By Dani Moritz-Long
Manager of Learning Support Services and Adjunct Professor Michael Blackburn’s favorite part of working at Valencia may come as a surprise because, for him, failure tops his list of reasons he loves his job. Then again, perhaps that makes sense for someone as learning-centered as Michael.
“Being a learning-centered institution, we pilot a lot of initiatives and services to optimize our students’ opportunity to learn,” he explained. “The reality is that this sometimes means that we fall short with our goals/tasks. Working at Valencia, we know that failure CAN be good; it helps us see what doesn’t work, it shines the light on other potential opportunities and it allows us to constantly reevaluate our actions. Without the perspective that Valencia takes on failure, I don’t think we would have the courage to dream up and implement new ideas.”
This unique and positive perspective on failure likely has much to do with Michael’s success, as his primary role revolves around finding new ways to meet students’ needs through learning support services. In his role as adjunct faculty for the New Student Experience, Michael also calls upon his passion for learning to help students grow and make the most of their failures and disappointments.
“Michael brings wit, organization and personality to our team,” Lake Nona Campus Executive Dean Mike Bosley said. “He exceeds all expectations — both on and off campus — and has become a leader among leaders. Michael is the epitome of a Valencia professional and expresses our vision each and every day as he engages with our faculty, staff and students.”
Finding the inspiration to go above and beyond in his role comes easy for Michael, because he fully understands the impact Valencia has on the community.
“I think Valencia signifies hope for and access to better futures,” Michael said. “Valencia offers an opportunity for all students to develop knowledge and skills that match their passions.”
Michael’s passion for learning also extends into his personal life. Always looking to better himself and his family, Michael earned two bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and business management and a master’s degree in instructional design and technology. The father of a 7-year-old daughter, he also uses his free time to create learning experiences for his family.
“We regularly visit zoos, theme parks, libraries, parks and museums,” he said. “Not only do I get to help her grow and learn, but I also get the opportunity to be a kid again.”
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.