Monthly Archives: December 2021

Readers’ Choice: Top Viewed Articles in 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A Message from the Organizational Communication Team

2021 has undoubtedly been an interesting year, and we hope you’ve enjoyed following along via your employee newsletters and The Grove. In honor of you — our readers — we took a look at the 10 most popular articles from the past year (as determined by total pageviews on The Grove). Here they are, beginning with the article that employees viewed the most:

1. Save the Date for Academic Assembly – 6,726 pageviews

2. Learning Day

3.  Summer Work Hours Are Coming Soon! – 5,525 pageviews

4. Parking Permit and ID Information for Fall 2021 – 4,103 pageviews

5. Share Your Ideas On Campus for Valencia College’s Strategic Impact Plan – 3,381 pageviews

6. Join College President Sandy Shugart’s Retirement Celebration – 2,793 pageviews

7. Learn About Your 2022 Total Rewards During the Benefits Tour – 2,571 pageviews

8. Roadmap for Reopening: You’re Invited to Phase 4 Town Halls – 2,511 pageviews

9. Orlando Health to Join Us for Two Phase 3 Reopening Town Halls –  2,245 pageviews

10. Details About the Upcoming Pay Raise – 2,178 pageviews

As always, thank you for your readership and engagement, and we look forward to bringing you important stories, news and information in the new year.

Monthly Archives: December 2021

2021 Year in Review

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

With our fourth college president, Sandy Shugart, retiring after 21 years of service, followed by welcoming our fifth college president, Kathleen Plinske, and a lingering pandemic resulting in Valencia College serving a crucial role in vaccinating our community, 2021 has certainly been a busy year for Valencians. As we approach 2022, join us as we take a moment to review some of the most memorable stories of 2021.

For a look at the year in photos, click on the slideshow below:

Monthly Archives: December 2021

Wishing You a Happy Holiday Season

Friday, December 17, 2021

A Message from Carla McKnight, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources 

As 2021 draws to a close, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful and restorative Winter Break.

With the ups and downs we’ve experienced throughout the pandemic, each of you has continued to make a significant difference in the lives of our students. Thank you for your efforts to support our students and each other.

Please note: This year, our Winter Break begins on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, and the College will be closed through Sunday, January 2, 2022. Limited student services will be available during this time. Valencia will reopen on Monday, January 3, 2022.

As Winter Break approaches and you make plans to spend time with family and friends, please remember to prioritize your health and safety. And, last but not least, in the spirit of the season, I invite you to enjoy this excerpt from our Winter Choral Concert, “Joy: A Medley of Carols,” sung by the Valencia Singers and conducted by Alan Gerber, professor, music.


Best wishes to you and your families for a restful and happy holiday season! I look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Monthly Archives: December 2021

2020-2021 Check-In and Faculty Evaluation Deadlines Extended

Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Message from Sam Dunham, Assistant Director, Employee Development

We are aware that there are many things that you and your teams are working on wrapping up in preparation for winter break. With that in mind, the Employee Development team would like to share a few updates about your 2020-2021 Check-Ins and Faculty Evaluations in the Valencia EDGE. Originally, those end-of-year Check-Ins and Faculty Evaluations were to be completed by Friday, December 31, 2021.

The new deadline for you and your teams to complete the 2020-2021 Check-Ins and Faculty Evaluations is now Monday, March 7, 2022. As a reminder, only full-time employees will have a Check-In or Faculty Evaluation in the Valencia EDGE.

We will share this message with all employees in a January 2022 article in The Juice and The Grove. However, we encourage you to share this information with your team members to alleviate any concerns that they may be feeling about the completion of their Check-Ins or Faculty Evaluations.

Please note, the Check-Ins and Faculty Evaluations are important developmental tools that provide the opportunity to:

  • Share the team member’s accomplishments that occurred during the review cycle.
  • Have discussions on what development for the team member looks like in the future.
  • Provide feedback on the team member’s job performance.
  • Set goals with the team member in a collaborative way.
  • Provide the team member an opportunity to provide feedback for you.

For Check-In resources and a refresher on the process, review how to conduct Check-In and faculty evaluation reviews in a remote setting.

If you require assistance with Check-Ins or Faculty Evaluations, please email the Employee Development team at

Monthly Archives: December 2021

What You Should Know About HR4U

Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Message from Lauren Kelly, Director, Director, Equal Opportunity, and Trisha Whitmire, Assistant Director, Equal Opportunity

In our efforts to provide a single point of contact and timely support for frequently asked questions, several years ago, the Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR) team introduced HR4U, designed to remove the “guess work” on whom to call by providing a single point of contact for human resources inquiries.

Here are frequently asked questions and answers about HR4U.

What is HR4U?
HR4U is a shared email address and phone line — and 407-582-HR4U (4748) — that Valencia College employees may use for information and support for all of their human resources-related questions.

Who responds to HR4U and when are they available?
HR4U is monitored by ODHR colleagues between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, when the College is open. When Valencia is closed, or someone else is being assisted on the phone line, our colleagues will attend to any missed calls or messages as soon as they are able after the College re-opens or when they have completed assisting the caller. The team strives to deliver personalized support and high levels of customer service as its ultimate goal is to connect our colleagues to the person, information and/or resources they require.

What kinds of questions can HR4U help with?
You may have inquiries related to your paycheck, Employee Development Funds, time off, or other human resources topics and may be unsure of who you should contact when searching for answers to your questions. HR4U will route your question to the appropriate person so you don’t have to contact multiple people across departments to get the answers you need. HR4U staff may not be able to answer your question directly, but we commit to providing you with timely responses and ensuring your question is routed to those who can help you.

We encourage you and your teams to make HR4U your first point of contact for your human resources questions. HR4U Helpline: or 407-582- HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: December 2021

Supporting Employees Through the Resignation Process

Thursday, December 16, 2021

By Ben Taylor, Assistant Director, Equal Opportunity

Throughout the year, we share information regarding the employee resignation process to assist supervisors in supporting their team members. While we want employees to continue at Valencia College for a significant part of their career journey, we also recognize that there are many reasons employees may decide to leave the College. When employees resign, we want to ensure they have a positive experience during their transition. As supervisors, we have a responsibility to support these efforts, and the tips below can help.


After an employee communicates their resignation, the first step is a conversation with your employee. We want employees to know that we appreciate their service to the College, and we will honor that by supporting them through the exit process. This includes accepting their resignation, thanking them for their service to Valencia and action planning. It is also important to inform your employee that you will share this information with key partners, including Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR).


As you and your employee are preparing for the employee’s exit from Valencia, it is important to create a clear roadmap for the transition. This includes meeting with your employee regarding pending work priorities and identifying what can and should be completed prior to separation and what next steps should be taken to support the transition. The transition plan is reliant on mutual understanding of a last work date. We encourage you and your employee to identify a date and, when applicable, to partner with ODHR to see what leave may be available prior to separation.

In addition, once you and your employee have established the “last work date,” it is important that the Employee Separation Form (ESF) is submitted as soon as possible. The ESF is an important step for all employees, especially full-time as submission of the ESF initiates the start of the checkout process. To ensure transparency and as part of sufficient planning, please ensure that your employee is aware that all network and system access (including Atlas and email) will discontinue immediately after the “last work date,” even if the employee is exhausting available leave balances prior to the actual separation date. While this is an important practice to ensure information security, it can also create confusion for our employees if they are not aware that their access will be discontinued. Should employees need access to pay information or W-2s following their separation, they can contact for assistance.

Next, as employees leave Valencia, they often have questions about their final paycheck, terminal pay and benefits continuation (if applicable), and FRS/AIG Retirement Services questions. A member of ODHR can also answer any additional questions that you or your employees have as they prepare to exit from the College. Please contact HR4U at or 407-582-HR4U (4748) as ODHR can help you and your employee get connected with the appropriate resources to answer any of these questions.

Feedback Gathering

People are our most valuable resource. As our employees leave Valencia, they have unique and valuable insights as to their experiences with Valencia, therefore it is important that as supervisors we take the time to solicit their feedback about their time at Valencia, and to capture the institutional knowledge our employees have. It is also important to encourage employees to participate in the Employee Exit Questionnaire process. While identifying information is kept private and the feedback used in aggregate to examine trends at the College, every questionnaire submitted is reviewed by ODHR as part of the College’s commitment to continuously improving the work experience.

While leaving the College is never the goal, we know that a new opportunity can aid an employee’s personal and professional development. Please support employees in their transition from Valencia, remembering that how employees are treated during their departure reflects their value to the organization, a supervisor’s leadership and the culture of the institution. We encourage you to have open, candid dialogues with employees regardless of where they are on their career journey and find ways to assist them on their way.

Monthly Archives: December 2021

Appreciating Your Employees During the Holidays: Ideas for Virtual and In-person Celebrations

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The holiday season is upon us, and yet, as we emerge from the pandemic, many of us and our teams are still working remotely or in some sort of hybrid configuration. So how can we help our employees feel connected and appreciated in a way that is suitable for our remote, hybrid or in-person? Here are some ideas:

Consider a virtual party, happy hour or coffee break. Set up a time for your team to Zoom without a work agenda. Maybe lead some holiday trivia or an at-home holiday scavenger hunt. For example, recommends a scavenger hunt in which all team members find the weirdest item in their fridge.

Or, your celebration could include a virtual gingerbread war. suggests sending each of your participants a gingerbread kit in the mail that includes gingerbread people, frosting, candies and more. Then, you can build your sugary homes together or in advance and show them off for a sweet competition.

For additional ideas, check out the games that Assistant Vice President, Financial Aid and Veterans Affairs Daniel Barkowitz’s team played during a Financial Aid team meeting.

Send your team members cards or small gifts. If it’s in your budget, send your team members a card with a personal note or a small gift to their home address. It could be as simple as made-at-home cookies or a small gift card for a cup of coffee or a smoothie. Or, consider sending an e-gift. For example, Amazon eGift cards are available starting at just $1.

Host a virtual photo booth. also suggests hosting a holiday photo booth. Take screen shots of your Zoom celebration using these fun, downloadable Shutterfly photo booth props. Or, bring your own props like Santa hats, reindeer headbands, garland or hats and gloves (especially fun in Florida).

Gather together in person.
As we emerge from the pandemic, and with the wide availability of the vaccine, your team members may be comfortable meeting in person. If so, consider hosting or organizing an in-person outing for your team. Options include:

  • Organizing a holiday potluck with team members choosing their favorite holiday recipe — or choosing one from our Valencia College Holiday Cookbook;
  • Having a team lunch at a restaurant with your team;
  • Catering lunch and gathering in an available space on campus; or
  • Hosting a gift exchange.

Make a good old-fashioned phone call. Give a personal touch and call your employees. This way, they get to hear from you without the pressure of getting ready for the camera. Thanking them for their hard work and wishing them a happy Winter Break will go a long way.

Monthly Archives: December 2021

Managing Smart: Obtaining Feedback from Exiting Employees

Thursday, December 16, 2021

By Courtney Demings, Coordinator, Equal Opportunity

Employees transition from their place of employment for a variety of reasons, some of which employees may not feel comfortable fully disclosing until they depart from the organization. As an employer, Valencia College values employee feedback and offers departing employees an opportunity to complete an employee exit questionnaire, which they receive from Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR).

Participation in the exit questionnaire process is entirely voluntary, and any information that is shared is kept as private as possible and excluded from one’s personnel file. The employee exit questionnaire allows Valencia to glean from employees’ experiences and utilize this feedback to improve processes and support employees’ progress.

Typically, employees are sent this questionnaire when supervisors submit an Employee Separation Form (ESF), unless another active job is reflected on the ESF. After receiving the ESF form, ODHR generally sends two email notifications to employees encouraging completion of the employee exit questionnaire.

The digital questionnaire is divided into sections, including employee background information, reasons for leaving and quality of life at Valencia College. On average, it should take 15 to 20 minutes to complete depending on the number of details the employee provides. The questionnaire can be completed via an online link or telephone meeting with an ODHR representative whereas the ODHR representative completes the digital form on an employee’s behalf.

Once the employee exit questionnaire is received, the ODHR team reviews the content and determines the appropriate next steps, which in limited circumstances may include following up with the former employee to get additional clarity on their responses. Additionally, next-level leadership may be contacted to discuss general themes addressed on a questionnaire while protecting the privacy of the individual(s) who disclosed the information.

Although we have always reviewed each questionnaire submission and customarily taken some level of action in response to feedback, this year, ODHR committed to identifying additional and more comprehensive ways to share this important feedback with College leadership. This has included creating detailed summary reports where thematic information is shared and suggestions provided for actionable steps for how leaders can respond to concerns. If employees are reporting similar experiences and patterns persist, we take this information into account when considering how to best assist a department with addressing employee feedback. Additionally, various ODHR teams are meeting to discuss how we can be most effective in responding to feedback themes.

We believe that employees are our most critical resource in supporting the mission of the institution. Therefore, their feedback is invaluable as we seek to find more effective ways to enhance the employee and by extension, the student experience.

If you have additional questions regarding the employee exit questionnaire, or other ways to receive and respond to employee feedback, please contact ODHR at, or call the HR4U helpline at  407-582-HR4U (4748).

Monthly Archives: December 2021

Don’t Miss the 2021 Year in Review

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Get ready to view Valencia College’s most memorable moments from 2021 in our annual Year in Review edition of The Juice. From new leadership and organizational changes to new programs and colleagues we’ve lost, the Year in Review will take you down memory lane, and what makes the list of the top viewed news just may surprise you. The 2021 Year in Review edition will premiere on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. Don’t miss it.

Monthly Archives: December 2021

Expand Your Festive Meals With Valencia College’s Holiday Cookbook

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

If you’re out of ideas to create a fantastic holiday meal, your colleagues have some great ones in the Valencia College Holiday Cookbook, featuring employees’ favorite seasonal dishes.

Check out appetizers such as antipasto squares or main courses including crispy onion chicken, vegetarian/vegan stuffed acorn squash and slow cooker pork with apples, onions or rosemary.

If you’re seeking side dishes, you’ll find corn casserole, Pennsylvania Dutch potato filling and no-cook, cranberry relish. And, of course, don’t miss the desserts with Puerto Rican flan, pecan nut tarts and old-fashioned apple dumplings.

Or, if you’re holding a cocktail party, your colleagues have you covered with coquito and Spanish sangria.

Click the button below to view and download.