Monthly Archives: February 2021

Atlas Upgrade: Here’s What’s Changing

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

On Monday, March 22, 2021, a new Atlas site will go live that includes a new look and content layout. With this upgrade, Atlas will be mobile responsive and offer improved navigation, display and user experience. In preparation for the transition, listed below are changes you can expect in the new Atlas environment as well as things that will remain the same.

What’s Changing?

New layout: The new layout will feature larger font and less pictures, allowing for a cleaner look, and content that collapses into a single column to make it easier to read with optimal line spacing for phones and smaller mobile devices. Most noticeably, the tabs currently on the top of the page will transition to a left-side menu, which will be open by default upon login.

Accessibility: Designed with accessibility in mind, the new Atlas will meet Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines by providing appropriate tags and labeling, making it more accessible for students and employees who may use screen readers. Reducing the amount of images also helps with the socio-economic restrictions that affect both bandwidth and speed. This allows the site to load faster for those who have slow internet either at home or on a mobile device.

Email: Accessing email within Atlas will look a bit different. Selections for Atlas email and webmail will go away. Choosing “Email” from the drop down menu will allow access to either or email accounts.

Bookmarked pages: After the new Atlas site is live, bookmarked pages (other than those to the main page) will no longer work. All users should access Atlas at for log in.

What’s Not Changing?

Login Page Address: The web address for the login page will remain the same. To login to Atlas, visit

Content: All content that is currently housed in Atlas will transition with the Atlas upgrade. Positioning may change slightly, but all content within Atlas before the upgrade will accessible on the new site. There will be no changes to page names, menu order of pages, channel (portlet) names, channel (portlet) position on page or channel content.

Help Desk: Access will remain the same for Atlas Help Desk for students the OIT Help Desk for employees. Passwords and the ability to reset credentials will also remain the same.

Stay tuned to your email for more announcements in The Juice or other email newsletters, including the reveal of a sneak peek of the new portal. If you have questions, please leave a comment below or contact Patti Smith, chief information officer, at or 407-299-5000, extension 5411.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Sick Leave Pool Enrollment Is Here

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

You may be healthy now, but an accident or illness could change all that. Even if you have a reasonable amount of sick leave, you may not have enough accrued to cover a long hospital stay or recovery time. That’s why Valencia College has created a Sick Leave Pool (SLP) as part of its Total Rewards package. Designed to aid participating members who have exhausted all their individual sick leave, the SLP is a reserve of sick leave hours contributed by SLP members.

Exclusively available for full-time employees who enroll during designated open enrollment periods, email invitations to join the SLP are sent to eligible employees twice a year. Invitations were emailed on Monday, February 22, 2021. 

These invitations were sent to full-time employees who:

  • Have been employed full time with the College for 12 consecutive months;
  • Have accumulated 10 days of unused sick leave; and
  • Have not declined a previous enrollment opportunity as a regular employee of the College.

Employees who received an email invitation to join the Sick Leave Pool on Monday, February 22 have until Friday, March 5, 2021, to enroll. Participation in the SLP is voluntary, and those who do not respond to the invitation will forfeit their opportunity to join the pool and may not be eligible for future invitations.

For additional information, please refer to College Policy 6Hx28:3D-05, Sick Leave Pool. Click the button below for a list of frequently asked questions.

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

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Celebrate Our Creative Community During Spring Arts Week

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Message from Rebekah Lane, Professor, School of Arts and Entertainment and Director, School of Arts and Entertainment

Spring Arts Week — a celebration of the creative community across Valencia College — is coming virtually, Monday, March 1 through Friday, March 5, 2021. Spring Arts Week is designed to create meaningful and inclusive arts experiences and programming at the collegewide level, while inspiring students to connect purpose and imagination to their lives, strive for career and artistic excellence, and contribute to the cultural and workforce needs of Central Florida and beyond.

Throughout the week, employees and students can explore open classes, when teachers open up a regularly scheduled class session for participation and observation; view performances and exhibitions; participate in hands-on workshops; or check out the new career panel track, which includes an arts scholarship presentation and panels on digital media, musical theatre, live entertainment design and production, and sound and music technology.

For details and to view the schedule, click here. 

For questions, contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 2195.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Valencia College to Serve as a Vaccination Site

Friday, February 19, 2021

A message from Paul Rooney, Assistant Vice President, Operations

Today, Governor DeSantis announced that Valencia College has been selected as one of four vaccination sites in Florida by our federal and state emergency management and healthcare leaders. As part of a new, national vaccination program focused on improving vaccine access in socially vulnerable communities, the West Campus will serve as the physical location for federal and state COVID-19 response teams to administer vaccinations and provide centralized outreach within the surrounding communities. The vaccination site is scheduled to open on West Campus beginning on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, and is expected to remain a vaccination site for at least eight weeks.

During this time, we anticipate increased traffic on campus as this service is provided to our community. Over 200 workers will be on campus to facilitate the setup and administration of vaccinations. Currently, we are planning for the vaccination site to be set up in Parking Lots E, F and G on the West Campus and we do not expect faculty, staff and students to come into contact with individuals on campus for vaccinations. Our federal and state partners will not be using any interior facilities while on campus, including restrooms, and they will provide their own security, power and other resources needed within the assigned parking lots.

Please know that while we are honored to host and work with our partners, Valencia College will not be involved with the operations (setup, determining eligibility, scheduling, etc.) or administration of the vaccines. The entire operation will be run by state and federal teams in designated parking areas.

At present, the site is planned to be open for healthcare workers with direct patient contact, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, and individuals age 65 or older. The state has a preregistration system for COVID-19 vaccinations. To preregister in Florida, individuals can either call the designated phone number for their county or visit

Additional details about the West Campus vaccination site, including but not limited to operations, resources, and traffic flow and parking instructions, will be shared with you via email as more information becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at or call my cell at 321-689-7077 if you have questions.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Faculty: Zoom Updates Support Classroom Engagement

Friday, February 19, 2021

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

In the last few months, several significant updates have been released in Zoom that might affect your interactions with students. Make sure to update your Zoom application to the current version and explore these changes, which include the following:

  • The Reactions space now has all of the nonverbal feedback options, including hand raising, to streamline the ease of student communication.
  • Breakout rooms have an option to allow students to choose which room they want to join and move between them if appropriate, which increases the flexibility of active learning experiences like a Gallery Walk.
  • You and your students can now share videos through your screen without having to take the extra step to click Share Sound.
  • You and your students can now blur the video background, which is a nice privacy alternative to a virtual background.
  • For any circumstances that might become a significant distraction, you can temporarily suspend all activity in the Security panel, which will mute all audio and video, stop screen sharing and end breakout rooms.

For assistance with Zoom for the classroom or questions about PD courses, please submit a request for a Faculty and Instructional Development team member support.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Mark Your Calendar for Chris Klinger’s Retirement Celebration

Friday, February 19, 2021

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

Date: Friday, March 5, 2021
Time: 5 – 7 p.m.
Location: Zoom. RSVP here.  

Osceola Counselor Chris Klinger is retiring after 30 years of serving Valencia’s students, staff and faculty. Please plan to join the Zoom celebration for him on Friday, March 5, 2021, from 5 – 7 p.m. RSVP here for the event and to share memories of Chris and his incredible impact on Valencia College and its students, staff and faculty.

If inclined, you might consider making a small gift on behalf of Chris Klinger to Orlando Fringe, an organization close to Chris’s heart. You can learn more about Fringe here and make a donation here.

And now, Chris in his own words:

When I was asked to share some thoughts on my experiences at Valencia, I thought, “How can I ever explain the people and the experiences I have encountered over the past 30 years?” I decided to briefly discuss some of the amazing opportunities and experiences I have had over the years. I specifically mention a few individuals who were important to these specific examples, but I wish I could mention the hundreds of students, faculty and staff who have impacted my journey.

My journey at Valencia began 30 years ago as a counselor for the Project Independence Program. This program was designed to help single mothers receiving state aid to obtain their degrees and begin high wage careers. Thanks to Tyron Johnson, director of student services, Nancy Chastain, administrative assistant, Sally Witcamp, advisor and Gloria Hines, advisor, we were able to build a powerful program to assist these students in reaching their education and life goals.

After a couple of years with the Project Independence Program, I moved into a tenured counseling position on West Campus. Under the mentorship of Tyron, I grew and developed professionally for the next nine years. In 1991, Joyce Romano, assistant vice president of student affairs, gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to serve as the interim director of student services at the Winter Park Campus. Within a year, I moved to a permanent position of director of student services at the Osceola Campus. This gave me the opportunity to work with the deans of students dream team, including Sonya Joseph, Tyron, Angela Martincak and me (somewhere in the first year or two, the director position was elevated to dean of students). Osceola Campus was a young campus with slightly over 2,000 students. Joyce offered me the opportunity to work with a Carl Perkins grant, which ultimately became the A.S. career program advisors. The development of the career program advisor program is one of my proudest accomplishments at Valencia.

Over the next few years, Valencia grew and changed quite a bit. Joyce became the driving force of the student affairs division, Sonya became assistant vice president, and a new deans of students dream team was developed including Tyron, Linda Vance, Cheryl Robinson and me. At this time, student affairs went through a complete redesign, including the implementation of Banner as our student system, the development and implementation of the Answer Center and the creation of the student services specialist position. Being able to serve on this learning-centered student services team is my second proudest moment at Valencia.

After a little over 10 years as dean of students and having watched the Osceola Campus grow from 2,000 students to over 10,000 students, I made the decision to return to my roots as a counselor. I returned to my original campus, West, where I became interested in Valencia’s pre-professional students. For many years, these students had been advised to wait until they were at their upper-level institution to prepare for application to medical school. Through my research, I discovered this waiting was actually detrimental to our students. Through another small grant, I was able to start building a pre-professional advising program. Over the years, and through my transfer back to the Osceola Campus under the mentorship of dean of students, Jill Szentmiklosi, this program grew into a national model for two-year institution.

My time at Valencia during the 2020 pandemic was not something that anyone was prepared for; however, I must say working with my colleagues across the college and watching them not only handle these massive challenges and changes but excel was an amazing experience to end a career on. We handled these challenges with grace and professionalism. We kicked butt! (Excuse my use of crass language but our Valencia family is absolutely amazing!) I will leave the institution prior to staff returning to campuses but – trust me – once you are back on campus, I will be around to say proper goodbyes.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Partnership between Bridges to Success and Osceola High School Encourages Students to Think College

Friday, February 19, 2021

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

Part-time Professor of English Manuel Hernández, who also teaches at Osceola High School (OHS), provided me with an update about the OHS Coming to America (CTA) club and the impact of current Valencia students reaching back to high school students to encourage them to apply to college and Valencia’s Bridges to Success (BTS) program.

The CTA club began at Osceola High School in 2016-2017. For its first three years, CTA was dedicated entirely to the students’ writing and publishing their stories of coming to America. Since its beginning, the club has seen increased engagement by students and success in all academic areas, with most pursuing a college education. Of the eight high school graduates in CTA during 2018-2019, for example, seven enrolled at Valencia; two are BTS recipients, four were Ford Driving Dreams Scholarship recipients, and two were Dual Enrollment students during their senior year.

Manuel functions as a writing coach, academic performance coach and senior mentor of CTA members. The objectives of the CTA club have transformed to include a college and career readiness educational program.

Pictured: Haniel Reyes Diaz, a graduate of Osceola High School. He is currently a Bridges to Success student and mentors students in the Coming to America club at Osceola High School.

Valencia student Haniel Reyes Diaz is a 2019 BTS recipient from OHS. He relocated from Venezuela as a senior in high school with limited English skills. However, his effort and focus paved the way for his enrollment at Valencia. Thanks to an agreement between OHS’s CTA and BTS at Valencia College, he serves as a mentor to the 17 members of this year’s CTA club. Five of the 17 are applying for the BTS scholarship, and Haniel’s recently delivered empowerment speech came just in time.

Haniel says about his experience as a mentor, “The CTA mentoring opportunity has been groundbreaking. I never thought of myself giving back to OHS only a couple of years after graduation. Truly memorable! The opportunity to work with kids who are going through the same experience I went through is great. I am thankful to Mr. Hernández. His energy and passion for the program are contagious.”

Pictured: Alexander Echavarria, a former member of Coming to America. He is currently a Bridges to Success student in his sophomore year and also works with Osceola High School students.

On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, another Valencia student and BTS recipient, Alexander Echavarria, returned to OHS to speak and empower their English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) juniors and seniors in the CTA club. About his experience, he writes, “the CTA mentoring experience has been unique and truly awesome. I never imagined myself giving back to my alma mater, only after two years after graduation. It is difficult to describe. Some get to be authors later in life. I became one at 17 thanks to CTA. Now, just two years in college, and I am now a mentor for the same club; [it’s] surreal.”

Haniel and Alexander will continue to mentor the OHS CTA students as the semester moves along. As a direct result of this collaboration, one of Manuel’s seniors was invited to the BTS Document Fair and applied for a BTS scholarship.

Thanks to the BTS Office at Valencia and Valencia Coach Amanda Tattoli, this work facilitated the application process for young adults who have lived in Florida for only one or two years. OHS is also considering another agreement between the Service Learning program and OHS CTA. The purpose of these agreements is to bridge the gap and help more students earn a college education.

For more information about this amazing collaboration, click here for a YouTube video. Kudos to Manuel for his dedication and hard work with our future and current students.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

PJI JOURNAL: Spring Summer 2021: The Power of Kindness

Friday, February 19, 2021

By Michael Moniz, Professor Speech

I want you to think about the last time you experienced kindness. What was that experience of kindness and how did you feel?

It is common that when we think about kindness, we think about an experience when we received kindness and not a time when we were kind to someone else. This is because when you are kind to someone you don’t expect anything in return. You simply just choose to be kind. You didn’t choose to be kind to get something. You choose to be kind to give to someone else.

One day I was rushing to the mall because I really wanted a cinnamon pretzel. It was pouring rain but I had a huge umbrella and it wasn’t a long walk from the parking garage to the store. As I started running, I noticed a woman who was about to cross the street as well. She couldn’t get her umbrella to work. I stopped, turned around and walked her to the store. It took a few minutes to help her and I was off to get my cinnamon pretzel. I chose to be kind in that moment.

Being kind to others does not have to be an extreme undertaking. It simply happens in daily choices we make in our lives. Kindness can be smiling at people you see as you walk by. You can be kind by holding the door for others, taking the time to listen to a friend or not choosing to give that hand gesture in traffic. You can be kind to others by being mindful with your words before you speak, post, tweet or comment. Every day we are given many opportunities to choose to be kind.

One day I was going to the doctor’s office to get the results from some medical tests. I was scared, anxious and worried. It started to pour rain and I was struggling with an umbrella that just wouldn’t open. I noticed a man with an umbrella run from his car to the door and stop, look at me and run over. He offered to walk me to the door. When we got to the door, I thanked him for helping me. He didn’t know how much I needed his kindness in that moment or how much that simple gesture helped me to feel better about my day. He simply just replied, “No problem. I figured you would do the same for me.”

I choose to be kind because we are all humans. I choose to be kind because I never know who needs it or whenever I might need it. I choose to be kind because I can. I hope you choose to be kind as well.

Monthly Archives: February 2021

The Supervisor Summit is Tomorrow

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Date: Friday, February 19, 2021
Time: 9 — 10:30 a.m.
Location: Zoom (see your Microsoft Outlook invitation from Employee Development for Zoom details)

Join us for a discussion with Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske and Vice President and Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources Amy Bosley about the current and upcoming hiring plans and recent decisions on Roadmap for Reopening as we move into Phase 3. You will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on the organizational structure and ask any questions relevant to you and your team.

The Summit will also include time to reflect on this past year and consider what you have learned about yourself, your work and your environment.

We hope you will make it a priority to attend and, as always, if you miss any information, follow-up communications will be available via The Grove.

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

Monthly Archives: February 2021

Managing Smart: Handling Resignations

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Message from Ben Taylor, Assistant Director, Equal Opportunity and ODHR Partners

Employee resignations are a normal part of the employee life cycle. Once an employee has notified you of a resignation, there are steps to take to ensure that the transition for your department and the employee are as smooth as possible. The following serves as a guide in responding to an employee resignation.

Please note: The information below applies to employee resignations and is not applicable to other separations, including but not limited to terminations or retirements. In those instances, please connect with Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR) at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).

Resignation Steps

1. Employees are responsible for notifying their supervisor(s) of their resignation. As best practice, if an employee resignation is first communicated verbally, supervisors should request the resignation be formally submitted in writing — including the employee’s anticipated effective date of resignation. This can be an email written to you or a signed letter attached to an email.

  • While it is commonly thought that employees should provide a minimum of two weeks notice in advance of their last work date as a matter of courtesy, there is no official time requirement for employees to provide notice in advance of their effective resignation date.

2. As the supervisor, the next step is to respond, in writing, accepting the employee’s resignation and then connect with your ODHR Regional Solution Center to begin the employee exit process.

  • You should share with ODHR the employee’s name, VID, anticipated last date of employment and resignation letter so that this information can be shared with Employee Records/Services and other ODHR partners for processing.
  • Full-time employees may request to use accumulated vacation and personal time prior to their effective date of separation, with approval at their supervisor’s discretion. We recommend supervisors consider these requests prudently, keeping in mind departmental and business needs in their approval. When considering leave options, supervisors may also contact Payroll to conduct a leave audit so that the termination date will be accurate if leave is approved.
  • Recommend that employees connect with an ODHR representative at 407-582-HR4U (4748) or for questions relating to terminal pay, benefits end dates, FRS and AIG Retirement Services questions, etc. While it is not required for employees to meet with an ODHR representative, they can request a phone or Zoom meeting to discuss questions regarding the exit process.

3. Complete an Employee Separation Form (ESF) for the employee, which will notify all relevant parties of the resignation and ensure that access to systems is ended at the appropriate time. More information about the ESF process can be found here.

4. Once the ESF has been submitted, this will initiate the Digital Checkout Process. An ODHR representative from the Employee Records and Services team will contact you regarding check out.

5. Determine if the employee has any College property. If so, the employee must begin the process of collecting or identifying what property will need to be returned. In the remote work setting, supervisors can arrange pre-scheduled appointments to drop items with Valencia College Security and/or work with Courier Services to send a prepaid package to the employee’s home to collect belongings. This will also serve as an opportunity for employees to return to their workspace on campus to gather any personal items left behind.

6. Ensure that the employee’s final work hours have been entered appropriately and ensure accuracy before approving (if applicable).

Leave Requests After Resignation

If, after submitting their resignation, an employee requests vacation or personal leave, this request should be approved at your discretion and in consideration of department and operational needs.

Planning for Departure

In addition to these steps, it is important to make a plan for the employee’s departure within the department. Steps to consider may include: informing the rest of the work team to minimize disruption, examining the employee’s current work and reassigning if appropriate, informing College partners of the change, where appropriate, and working with ODHR to develop a recruitment plan to fill the vacancy, as operational conditions and recruitment processes have been updated to fit the current environment.

Normally, the departing employee and supervisor will discuss how to share with the rest of the team/department the news of their impending departure. In most cases, the departing employee is the person to share this decision; however, some situations may be better suited for the supervisor to inform the rest of the team. Sharing the information with the team may consist of an email announcement or an announcement at a team meeting. Probing into the employee’s departure should be discouraged and left to the individual to determine what is to be shared.


It is important to keep open communication with your employee and ODHR to ensure a smooth transition during any employee resignation. For more guidance on how to address an employee’s resignation, please contact ODHR at, or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).