Friday, August 20, 2021
A Special Message From Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske
Thank you for a wonderful Academic Assembly and your engagement during the open town halls that followed. As we prepare to welcome students to campus for the fall term, I offer a few takeaways from yesterday:
- Anyone can learn anything under the right conditions. We each play an important role in creating the conditions on our campuses and in our classrooms that enable students to feel a sense of belonging and connection to the Valencia community.
- Faculty Association President and English Professor Michael Robbins so eloquently reminded us to practice patience and kindness with our students as we recognize that many of them may have experienced trauma along their learning journey.
- Please remember to take care of yourself. We have a wonderful Employee Assistance Program (EAP), currently available to both full- and part-time employees, that can help you manage everyday stressors and the anxiety related to the uncertainties and challenges of the pandemic.
- Each of our students lead very real and three-dimensional lives outside of Valencia and they do not leave their identities behind when they enter our classrooms. I shared several of our recent graduates’ stories with you at Academic Assembly, including the story of Donasia Harry. I met Donasia when she reached out to me after being told by her professor that she couldn’t write about the Tulsa Race Massacre because her professor had not heard of it. Donasia did not let this obstacle stand in her way in her pursuit of researching and learning about Black history. For example, she went on to partner with Student Development to create a “Free-ish” podcast series.
I was recently able to connect with Donasia to answer her questions about my approach to leadership and some of my immediate focus areas as a new college president. You can view my conversation with Donasia here.
- We will continue to monitor the changing guidance and fluid conditions related to COVID-19. One thing is certain: the pandemic has given us the opportunity to rethink the ways in which we serve our students, all while prioritizing health and safety on our campuses and providing continuity for students’ learning.
In addition, several of you asked for the full text of Jennifier’s poem, requested the titles of the books I referenced, and commented on the music played before and after the assembly events. Below, I have included links to the poem, the book titles, and the music playlist.
Poem: “Dream Big” by Jennifier O. Collier
In the coming weeks, you’ll hear more about a series of opportunities to learn more about resilience and trauma-sensitivity, including professional development workshops and a common read of “What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.” Stay tuned for more information on signing up to receive a book and participate in the conversations.
I also shared two other books that have informed my thinking on how we can create the right conditions for our students’ learning:
- “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and Adversity”
- “The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma”
Academic Assembly Playlist: https://pandora.app.link/hkhHWBxPQib
A complete summary of Academic Assembly will be included in next Tuesday’s edition of The Juice.
Calling Campaign: One of the ways we can express our deep care for our students is by calling them. Students have told us how much it has meant to them to get a call from a Valencia team member. We invite you to join us in welcoming our new students by participating in our Welcome to Valencia College Calling Campaign. It is our goal to call every new student to welcome them to Valencia, highlight a few key resources available to them, and if necessary, connect them to those resources. No prior experience is necessary to join this effort. We will provide each caller with quick training, an easy-to-use dashboard, and a flexible calling schedule that is unique to each volunteer’s availability. Use this link to sign up!
Serve on the Provost Search Committee: As shared in my College Update on Wednesday, we are moving forward with a new structure for both academic and equity-focused leadership at Valencia. In the next few weeks, we will launch our search for our five provosts to guide our campuses, deans, and faculty in the pursuit of our mission. I invite you to participate in our upcoming leadership search by serving on the search committee. If you are interested, please complete and submit this form by Friday, September 3, 2021.
Each day, I continue to be inspired by the work that you do in support of our students as they pursue their goals. Thank you, to each and every one of you, for your continued commitment, and I welcome you to the fall semester. This is our time.