By Laura Knight
It’s no wonder that Cheryl Robinson, dean of students at the Winter Park Campus, says that one of her favorite things about working at Valencia is that “no day is typical”– since arriving here in 1997 as a Psychology and Student Success adjunct, she has pioneered projects in various departments that have changed our College in meaningful and useful ways.
After working as an adjunct and then as a career and academic advisor, in 2000 she accepted the position of director of assessment. Not long after beginning her new role, Cheryl recognized the need for updated testing procedures and became an environmentalist by proxy, when she transitioned the College away from paper and pencil tests to computerized testing. During that same time, she convinced Valencia to explore the Internet for testing, instead of the familiar DOS program that was used at the time. She reflects on her experience during that time saying, “Many deans, faculty and staff were skeptical of the ‘new technology’ at the time and now we don’t give it a second thought! It’s been interesting to see the shifts in thinking regarding technology in education in just the last decade and it will be interesting to see the evolution in the next couple of decades.”
Her latest position as dean of students began in 2004, and it has allowed her to coordinate student services on the Winter Park Campus and to work with career program advisors collegewide. Creating great employee teams and getting the right people in the right positions to provide the best service to students is a “highlight of her work.” Cheryl recognized the need to have dedicated staff for our online advising support as part of our commitment to the student experience. She lobbied for positions to support that work and has shepherded it for the past three years. Her efforts have brought one full-time and two part-time staff members on board dedicated to online support.
Cheryl explains that she takes to heart our philosophy that The College is what the student experiences.
Her latest endeavor – the new dynamic online college catalog – exemplifies that philosophy. For the last few years, she has had the pleasure of serving as editor of the college catalog in partnership with Karen Borglum, assistant vice president of curriculum development and articulation. She explains that this role has given her the opportunity to ask questions about policy and procedure, which is helping Valencia to be clear and consistent in our communication with students, faculty and staff.
This perspective as editor also put her in a good position to plan and execute the update to our catalog by getting it online for our students, faculty and staff. Now, processes that were once tedious and outdated are made simple with current technology.
A year in the making, the new online college catalog rolled out in April 2013, and it has been a success. Once again, Cheryl has charged ahead with a great team to get results.
Excited to move onto her next venture, she shares that she will have an active role as a student affairs representative – working on the teams that are contributing to the general education and development implementations that were brought about through Quality Enhancement Plan discussions and Senate Bill 1720 legislation.
Students are not the only ones benefiting from Cheryl’s insight. When asked about how she recognizes the talents of her staff and capitalizes on it for the benefit of everyone, she explains, “I try to get to know my staff members individually and choose projects for them that meet their interests and allow opportunities for growth. I try to recognize their successes and make sure they are thought of for other projects or positions as opportunities arise.”
When Cheryl found out that Kera Coyer, academic and study abroad advisor on the Winter Park Campus, had an interest in international themes, she chose her as Winter Park’s first international designated school official. Now, Kera is also an advisor with the Honors College Track, which is focusing on building global citizens.
She also aided her former staff member, Jonathan Hernandez, on his Valencia journey by supporting his bid to become the Manager of Student Services at the Lake Nona Campus. Jonathan first started working with Cheryl in her department as an assessment specialist part-time while he was a student. At present, he has completed his master’s degree and is in a doctoral program.
Respected by her staff and her manager, Joyce Romano, vice president for student affairs, had this to say about Cheryl’s commitment to the College and its students:
“Over the years, Cheryl has improved student services in many ways due to her keen insight, attention to detail, and absolute commitment to serving students and their success. Everything that Cheryl has touched has been made better through her involvement in it – the current transition to the online catalog is another example of her exceptional contributions to Valencia!”
Cheryl’s work even turns up in the most unlikely places – for instance, she is the voice that callers hear on Valencia’s phone system when calling in and when placed on hold. She truly is the voice of Valencia.
Cheryl has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a master’s degree in Social Work and a doctorate in education with a specialization in curriculum and instruction.
Know of someone doing great work at the college? Send their name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu so they can be one of our featured colleagues!