Thursday, May 28, 2020
A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President
I hope you are thriving in this new work environment, making the best of it for a while longer, and that another college communication won’t be burdensome to you. I thought, however, it was time for a routine update … well, maybe not so routine.
I can’t tell you how impressed and grateful I am at the rapid response to the health crisis and pivot to online courses and remote services you all accomplished for our students. Thank you. More than 4,000 classes were moved online in less than two weeks along with tutoring, advising, financial aid, business services and nearly every other operation at the College.
We started nearly every meeting during this time by reminding ourselves that we have two clear goals: 1) to protect the health and safety of our community, and 2) to ensure continuity of learning for our students. I think the results are remarkable. Even with the introduction of a whole new “no fault” course withdrawal process and the pandemic raging, our spring course success rates (A, B, C or S+ grade) remained consistent with 79% of students earning a passing grade. Some 6,986 students elected the R20 plan — allowing them to withdraw with no penalty and retake, most at no cost. Of these, 71% continued in the summer term. This a major accomplishment that will enable many more students to continue learning and progressing toward their degrees.
Immediately on the heels of the conversion of the spring term, the entire summer schedule was redesigned to be nearly entirely online and accessible to both the existing students from the spring term and to those newly out of work and seeking to improve their education. As we have been expecting in time of growing unemployment, our enrollment has grown dramatically — summer term is up 17.4% in credit hours and 10.6% in headcount, meaning there are both more students and they are taking heavier loads. It is a sign of our commitment to access and academic momentum, and a tribute to the great collaboration among our deans, discipline coordinators, program chairs and faculty members to create a schedule that can accommodate such growth, a feat that will need to be repeated in the fall term.
2020-2021 Budget and CARES Act Funding
Yesterday, the District Board of Trustees approved the main features of a budget for the coming year and the College’s plan for utilizing federal funds for emergency relief to students (CARES Act funds). In spite of some shaky state funding and the anticipated loss of some international student fees, the hawse have built a solid budget to support our growth. The key features of the budget include:
- Enrollment growth contributing 5% more revenue;
- No increase in tuition rates (seventh year in a row);
- Some loss of international students in the near term;
- Continued support of online development and learning;
- Compensation increases for all employees;
- Tenured and tenure track faculty will receive a step increase plus a 1% adjustment to the baseline; and
- All other eligible full-time and part-time faculty and staff members will receive a 2.5% increase, except for the senior staff (me, the campus presidents and vice presidents), who asked not to be given raises this year. Employees at or above the maximum of the pay grade will receive a lump sum payment equivalent.
- Important initiatives will continue to be supported.
Much more detail will be forthcoming on the budget, and the board should approve the final budget in June. Meanwhile, in the next couple of weeks, there will be several Budget Town Hall meetings to explain the budget and what it is meant to accomplish. You are all invited to attend, virtually, of course.
The board also approved our plan for distributing nearly $14 million in emergency relief funds to eligible students. Next week, all eligible students will be notified for the first round of applications and funding. Eligible students will receive $750 to help offset the costs of disruption to their education by the pandemic. More details can be found in the CARES Act Emergency Student Aid Disbursement Plan.
Fall 2020 and Plans for Reopening
You may hear about other colleges’, universities’ and organizations’ plans to reopen. Our plans are being shaped by collaborative design teams on course scheduling for the fall term and what we are calling our Roadmap to Reopening. In both cases, Valencia is taking a conservative, science-based, learning-centered approach that will minimize health risk and future disruptions to learning. You can expect to hear much more on this on or around Monday, June 15, 2020.
Again, let me express my thanks to you all for making Valencia such an amazing, mission-centered place of learning. We may feel, sometimes, that our “ship” is in a heavy storm with all the waves of change we’ve had to absorb. Don’t fret. We will more than weather the storm. We have a place on the horizon toward which we are all sailing. We’ll never lose sight of it.
Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do to support each other and our students.