By Chara Young
Undertaking and enforcing the student code of conduct can be a formidable task, especially at a multi-campus college like Valencia. However, this is exactly the work that challenges and inspires Carla McKnight, coordinator of student conduct and academic success on Valencia’s West Campus. For over a year now, Carla has served in this role, and prides herself on “having intentional conversations with students that challenge them to question their past decision-making processes and make better choices in the future.”
What she likes most about her job are the “ah-ha” moments when students recognize “they may have handled a situation inappropriately and are receptive to the possibility of an alternative.” Carla goes on to explain that “it’s that moment of truth, a moment of vulnerability and a moment of growth [that] makes all of the other difficult moments worthwhile.”
A graduate of a community college herself, receiving an Associate of Arts degree from Santa Fe College, Carla has a unique insight and is able to relate to the student experience. Moving from Gainesville, Carla came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida, where she would go on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership, specializing in higher education and policy studies.
Carla has experience in several aspects of higher education, including recruiting, diversity affairs, human resources, student orientation and housing and residential life. For the past five years, Carla has concentrated her efforts in the area of student conduct, and prior to joining Valencia, was a coordinator in the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Central Florida.
Later this month, on January 30, Carla will share her expertise, at our Community College Conference on Legal Issues, held at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. In a presentation titled, One Code, One Standard: Procedural Uniformity in a Multi-Campus Environment, she will explore the difficulty in enforcing policies consistently, college-wide in institutions with more than one campus. Participants will be able to determine how uniformity in process can be maintained while allowing for customized implementation based on campus characteristics.
As for her work at Valencia, Carla shares that many people, like Ty Johnson, dean of students on the West Campus, have inspired her along the way. “His dedication to students, loyalty to the college and commitment to the education of those who truly want it, rates second to none,” she declares, and “feels blessed to sit under his tutelage” as he demonstrates great resilience and makes major contributions to higher education, she is “inspired to do the same.”
Know someone doing great work at the college? Send your recommendation to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu and he or she may be one of our featured colleagues!