College Update: Provost and VP Searches, Student Affairs Design, Mascot, and More

Thursday, November 11, 2021

A Special Message From Kathleen Plinske, Valencia College President

I hope that this message finds you well and in good health. As we commemorate Veterans Day today, I want to express my appreciation to those of you who served in the United States Armed Forces. We are grateful for your sacrifices and service. I am also proud that a number of our students are veterans and that they have chosen to continue their education at Valencia. Please take time today to thank those who have served or are currently serving our country.

In this message, I share an update on our search for provosts and a vice president for equity strategy and partnerships, provide an overview of some expected changes in Student Affairs, and share our students’ interest in reimagining Valencia’s mascot.

Update on Provost Searches

I am delighted to share that we received more than 225 applications to serve in one of five provost roles at Valencia, providing leadership for our campuses and our career and professional programs. More than 160 applicants met the minimum qualifications for the position and reflected an extraordinarily diverse pool.

With so many talented candidates, we have had to slow down our search timeline just a bit. The search committee extended an invitation to participate in HireVue interviews to approximately 70 applicants and is currently reviewing submissions. We anticipate inviting a smaller number of applicants to engage in synchronous virtual interviews with candidates during the week of November 30, followed by candidate visits to our campuses the week of December 6. Please stay tuned for opportunities to engage with our candidates, to learn more about them, and to provide your feedback to the search committee.

Given the timeline, it is possible that we may not be able to conclude the discernment process about our team of provosts before the winter break. We may need to invite finalists back to campus in early January for additional conversation. We will continue to provide updates throughout the process.

Search for Vice President for Equity Strategy and Partnerships

As our provost search process may take slightly longer than anticipated, we will plan to begin the search for our new vice president for equity strategy and partnerships in early 2022. We have been very pleased with the results of the equity-minded practices that we have incorporated into the provost search process and look forward to engaging many of those same strategies in this search. If you are interested in serving on the search committee for the vice president of equity strategy and partnerships, please complete this online form.

Student Affairs Organization

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been engaging our Student Affairs team in conversations about our organizational structure. Since 2014, we have added 90 net new full-time positions in Student Affairs, and our work has grown in complexity, scope, and scale. And, as we continue to imagine our post-pandemic future, virtual student services will continue to be of vital importance, likely constituting the majority of Student Affairs interactions we have with students. This context, in combination with feedback from the team, has led me to believe that it is time to implement a different organizational structure for Student Affairs, one that will allow for greater focus on unique functions within the division, along with a clearer vision for our service model, greater utilization of input from frontline staff, and stronger communication within and across divisions.

While reimagining the campus provost structure was relatively straightforward (by realigning campus pairings), a reorganization of Student Affairs is less clear because of the overlapping and integrated nature of the services that we provide. That being said, based on the feedback that I have received, I believe we would be better served by a model in which our current vice president for student affairs, Joe Richardson, would serve in a reimagined role of vice president for the student experience, with a focus on providing leadership for services largely offered to currently enrolled students (e.g. advising, counseling, student development, career services, support for students with disabilities, conduct).

We would then shift leadership for services largely offered to potential and new students, as well as traditional enrollment services, (e.g. recruiting, enrollment services, financial aid, admissions and records) to a newly imagined role, something like vice president for access, outreach, and enrollment, to Joe Battista. In Joe Battista’s current role, he provides leadership for Valencia’s “front door” for continuing education, language, and international students; I envision his new role providing leadership for the front door to the College. This change will not create new administrative positions, but rather a redistribution of responsibilities.

Of course, in order to move in this direction, there are hundreds of details that will need to be worked out, and further discussions will need to be had about areas that overlap. As we’re entering the peak registration period for Spring, we’ll pause these conversations now and revisit them in January and February, inviting feedback from across the College. We’ll also be partnering with CampusWorks to reimagine many of our processes in Student Affairs and invest in the technology necessary for a hybrid service delivery model. CampusWorks CEO Liz Murphy joined us for our October District Board of Trustees meeting to share information about the partnership; you can view her remarks here. This will allow us to reimagine our processes to create for our students a sense of personal connection that we care so deeply about, while at the same time delivering the level of service and responsiveness that our students and their families expect.

Project TITAN

Please allow me to celebrate the work of the team that led our Technology in the Amazon Network (TITAN) upgrade. This upgrade moved many of our critical technology systems to the cloud, which will allow for enhanced information security and business continuity, as well as position the College for technology innovation in the future. The preparation for the project required meticulous planning for more than a year — kudos to our Office of Information Technology team for leading the work and to our end users who helped test and ensure all of our systems were back online.

Help Imagine Valencia’s New Mascot

On a lighter note, our Student Government Association has asked for an opportunity to reimagine Valencia’s mascot. While Valencia has used the “matador” as its mascot in the past, the matador was unofficially retired when our athletics teams were retired. The matador was officially retired in 2011 when we started celebrating “Spirit Day” in October, rather than “Matador Day.” Our students believe that an identifiable and relatable mascot will help us in our efforts to connect with potential students and to better celebrate student and alumni achievements.

Our student leaders are collaborating with our marketing team, faculty leadership, and alumni team to develop a process by which to solicit ideas for and to select a new mascot. A request for submissions of mascot ideas will be shared on Tuesday in The Juice — be on the lookout for the invitation!

Grad Finale

While it’s hard to believe that the Fall semester is drawing to a close, I am excited that we will be celebrating the achievements of the nearly 3,100 students who plan to complete their degree requirements this Fall. While we traditionally have not had a Fall Commencement ceremony at Valencia, I am thrilled that our Grad Finale event will allow students and their families to celebrate this significant accomplishment in December. If you haven’t yet signed up to be a part of Grad Finale, we’d love to have you join in the celebration! Click here to sign up for the campus on which you’d like to participate.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns. Or, feel free to join me for our next Ask Kathleen Anything on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at 1 p.m.

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