College Update — April 2016

A special message from Dr. Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

Several years ago, I shared with you that I could not recall a busier time in Valencia’s history. Well, today we are busier than ever — and the work is as impactful and authentic as ever. Thank you for all you do. And now a somewhat lengthy update.

1. Poinciana Campus – One of our greatest victories in recent years has been to secure funding for the proposed Poinciana Campus. Last year, we received the first half of funding for the campus. This year, with the strong support of Senator Darren Soto and Representative Mike LaRosa, we received the final round of funding for the campus. We also want to thank Governor Rick Scott for his support and for backing this much-needed campus during three years of appropriations negotiations.

With all the funding in place, we are now scheduled to begin site construction in early May, pending approval from Valencia’s District Board of Trustees. If all goes as planned, I anticipate that we will start building construction in July 2016, and the campus will be open for fall classes in August 2017.

My thanks go to Dr. Kathleen Plinske, who has been instrumental in leading our efforts in Poinciana, and to Jennifer Robertson, who will serve as the executive dean of the new campus. We plan to celebrate with a groundbreaking of the new Poinciana Campus in May, and I invite you to join us for this celebration.

2. Downtown Campus – We are encouraged that the legislature approved $20 million in funding for the University of Central Florida’s proposed Downtown Campus. After some early setbacks, this project is moving forward — and Valencia will have a significant role. Through our partnership with UCF on this project, Valencia will offer the Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees in digital media and health information technology. We are planning to move our culinary and hospitality programs from West Campus — where they have outgrown their current facilities — to a location with new, larger kitchens and classrooms that will be tailored for their use.

Perhaps most exciting, the Downtown Campus will be a demonstration lab for the type of seamless educational ecosystem that we have been advocating — a place where students transition from high school to their first two years of college and then on to earn a bachelor’s degree or enter the workforce.

Thanks to Dr. Falecia Williams who is leading our efforts on the UCF Downtown Campus. We will keep you apprised of changes as we move forward.

3. Legislative budget update – As in years past, the College’s highest priority during the legislative session has been to increase funding for Valencia. Last year, when the state legislature began awarding additional money to high-performing state colleges — much as they have done with the state university system — Valencia was ranked as a “gold college” and earned the highest level of performance funding. We anticipate that we will remain a gold college this year and will receive a well-deserved enhancement to our budget.

I am also happy to report that, over the past two years, we have made significant headway toward equity for colleges whose growth was not funded adequately in the past. We are currently working with the Division of Florida Colleges to determine what Valencia’s allocation from the state will be for the coming fiscal year. Stay tuned for more details on that.

4. VP of Student Affairs – As some of you know, Dr. Joyce Romano has agreed to serve the College in a new role as Valencia’s first Vice President of Educational Partnerships. In this new role, Joyce will work with the Osceola and Orange County school districts to help assure that high-school students are coming to Valencia prepared for college work. Additionally, Joyce will focus her attention on continuing to improve our DirectConnect to UCF partnership — an effort that we are calling DirectConnect 2.0 — so that Valencia graduates are well-prepared to transfer to UCF and are successful after they arrive there.

We are currently searching for candidates to serve as the next Vice President of Student Affairs. We hope to fill the position by early summer. Until the position is filled, Dr. Romano will continue to serve in that role.

5. Strategic Plan – Work continues apace on the College’s Strategic Plan. Planning efforts on our learning initiatives (DirectConnect 2.0, part-time faculty engagement, institutional effectiveness, New Student Experience, online learning) is nearing completion. Following the Big Meeting on Friday, February 5, 2016, and earlier campus reflection sessions, the Strategic Planning Committee noted that three themes related to community impact consistently emerged. What we heard from you is that we need new goals and initiatives in the areas of workforce and the economy, community enrichment and the education ecosystem. Our next step will be to conduct focus groups and interviews in the community to get feedback on these proposals.

As we attempt to bridge the economic and workforce gaps in Central Florida, your feedback is encouraged and valued. I invite each of you to follow the progress of the Strategic Plan on this web page.

6. Retirement Incentive Program – Early this month, we completed the first part of our transition of the Retirement Incentive Program. The first transition group made elections under the program and will retire from the College through Monday, May 1, 2017. While it will take just over two more years for the financial commitment of the remaining transition to show a positive direct financial impact, our intent is to redirect the money that was used to pay retirement incentives back into investments that will support our faculty and staff. Our senior leadership team is currently developing our budgets for the next few years, and this remains at the forefront of our commitment to you as we set our priorities.

7. Changes ahead – I also want to thank the extensive collaboration team who spent months studying online education and plotting a new course for Valencia — as we make systemic changes to online learning at the College. Stay tuned for more details on this new exciting initiative.

And, finally, I want to remind the college community that construction crews will start work on the new Film, Sound and Music Technology Building on East Campus in June. We are excited about the many possibilities that this new building will bring to our programs and to student life on East Campus. I hope you’ll join me in the not-too-distant future for a jam session or a movie screening in this new facility.

At Valencia, we have a history of dreaming big — and turning those dreams into reality. Now, as we prepare to write new chapters in the College’s history, through new campuses and new missions to serve our community, I am immensely proud of your winning work and your dedication to our primary mission — to help every one of our students succeed.

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