Academic Assembly Focuses on Inspired Teaching and Uncommon Scholars

academic-assembly-2015-collage-groveBy Joy S. Jones

Academic Assembly 2015 got its start on Thursday, August 27, 2015, with a warm welcome to the nearly 600 faculty members gathered from Maria Grulich, chair, board of trustees. Maria pledged the Board’s support for Valencia, “one of the best educational values in the nation” referring to faculty as “keepers of Valencia’s culture.” Resounding applause followed when she announced that Valencia College President Sandy Shugart was named by “Washington Monthly” one of 10 of the most innovative college presidents in the country.

In her faculty update, Suzette Dohany, Collegewide Faculty Association president and professor of speech, urged faculty to use the time during the assembly to make meaningful connections with colleagues, as she also urged deeper connections with students on an interpersonal level and also with the community at large as we all work collaboratively, collegewide to promote student success and social change. Suzette shared an inspiring PowerPoint of quotes and photos from colleagues who responded to the question, “What do you do for a living?” Each of the responses reflected an abiding devotion to expanding students’ aspirations and options for the future.

Susan Ledlow, vice president of academic affairs and planning, welcomed the 85 new faculty members, while encouraging them to use social media, students’ preferred medium nowadays, in order to better connect with them. Susan shared that social media is a great way to help tell the Valencia story and challenged faculty to share photos from the first week of fall classes by tagging  “first week” photos with #ValenciaCollege and rallying students to do the same. For new faculty photos as well as photo booth photos taken at Academic Assembly, click here. These are perfect to share on social media.

The Innovation of the Year Award winner was announced, the Global Citizen Program team, along with the Action Research Poster winner, Angelica Vagle, professor of chemistry, who highlighted “Improving Students’ Abilities to Understand and Perform Successful Stoichiometric Calculations that Quantitatively Relate a Limiting Reagent and a Product in a Precipitation Reaction,” which was immediately understood by all.

Faculty Association Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Counseling and Librarianship awardees were announced by Carl Creasman, immediate past president, Collegewide Faculty Association and professor of history, and presented by Geraldine Gallagher, Valencia Foundation president. The award is in its second year and of the 52 faculty members nominated, five were named winners.

Sandy Shugart took the stage and introduced a moving commencement video of graduates sharing their most important Valencia takeaways. Said Sandy, “Commencement is the most affirming day of my work,” as he introduced Valencia’s “Uncommon Scholars,” students who succeed at Valencia against great odds.

The president’s reflections focused on the impact of initiatives that were completed during the 2014 – 2015 academic year and included the New Student Experience, unveiling of the School of Public Safety, a new advanced manufacturing site in Osceola, construction of the film and sound and music technology building on East Campus, the growing population of international students, a solid partnership between Valencia and county public schools thanks to college transition coaches and the success of the new governance model. He also shared insights into the year’s legislative session and forward movement of the Poinciana Campus and status of the UCF/Valencia downtown project.

Finally, Valencia’s impact on the community was shared through the engagement efforts of Javier Garces, professor of biology and horticulture, through the Edgewood Children’s Ranch; Olga Vazquez, professor of biology, whose Health Academy at Lawton Chiles Elementary introduces budding scholars to connect with STEM content in unique ways; and Kathleen Plinske, president, Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses, on the Osceola Campus’ partnership with Central Avenue Elementary School.

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