College Update — November 2018

A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

As the holidays approach at light speed, I wanted to share just a few items by way of update with you.

Student Outcomes Work
I am pleased to share that progress continues related to our student outcomes work. Many of you will remember that Dr. Kathleen Plinske, our executive vice president and provost, shared a draft of proposed student outcomes objectives at Academic Assembly that were developed by our Executive Council over the summer. After more than 300 faculty and staff provided feedback on the draft student outcomes objectives at campus forums in September and October, Faculty Council has formally endorsed the following revised objectives to be included in Valencia’s Five-Year Impact Plan:

  • Graduation Rate: The five-year disaggregated graduation rates for first-time-in-college (FTIC), degree-seeking students of each race/ethnicity will exceed 50% so that more than half of all FTIC, degree-seeking students of each race/ethnicity who first enroll at Valencia in the Fall 2025 term will complete an associate degree from Valencia by Summer 2030.
  • Academic Momentum: As a leading indicator of Valencia’s graduation rate, more than 75% of all FTIC, degree-seeking students who first enroll at Valencia in Fall 2021 will earn at least 15 college-level credit hours by Summer 2023.
  • Early Course Success: As a leading indicator of Valencia’s graduation rate, more than 50% of all FTIC, degree-seeking students who first enroll at Valencia in Fall 2023 will earn all attempted credit hours in their first five courses at Valencia as defined by earning an A, B, or C in each course.

Over the last month, many of you have engaged in efforts to identify conditions that affect student learning and student outcomes at Valencia. In fact, more than 600 ideas were submitted by faculty and staff at campus forums and through an online form. These ideas will help inform our next steps in the development of strategies to reduce the gaps in performance among students of diverse backgrounds. More details will be shared next week in Dr. Plinske’s monthly Provost Update, including opportunities to become more deeply engaged in the work — stay tuned.

Downtown Campus Progressing
The joint campus for UCF Downtown and Valencia College Downtown is making tremendous progress. Recently, we celebrated the placement of one of the final beams on the top of Dr. Phillips Academic Commons and the capping of the student housing building, UnionWest at Creative Village, as notable construction milestones and symbolic representations of the students, faculty, staff and community members committed to improve countless lives through education. Our Downtown Campus webpage and student indicator on the college application are active, and several hundred new applicants have already identified the Downtown Campus as their home campus. While our joint community engagement efforts in affordable housing, health and wellness, safety, employment and education continue to be codified in grants awarded to UCF by the Helios Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and Florida Blue, we have deliberately ramped up our focus on student outreach at Jones, Edgewater and Boone high schools. Faculty and staff hosted Valencia Week at each school to provide deep exposure to students and families in financial aid literacy, application and enrollment processes, and academic preparation. Meanwhile, the College is executing an agreement to lease industrial space just south of the Marriott Hotel, where accelerated skills training classes in construction, mechatronics, and transportation and logistics will be offered beginning next spring under a state grant. We’re thrilled to have so many of you, our community members and our partners join us in the countdown to Downtown.

Poinciana Campus One Year Later
This August, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Poinciana Campus. More than 1,500 students are enrolled this fall at the Poinciana Campus, 75 percent of whom self-identify as African-American, Black or Hispanic, mirroring the demographics of the surrounding community. The Poinciana Campus provides critical access to higher education for a community that has historically been underserved and has had one of the lowest college-going rates in our region. The addition of the campus was an important strategy within our portfolio of  “Got College?” efforts. These efforts have led to an increase in Osceola County’s college-going rate by more than 20 percent since 2010, when Osceola’s college-going rate ranked 61st of the 67 counties in the state; the college-going rate of students graduating from Poinciana High School is now nearly double what it was in 2010.  Kudos to the Poinciana Campus team for lifting the aspirations of the community and making the dream of access to higher education a reality.

Leadership Changes in Academic and Student Affairs
Next week, three finalists for the position of vice president of Academic Affairs will participate in on-campus interviews. You are invited to participate in these open forums that are scheduled from 1-2 p.m. on Monday, November 26; Tuesday, November 27; and Thursday, November 29, 2018. The forums will be held at the West Campus in Building 11, Room 330 and will also be livestreamed. If you cannot attend the forums or watch the live videostream, you can view a recording of each forum online. You are also invited to provide your feedback about each candidate using this online feedback form.

Dr. Kim Sepich, our vice president of Student Affairs, has shared that she will return to North Carolina at the end of December. While we appreciate her contributions to the College and will miss her deeply, we are happy that she has the opportunity to join her husband, who recently accepted a new job there. As we prepare to begin a search for our next vice president of Student Affairs, we have asked Dr. Sonya Joseph to serve as interim vice president for Student Affairs beginning Monday, December 3, 2018.

Dr. Linda Herlocker has recently been named vice president of Student Affairs at Florida State College at Jacksonville. We congratulate her and wish her all the very best in her new role. We have asked Mr. Edwin Sánchez to serve as interim assistant vice president of Admissions and Records. We anticipate beginning a search for the position later in the spring.

Disney Aspire
The Walt Disney Company has launched a new educational program for all its U.S. hourly employees called Disney Aspire. All eligible employees who pursue an education through the Disney Aspire program will have their tuition, fees and books paid by The Walt Disney Company. Disney has partnered with a third party, Guild Education, to manage the program and provide front door coaching and advising to Disney employees in pursuit of their career goals and aspirations. Valencia has become a member of the Guild network of institutions to enable Disney employees to access our degrees and certificates. The program launched officially on Monday, November 19, 2018, at Walt Disney World, allowing eligible Disney employees to begin enrolling at Valencia. In addition, there has been much interest by Disney employees in our Continuing Education ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) program and also by Disney leadership in holding ESOL classes onsite at Walt Disney World. We are very excited about this opportunity to work with Disney, a very important partner in our work. If we can manage to exceed their expectations and make the Aspire Program successful, we may well be a part of a sea change in the way employers in our region invest in employees, especially those employees who most need the opportunity to grow.

Affordability Policy
Responding to a white paper on college affordability and debt, the Board of Trustees adopted a new policy, named Educational Affordability (Policy 6Hx28:1-12), in its October meeting. The paper is available for you to read here. The thrust of the discussion and policy are that Valencia, already a remarkably affordable college, can be a part of the solution to the barriers presented by escalating tuition and debt at other institutions. With this in mind, last month the District Board of Trustees approved this new policy to formalize Valencia’s commitment to educational affordability as a design principle in the development of College budgets, programs and services, and as a measure of institutional effectiveness, along with other measures of access, learning, success and completion.

Each year, Valencia College will perform an affordability assessment — a rigorous internal analysis of the real cost of a Valencia education and its impact on the students we serve. The assessment will follow trends in Valencia’s costs over time and highlight any notable programs, initiatives or accomplishments of the College from the prior year that contributed to educational affordability. An Affordability Report will document each year’s assessment, and the report will be presented to the District Board of Trustees and published on the College website.

Banner 9 Conversion
On Monday, November 5, 2018, we successfully migrated to Banner 9. Changes to the underlying Oracle technology required us to make this move prior to Monday, December 31, 2018. While most of the changes were behind the scenes, the Banner forms previously used by more than 3,000 of our faculty and staff members received a new look and feel. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) partnered with Student Affairs, Organizational Development and Human Resources, and Finance to identify those impacted, communicate the change and provide training materials and assistance. For the best performance, we have learned that Google Chrome should be used with Banner 9. Additionally, we have found that while Chrome is the recommended browser for Banner 9, Internet Explorer is recommended for our Banner Document Management System (BDMS). OIT is working with partners across the College to test a solution for this challenge. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of our staff throughout the College, we have completed our transition well in advance of our deadline. Please join me in thanking Patti Smith, chief information officer, and the OIT team for their extraordinary leadership in this important project.

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