College Update: Provost Search, Student Affairs Model, and Organizational Changes

A Special Message From Kathleen Plinske, Valencia College President

I hope this message finds you healthy, safe, and well. As I promised in my College Update in August, I write today with updates on our search for provosts, plans for designing Student Affairs for the future, and additional updates to the organizational structure of our Senior Team.

Provost Search
I am pleased to share that our search for five provosts is underway. The new academic leadership structure supported by these five provosts, who will report to Isis Artze-Vega, our College Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, will help position us to meet our bold and ambitious equity-minded Strategic Impact Plan goals. For example, this realignment will create capacity for campus provosts to invest in building deeper connections with the local communities in which each campus is located, to better respond to their unique needs and build new pathways for access. The new structure is also intended to create time for provosts to invest in serving as learning partners with deans and faculty to support the achievement of equitable student outcomes. Moreover, the Provost of the Downtown and Winter Park Campuses will also have special collegewide responsibility for developing and nourishing successful transfer partnerships, including DirectConnect to UCF. Furthermore, the alignment of our full portfolio of career and professional programs will allow us to expand the accessibility and reach of our workforce offerings, ensuring that everyone in our community has the opportunity to achieve economic prosperity.

The search for our five provosts marks a pivotal time at Valencia. We are committed to conducting an inclusive, equity-minded search, guided in part by the recommendations of the Equity Mindedness in the Employee Experience work team. Please consider reviewing the full job description and encouraging individuals from within and outside the College to apply by Monday, October 18, 2021. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information about the interview process and ways to be engaged.

Student Affairs Model
As our new academic leadership structure intersects with the structure of Student Affairs, we also find ourselves at a unique moment in time needing to reimagine our student services delivery model.

Several years ago, well before the pandemic, Valencia developed an Online Learning Plan, which outlined intentional resource investments in technology and training in order to improve the quality of online learning. These investments enabled the College to pivot quickly from a blend of in-person and online classes to an almost exclusively virtual learning environment during the pandemic.

While our Student Affairs team moved from an almost exclusively in-person model to providing almost exclusively virtual services, they did so without a similar investment in resources. They identified ingenious ways to use the tools, technologies, and processes that we had in place, ones that were designed for on-campus interactions, to serve students as best we could in a virtual model.

We have heard their feedback about the complexities of offering both on-site and online student services, as well as their frustrations with the inefficiencies of our systems that were not designed with virtual services in mind. Nevertheless, it is clear that offering both in-person and virtual services will be a vital component of serving students in the future. It is, therefore, critically important to make a similar investment in online student services as we did in online learning.

In September, our District Board of Trustees approved a plan to invest approximately $1.8 million in our Student Affairs service delivery model. This will include hiring an external partner to perform an in-depth business process analysis to understand our current systems capabilities and limitations. The partner will also help us design a Student Affairs model that intentionally supports on-campus and online interactions that is well-supported by technology and based on a culture and practice of equity-mindedness.

We are currently collecting feedback and input from our Student Affairs teams through surveys, town halls, and individual meetings. This work will continue as we identify the best external partner to lead us through an analysis of our strengths and opportunities, to be announced at the October District Board of Trustees meeting.

Updates to Senior Team
Similar to the changes in our academic leadership structure, we have identified several opportunities within our Senior Team where adjustments will better align our work in support of achieving the goals in our Strategic Impact Plan:

  • Vice President for Equity Strategy and Partnerships – Based on the findings of the Leadership for Equity and Opportunity work team, as well as your feedback and input over a series of conversations and town halls over the last several weeks, we will add a Vice President for Equity Strategy and Partnerships. The Vice President for Equity Strategy and Partnerships will be a member of the Senior Team, and their team will include our Assistant Vice President for Educational Partnerships for Equity as well as our Director for the Peace and Justice Institute. In addition to serving as a strategic thought partner as we intentionally design for equity, this new vice president will also serve as a liaison for our community advisory groups and employee affinity groups.

We will plan to post the position in November with a goal of hiring our new vice president by mid-spring. Please stay tuned for opportunities to engage in the search process.

  • Vice President for Institutional Planning and Development and Chief of Staff – At our summer Governance Meeting, our governance councils recommended ways to expand our capacity for strategic work, improve our internal communications, and include more voices in our governance model. Their recommendations included the addition of several councils to align with our Institutional Plans: an Academic Program Council, an Equity Council, and a Student Experience Council. The new councils will be in addition to our already existing Faculty Council, Learning Council, and Senior Team. While I am very optimistic about the possibilities for accelerating progress toward the goals outlined in our Strategic Impact Plan that will be afforded by the intentional coordination between our governance model and our Institutional Plans, I believe that dedicated leadership will be required to benefit from this alignment.

In order to provide this leadership, I’ve asked Amy Bosley to serve in a new role as the Vice President for Institutional Planning and Development and Chief of Staff. Amy is uniquely prepared for this new role as she has served in several capacities in her 21 years at Valencia, most recently as Vice President for Organizational Development and Human Resources, and previously as Associate Vice President for Organizational Development, and as a full-time, tenured faculty member. In this new role, Amy will integrate our planning, governance, internal communications, and resource development efforts to support the attainment of our impact plan goals.

  • Vice President for Organizational Development and Human Resources – As Amy assumes her new role, I’ve asked Carla McKnight to serve as Vice President for Organizational Development and Human Resources (ODHR). I am looking forward to Carla’s expanded leadership role in ODHR, including her partnership in the implementation of recommendations made by the Equity Mindedness in the Employee Experience work teams. Carla has served in ODHR for five years, and also as a full-time, New Student Experience faculty member, as well as a staff member in Student Affairs at Valencia.
  • Vice President for Technology, Research, and Analytics – With leadership for planning and resource development moving to Amy, I’ve asked Brandon McKelvey to serve in a newly constructed role as Vice President for Technology, Research, and Analytics. In this role, Brandon will provide leadership for our technology and analytics teams, including for our Chief Information Officer and our Assistant Vice President of Analytics and Reporting. Much of our strategic work will be informed by data and supported by technology, and I’m looking forward to the closer alignment of these divisions.
  • Vice President for Public Affairs and Advancement – Following the theme of alignment, I’ve asked Jay Galbraith to serve in an expanded role of Vice President for Public Affairs and Advancement, providing leadership for a number of our community and externally facing divisions, including public affairs, marketing, public relations, college events, and the Valencia College Foundation. Geraldine Gallagher, who has served as the President and CEO of the Valencia College Foundation, has announced her resignation; I will be working in consultation with the Foundation board to develop an interim leadership plan. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to Jay directly with any Foundation-related matters.

I appreciate your partnership in helping to re-imagine our organizational structure to best serve our students’ and community’s needs today and in the future. I also look forward to continuing to make progress toward filling many of the faculty and staff positions that have remained vacant during the pandemic.

As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at kplinske@valenciacollege.edu or join me for our next Town Hall meeting on Friday, October 15, 2021, at 10 a.m. via Zoom.

Wishing you a healthy and safe October.

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