Featured Colleague: Melvin Middleton Jr. Uses Dissertation Research to Support Black Male Student SuccessShare
Monday, August 2, 2021
By Wendy Jo Moyer
Melvin Middleton Jr. has a multi-faceted role at Valencia. As the evening and weekend campus manager on the West Campus, he provides evening and weekend academic, administrative and operational support for the campus to ensure safe, efficient and effective operations, and coordinates with academic departments, campus technology services, student services, facilities, security and others for effective campus operations.
However, like many, the pandemic has caused some of this work to be placed on hold.
“As a result, I have had the opportunity to support other areas of the College as needed,” he explained. “I also continue to spend time on my campus as an administrator on duty. This allows me to support faculty and students who have continued to be a part of face-to-face classes.”
He’s also focused his time on a project that he says is near and dear to him — co-chairing the Black Male Initiative work group, which was dedicated to developing a brief that synthesized the research on Black male student success. The brief includes examples of successful models of Black male initiatives at other institutions, curates existing sources of data regarding the Black male student experience at Valencia and outlines recommendations for implementation of a collegewide Black Male Initiative.
“Our team is working to provide recommendations to the College for improving educational outcomes for Black males at our institution through targeted academic and socioemotional supports,” he explained.
In his expanded role, he is working a with a team of staff and administrators to create a Dean 101 Canvas course to orient new academic deans to their duties and responsibilities, and he developed a menu of course options to allow working adults the ability to obtain a degree exclusively during evening.
Melvin, a seasoned educator with more than two decades of experience working with students from kindergarten to graduate school, is also a part-time instructor in Valencia’s Educator Preparation Institution program. The program is designed for individuals who want to teach but hold a bachelor’s degree in an area other than education. This alternative certification program fulfills the Professional Education Competence Program and Professional Preparation Coursework requirements necessary for earning a Florida Professional Educator’s Certificate.
Melvin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University and professional educator certifications in elementary teaching and leadership in the states of Florida and South Carolina, is especially proud of earning a doctorate’s degree in education leadership and administration from Florida State in spring 2021.
“Since returning to Valencia, I completed and successfully defended my dissertation, completing a seven-year odyssey to become Dr. Middleton,” he exclaimed. “What makes the accomplishment even sweeter is that I have utilized much of my research as I lead the Black Male Initiative work group,” as his dissertation is titled “The Lion Speaks: Utilizing Narrative Inquiry as a Tool for Illuminating the Stories of Black Men who Lead Black Male Initiatives.”
Melvin enjoys working for Valencia College because of its focus on equity, opportunity and self-care.
“I love that leadership cares about the wellbeing of its employees by placing emphasis on respect, dignity and equity for all employees regardless of position in the organization,” he shared. “Employees who feel valued and respected stay and are happy to come to work each day.”
He added, “There is a focus on self-care that is manifested in benefits, such as the time off provided in the summer and in the approach taken as it relates to staff having a voice in return to campus in the midst of the pandemic. Simply put, Valencia has established a culture in which caring for its employees is a priority. In as much as we are here for the students, the College sees the importance of taking care of its employees, who then take care of the students.”
Melvin also appreciates that Valencia signifies opportunity for the community.
“With such as diverse array of programs, with completion times of week/months for certificates, to the standard associate and bachelor’s degrees, everyone seeking to improve their lives can find a program that works for their professional goals,” he explained. “Valencia is improving lives, which translates to improving families, which translates to improving communities.”
When not at Valencia, Melvin — a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. — enjoys traveling, especially to the crystalline waters and white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. He’s also been involved with community theater, both on stage and behind-the-scenes, for decades. In fact, he once considered getting a master’s degree in theater or theater education. A strong proponent of mentoring, Melvin is going into his third year as Horizon Scholars mentor and looks forward to watching his mentee graduate high school at the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for at least one year? 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.