Wednesday, August 18, 2021
A Special Message from Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske
Next week, we have the privilege of welcoming more than 42,000 students to our classrooms while striving to create an inclusive, supportive, and welcoming environment. We do so while continuing to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, grieving with the people of Haiti and Afghanistan, watching wildfires rage and storms churn, and witnessing persisting racial injustice. While next week will not and cannot feel like “business as usual,” I take comfort in knowing that we continue our legacy of focusing on creating the best possible conditions for our students’ learning.
Today, I write to describe our new structure for both academic and equity-focused leadership, and to invite you to participate in our upcoming leadership search process.
Since last spring, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with many of you as we discussed how we might evolve our academic organizational model to meet the needs of our students and community. We developed design principles based on the feedback provided — ones that formed the basis of the new model we shared with hundreds of you who attended several open forums in July. Overwhelmingly, your feedback was positive; so much so that many of you encouraged us to move faster than originally anticipated toward a new structure.
New Academic Leadership Structure
As illustrated above, we will introduce regional provost positions in place of our current campus president roles. Provosts will share both collegewide and campus-based responsibilities for creating the conditions in which our students can learn most effectively. We will realign our campus leadership models to couple Downtown and Winter Park campuses, East and Lake Nona campuses, Osceola and Poinciana campuses, and West and the future Horizon West campuses. A fifth provost for career and professional programs will provide leadership for our current “Schools of …”. So that our full portfolio of career and professional programs is aligned and coordinated for our students and community, over time we will continue investing in our short-term, certificate, Associate in Science (A.S.), Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.), and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs by adding new Schools and realigning Accelerated Skills Training and the School of Public Safety to report to this provost.
Our new provosts will report to Isis Artze-Vega, who currently serves as our vice president for academic affairs; they will also be full members of the Senior Team. 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. We are designing an inclusive search process and welcome your interest in being a part of the search committee. Click the button below to express your interest by Friday, September 3, 2021.
In addition, based on your feedback and the work of the Leadership for Equity and Opportunity work team, I am pleased to share that we will create a vice president-level position for the leadership of our equity strategy. We will also create an equity council within our governance structure and faculty fellow positions focused on equity. Equity is expressed as the core of our mission and is at the center of our 2030 Strategic Impact Plan. Identifying strategic leadership and expertise in this work will be an important cornerstone of our efforts to reach our bold and ambitious goals and become a truly equity-minded organization. I will continue to solicit and reflect on your feedback about this new senior leadership position over the next few weeks as we finalize our plans and begin recruitment later this fall.
As we implement these changes in academic organization and equity leadership, I am also considering how best to align other functions within the College’s structure. The adjustments to our regional structure will necessitate the acceleration of several of these conversations, including, for example, the structure of student affairs and learning support. We will continue these conversations in the coming weeks and your input will be critical in helping us make the best decisions.
By early October, I will be ready to share and begin implementation of the organizational changes outside of academic affairs. I deeply appreciate your patience and trust as we explore options and make choices. I encourage you to remember that organizational models are simply tools to help us organize and structure our work. While I will do my very best to create a system that is responsive to your feedback and is future-oriented, all organizational structures are imperfect. We will need to work together, across, throughout, and within the reporting structures to support one another and ensure that each student can achieve their academic goals.
I am excited about where we are going together and appreciate the time and candor you have shared as I explore Valencia through a new lens as president. I commit to deep listening and bold choices that will allow us to best serve our students and community, both today and in the years to come.
I wish you the best as we prepare for our first day of classes.