrawal FIT and Start Right: Late Start work is on pause.


Stanton Reed, professor, business and accounting, and Learning Council co-chair, shared that the council will continue to work on capacity building in advancing equity, as well as building a deep connection to the institutional planning process and reminded members of development opportunities.

The next Learning Council meeting will take place on Thursday, March 4, 2021, from 2 – 5 p.m. via Zoom.

To view a PowerPoint of the February meeting, click here.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Join Us for a Caffeine Buzz Focused on Travel

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Date: Friday, March 5, 2021
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Join in for Caffeine Buzz on Friday, March 5, 2021, co-hosted by Katie Tagye, director, organizational design and development, and Natasha McIlMurray, coordinator, organizational design and development. The March Buzz will touch on travel topics, which should come in handy as the College heads into Spring Break. The Buzz is an opportunity to become immersed in a divergent-thinking environment to explore innovative ideas around the world while also networking with colleagues.

To view resources shared during the February Buzz, click here.

Watch the February 2021 Buzz below:


Monthly Archives: February 2021

Join PJI for the Third Annual Creating a Resilient Community: From Trauma to Healing Conference

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Date: Tuesday, April 20 ― Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Time: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Online

This past year has reinforced that resilience is not automatic. It is built over time, through our unique lived experiences, cultivated by our surrounding support systems, and can shape our well-being.

On behalf of the Peace and Justice Institute, you are invited to the third Creating a Resilient Community (CRC): From Trauma to Healing Conference. Learn about cutting-edge research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), neuroscience and evidence-based programs building resilience across our community.

Keynote speaker Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an award-winning journalist and internationally recognized speaker whose work explores the intersection of neuroscience, immunology and human emotion. Her mission is to translate emerging science in ways that help those with chronic conditions find healing.

Join us for this unique two-day conference hosted through a new virtual venue experience. Early registration runs through Friday, March 5, 2021. General Registration is available through Monday, April 12, 2021. To view the conference website and agenda, click here.

Watch some fun highlights from last year’s conference here.

Employees may use Employee Development Funds (EDF) to cover the conference cost. To use EDF funds, complete the EDF and Travel Authorization forms. To access the forms:

  • Log in to Atlas.
  • Click on the Employees tab.
  • Select Tools.
  • Click on Valencia Forms.
  • Search for the forms, Request for Employee Development Funds and Travel – Authorization for Travel or Absence From Campus.
  • Complete both forms and email to

2021 Conference Scholarships Available
To apply for half, full or student scholarships, please complete the 2021 Conference Scholarship Application by Tuesday, April 6, 2021. Scholarships will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply early.

This event is hosted by the Peace and Justice Institute and the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. Conference sponsors include: Orlando Health (title sponsor), Central Florida Foundation, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange.

For additional conference details and to register, click here. All registered participants will receive a link in their email to access the online conference.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Cyber Security: Learn How to Protect Your Data With These Resources

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Message from Patrick Criss, Director, Information Security Operations

We live in a world where all of our personal information and data is available at our fingertips. While this provides us with great conveniences, it also creates the risk of losing control of our information.

There are several resources available via the Valencia EDGE, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) Knowledge Base and other external websites to help you understand the risk and how to protect your information and data at work and at home. These resources cover basic security awareness and common methods used to gain access to your data.

Valencia College is committed to providing a safe, secure and regulatory-compliant computing environment for students, faculty and staff. Please spend a few minutes reviewing the resources that enhance Valencia College’s security awareness program. You can view resources below:

Security Awareness Fundamentals Online Course
This is an overview of the most important issues in security awareness.

Captain Awareness: Foil Phishing Online Course
Take this course to review phishing, the common method used to get access to your information.

Captain Awareness: Securely Working from Home and Working From Home in Times of COVID-19 Online Course
These modules offer best practices for protecting yourself and securely working from home.

Home Course from KnoweBe4
This resource provides best practice security recommendation for the entire family. Password: homecourse.

Cybersecurity Guidelines for Valencia Employees
Available from OIT’s Knowledge Base, this article covers some fundamental do’s and don’ts of cybersecurity.

Manage Your Privacy Settings
Provided information on how to update your privacy settings on popular devices and online services.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Featured Colleague: Lisa Macon Has Worn Many Hats at Valencia, but Serving Students Is Her Priority

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

By Claudia Zequeira 

Some people may not know this about Lisa Macon, professor, software development, but some time ago, she and her husband were in Valencia College’s rock band, the Rogue Scholars.

“We had to drop out when the kids got older and kept us busy. Other than that, I’m not very exciting,” she said.

But Lisa’s life is the opposite of dull. At Valencia, where she has worked for more than two decades, she currently serves as program chair for the Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) in computing technology and software development.

In that role, she regularly meets with industry partners, leads assessment efforts, hires part-time faculty in coordination with her dean, and schedules classes, among other duties.

Her experience as a former dean of engineering, computer programming and technology at the West Campus, a position she held for six years until 2018, came in handy for Lisa, who also teaches classes in the program.

“Our B.A.S. program came out of a big idea to help students who didn’t want to complete the rigorous math and science required for a university computer science degree but who wanted to master the skills and frameworks needed for a successful job in the local IT industry,” she said.

“Many of these jobs don’t require advanced math and science, and companies are thrilled to have our graduates who are well-prepared in the latest languages and technologies.”

During her time here, Lisa has been involved in numerous projects. So many, in fact, that it would be impossible to mention them all. Recently, she listed her visits to Princess Nora bint AbdulRahman University (PNU) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as one of her proudest accomplishments. PNU is the largest all-women’s university in the world, with an eight-million square meter campus and 15 different colleges.

While there, Lisa consulted with faculty and staff as they developed Associate in Science degree programs in computer science and computer information technology.

“Thanks to our work, more women were given opportunities to work in the Kingdom’s growing IT workforce,” she said. “Being part of the education of women in a country where women are treated very differently than they are in America was a humbling, eye-opening and empowering experience.”

She also mentioned her participation in an education panel during a visit from U.S. First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden (at the time, she was Second Lady) in which panel members discussed the importance of community colleges to the areas they serve.

To this list, we should add her tremendous educational accomplishments. Lisa holds a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University as well as a master’s from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, both in computer science. Additionally, she holds a master’s and a doctorate in mathematics, which she earned from the University of Central Florida.

Her supervisor, David Brunick, professor, computer programming and analysis, and interim dean for the Business, Information Technology and Public Services division, agreed Lisa has been an important asset to the College.

“I have worked with Dr. Macon in many capacities over the years,” he said. “She has worn so many ‘hats’ at Valencia, she could single-handedly keep any haberdasher in business.”

In many ways, Lisa can be considered a Valencia success story. She joined the College in 1999 as a mathematics adjunct to later become a professor of information technology, earning tenure in 2003 and becoming IT program chair a year later, promotions which led her to where she is today. She also served as Faculty Association president in the 2010-2011 academic year.

She joined the College after leaving a lucrative career in the private sector, where she worked as a quality assurance manager for the Associated Press and as a software developer for Kandu Incorporated, where she felt her work needed a bit more purpose.

“I loved creating working software products, but the profit-driven aspects of those jobs often made people a lower priority in the work. I love the way at Valencia we are encouraged to propose big ideas that might help students,” she said.

“I love working with colleagues who ‘get’ what we are doing and who are focused on helping students succeed and get great jobs after graduation. Honestly, I love what I do, and it never really feels like work. It just feels like the thing I do that gives my life a lot of meaning.”

Lisa has also appreciates Valencia because of the leadership she found here.

“I am inspired by leaders at the College who do the right thing and treat students like people, not enrollments. That’s most of our leaders,” she said.

Teaching and otherwise connecting with students are an additional source of wonderment and pride for her.

“I am inspired by students who have been through difficult things in their lives ― domestic abuse, poverty, homelessness, etc. — and yet show up to class and knock the difficult assignments out of the park,” she said. “I’ll do backflips to help them get where they want to go.”

In her free time, Lisa loves to read (she reads a whopping 30 books a month!), and spending time with family, which includes her husband Brian Macon, professor, mathematics. A mother of three, she enjoys supporting her two youngest children in their activities, which include community theater.

She also enjoys bargain shopping with friends and is looking forward to grandchildren — her eldest is graduating this semester with a Ph.D. in chemistry.

And, she also loves promoting the College’s bachelor’s degree programs and their benefits to everyone she comes across.

“I wish more people at the College would learn about our baccalaureate programs and help promote those to students,” Lisa said. “They are such an inexpensive, excellent option for so many of our students, but all you see on billboards is DirectConnect ads. Everyone should feel free to reach out to me for more information.”

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 He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Introducing East Region SGA Sustainability Officer Kacia King

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Message from Carrie Black, Director, Energy Conservation and Sustainability 

Have you met our fantastic Student Government Association (SGA) sustainability officers? Yes, you read that correctly. Each of the three campus regions has its own SGA sustainability officers, working to promote environmental sustainability efforts within their region, as well as the College. I am honored to be partnering with these student leaders. Let me introduce you to our the sustainability officer from the East Region, Kacia King.

Kacia King, a sophomore who will graduate in summer or fall 2021, is working toward an Associate in Arts in general studies with the hopes of continuing on to the University of Central Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, focusing on communication, sociology and leadership.

She is eager to work as a liaison between the East and Winter Park Campuses, SGA and the sustainability team.

“There are several things that drew me to this role of sustainability officer,” Kacia shared. “Some of that included my wanting to be a better advocate for students as well as the environment.”

Kacia has a history of volunteering, but during the pandemic, she feels she has not been able to help others.

“I care a great deal about the environment, as well as the people who live within it, and since it’s not feasible to volunteer in person right now, I was looking for other ways to get involved in my community to make a difference,” she said. “The more I learned about the position and what it entailed, I knew I had to try for it, and I just never looked back.”

Now she says she works with an amazing group of students and employees from diverse backgrounds, and she can see that they are making positive changes.

Considering our current limitations in accessing campus, Kacia is focused on understanding Valencia College’s existing sustainability initiatives to determine how to use the SGA platform to inform students about them.

“While I believe all of the sustainability initiatives we have are important and necessary, the one I am most excited about is raising awareness about sustainability and quality of life issues among our students, employees and the community at large,” she explained. “This gives us a platform to make a wider impact in our other goals including waste management and energy consumption along with all of the other goals. If people know why this is important, and what they can do, they are more willing to meet us partway there.”

Monthly Archives: February 2021

AST Programs at Orange County Convention Center a Success

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

In partnership with Orange County government and CareerSource Central Florida, Valencia College began offering a wide variety of short-term job training courses at the Orange County Convention Center in November 2020. All programs were completed successfully as of Friday, February 19, 2021.

Our Accelerated Skills Training classes have provided opportunities for nearly 170 residents in a matter of weeks, meeting industry demands as well as giving our students a new career and hope for the future in the midst of the pandemic. Program areas include construction, manufacturing, transportation logistics, healthcare and information technology.

Learn more about this effort and watch what some of our students enrolled in these exciting programs are saying about this opportunity in the video below:

Monthly Archives: February 2021

In Memory of Ivan Applebaum

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Valencia College retiree Ivan Applebaum passed away on Monday, February 15, 2021, after a battle with metastatic prostate cancer. He was 85.

Ivan will be remembered by generations of students, faculty and staff as one of Valencia’s foremost learning leaders and caring educators.

His friend and Valencia provost emeritus as well as former West Campus dean of business, behavioral and social sciences, Jared S. Graber, remembered him with great affection and admiration.

“Over the past decade, Valencia colleagues Ivan, Tom Byrnes, Charley Killinger, Dave Skinner and I enjoyed a monthly ‘gang lunch’ where we would eat, engage in political debate, share jokes, and recount the almost endless collection of stories and experiences from days gone by,” said Jared. “He will surely be missed, but never forgotten.”

Jared added that Ivan’s contributions to the College were legion.

As a psychology professor on West Campus, he used an industrial background as a former Martin-Marietta engineer along with his higher academic training to enrich and enhance instruction.

Ivan taught psychology for 37 years at Valencia College, Rollins College and the University of Central Florida. He was hired at Valencia in 1973 at West Campus as a psychology professor until his retirement, from which he returned to work as part-time faculty until 2012.

Ivan also served as president of the Faculty Senate, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in India, achieved Valencia emeritus recognition and was named as one of the institution’s “Most Important Contributors” as part of the Valencia’s 40th Anniversary celebration.

His doctoral research on student learning and later service as a Title III administrator were the original catalysts for Valencia’s Student Success curriculum. Unique presentations to the College Level Teaching Core helped form the basis for the current faculty tenure review system. The Valencia Retiree Connection, an organization providing service to faculty and staff retirees, derived from Ivan’s original idea and formative planning.

In more recent years, Ivan became an accomplished sketch artist of diverse subjects featuring biographical figures, friends and family, animals and plants. A gallery maintained on his Facebook page elicited enjoyment, commentary and positive reviews from a wide audience of fellow artists and grateful observers.

Read Ivan’s obituary here.

In memory of Ivan, the family requests contributions to Congregation Ohev Shalom, 613 Concourse Parkway S, Maitland 32751; the Valencia College Foundation; or AdventHealth Hospice Care.