Monthly Archives: July 2022Share
Friday, July 29, 2022
A Special Message from Kathleen Plinske, College President
I hope this message finds you well and that you are enjoying the summer. As I did in June, I’d like to continue the practice of sharing key items from this month’s meeting of our Board of Trustees. At its annual organizational meeting on Thursday, July 28, 2022, the board re-elected Daisy López-Cid as chair and Beth Smith as vice chair, as well as Tracey Stockwell as the Board of Trustee’s liaison to the Valencia College Foundation Board of Directors.
The board members then engaged in a full-day workshop in which they reviewed the College’s mission statement, learned more about the demographics of our students and employees, heard about the impact of the pandemic on student learning and student outcomes, received an overview of federal financial aid and learned about the initial strategies our governance councils plan to pursue in order to make progress toward the bold and ambitious goals of our Strategic Impact Plan. They also provided me feedback on my goals for the upcoming year and reviewed their self-evaluation. We are very fortunate that our trustees are deeply committed to the College’s mission and passionate about our strategic goals. You can learn more about them and their impressive professional backgrounds online.
I encourage you to review the presentations that our Senior Team shared with the board — they are all available online. In fact, I’d love to hear your response to one of the questions that we asked our trustees at the end of each presentation: “What did you find particularly interesting or surprising?” Feel free to drop me a note by email if you have an observation or insight you’d like to share — I’d love to hear from you.
Earlier this week I had the privilege of meeting Torrell Wright, a student in our Residential Maintenance Technician program at our Northwest Orlando Center for Accelerated Training. A graduate of Ocoee High School, Torrell shared that he attended a university for one semester, but realized he wasn’t ready to go away to college and returned home. Since then, he had been working at Starbucks and doing handyman jobs with his uncle. He shared that he didn’t really have a plan for his career until he saw our program advertised as he was scrolling on Facebook. Upon reflection, he realized that a career in the trades appealed to him. He connected with CareerSource Central Florida and received full tuition support to participate in the 10-week program. When I met him the day before he officially graduated from the program, Torrell already had three full-time job offers, all with benefits and at least one that offered discounted rent.
I met Torrell as part of a visit by the Under Secretary of the United States Department of Education, James Kvaal. Secretary Kvaal was interested in learning more about our Accelerated Skills Training (AST) programs and had the opportunity to hear Torrell’s story. As part of the visit, we expressed our desire for our AST programs to become eligible for federal financial aid, such as Pell grants. Because of the compressed nature of the programs, they currently do not meet federal program length requirements to be eligible for aid. However, we are confident that the success of these programs, as evidenced by program completion rates and students’ ability to find high-wage careers immediately after graduation, represents compelling evidence for the consideration of these programs for Pell eligibility. Federal financial aid eligibility would significantly expand access to these accelerated career pathways to many more in our community.
Left: Torrell meeting Secretary Kvaal, with Lesley Frederick, vice president, student affairs, looking on.
Right: Torrell with Isis Artze-Vega, college provost and vice president, academic affairs, participating in the roundtable discussion with Secretary Kvaal
Stories like Torrell’s are one of the reasons why I am so passionate about our Career Credentials goal in our Strategic Impact Plan. We are so proud of Torrell and can’t wait to see what is next for him on his journey!
Looking Ahead to Fall
As our faculty members prepare for their August break, I wanted to share that we are planning several opportunities to connect with colleagues when you return for fall. Academic Assembly will be held in the morning on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. You will have a choice of participating in-person at the East Campus Performing Arts Center, in the “overflow” seating … which always fills first, or online. More details will be provided as we get closer to the date.
Then, on Thursday, August 18, 2022, our campuses will host Welcome Back Bashes. Please stay tuned for more details including the time and location at your campus. If you do not report directly to a campus, you are more than welcome to attend the events at any of our campuses.
Finally, on Friday, August 19, 2022, we will host a collegewide Fall Kick-Off from 8- 9 a.m. via Zoom. One of the lessons we learned during the pandemic was the power of all employees — faculty and staff — coming together as a college before the academic year begins, and this virtual event will continue this new tradition. It will also provide an opportunity for you to learn more about the exciting and critically important work we have ahead of us this year.
To our faculty — I wish you a restful and relaxing break. To our staff — thank you for your continued efforts to serve our students as we prepare to welcome many more back to our campuses this fall.