By Dani Moritz-Long
For Leonard Bass, campus dean, learning support, working in higher education is something of a calling. As someone passionately devoted to driving change through empowering others and advocating for those in need, he’s a natural fit for academia and, more specifically, for Valencia — where we work to break down barriers daily through accessible education.
So, he doesn’t take his responsibilities lightly.
Charged with developing strategic, innovative academic support programs designed to enhance student learning and success, Leonard and his division are constantly hitting the drawing board. From implementing the New Student Experience on his campus to designing a comprehensive early intervention system like CARE, the division works tirelessly to meet and exceed student needs.
Commenting on the inspiration behind these efforts, Leonard explained, “I admire and genuinely like the people I get to work with everyday — from the students to senior leadership. Few institutions give their employees the freedom and support we have to be creative and try new things, and even fewer encourage collaboration at all levels the way we do. At Valencia we have many opportunities to grow as a professional and a person and that has certainly been my experience since starting here five years ago.”
In return, Leonard’s inspired work has been recognized widely, both within and outside of Valencia. Leaders like East and Winter Park Campus President Stacey Johnson describe him as a “consummate professional,” and the fruits of his labor speak for itself.
Outside of the College, Leonard has authored a chapter in Mentoring African American Males, in which he outlines his work building a mentoring program at Montgomery County Community College. In 2015, he and other Valencia team members won first place in Start-Up Weekend’s EdTech Orlando competition for an innovative idea to create a digital learning application (OpenU). Most recently, his work on the SEEUCF program, a full-day immersive experience for Valencia freshmen, was the finalist for the Exemplary Student Affairs Best Practice Award by the Association of Florida Colleges.
He’s proud that his work reflects Valencia’s mission, culture and reputation for excellence.
“I believe we are seen as an institution that values learning over novelty, people over profits and access to degrees that can lead to higher wages,” he said. “In the higher education community, we represent excellence, years of success and serve as a thought leader in our sector.”
But higher education isn’t the only thing Leonard is known for. His charitable work also ranks high among his many accolades.
According to Faculty Developer and Instructional Designer Alex Penn, Leonard would “literally give the shirt off his back for someone and is committed to the success of everyone he is with.” She added, “he is a team player in all aspects of life.”
As such, Leonard actively mentors students and serves on the board of the Covenant House to help homeless youth — all in addition to his commitment to transforming the lives of Valencia students.
In his free time (which he somehow still has), you can find him traveling, training for extreme mud runs, playing the bassoon or coaching his three sons and other youth in baseball and flag football.
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s Values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.