Monthly Archives: July 2022

College Update: July 2022 Board of Trustees Meeting

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.

Student Spotlight

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.

Monthly Archives: July 2022

Save the Date and Get Ready for Academic Assembly

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Save the date and get ready for Academic Assembly!

You are invited to attend Academic Assembly as faculty and academic leadership gather to kick off the 2022-2023 academic year and prepare to welcome our students. This annual assembly is a chance to recharge, recognize good work, unite and learn about the strategic focus for the year.

New this year: Academic Assembly will be held on Wednesday instead of Thursday. And, for the first time since 2019, we will be back in person on the East Campus, in the Performing Arts Center, for this annual event. Details are below:

Date: Wednesday, August 17, 2022

8:30 a.m. Light Continental Breakfast (Black Box Theater)
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Program

East Campus
Performing Arts Center (PAC)
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL 32825

Academic Assembly will also be streamed via Zoom.

Plan to join this annual gathering of our learning community from all of our campuses and locations as we kick start the new academic year. Additional program details will be shared as they become available.

Welcome Back events will take place on Thursday, August 18, 2022, with a new collegewide Academic Kick-off Zoom call on Friday, August 19, 2022. Click here for more information.

Monthly Archives: July 2022

In Case You Missed It: The June Faculty Insight

Thursday, July 28, 2022

A Message from the Office of Organizational Communication 

Since we sent your last Faculty Insight on Thursday, June 30, 2022, we’ve received reports that not all faculty members received the issue in their inbox. The June issue included some important articles including:

  • An announcement of our newly tenured professors;
  • A Faculty Highlight on Professor of Criminal Justice Technology Susan Yawn, who shares a variety of techniques to encourage her students to actively take part in class;
  • Information on housing available for students at the Downtown Campus;
  • The June 2022 Faculty Governance Update in which Faculty Association President Michael Robbins reflected on a recent professional development opportunity and policy and procedure in the classroom; and
  • A recap of Destination 2022, which encouraged discussions on educational equity and mitigating toxic stress.

If you missed the June 2022 Faculty Insight, view it here.

Monthly Archives: July 2022

Individual Freedom and Educational Discrimination: New Resources for Faculty

Thursday, July 28, 2022

A Message from Isis Artze-Vega, Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs and Michael Robbins, Outgoing President, Collegewide Faculty Association

State legislation known as House Bill 7 — in effect since Friday, July 1, 2022 — amends two Florida non-discrimination laws applicable to Valencia College.

The legislature’s stated purpose in adopting this law was to prohibit coercing students and employees to adopt particular beliefs. We are prohibited from espousing, promoting, advancing, inculcating or compelling anyone to believe any of eight specified concepts. Here are two examples of those concepts:

  • “Members of one race, color, national origin or sex are morally superior to members of another race, color, national origin or sex.”
  • “A person, by virtue of his or her race, color, national origin or sex bears responsibility for or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, national origin or sex.”

As with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, Valencia is committed to observing these new legal requirements and assisting members of our academic community in understanding how these amended laws may affect us. At the same time, we maintain our commitment to the attainment of our ambitious Impact Plan goals.

To both assist with compliance and support our faculty as they continue to engage with students and one another on topics and competencies associated with educational equity, a “flash team” was commissioned in late June to develop resources. Composed of faculty and administrators, supported by legal counsel and Faculty Development, the team worked swiftly to develop Understanding HB 7: A Guide for Faculty and Deans, a comprehensive guide consisting of the following components:

  • Explanation of the Changes in Law — a detailed description of the changes, including our best understanding of each of the eight concepts.
  • Frequently Asked Questions and Answers — responses to commonly asked questions from faculty and deans related to the recording provision of the legislation.
  • Recommended Teaching Practices — guidance on facilitating conversations while complying with the law.
  • Sample Syllabus Language — recommendations for faculty members who would like to update their course syllabi in light of this legislation.
  • Additional Resources

Click here the button below to access the guide.

We will continue to update these resources throughout the academic year. Please contact your dean if you have questions or need additional support.

Monthly Archives: July 2022

Faculty Governance Update — July 2022

Thursday, July 28, 2022

A Message from Michael Robbins, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

This will be my last update as the Valencia College Faculty Association president. My term is ending, and it has been an engaging year (to put it mildly). Over the past year, Valencia has experienced multiple changes: in our leadership, in our governance and in our structure. We’ve discussed the impact of new laws and state guidance that have direct influence on our decisions in the classroom. Some of us have had to adapt to new teaching practices that were unfamiliar, and we’ve had to adapt to new students, many of whom are less ready than we’d ideally like.

Perhaps understatement is my literary device of choice for this last message.

My term as president started with me asking faculty to be kind to students. Kindness doesn’t mean removing rigor, but rather just remembering that our students have been through the same exhausting experiences we’ve been through over the last three years. Some even worse, and some for longer than three years.

I’d like to end my term by asking you all to be curious. It’s easy to get defensive when our teaching practices are questioned, or when the world seems to oppose us. I often want to lash out and scream at every perceived anti-intellectual fool I find online, and I instinctually get outraged when I see data that show my students aren’t being successful. I want to blame them, or I want to blame their previous teachers, or I want to blame the state of Florida, or I want to blame whatever politician is currently in the headlines.

The truth is this: It’s on me now. It’s my responsibility. Rather than succumbing to that outrage and anger, I try to remind myself of when Valencia faculty are at their absolute best: We are at our best when we approach our learning environment with curiosity. I’m proudest of our faculty when I see them adapting to new circumstances, trying out new methods, and reflecting on how those new methods influenced student learning.

I’m going to return to the classroom curious. We have students coming to us who will need extra attention and who have likely had poor educational experiences. I’m prepared to adapt to those needs — to review my course material, and to approach every learning opportunity with curiosity … because in my mind, curiosity is what leads to discovery, which is what leads to change. It may be frustrating, and it may be tiring, but I believe that’s true of anything worth exploring.

Thank you all for the opportunity I’ve had this past year. It’s been an absolute pleasure serving as the Faculty Association president. I hope we can all extend courtesy and appreciation to our incoming Faculty Association president, Doreen Watson. I trust her to represent me.

And finally, I hope you all enjoy your rest in August, and I hope you’ll all join me in being curious in fall 2022. You all can reach out to me any time you have a question, or a problem, or if you want to talk, regardless of my role at this College.

Monthly Archives: July 2022

Faculty Highlight: Tiffany Baggs Combines Experience and Know-how To Help Students Learn

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

You might say that Professor of Dental Hygiene Tiffany Baggs hasn’t forgotten her roots. That’s because she’s a graduate of the same Valencia College program she now teaches for.

Tiffany joined the College as an instructional lab manager in 2010 and earned her tenure this past June, teaching alongside some of the same professors who taught her. She also won a Campus Innovation Award for her tenure portfolio.

Tiffany says it took earning her master’s degree to help her polish her teaching style into what it is today.

“I used to tell students the answers when they had questions,” she explains. “Now, I teach students how to better learn and how to almost teach themselves by showing them how to find the answers. I feel like they retain more when they figure it out on their own and I confirm if they are right or wrong.”

She also credits Professors of Dental Hygiene Pam Sandy (now retired) and Robin Poole with helping her to become a hygienist and a better instructor today.

“They taught me how to teach,” she says.

Tiffany says that teaching students to help themselves is an important part of mastering the science of dental hygiene.

“Dental hygiene is very science-based, but treatment of patients is very grey. Hygienists can’t always find the answers they need in a textbook, so they need to be able to critically think and find the answers to the situations they see in a patient’s mouth,” she explains.

The Dental Hygiene program is a two-year cohort, so Tiffany takes advantage of all of the time she has to get to know her students.

“By the end of the first semester, I get pretty comfortable with my students and learn a lot about their lives,” she says. “There are a lot of conversations about kids and dogs!”

Tiffany’s action research project was a statistical analysis game she developed after seeing Sandra Draper, professor of mathematics, do a variation of it for her teaching mini-lesson project.

“I immediately knew I could adapt it for my students,” Tiffany recalls.

Through the game, Tiffany teaches her students to compute community population statistics, a skill they need for the three semesters of community classes they must take. The culmination of the classes requires the students to develop, implement and evaluate a community outreach project.

“The problem is, many of my students don’t like math, and they aren’t required to take a statistics class because they are in an A.S. degree program,” Tiffany explains.

The game teaches them three basic components of statistics: mean, median and mode, which they can then use to analyze their outreach projects.

Tiffany’s version of Quiz-Quiz-Trade involves each student getting a set of question-and-answer index cards. Working in pairs, the students quiz one another, trade cards and then find a new partner to quiz.

“The rapid repetition of the questions and answers helps students learn at a faster rate,” Tiffany says.

Tiffany implemented her action research project in fall 2018. She started with a pretest to gauge her students’ knowledge of statistics. They then played the game and took a post-test a week later.

“My students loved it,” Tiffany says. “Not only was it a fun way to learn concepts they didn’t want to learn, but their scores also went through the roof.”

Most of her classes are labs, so something else Tiffany does in her classes that her students enjoy involves allowing them to become the teachers. In this pod-learning exercise, each student is first assigned a role. They are in charge of positioning the exam room light, positioning the patient or positioning the hygienist. Then, another member of the group offers corrections to their classmates to help them all learn.

“When they are sitting with the patient, they don’t see some things we see from observing. It helps them learn to correct themselves, and they like having a part in helping to teach their classmates,” Tiffany explains.

Tiffany also has a few best practices she thinks other professors can use.

“Allow your students to learn without giving them all the answers.”

She says she thinks her students gain more respect for her because she allows them to have their own “aha” moments.

After she graduated from the Valencia College Dental Hygiene program, Tiffany worked in a private practice dental office for three years while she earned her bachelor’s degree and started working as a lab manager at the College before becoming a member of the teaching faculty in 2014.

Tiffany earned a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from St. Pete College and a master’s in dental hygiene with a concentration in education from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.

Tiffany and her mentor, Robin Poole, also just received a $5,200 Endowed Chair award. The pair will pilot a new way to demonstrate progression of learning with dental hygiene students through the completion of a capstone project. The project will consist of a student portfolio containing learning experiences from their four clinical courses and a few didactic courses.

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: July 2022

Summer Grades Due

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

As a reminder, final grades are due on Thursday, August 4, 2022, at 9 a.m. If you are unsure of how to sync grades to Banner via Canvas Gradebook, please visit the Canvas Resources websiteFor an end-of-semester checklist, click here. 

If you experience any issues during the process, please contact the Center for Teaching/Learning Innovation, visit the OIT Service Desk for faculty information or contact one of the individuals below.

East and Lake Nona Campuses:

Osceola and Poinciana Campuses:

West, Winter Park and Downtown Campuses: 

Monthly Archives: July 2022

Easy Printing With PaperCut Print Management Software

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

In August 2022, Valencia College will expand its printing capabilities by implementing PaperCut into the employee multi-functional device (MFD) fleet — the devices that scan, copy and print — in employee areas.

PaperCut is currently used as the collegewide student printing manager and will enable more robust features for our students, faculty and staff. Unlike the current system, which restricts employees printing access to only equipment located in their assigned office and campus location, with PaperCut, employees will have access to release their print job regardless of their campus location. With the changes in work modalities that have occurred in the last two years, this is an exciting change allowing for much needed flexibility.

The entire employee MFD fleet will enable employees to print/copy/scan items from Valencia-issued computers, personal laptops and tablets, or even print from their phones with their Valencia College ID or VID number. This process will significantly enhance the employees’ experience by enabling them to send a job to their print cue and proceed to release the print using the most convenient campus location.

Installation of the PaperCut software is currently underway, and detailed instructions are in development. Faculty should expect this new system to be in place when they return for the Fall term.

Please note that this change does not impact any personal or departmental printers that are not managed by the Procurement team.

More information, including tutorials and resources, will be available in the coming weeks and shared via The Grove and the Procurement website.

Monthly Archives: July 2022

Meet Your New Faculty Association President, Doreen Watson

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

When Doreen Watson looks at today’s Valencia College student body, she sees herself. Now, that might be because Doreen is a proud Valencia graduate, but there are also some other reasons.

Like many of our students, Doreen’s story starts with a journey from somewhere else. In her case, she came to the United States from Jamaica when she was just 17 years old. Her mother, who lived in Orlando, sponsored Doreen and two of her siblings. As an immigrant, she experienced much fear, yet the new opportunities culminated in excitement. But as Doreen prepared for the American Dream, the neighborhood kids mistook her shyness as her being “uppity.”

“They told me I would be beaten up if I even got on the school bus,” Doreen recalls. Out of concern, she opted to attend Orlando Tech College to get her GED since not going to school was not an option. Education is a major part of her culture as well as with her mother.

Seemingly back on track, Doreen enrolled at Valencia College in January 1983; however, she stopped shy of graduation.

“I was one Spanish class away from graduation and I didn’t even know it,” she says.

Her reasons for telling these stories span beyond the Valencia College community getting to know her.

“It is important for students to have access to information as well as mentors at the College,” she states.

This would have made a difference in her earlier educational journey.

Ten years later, in 1995, while working at Walt Disney World, she made the decision to go back to school. Doreen earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology two years later from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and went on to start a master’s there as well. She switched gears, moved to Texas, and earned her master’s in women’s studies as well as a Ph.D. in sociology from Texas Woman’s University. Following graduation, she taught at Regis University, located in Denver, for six years, where she planned on retiring.

Like so many things in Doreen’s life, her journey back to Florida was not planned. She came for her summer vacation to visit her sick mother; the universe had a different plan. As such, Doreen’s path became a full circle when she came back to Valencia as a professor of sociology in 2013 and earned her tenure in 2019. She’s also served as a faculty fellow for data and assessment, as well as the chair of sociology and anthropology at West Campus.

Today, she walks around our campuses with pride, knowing she overcame so many of the same social and educational obstacles our students face today. That’s a fact that she hopes she can use to support faculty at the College in discovering more connections with all their students and not just the ones who speak out the most in class.

As Faculty Association president, Doreen is hoping to create more opportunities where the faculty and staff at the College will interact. For this sociologist at heart, those connections start with communication.

“I have never been to the Poinciana Campus, but I surmised that it is just as beautiful as the others. By stepping out of our offices, we may meet a student, a fellow faculty, staff member or administrator who we did not know before. Intentionality is key to galvanizing changes.”

One of the Jesuit principles that is stressed at Regis, is to think of the whole person.

“When I’m in meetings, I tend to be very aware that how we say what we say matters more than what we say,” she explains.

It is not about cajoling, rather it is about recognizing that we are all in this together.

She’s hoping everyone remembers that the College’s goal is to do what is best for the College and the students and not always for the individual. Yet, we cannot use a “cookie cutter” approach to deal with every situation.

“Equally, there is no single story of ‘the faculty,’ and we all need to have a voice. Our students come from so many different backgrounds and so do our faculty. We need to embrace that and use it to further our mission,” she says.

One way Doreen hopes to bring about faculty cohesion is by finding more ways for faculty and staff to collaborate and share ideas.

“We need more social and work relationships across campuses, within campuses and across disciplines,” she says.

Doreen also has a “lofty” goal of bridging the gap between faculty and administration at the College.

Something that might be a little daunting about her new role is that Doreen now represents about 500 faculty members, most of whom she has likely never met. It’s important to her that everyone understands that she’s approachable and that she represents and serves all of them.

“I care about their needs,” she says. “I think recognition of that will come over time.”

Doreen thinks the size of the task is what drives a lot of faculty members away from wanting to be involved in governance at the College. Another goal she has is to try to help others understand what governance is and how it plays a role in making sure the faculty voice is heard by senior leaders.

Doreen served as an at-large member of the West Campus Faculty Senate before she says Adrienne Matthews, professor, political science, put her name in for vice president of the Faculty Association.

“She didn’t tell me until after she had done it,” Doreen recalls.

Even though she wanted to take a break after earning her tenure, Doreen says she’s happy she accepted the nomination.

“Nothing in my life is typical,” Doreen explains. “Even though I have been at the College since 2013, I’m still a newbie. Like all things in life, a key part of my year as president will be fostering communication and listening to one another.”

Focusing on the end result will also be a key component of Doreen’s work in the 2022-2023 academic year.

“We impact lives. We change and affect lives every single day. As challenging as it may get sometimes, we should take some solace in that since not many jobs/careers allow us to have this level of impact on current and generations to come. I want us all to take pride in what we do and revel in our successes,” she says.

As she prepares for her opening speech at Academic Assembly in August, Doreen is already looking forward to graduation next spring.

“I love putting on my regalia,” she explains. “There’s something about walking into that auditorium as a clearly marked educated woman. It’s important for other people to see an educated Black woman. Why?  Because Representation is important in role models for students.”

In addition to herself, Doreen’s wife and two nieces are also Valencia graduates. A third niece will graduate soon.

“There is something special about Valencia College that keeps people employed here for years. In the doubtful times, let’s reflect on why we keep coming back. For me, my reasons are multifaceted. Could it be the nostalgia, the students or colleagues? Yes, no doubt it is both/and. They all serve to enhance my experiences and the best is yet to come. Here’s to 2022-23.”

If you want to contact Doreen, you can email her at or call her at 407-582-5137.

Monthly Archives: July 2022

U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary of Education Visits Center for Accelerated Training

The U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal along with Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske, the Accelerated Skills Training team and our partners from Heart of Florida United Way toured the different experiential programs at the Center for Accelerated Training, Northwest Orlando.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal visited Valencia College’s Center for Accelerated Training, Northwest Orlando for a tour and roundtable discussion on Monday, July 25, 2022.

During the roundtable, the group — including Kvaal, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Lockheed Martin Senior Manager of Operations Engineering Paul Moore and our own College President Kathleen Plinske, Vice President of Global Professional and Continuing Education Joe Battista, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Isis Artze-Vega, and Vice President of Student Affairs Lesley Frederick — discussed Valencia College’s partnership with the community and local employers and how the Accelerated Skills Training (AST) program is providing short-term, accessible and affordable training for students, leading to industry-based credentials and then employment in high-wage, high school industry careers.

Lockheed Martin’s Paul Moore shared how his company has partnered with the College to develop the exact training that candidates need for entry-level careers in CNC machining and electronic board assembly. Since the AST partnership started, Lockheed Martin has hired more than 130 students. Some of those students have gone on to earn promotions and/or degrees.

“It’s been a marvelous relationship,” Paul explained. “The key for us is the shortness of the program; it’s very compact.”

Additionally, Paul added that he sits on an advisory board for the program, which allows Lockheed Martin to provide timely feedback on what’s needed in the industry at that moment, and that our AST program often quickly adjusts to those changes.

“It’s a win win for us to be able to influence the program and then hire from it,” he said.

Kvaal also heard from student Torrell Wright, a residential maintenance technician student, who was about to graduate from the 10-week program the next day. Torrell, who learned about the opportunity on Facebook and also from a relative, has had five job offers so far. Before the program, Torrell had been job hopping, and he had started seeking trade opportunities just a few weeks prior to seeing our AST program on Facebook.

“To be completing this program tomorrow; it’s amazing,” Torrell shared with Kvaal, adding how he loved that this short-term program could lead to a high-paying career.

The group also discussed how the College used more than $200 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants from March 27, 2020, and March 11, 2021, including distributing nearly $117,000 emergency aid to students and using $9.9 million to hire 265 visiting professors to maintain smaller on-site classes to accommodate physical distancing while not reducing overall capacity in courses and programs.