Monthly Archives: June 2021

Real Estate and Peace: A Perfect Match?

Wednsday, June 30, 2021

By Paul Chapman, Professor, Humanities

Great peace leaders of the past, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., thought of nonviolence and peace as a way of life. He asked those who joined him to work on the values and skills of peace every day. Gandhi supposedly said, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” Peace is something you must practice and be every day. With this wisdom, I created a presentation titled “Developing a Daily Peace Practice” to share with students, faculty and staff through Learning Day and various Peace and Justice Institute events.

My next step was to find ways to share this presentation with the community. After a recent conversation with my niece, Jennifer, a realtor for Keller Williams in Bend, Oregon, she became interested in bringing this idea to her co-workers.

Jennifer shared with me why she felt the presentation would benefit her co-workers, “Our regional director encouraged us to create a new committee about a topic we are passionate about and provide topics, speakers and content to the 127 agents in our office. After our conversation, I created a Personal Development committee. Your presentation helps with our goal of bringing peace to our own lives and shares how we can have compassion for others. As realtors, we are regularly involved in challenging situations for what is usually the client’s largest purchase in their life. This presentation spoke to me as a realtor because it is important to have a work-life balance. The people in my office are eager to embrace the better parts of ourselves and use the peace practices to improve relationships with people.”

The presentation was shown to the Keller Williams group on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Participants learned about various peace practices, from taking deep breaths in tense moments to practicing gratitude or sitting in silent meditation/prayer. The group also engaged in dialogue regarding ahimsaDr. King’s Principles and Steps of Nonviolence and the  PJI Principles for How We Treat Each Other.

Attendees expressed a great appreciation for the presentation and took away several ideas and resources for building or maintaining a daily peace practice.

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Fernando Gutierrez Continues to Advance Chess Skills

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses 

Technical Support Specialist Fernando Gutierrez has served as the Chess Club advisor for the Winter Park Campus since summer 2019, but since the pandemic, has missed interacting with students. So Fernando has worked to keep up with his chess skills and communicate with other chess players.

Fernando keeps our Winter Park Campus Chess Club members up to date on upcoming chess events via the Official Chess Club Discord, a site for students interested in playing chess. Discord has provided him a way to reconnect with the Winter Park student chess members and motivate them to play again, resulting in many talented players attending and enjoying the meetings. Fernando has found that with the creation of the Discord page, the network among students interested in playing chess continues to grow as new members join and show interest in playing the sport.

On Discord, he’s shared information about the University of Central Florida (UCF) Chess Club, which invites all individuals who are interested in playing chess regardless of their knowledge of chess. This weekly event is held at the Student Union on UCF Campus each Friday. And, he’s shared information about the Orlando Chess Club, which allows new members to play casual or competitive chess, with weekly meetings on Saturdays at the Downtown Credo. On average, about 25 people attend these events.

For anyone interested in playing chess, check out the following events:

Orlando Chess Club Meetup

Downtown Credo
855 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando
Saturdays from 12 – 3 p.m.

UCF Chess Club

Student Union – Open to everyone
Free parking available in Garage F
Fridays from 6 – 9 p.m.

Valencia Math Club Hangouts
During fall and spring semesters
Second and fourth Thursdays via Zoom from 8:30 – 10 p.m.

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Florida House Bill 233 Explained: What Does It Mean for Valencia?

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A Message from Leslie Golden, Associate General Counsel, and Bill Mullowney, Vice President, Policy and General Counsel

As shared in our April 2021 Legislative Update, a key piece of legislation — Florida House Bill 233 – Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity — has been passed by both the House and the Senate, and last week, was approved by Gov. DeSantis, and will take effect on Thursday, July 1, 2021.

Florida House Bill 233 Explained

Though packaged together as Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity, this law is actually comprised of amendments to three existing Florida statutes already applicable to Valencia College associated with the three subjects covered:

  1. 1001.03 Specific powers of the State Board of Education
  2. 1004.097 Free expression on campus
  3. 1006.60 Codes of conduct; disciplinary measures

Florida House Bill 233 has three parts, and two of the three do not require any action on the part of faculty or deans at this time.

Part 1 — A Survey: the bill requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to select or create a survey to be administered by all Florida College System (FCS) institutions annually. The surveys must be designed to capture the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented on campus, as well as the extent to which those surveyed feel free to express their beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom. There is no action for Valencia to take while SBE designs the survey and its administration.

Part 2 — Free Expression:

No Shielding

The bill prohibits the SBE and FCS institutions from shielding students, faculty or staff from protected free speech and certain expressive activities. The bill defines “shield” as limiting students’ access to or observation of ideas and opinions they may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable or offensive.

Classroom Audio/Video Recording

The bill authorizes the video and audio recording of “class lectures” for limited purposes — personal educational use and as evidence in an internal or external proceeding. The law makes it clear that this type of recording as authorized would not be a felony under Florida law even if the lecturer does not consent. However, it prohibits any publication of the recording without consent and permits an action to be brought by a student against an institution that violates this law, and by individuals (such as faculty members against a student) who publish recordings in violation of this law.

Part 3 — Student Codes of Conduct: The bill proscribes certain requirements that now must be contained in the codes of student conduct maintained by the Florida College System and State University System institutions, many of which our code already contains. New provisions that are not currently part of Valencia’s process include a student’s right to remain silent in a proceeding, and the right, at a student’s own expense, to hire an advisor, advocate or legal representative to be present and who can fully participate in the disciplinary proceeding.

So what does this mean for Valencia?

With the recent passing of this new law, Valencia will endeavor to comply with the law in such a way that preserves learning, the sanctity of the classroom and our mission. As such, we anticipate minimal changes to our current policies and procedures.

At this time, we are working with within the College to create guidelines for faculty, which will include the products of collaboration with educational institutions across the state to bring alignment in our approach. This will include definitions of key terms included in the law.

For now, faculty, to the greatest extent possible, should continue to encourage and facilitate academic inquiry and discussion about controversial topics and not shield students from ideas that may be uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable or offensive. Students may attempt to record classroom lectures, but may not record class discussions, labs, clinicals, or student speeches or activities. Recorders may not record other students in a way that personally identifies them and cannot block other students from seeing the professor or otherwise disrupt the class. Academic deans can provide assistance to faculty about recording, and early experience will help shape guidance moving forward.

What remains the same?

Although this HB233 brings some significant changes, much of the law remains the same, as do many of our academic operations and protocols. Specifically, please note that this does not change our commitment to:

  • The First Amendment;
  • Academic Freedom; or
  • Faculty intellectual property rights.

As it pertains to classroom instruction, this law does not create any personal liability for faculty acting within the scope of their jobs. Faculty will continue to have control of their classroom in order to maintain the safety and welfare of students, and should continue to exercise their right to choose course materials, use class time for class work and promote inquiry and discussion. Recording is still prohibited in private conversations, non-classroom activities, and work spaces.

Next Steps

As the College nears our Phase 4 operations with a full opening and onsite classes this fall, several operational considerations and logistical details are being finalized as it pertains to Florida House Bill 233. Ultimately, our focus will remain on safeguarding the continuity of student learning, and we will make plans to ensure that faculty members are able to manage their classrooms in such a way to minimize disruption.

For questions about Florida House Bill 233, contact the Office of Policy and General Counsel at 407-299-5000, extension 3433.

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Celebrating New Publications of East Campus Science Faculty

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Kudos to Andrea Rediske, professor, biology, and Majid Musnavi, part-time faculty, physics, for recently submitting and having articles published in scientific journals.

Andrea’s article titled “Impact of COVID-19 Curricular Shifts on Learning Gains on the Microbiology for Health Sciences Concept Inventory” was published in the April 2021 edition of the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. The Microbiology for Health Sciences Concept Inventory (MHSCI) is a validated assessment published in 2017, designed as a pre- and post-test to assess student learning gains in health sciences microbiology. The MHSCI is used by more than 50 colleges in the U.S. and worldwide and is currently being used as part of the Valencia College Assessment of the MCB 2010C course.

The article explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student outcomes on the MHSCI. Andrea and her co-author Heather Seitz, primary investigator of the MHSCI, compared overall learning gains pre- and post-quarantine to determine the impact of the shift to online learning on student MHSCI scores. Their analysis found that while pre-test scores were slightly lower in the COVID-19 group, there was no difference in student scores when pre- and post-COVID post-tests were compared. The data in this study suggest that student success is statistically similar between face-to-face microbiology courses and courses that shifted online due to the pandemic.

Majid submitted an article in The Journal of Optics Express, “Laser-Plasma Coupling for Enhance Ablation of GaAs with Combined Femtosecond and Nanosecond Pulses.” The article looks at the rapid development of femtosecond lasers over the last decade that has opened a wide range of new applications, especially, in industry, material science, medicine and remote sensing. One important physical effect is material removal or laser ablation by femtosecond pulses which can be used for the deposition of thin films, the creation of new materials, micro-machining and plasma-shock production. Particularly, laser filamentation can deliver laser intensities sufficient to ablate materials to kilometer-range distances. In this work, the role of laser-plasma interactions in the enhancement of ablation by different combinations of femtosecond and nanosecond laser pulses is investigated.

Last year, Majid also submitted an article in Science Direct regarding Calculation of the extreme-ultraviolet radiation conversion efficiency for a laser-produced tin plasma source.”

“It is amazing to have faculty still deeply involved in research,” said Dean of Science Jen Snyder. “It enhances their practice and elevates the classroom experience for their students. Students always enjoy hearing about faculty research interests, because it makes the professor and the science more accessible.”

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Students Today – Art Critics Tomorrow

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Part-time Faculty, Humanities Sheila Levi teaches an art appreciation course and recently had her students put their skills as art critics to use when they helped to choose the Traveling Art Exhibit for the Winter Park Campus.

The last class session of the Real-time Virtual course included a virtual gallery tour of the Student Juried Art Show. While students examined pieces, they put into practice the terminology and techniques they learned in class. Students talked about variety, line and texture and discussed what moved and inspired them about the pieces. One student shared, “I am consistently blown away by the quality of this work by my peers.”

The reflective discussions led to a vote to determine the five top works to be included in the first Traveling Art Exhibit. Students were honored to be part of the process of recognizing the work of their peers and look forward to seeing the work displayed during the Spring 2022 semester. This student involvement was such a great opportunity and a fitting capstone to end the course.

Monthly Archives: June 2021

From Honors to Dream Chasing: A Touching Story of Two Students Who Are Following Their Dreams

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Students Isabel Silva and Marco Santos Teles both attended Valencia College East Campus as freshman in 2017 and met in an honors psychology class. Both participated in the same honors events and became close friends. They shared a common dream of attending medical school and understood the commitment it takes to be a competitive applicant. Later that summer, they began dating and focused their priorities on working toward their goal, making time for Valencia’s extracurricular events and for each other.

They married while studying at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and finished their bachelor’s degrees in May 2021. Marco graduated with a B.S. in biomedical sciences and Isabel graduated with a B.S. in biomedical sciences in the molecular and cell biology track.

When it was time to apply to medical schools, their main priority was to be near each other. They focused on cities that housed several medical schools to maximize their chances of attending medical school while living together.

The end of the application cycle was near — Marco was accepted to New York Medical College in New York City and SUNY Medical School in Syracuse. Isabel was accepted into UCF. They were close to losing hope of staying together and dreaded the possibility of a long-distance marriage.

During a joint Zoom meeting with the dean of admissions of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, both Isabel and Marco were accepted into the medical program. The couple was ecstatic since this school was one of their top choices and, of course, they would be together during the next journey in their educational path. To top it off, they both received a scholarship that covers the out-of-state tuition.

Marco contacted Professor of Education Jane Maguire, his former professor and coordinator for honors, who taught the IDH courses that they both completed with her, to share the good news.

“Thank you so much for everything you did for me,” Marco shared. “I would not have made it this far without your support and all the opportunities you gave me. I am really grateful to have had you as my professor during my undergrad studies.”

“This is why I love my job … to watch students accomplish wonderful things as they move through the chapters of their lives after Valencia,” Jane explained. “Both Marco and Isabel were in courses with me while attending Valencia. They have been so thoughtful about keeping in touch after leaving Valencia, and I am so thankful that they share these special moments with each other. Congratulations on their acceptance into Rutgers and I am so proud of them.”

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Winter Park Campus Celebrates Pride Month

Tuseday, June 29, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Even though the Winter Park Campus is closed, it still showed off its “Pride” in June. Pride flags, displaying small rainbow rectangles, were placed in front of the Valencia signage. Their meaning reflects a symbol of inclusion and peace for all the LGBTQ+ people at Valencia College and the community. This work was in partnership with the Winter Park PRIDE Project’s 1000 Flags Initiative, where local businesses work to increase LGBTQ+ visibility in the city of Winter Park.

During the fifth anniversary of the Pulse shooting, it is important for all to take time to stop, reflect and cherish the small things. Though the flags are only a symbol, the College is proud of the work that the Winter Park Campus has done to get the flags placed on campus.

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Accolades Abound During College President Sandy Shugart’s Final Board of Trustees Meeting

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Valencia College’s District Board of Trustees honored retiring College President Sandy Shugart on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, by bestowing upon him the title of President Emeritus and unanimously approving and signing a resolution to name the East Campus arts building the Sanford C. Shugart building. Additionally, during Trustee Beth Smith’s Valencia College Foundation report, she announced that the board endowed the Sanford C. Shugart Trustee Scholarship to help students overcome barriers to getting an education.

Throughout the meeting, the last prior to Sandy’s retirement, the board shared its high regard and accolades for Sandy. As in every June board meeting, the trustees conducted Sandy’s annual performance evaluation, but for this final review, they provided a document summing up their nothing-but-positive comments for his work during this extraordinary year. And at the conclusion of the event, trustees shared their individual thanks and well wishes.

“I looked at this resolution, and most of the things that were on here I was able to be part of … but the key that I think really touches my heart the most is the fact that you always put people first,” acknowledged Trustee Maria Grulich. “Whether it’s the students, the faculty, the board — if you’ve ever seen Dr. Shugart at a commencement, you will find that he is outside shaking hands with the students, connecting with them, thanking them, for being part of Valencia and for reaching goals that they maybe they did not think they could reach. So he has touched my heart. I haven’t been here for all 21 years, but I’ve been here for a big part of those 21 years, and I’m blessed to have been part of your leadership, part of the growth at Valencia. And we can’t thank you enough.”

Sandy responded to the many comments with appreciation while giving credit to the entire Valencia team.

“Thank you so much,” he said. “They [The comments] are overly generous, of course, and I would say this is a team sport, and I hope the staff members in the room are able to appropriate the compliments you gave to the whole team, because they really belong to the whole team. We’ve grown a lot, not just in numbers but in bandwidth and talent and trust. What we’re able to put our arms around as an organization now is 10 times what we could have done in 2005, and that talks to the capacity of the whole team.”

Sandy concluded, “All my life I wanted to work at a place where people deep in the organization thought they owned it, and, by golly, we do. I have no worries about the future of Valencia. The culture is deep. The leadership is right. The team has continuity. The vision is good. And I am 100% confident that Dr. Plinske will take Valencia places that I couldn’t, and I can’t wait to see it.”

Other topics covered during the meeting included:

Trustees Recognize Legislative Champion

Trustees, along with Sandy and Jay Galbraith, vice president, public affairs and marketing, recognized Rep. Rene Plasencia in person for being a Legislative Champion. Rep. Plasencia has advocated for Valencia and our mission during his tenue in the Legislature. Rep. Plasencia currently serves as the House Chair for the Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations.

Faculty Association Update

After an update from Patrick Bartee, Faculty Association president, on the faculty ombuds representative position, and Michael Robbins, Faculty Association vice president, on the Endowed Chairs program, Sandy recognized Patrick for his work with the association, explaining that the position can be challenging in the best of health, and Patrick succeeded in the role while beating a life-threatening illness.

2021-2022 Operating Budget
The board approved the 2021-2022 operating budget, including a pay raise for employees. For details, read the College UpdateTo view the full 2020-2021 operating budget, click here.

Legislative Update
Bill Mullowney, vice president, policy and general counsel, presented a legislative update, sharing that, as a result of the 2021 legislative session, the most impactful changes to the Florida College System likely will be associated with the implementation of bills involving dual enrollment, campus speech and student conduct matters, and workforce programs.

He provided the board a high-level overview of the following:

  • CS/CS/HB 233 Intellectual Freedom – Click here for details. 
  • CS/ SB 72 Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19, which provides protections for any civil liability claim against a public or non-public educational institution for COVID-19 related claims.
  • CS/HB 7017 Foreign Influence, which requires state agencies and political subdivisions to disclose all foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the Department of Financial Services.
  • CS/CS/SB 52 Dual Enrollment/Early College Program, which establishes in policy a dedicated funding source to help defray the costs of dual enrollment for postsecondary institutions and private secondary schools and may enhance student access to dual enrollment courses.
  • CS/CS/CS/HB 1507 Workforce Related Programs and Services, which was developed to facilitate alignment and coordination of entities responsible for Florida’s Workforce Delivery System and creates the Office of Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH Office) in the Executive Office of the Governor.

Read the full legislative update.

Union Update
Bill and Sandy shared an update on the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU narrowly won — by a difference of only 35 votes (651 valid votes counted out of 1,299 eligible voters) — the right to represent all eligible part-time faculty and part-time instructors as their exclusive bargaining representative.

Sandy explained that he was pleased with voter turnout, as a bit more than 50% of eligible employees voted, and he stressed that the union does not change our regard to part-time faculty and part-time instructors as they are essential to our mission. He added that this is just a different way to get to conditions of employment for this group of employees.

Next in the process, the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission has 30 days to present a final certification order certifying the union as the bargaining agent for part-time faculty and part-time instructors in the defined bargaining unit, and then the collective bargaining process will follow.

Sandy also explained to the board that, as a result of the union, trustees will be more involved in conditions of employment for part-time faculty and part-time instructors.

Capital Improvement Plan

The trustees approved Valencia’s Capital Improvement Plan for the Fiscal Years 2021/2022 through 2026/2027. View the plan here.

Center for Accelerated Training
Loren Bender, vice president, business operations and finance, shared that the construction of the Center for Accelerated Training, which will be located north of State Road 50 off of John Young Parkway, should be completed by mid-August 2021. For photos of the interior construction, click here.

Additionally, the board authorized the College to adjust the original tenant build-out costs by an additional $124,046 due to a change to the original scope of the project to add enhanced safety and security measures, additional finishing items and additional electrical to accommodate equipment that has been upgraded from the originally proposed equipment used to scope out the project.

Lake Nona Campus Update 
As the board meeting was originally scheduled pre-pandemic to take place on the Lake Nona Campus, Mike Bosley, executive dean, Lake Nona Campus, shared an update on the campus’ Biotechnology Laboratory Sciences Associate in Science program. Currently, 525 students are majoring in biotechnology, and 76 students from the program graduated since the start of the pandemic. View a video about a day in the life of a biotechnology student, which was shared with trustees.

Accelerated Skills Training Program Fees
Due to the substantial increase in material costs, trustees approved adjusting the program fees for the following Accelerated Skills Training programs:

  • Welding I – from $7,000 to $7,350
  • Welding II – from $7,000 to $7,350
  • Carpentry- from $5,495 to $5,800
  • Apartment Maintenance Technician – from $4,995 to $5,300

For more information on the meeting, click here. 

The next District Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 8, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. For details, view the schedule.

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Sonia Pasqual Unveils Play at Rollins College Theater

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

When Sonia Pasqual, professor, theater technology, began working on her master’s thesis — a series of monologues, dance, painting and poetry that eventually formed a play — the nation was in turmoil. George Floyd had died at the hands of police in Minneapolis; Black Lives Matter protests had taken to the streets across the country; and a pandemic had forced people into their homes and dramatically changed Americans’ lives.

After witnessing these events and spending a year researching societal issues, Sonia was inspired to write a piece of experimental theater, a devised ethnodrama that is a work of social justice theater. Her goal was to capture the voices of people who face discrimination every day — and how that steady drumbeat of discrimination wears them down — and distill their narratives into a play.

The result, “Conscious Voices,” was performed in early June at Rollins College’s Annie Russell Theater, and it made history. It was the first time that a play written by a Black woman had been performed at the Annie Russell Theater in the theater’s 99-year history, according to Rollins theater officials. Read more on the Valencia News site…

Monthly Archives: June 2021

Roadmap for Reopening: You’re Invited to Phase 4 Town Halls

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

On Sunday, August 1, 2021, Valencia College will transition to Phase 4 of our Roadmap for Reopening plan. Want to know what to expect? Mark your calendar and plan to attend an upcoming town hall for updates on Phase 4 operations and the on campus experience as we prepare for a full opening of our campuses and facilities. During Phase 4, all departments and services will be fully operational, having adapted to new paradigms and protocols for social engagement. As an added bonus, Orlando Health, our Roadmap for Reopening planning partner, will join us for the final town hall to provide an update on the coronavirus, the various strains of the virus, the COVID-19 vaccine, transmission data and impacts of the virus within schools and controlled settings.

All employees are encouraged to attend.

Date: Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Thursday, July 15, 2021
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom

Date: Monday, July 19, 2021
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Town Hall With Orlando Health
Date: Thursday, July 22, 2021
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Zoom

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