Featured Colleague: Mark Collins Finds a Home in Education and Valencia

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

By Claudia Zequeira

About decade ago, Mark Collins, dean, social science, walked away from a lucrative and fun career as a master trainer at the McDonald’s corporation to return to his roots in education. The decision proved to be a positive one, as Mark rose in the field consistently until arriving at Valencia two years ago.

“Although I’ve enjoyed all of my careers; I never should have left education. It’s where I belong,” he said.

At Valencia, where he started in 2018, Mark oversees the Social Sciences and Physical Education division on East Campus. One of the largest at Valencia, with a roster of 130 full- and part-instructors, 400 sections and 10,000 seats, the division also straddles disciplines that go beyond the social sciences and include sign language classes as well as physical education courses, among others. Managing all the pieces while placing people first and meeting the needs of faculty, students and other administrators, Mark said, is something he’s proud of.

“This division has had a lot of interim deans,” said Mark. “I think me coming in and being able to provide some aspect of meaningful direction; that’s something I’m proud of. I want us to become a center for teaching excellence.”

Mark is also proud of having co-facilitated Pivot 360, Valencia’s academic leadership program.

“It was one of the best things I’ve done for fun and for development, he said. “It was so much fun working with the team. It was wonderful.”

It is evident from his demeanor and approach that Mark thrives when he’s coaching and, particularly, when he’s surrounded by people, which is also another reason he thinks Valencia is just the perfect fit for him.

“Look, there are lots of good people in the world, but to accumulate so many of them in one place, is just a feat of excellence by choice,” he said. “We are not perfect, but at least we try to be better and help each other … The support, the fun, the great conversations, the willingness to allow me to be me. All of these things conspire to create an environment where good things can happen.”

His supervisor, Wendy Givoglu, interim president, East and Winter Park Campuses, agrees that Mark is “a caring, inquisitive and gregarious member of our East region dean team and strong leader of the Social Sciences division. I have enjoyed working with Mark over the past two years he has been here at Valencia, and it should be noted that he clicked with our team so quickly that we all feel like he has been here longer. I look forward to our continued work together — particularly as Mark, along with Dean of Mathematics Keri Siler, chairs our East Region Equity team, where he has already provided leadership over the past year.  As Mark is also a resident foodie, I also really look forward to breaking bread in person with him again!”

Mark said that, at Valencia, he is most inspired by the possibility of changing lives, one which, more often than not, materializes for him. In addition, he is moved — and impressed — by all the College’s parts.

“What inspires me most sounds kind of corny, but it is the truth,” said Mark. “What inspires me most about Valencia is Valencia. The people. The standard. The imperfections. The desire to excel. The fact that I can call the president or provost and they answer. The fact that the Facilities staff recognizes me and smiles and speaks. My fellow deans who are magical servants, my faculty who make me proud. The students who strive to make it.”

Mark also chose to work and stay here because of what he sees Valencia means to the community: a place for many to realize a better tomorrow.

“I grew up in a single parent household. My mother, my hero, worked tirelessly to afford us the chance to succeed. To her, education was essential,” said Mark. “To me now, I understand her wisdom. We provide more than just learning. We provide the option to vacate obscurity and embrace possibility. When students walk through our door they exercise their right to be more and realize their potential. Our purpose is to make that come to fruition.”

Prior to working at the College, Mark worked as an education and business consultant, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He also once co-owned and managed a Sylvan Learning franchise.

In the field of education, Mark has held various positions ranging from financial aid advisor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh to instructor at the Moser School of Business, Benedictine University and National Louis University, among others. Prior to joining Valencia, Mark also worked as associate dean at the College of DuPage.

Mark has a bachelor’s degree in communication form the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s in leadership and liberal studies from Duquesne University, also in Pittsburgh. In addition, he holds a doctorate in adult education from National Louis University, in Chicago.

In his free time, Mark likes to play Xbox, watch movies and eat and cook. His love of food even took him to a restaurant critique show called “Check, Please!” You can watch Mark’s appearance here.

“My passion is cooking and eating,” said Mark. “I love food and making food. I can cook very well and can grill a full four-course meal on a charcoal (not gas!) grill.”

Know of someone doing great work at the College, 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.


  • Adrienne Mathews said:

    Great highlight! Valencia is fortunate to have you on the team.

    PMTue, 08 Sep 2020 19:34:24 +0000Tue, 08 Sep 2020 19:34:24 +0000pm20,7:34 pm

    • Mark Collins said:

      Adrienne, thank you so much for your kindness and all that you do for us. It is a pleasure to work with you.

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:39:18 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:39:18 +0000am20,10:39 am

  • valenciacollegesignlanguageinterpretationprogram said:

    We have the best dean!! We're happy you joined our team and make our team bigger and brighter. Hmm, BBQ master?? That'll be a fair trade for me and lilmil for the bet you LOST! … js… : )

    PMTue, 08 Sep 2020 20:28:16 +0000Tue, 08 Sep 2020 20:28:16 +0000pm20,8:28 pm

    • Mark Collins said:

      Thanks my special group of life changers!!! And that can bbq can be arranged!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:40:15 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:40:15 +0000am20,10:40 am

  • Marie Vasquez-Brooks said:

    Wonderful spotlight Mark! I am so honored to have been part of the co-facilitated Talla-freekin-hassee group! Thank you for sharing your love for life my friend!

    PMTue, 08 Sep 2020 20:43:19 +0000Tue, 08 Sep 2020 20:43:19 +0000pm20,8:43 pm

    • Mark Collins said:

      It was my pleasure. You are just a delight!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:41:00 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:41:00 +0000am20,10:41 am

  • Saudia Yassin said:

    I am so proud to say that this is my supervisor! Mark has been amazing with leading our SSPE team! This is well deserved and I am happy to see he is being acknowledged for his time here at Valencia and all the great things he is doing! May success follow you throughout your entire journey and thank you for being a mentor to me!


    PMTue, 08 Sep 2020 21:23:25 +0000Tue, 08 Sep 2020 21:23:25 +0000pm20,9:23 pm

    • Mark Collins said:

      Saudia, what a sweet sentiment and message. I value all you do and the joy you bring to our office. Thank you for all you do for our faculty and staff.

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:42:11 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:42:11 +0000am20,10:42 am

  • Paul Wilder said:

    Awesome, Mark! Great job leading us Pivoteers! It was a fantastic journey. Glad you are aboard!

    PMTue, 08 Sep 2020 21:30:05 +0000Tue, 08 Sep 2020 21:30:05 +0000pm20,9:30 pm

    • Mark Collins said:

      Thanks Paul!!! You are the man!!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:42:55 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:42:55 +0000am20,10:42 am

  • Alex Erdmann said:

    Great Feature Mark!

    AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 06:04:46 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 06:04:46 +0000am20,6:04 am

    • Mark Collins said:

      Thanks Alex!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:43:21 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:43:21 +0000am20,10:43 am

  • Nichole Segarra said:

    Mark is so fun to work with 🙂

    AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 09:07:39 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 09:07:39 +0000am20,9:07 am

    • Mark Collins said:

      Thanks Nichole! You are fun and cool! Thanks for putting up with me!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:44:07 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:44:07 +0000am20,10:44 am

  • Angela Mendolaro said:

    Great spotlight of a wonderful colleague! Especially appreciated the video clip of Mark's appearance on "Check, Please!" Thanks for all you do for Valencia, Mark!

    AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 09:25:23 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 09:25:23 +0000am20,9:25 am

    • Mark Collins said:

      Thank you so much Angela!!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:44:52 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:44:52 +0000am20,10:44 am

  • Edna Jones Miller said:

    Awesome feature, Mark! 🙂

    AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:27:04 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:27:04 +0000am20,10:27 am

    • Mark Collins said:

      Thanks Edna!!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:46:03 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:46:03 +0000am20,10:46 am

  • Terri Graham said:

    It's an honor to work with you Mark. You've added such depth and insight to Valencia.

    AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:34:07 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:34:07 +0000am20,10:34 am

    • Mark Collins said:

      Thanks Terri, but the honor is all mine. So very excited for your new opportunity. You have my support and admiration!

      AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 10:48:11 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 10:48:11 +0000am20,10:48 am

  • Lauren Z said:

    Well deserved highlight, Mark!

    AMWed, 09 Sep 2020 11:22:58 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:22:58 +0000am20,11:22 am

  • Carrie Black said:

    Great spotlight and much deserved, Mark! It was wonderful having you as a PIVOT leader.

    PMWed, 09 Sep 2020 13:23:47 +0000Wed, 09 Sep 2020 13:23:47 +0000pm20,1:23 pm

  • Lauren R. Thomas said:

    Congratulations Mark!!! This is so amazing! So glad to work with such talent! #PIVOT360

    PMThu, 10 Sep 2020 18:27:59 +0000Thu, 10 Sep 2020 18:27:59 +0000pm20,6:27 pm

  • Yasmeen Qadri said:

    Congratulations Dean Collins!!
    Its great to know you more at a personal level through this wonderful article about you!

    "Although I’ve enjoyed all of my careers; I never should have left education. It’s where I belong", glad you have returned to your calling and we are together in this mission of producing future teachers that can make a difference in Education and in the community. Thank you for acknowledging us, "my faculty who make me proud".

    Two areas that I felt connected are:

    "My passion is cooking and eating,” and "My mother, my hero, worked tirelessly to afford us the chance to succeed. To her, education was essential,". I agree with both of these values 🙂

    Wish you continued success.

    PMWed, 16 Sep 2020 14:00:39 +0000Wed, 16 Sep 2020 14:00:39 +0000pm20,2:00 pm

  • Jane said:

    This is a great honor!

    PMThu, 03 Dec 2020 18:14:06 +0000Thu, 03 Dec 2020 18:14:06 +0000pm20,6:14 pm

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