Monthly Archives: May 2021

Union Update: New Town Hall Added and Webpage Updates

Friday, May 28, 2021

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

As we head into the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I want to provide you with some important information regarding the current union election process. You may have already received, or will soon receive, a mail packet from the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) so you can mail in your vote in the current election, which will help determine whether Service Employees International Union (SEIU) becomes your exclusive, third-party representative to the College. If you have not yet received your ballot from PERC, contact them directly at 850-488-8641.

As we navigate this election process, we continue to receive expressions of concern from colleagues that SEIU is inundating you with information that is both factually inaccurate and attempts to create the false impression that this election is based on an adversarial model of  “us versus you.” Though some of our part-time faculty and instructors are engaged with the SEIU in organizing efforts, we are clear that this election is about a third party seeking to stand between us and our colleagues, placing us in a position to negotiate rather than collaborate. We have accomplished so much for our students and for our colleagues through this collegial, open and collaborative approach to our work. We look forward to continued partnership in service of you and our students.

In its most recent email to you, SEIU states that the College has removed paid sick leave or that the pandemic has led to layoffs. Here are the facts:

  • Contrary to what SEIU wants you to believe, Valencia College has not taken away paid sick leave for any employees. In fact, paid sick leave is currently available to you should you have COVID-19, display symptoms related to COVID-19 or live with someone who has COVID-19.
  • No layoffs or furloughs have occurred at the College for any employees, in any area.

Our goal in this election process is to ensure that all parties follow the state-run process, and that you, and all of our part-time faculty and instructors, have access to factual information on which to base your vote. We have compiled comprehensive resources to help you consider the implications of third-party representation.

With this in mind, and based directly on your feedback, we have expanded our side-by-side comparison of the current terms of employment at Valencia to those found in the collectively bargained agreements at multiple other Florida colleges where part-time faculty and instructors are currently represented by SEIU. Click on the button below to view the comparison chart.

In this comparison chart, and in the respective collective bargaining agreements themselves, you will see that SEIU was unable to deliver on many of its union campaign promises. You will also see that Valencia offers many benefits and comparable wages to those of employees currently represented by SEIU. Our track record of collaborating directly with our part-time faculty and part-time instructors leads to better outcomes, and we hope to be able to continue working directly with you to understand and improve your employment experience.

Your thoughtful inquiry is critical to this election process, and we value any and every opportunity to hear feedback directly from you about your employment experience at Valencia and any questions you may have as you consider third-party representation.

In our efforts to ensure you have many opportunities to get your questions answered, we have added another union election town hall on Thursday, June 3, 2021. We invite you to join us for one or more town halls to ensure your questions are answered as you prepare to vote.

Date: Thursday, June 3, 2021 
Time: 3 – 4 p.m. 
Location: Zoom

Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 
Time: 1 – 2 p.m. 
Location: Zoom 

Ultimately, we want you to be informed as a voter and know that through voting your voice can be heard in this process. As you consider third-party representation, we encourage you to cast your vote by carefully following the instructions on the ballot and placing the completed package in the mail to ensure it is received by PERC on or before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. We also ask that you consider the implications of choosing NOT to vote, as a simple majority of ballots cast will decide the outcome of this election.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly at with any questions related to this process.

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Faculty Highlight: Christopher Paolella’s Passion for History Enters the Classroom and Becomes Advocacy Outside of It

Thursday, May 27, 2021

By Claudia Zequeira

Christopher Paloella’s passion for history is as hard to hide, as the saying goes, as love, smoke and cough.

In the classroom, Christopher, professor, history, has particular ways of bringing episodes of the past to life. Over the last two years — which is how long he has been with Valencia College — Christopher, or Chris, as he is known among friends and colleagues, has brought replicas of medieval armor and gear into his classroom to teach specific historical periods.

Whether it’s a mail hauberk, a kind of shirt made of metal rings popular in Europe up to the 15th century, or 15th century Gothic plate armor, Chris likes to bring concrete examples of what life may have been like for a medieval warrior to modern-day students.

These physical objects, he says, have a way of connecting with them and are inspiring in ways that a lecture can never be.

“If I lecture about armor…it’s kind of vague, right?,” said Chris, who teaches ancient and medieval Western civilization as well as U.S. history. “But if I put you in the armor, I put a helmet on your head and you experience what it’s like to have your vision cut off except for a narrow slip and your breath cut off except for some breathing holes, and you feel what it feels like to have the weight on you, the restrictions in the movement … all of a sudden you’re having very similar experiences to what somebody in the 15th century would have had. And so, there’s this visceral connection to somebody centuries in the past.”

One of Chris’ students poses wearing various pieces of armor from different historical periods. The picture was taken in October 2019 after a lecture. 

Because physical replicas are not always easy to find, Chris also relies on images to show students armor from non-European cultures and places, such as Africa, India and Japan, or that worn by women. The idea, he said, is also to show cultures normally underrepresented in the traditional curriculum and to break pre-conceived notions about history.

Outside the classroom, Chris has another passion and area of expertise he shares with the Valencia College community at large as well as other entities: the history of human trafficking. The topic was something he based his doctoral dissertation on at the University of Missouri, which eventually became a book titled “Human Trafficking in Medieval Europe: Slavery, Sexual Exploitation, and Prostitution.”

“The drivers that sustain human trafficking today are similar to those of the past,” he said. “So, we’re talking about limited economic opportunities for women, poverty and male entitlement.”

But these hard-to-erase societal elements are not an inevitable fate.

By way of example, Chris mentioned the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who commissioned an official inquiry into human trafficking in the Byzantine Empire and issued edicts to suppress such activities in the 530s, and his wife, the empress Theodora, who herself grew up in the sex industry of Constantinople in the early sixth century and who embarked on her own fact-finding mission to end sexual slavery in the imperial capital and to address the uncertainty in the lives of survivors.

“Theodora was not a victim of human trafficking as far as we can tell, although she did work as an exotic dancer, and her sister and mother were also sex workers in the city,” he explained. “Also, Justinian’s Novella 14 is a major late-antique imperial edict that cites the commission’s findings as justifications for its numerous decrees.”

Both rulers managed to bring about societal change in the sixth century by enacting initiatives that relied on attacking the root causes of human trafficking and decreased the likelihood of young women falling into a life of sexual slavery, such as providing skills training for them.

Chris’ interest in the history of human trafficking is also a reason he has been asked to participate in several panels across the country, including the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association in Dallas, the Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies at St. Louis University, and at the Slavery, Past Present and Future global conference in Berlin.

But it’s his ability to find commonality with today’s forms of human trafficking that have caused him to collaborate with government and non-profit groups eager to solve this modern-day problem.

In Missouri, Chris participated in a human trafficking taskforce created by the Attorney General’s office to conduct research and combat the practice. He also volunteered with the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition.

His participation, he said, was born out of the deep connection he developed with the people he started writing about academically.

“In history, we often write about the people carrying the sword,” he said. “I became concerned about the people at the other end of the sword.”

Chris recently participated in a Valencia College panel on the topic hosted by the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) and will join another panel this coming June along with the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation and others. His goal, he said, is to educate the public as much as possible on the issue, which is one not brought on by recent moral decay — as some political figures have attempted to portray it — but as one that has a long and storied past.

“You can publish books and articles and give lectures and classes, but you know, honestly, the only way that stuff really helps is if you get it out into the public,” he said.

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.


Monthly Archives: May 2021

Canvas Update — New Features Coming Soon

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Message from Geni Wright, Director, Online Teaching and Learning  

Starting this month, you will have additional features available in your Canvas courses. Read about these new features below.

Discussions Redesign

You may opt in to experience the Discussions Redesign feature, which will become available on Saturday, June 19, 2021, and has the following features:

  • The discussions toolbar will appear at the top of the page;
  • The newest replies in a discussion thread will appear at the top of the first page instead of at the bottom of the last page;
  • There will be a button for sorting replies from newest to oldest and oldest to newest; and
  • Users can mark posts as unread/read from the reply menu.

Additional discussion features will become available in the future. Once you opt in to the Discussions Redesign feature, the new features will automatically become available as well. To read more about this new feature, review the release notes from Canvas.

To turn this feature on in your course, go to your Canvas course settings and turn on Discussions Redesign in the Feature Options. You may turn off the feature at any time to opt out of using it.

New Assignment Submission Type: Student Annotations 

When creating an assignment for students to submit online, you can now choose a new submission type called Student Annotation. With this type of assignment, you can provide students with a file to annotate using the DocViewer tools and then submit online.

To create this type of assignment, review the Canvas written tutorial, “How do I create an online assignment?” and focus on the “Student Annotation” instructions.

If you implement this type of assignment in your course and would like to provide students with instructions on how to complete the assignment, you may provide them with this written tutorial: “How do I annotate a file as an assignment submission in Canvas?

Comment Library in SpeedGrader 

Starting Saturday, June 19, 2021, you will be able to use a new feature in SpeedGrader called the Comment Library. This feature allows you to add and save comments to be reused within SpeedGrader when providing students with feedback.

To add a feedback comment to the Comment Library, follow these steps:

  1. Open SpeedGrader for the student’s submission.
  2. Locate the Assignment Comments box.
  3. In the upper right corner of the text box, click on the thought bubble.
  4. The “Manage Comment Library” section will open. Note that if comments have already been added to the comment library, they will be listed here.
  5. Type the comment into the text box.
  6. Select the blue + Add to Library button to add the comment to the library.

Additional Considerations:

  • Comments can be deleted from the library at any time using the trash can icon.
  • If a comment needs to be edited, the comment will need to be copied, re-typed and added again to the library.
  • Comments that are saved to the Comment Library can be viewable across all of the instructor’s courses.

As these tools become available in Canvas, I encourage you to experiment with them.  If you have any questions or concerns about the tool, please reach out to a member of the Faculty Development team or contact me at or 407-299-5000, extension 3005.

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Provost Update: May 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

I hope this message finds you well and enjoying a successful summer semester! For this month’s message, I’m sharing a few updates on the fall semester, information about emergency aid for students and my plans for June.

Planning for Fall

My special thanks to everyone who worked to build the fall course schedule, incorporating both online and on-campus options to meet our students’ needs. Registration has started, and it will be interesting to see what our students’ modality preferences are.

While we continue to monitor changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local officials, we have committed to smaller in-person class sizes this fall. Even if the CDC guidance related to physical distancing is lifted, most of our in-person classes will have fewer than 20 students to help students (and employees) ease their transition to on-campus learning.

In order to reduce class sizes without constraining access, we’ve added significantly more sections to our schedule than we would offer in a typical fall semester. To build this additional capacity, we have invited part-time faculty in select discipline areas to apply to serve in a temporary one-year, full-time, visiting professor role. More than 200 of our of part-time faculty members have accepted this invitation, allowing us to offer smaller, in-person classes while continuing to ensure that students have access to the classes that they need to make progress toward their desired degree or certificate. Furthermore, our visiting professors will enhance opportunities for students to connect with faculty as engagement hours will be a key part of the role, in addition to teaching responsibilities.

Our teams continue their collaborative work to prepare for the fall semester, both inside and outside of the classroom. We are working with our staff to design the plans for how our services will be provided to students and one another in the fall, using design principles created by the Conditions to Reopen team. Please stay tuned for additional updates throughout the summer.

Emergency Financial Aid Grants

Yesterday, our Board of Trustees approved our plans to provide students with Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants during the summer and fall semesters.

HEERF guidance has changed to make all degree- and certificate-seeking students eligible to apply for emergency aid this fall, and we anticipate these grants to be in an amount of at least $1,500.  In addition, we are now able to make emergency aid available to students enrolled in Accelerated Skills Training programs or continuing education English language programs. Students enrolled in credit classes this summer received this email yesterday about the availability of emergency aid.

Some Time Away

While I normally invite you to reply to my Provost Updates, this time I encourage you to reach out to one of my colleagues for a more timely response. Like many of you, I was not able to take time off last summer while we were working through our response to the pandemic. I have coordinated with College President Sandy Shugart so that I can take vacation leave for most of June to have an opportunity to rest, reflect and prepare for my new role. It is so important that we take care of ourselves. If you haven’t had a recent opportunity to take leave and don’t yet have plans to do so, please connect with your supervisor to identify an ideal time to disconnect, relax and rejuvenate.

In the meantime, if you have questions about plans for fall, please reach out to your campus president or Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, at For questions about emergency aid available for students, please connect with Joe Richardson, vice president, student affairs, at

I look forward to being back with you on July 1!

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Comes to Valencia

Thursday, May 27, 2021

By Lindi Kourtellis, Manager of Study Abroad Programs

COIL is a virtual exchange model that stands for Collaborative Online International Learning. COIL emphasizes collaboration, internationalization, cross-cultural competence, technology and accessibility.

In the COIL model, students from different cultures enroll in shared courses with faculty members from different countries co-teaching and managing coursework. COIL has been pushed to the forefront of learning since the pandemic happened last year. As the world became closed and traditional study abroad opportunities dissipated, institutions worldwide joined forces to keep globalization alive for students.

With the COIL model, internationalization is promoted at home. Students do not have to travel by plane to have meaningful, global experiences. This is why, in summer 2020, the Study Abroad and Global Experiences (SAGE) office joined forces with SUNY COIL to learn how to implement, sustain, and scale a virtual exchange initiative for faculty and students at Valencia College.

SAGE also identified and recruited prospective faculty members to engage in virtual exchange, both through formal COIL collaborations and informal co-curricular exchanges. After a semester of planning, the inaugural COIL exchange at Valencia College took place in spring 2021 with Professor of Computer Programming and Analysis Jerry Hensel entering into a collaboration with Universidad de Sonora (UNISON) in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Jerry partnered with Dr. Julio Saucedo, an astronomy professor, to help create a database and website for tracking asteroids in the solar system. Saucedo will use the prototypes to help in research of statistical properties of asteroids and locate the trajectory of near-Earth objects (NEOs) that might someday be on a collision course with the Earth.

Jerry taught CIS 2910 (IT capstone course) in spring 2021, which allowed 20 of his students to collaborate with 10 astronomy students from UNISON to develop and create the database and website. Along the way, SAGE offered guest speakers and provided icebreaker events so that students from both institutions could get to know each other and build trust.

The course lasted for 16 weeks and was completely interdisciplinary from two STEM fields — IT and Astronomy. The collaboration allowed students to appreciate different cultures, customs, languages and perceptions from the two different countries.

Daniel Stanbury, a student in Jerry’s class, shared that he had very positive experience.

“In my experience, it is always a good thing to get input and feedback from people who think differently than you, not only academically speaking, but also culturally,” he shared. “Having people from different backgrounds allows for many different opinions, processes and ways of thinking. I feel very fortunate to be able to live this experience. I think this project will be a strong resume builder and a unique opportunity to be a part of something bigger. I have had the good fortune in life to be able to travel and meet people from all over the globe. The international collaboration is probably my favorite part of this class.”

If you would like to see what the IT Capstone students developed, you can visit the following links; 1), 2) and 3)

During this process, the SAGE team gathered faculty perspectives on COIL. The following is feedback from Jerry Hensel on his COIL experience:

SAGE: What do you feel are the greatest benefits that you took away from your COIL Experience?

Jerry: In the beginning, I did not know what to expect. I knew I was taking a risk working with another faculty member that was living and working in a different country and how they would affect the learning of my students. After the first couple of weeks, my anxiety went down because I could start to see how students were impacted by learning from their Mexican counterparts about their culture, language, and how they approached problem solving. 

SAGE: How do you think COIL ties into the Equity initiatives the College has started?

Jerry: That’s a great question. I think the COIL experience put everyone involved at an equal level and allowed them to give their opinions and suggestions without feeling that people were not including them. Every student worked in groups and had an equal footing in putting forth their input on how the project should be developed. Overall, the students from Valencia learned about global competencies, cultural differences and how to appreciate them, and lastly to learn how to improve their problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills. Another point to equity is the fact that I lead a study abroad trip every year overseas. Due to COVID-19, I was unable to do that in 2020. In response, I wanted to create an environment based on equity where all students enrolled in my IT Capstone class would have the opportunity to interact with people from different countries. This allowed them to experience the culture in Mexico without having to travel there. I recognize that studying abroad is expensive for students and many Valencia students do not have the funds to travel on a study abroad trip. COIL offsets the cost for them because it is free, which creates an equitable environment for everyone.

SAGE: How is COIL going to impact you professionally? 

Jerry: Honestly, I will have an internationalization component in every course I teach now. In addition, I plan on internationalizing the learning outcomes as well. This opportunity also allowed me to expand professionally because I used this as my Action Research Project that is tied to my Faculty High Impact Practice. I now have new friends and colleagues in Mexico that I can visit in the future. Lastly, the COIL experience has allowed Valencia and myself to gain national attention. I was invited to speak at the NOVA Going Global conference and to participate in a faculty exchange program through SUNY. Also, NAFSA will be featuring an article where they will include Valencia College’s first COIL experience and this project between UNISON and Valencia College.

The SAGE Office would like to thank Jerry for being an early adopter and leading the first official COIL collaboration. In addition, SAGE wants to recognize the hard work of the IT Capstone students who participated. Their participation and dedication to COIL was extraordinary. Thank you to Alaric Benitez, Julio Bermudez, Jonathan Bernaber, Jenelle Blyden, Luis Gomez Jaramillo, Richmond Lao, Gregory Lauture, Allen Litchfield, Peter Loncsar, Israel Mendez Crespo, George Parker, Talal Rasheed, Alejandro Reyes, Kellee Roberts, Michael Serrao, Daniel Stambury, Anthony Tran, Michael Virella and Courtney Watson.

The SAGE Office invites faculty from all disciplines to participate in virtual exchange. If you would like to collaborate with an international partner or to learn more about COIL, please contact Manager of Study Abroad Programs Lindi Kourtellis at or at 407-299-5000, extension 1344.

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Faculty Incentive Plan Reminder

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Message from Dori Haggerty, Sally Leslie and Shara Lee, Campus Directors, Faculty and Instructional Development

The deadline for completing the next step in the 2019 – 2021 Faculty Incentive Plan (FIP) is quickly approaching for all participating tenured, tenure-track and annually appointed faculty.

The documentation for both the High Impact Practices Plan (HIP) and/or Professional Development Plan (PD) must be submitted to your dean/director by Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Your dean/director will then have until Wednesday, June 30, 2021, to approve your documentation and authorize the incentive payment.

For further information, tutorials and how-to-videos related to the submission of your HIP Plan Proposal and PD Plan, please review the Faculty Incentive Plan webpageHigh Impact Practices FAQ or Professional Development (PD) Plan FAQ. We also encourage you to contact your campus director of faculty and instructional development if you have questions or need additional support:

Downtown and West Campuses
Dori Haggerty
407-299-5000, extension 1051

East and Winter Park Campuses
Sally Leslie
407-299-5000, extension 5142

Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses
Shara Lee
407-299-5000, extension 4723

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Faculty Governance Update — May 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Message from Patrick Bartee, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

Hello, my Valencia family.

I am so excited to see another day, week and month. It is the merry month of May, and we are in full swing of spring. I am so elated that Valencia is moving right along like a well-oiled machine.

Well, my time as president will be ending soon, and I would be remiss to not focus on the history that has been made at Valencia by way of diversity and leadership of color. First thought, we’ve made history with back-to-back Black with Stanton Reed, interim president, Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses, and me serving as presidents of the Faculty Council.

How many of you were aware that out of the 50-plus years of Valencia’s existence, Stanton was the first person of color to serve as the Faculty Council president? Not only was he the first, but he also was one of the most outstanding and outspoken presidents of our time on the Council. His presidency was most touching to me personally because after he had served so well, he had to stay on in the position as my voice because of my throat cancer battle during my presidency in 2020-2021.

In August 2020, while I was recovering, Stanton passed the gavel to me, another man of color, of course. Again, history was being made with the Valencia College family, and I feel as though this is worthy of report.

Because of my illness, I was reluctant to take the position. Stanton, being the positive and influential person that he was and is, shared why it was vital for me to step into the role of president. I heeded the call and, not only did he groom me for my term as president, Stanton’s role as president was extended, a dual effort on his part as he also filled the role of immediate past president until my return at the start of the new year. I must say my Valencia family was my strength and shield. I will never be able to thank you all enough for working with me through the worst period of my life.

When my tenure ends in July 2021, Valencia will have an outstanding Faculty Council president in Michael Robbins, professor, English. Michael has been a lifesaver as well. He stepped right up and ran the meetings and so much more. He will be a president who pays attention to every detail of every word and action he takes. You will be in safe hands because Michael has an unconditional love for the position and the College at large.

Now, let us continue with history-making moments. Michael will have the opportunity to groom and work with the first woman of color Doreen Watson, professor, sociology, who will also be the first Black woman to serve as Faculty Council vice president on the 2021-2022 council and and then president in 2022-2023. I have had the privilege of working with this wonderful young woman when I served as president of the Faculty Senate on West Campus. Valencia, you are in for a dedicated and wonderful woman on the council. Congratulations, Doreen, and much success to you in your new role.

I know that I have mentioned this in my previous Faculty Insight message but, as we’re talking about history being made, I feel that I should say it again. Congratulations to Kathleen Plinske for her new role in the fall as the first lady to serve as Valencia College president. I am so proud and happy for her, and looking forward to great things. Valencia family, get ready, because we are going to the next level with this remarkable woman leading us.

Finally, I wanted to send a shout out to the fantastic Senior Team. I have learned so much watching and listening to the leaders of Valencia make challenging decisions for the College. If you ever have the opportunity to be a part of faculty governance, you should. You will learn so much that can be beneficial to you and your growth with the College.

I am asking that you really consider becoming a part of your campus governance committees. We need your participation and input. Do not sit back and complain when you can take part in the decision-making process at Valencia. Your voice is very important and should be heard, so do not be silent.

As always, make it a great day, week and month and always make a positive difference in the lives of others.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me via text at 407-529-6595 or email at

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Update Library Resource Links in Your Canvas Courses

Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Message from Beth King, Librarian

Do you have library resource links in your Canvas courses? The library is in the middle of two major migrations, and as a result, most library resource links in Canvas need to be updated. The types of links include:

  • Database links to articles, eBooks, streaming videos, etc.
  • Any link created using the Embed a Library Resource tool, including LibGuide links
  • Any links to the library catalog (after Tuesday, July 13, 2021)
  • Any Curriculum Builder lists

The following items do not need to be updated:

  • LibGuides embedded using the LibApps tool
  • Films embedded using the Films on Demand app

To determine where in your course you may have added a library link, follow these directions:

  • Click on the Settings in the course navigation
  • Click on Validate Links in Content in the right sidebar

This feature will check for broken links in the course. Library resource links always turn up on this list because they require authentication, and the link checker cannot authenticate.

Please, feel free to contact your liaison librarian with any links that require updating. We will send you back an updated link and answer any questions.

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Opportunity and Equity Initiatives: A Collegewide Update

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 

Since its foundation, Valencia College has been committed to extending genuine opportunity in the community through access to higher education. For decades, our working theories have progressed our efforts to align our practices in order to open new doors to all of our students.

Now more than ever, our community needs our commitment to make opportunity real for everyone. For this reason, the central focus of our 2030 Strategic Impact Plan and the lens through which the College will examine its success in all areas is “Opportunity and Equity.”

Opportunity is the promise that Valencia will include all in a chance to pursue College (access), to complete a meaningful education and credential (graduation), to earn a bachelor’s degree (transfer) and to find a career path to economic mobility (workforce). Equity in each of these areas is the test of the legitimacy of these promises and a commitment to invest in efforts to redress historic disenfranchisement and racism.   

Valencia College cannot achieve its mission of opportunity and equity unless we address systemic inequities in all of our work and culture. For this reason, in October 2020, Valencia College President Sandy Shugart commissioned the following equity initiatives to evaluate our current processes and develop recommendations for equity-minded practices in four key areas:

School of Public Safety: Curriculum Review, Redesign and Training
Chair: Jeff Goltz, executive dean, School of Public Safety

A diverse task force — with representation from the agencies, the community, our Peace and Justice Institute, and faculty and leadership from the School of Public Safety (SPS) — has been reviewing and assessing the education and training at Valencia’s SPS to identify deficits in the curriculum and make recommendations to change the occupational culture of policing in Central Florida.

Valencia Safety and Security: Training and Development
Chairs: Loren Bender, vice president, business operations and finance, and Paul Rooney, assistant vice president, operations

The Safety and Security Training and Development work team has been charged to develop comprehensive plans for safety and security to help everyone on our campuses know they are welcome, belong at Valencia, and that this is a safe place for all. Valencia’s safety team has already implemented improvements in its training for equity, cultural competence, diversity and inclusion. The charge also includes the development of comprehensive plans to ensure commitment in the leadership structure of the Safety and Security department.

Organizational Development and Human Resources: Policy and Practice Review and Redesign

Chairs: Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, and Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs

A work team focused on developing and integrating equity mindedness in the employee experience has been actively reviewing current practices to develop recommendations for equity-minded practices in key areas including talent acquisition (recruitment, selection, promotion), talent activation (employee and faculty development, employee onboarding) and talent retention (annual evaluation processes and awards/recognition).

The team is also working to produce a definition of equity mindedness as an essential competency for all employees and producing an insight paper on Valencia College’s demographic composition, trends in diversity over time in hiring and promotion, and gaps/concerns for review.

Leadership for Equity and Opportunity: Infrastructure Design

Chairs: Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, and Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs

The Leadership for Equity and Opportunity Infrastructure Design work team is currently developing a set of well-researched options, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each, for leading equity work at Valencia. The work team will produce a brief on these options to assist our next college president in selecting a model for equity leadership that will be best aligned with the College’s equity goals and objectives.

Each team has been diligently working to fulfill its charge and ultimately ensure that opportunity is real for everyone at Valencia.

Deepening Our Opportunity and Equity Initiatives
Conversations and collaboration between different areas of the College regarding Opportunity and Equity shed light in other important areas of our work and sparked new initiatives and work teams.

Black Male Initiative
Chairs: Melvin Middleton, evening/weekend manager, West Campus, and Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs

The Black Male Initiative work group is developing a brief that synthesizes the research on Black male student success, describes models for Black male initiatives at other institutions and curates existing sources of data regarding the Black Valencia male student experience.

Focused Inquiry Team on Equityminded Practice
Chairs: Shara Lee, campus director, faculty and instructional development, and Marsha Butler, faculty, New Student Experience

The goal of this Focused Inquiry Team is to support the curation of current work that may inform a collegewide definition of equity-minded practices and to better understand what data may assist in monitoring our progress.

Demographic Data Collection and Use
Chairs: Daryl Davis, assistant vice president, analytics and reporting, Ryan Kane, assistant vice president, equity and access, and Edwin Sanchez, assistant vice president, admissions, records and graduation

The Demographic Data Collection and Use work team is currently completing research in order to recommend a consistent set of demographic choices in applications for students and employees that allows individuals to more accurately describe their identity, enable the College to more effectively disaggregate and describe our data, and allow the College to remain compliant with state and other reporting of demographic information. In addition, the team will recommend a set of demographic data use guidelines to allow consistent and appropriate use of the data for internal and external needs.

Additionally, and as we continue the work of these Opportunity and Equity Initiatives and progress the work of our Strategic Impact Plan, the Equity Plan Work Team has been tasked with developing the plans that will inform our Impact Plan goals.

Continuing Our Equity-minded Work and Communicating Our Progress
In an effort to ensure you have the most updated information on the progress, findings and experiences of each work group and the Equity Plan work team, a new series of articles, featuring a different area of our equity work, will be published in The Grove on a bi-weekly basis. In addition to these articles, you are invited to reference the Opportunity and Equity Initiatives at Valencia Work Document, which codifies our existing equity initiatives. This dynamic document was created to be a live resource that will evolve through successive updates from each work team and will be expanded and revised as needed.

Make sure to read your Juice e-newsletter and look for the Opportunity and Equity series. As an additional resource, all equity-related articles can be accessed by clicking on the “Opportunity and Equity” topic on the sidebar of The Juice or under “Explore these topics” in The Grove.

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Branding Resources Are at Your Fingertips

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 

A Message from Traci Bjella, Assistant Vice President, Marketing

When it comes to growing and maintaining a brand, it takes a village. As Valencia College employees, each of us has an important role and can contribute in a meaningful way. We are all brand ambassadors — modeling the brand that our students know and love.

What is a brand? It’s the way a product, organization, company or individual is perceived by those who experience it. It’s so much more than a logo. Think of it as a recognizable feeling, a perception. For Valencia College, it’s what our students and community think of us when they hear our name, view our website, watch our television commercials, listen to our radio ads or read our event flyers. It’s the story of the College. It’s the student experience.

By maintaining a well-organized brand, we enhance experiences in support of the College’s vision — transforming lives, strengthening community and inspiring individuals to excellence. And you can help with that brand experience by familiarizing yourself with the Valencia College brand and ways to use it best. We should use our Valencia College brand with pride.

To guide you, check out the Brand website, your go-to resource for all things brand — from how we look, how we talk and how we create the experience. On this site, you’ll find the official Valencia College logossocial media avatarscolor palettes and typefaces.

Every role at the college involves the brand in some way. All of your emails and documents should correctly model the Valencia College brand. And you’ll find everyday branded resources on the Brand website as well. For example, visit the site for email signature guidelinesZoom backgrounds and Microsoft Office templates for agendas, brochures, certificates, flyers, posters, letterhead, meeting minutes, name cards, PowerPoint presentations and syllabi.

For the full Brand website, visit

Can’t find what you need on the website? Complete the Marketing Request form and someone from the team will reach out to you. Or, for Marketing questions, email