Featured Colleague: Michael Blackburn Shares the Value in Failure

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. 


  • Nichole Segarra said:

    Michael is a wonderful colleague and friend. We are so fortunate to have him at the Lake Nona Campus!

    PMTue, 18 Apr 2017 20:04:39 +0000Tue, 18 Apr 2017 20:04:39 +0000pm17,8:04 pm

  • respiratorycareblog said:

    It's been a pleasure working with you Michael. Valencia is lucky to have a dedicated individual like you helping shape the student experience.

    PMTue, 18 Apr 2017 20:13:15 +0000Tue, 18 Apr 2017 20:13:15 +0000pm17,8:13 pm

    • Michael Blackburn said:

      Thank you, Jamy. It was a pleasure getting to work with you through Prototype!

      AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 10:52:17 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:52:17 +0000am17,10:52 am

  • Jonathan Lair said:

    Congrats to Michael! He adroitly manages learning support services at LNC. He is an incredibly supportive administrator dedicated to maximizing student learning. It is a pleasure to work with him (even though he's a Jaguars fan and even has their colors on in the pic!)

    PMTue, 18 Apr 2017 21:38:30 +0000Tue, 18 Apr 2017 21:38:30 +0000pm17,9:38 pm

    • Michael Blackburn said:

      Thank you, Jonathan. I'm excited that you will be working at the Lake Nona Campus full time now!

      AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 10:53:19 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:53:19 +0000am17,10:53 am

  • Leonard Bass said:

    Well deserved recognition Michael! Kudos!

    PMTue, 18 Apr 2017 22:45:20 +0000Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:45:20 +0000pm17,10:45 pm

    • Michael Blackburn said:

      Thank you, Leonard. I'm happy that you were able to be part of the Prototype program this year!

      AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 10:54:41 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:54:41 +0000am17,10:54 am

  • Gwendolyn Noel said:

    Congratulations Michael! You are a great person to work with and I appreciate how you were always willing to help me when I started at Lake Nona and continual help to the staff at Lake Nona and college-wide. Well deserve!

    AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 08:13:24 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:13:24 +0000am17,8:13 am

    • Michael Blackburn said:

      Thank you, Gwen. It was (and still is) a pleasure to work with you at the Lake Nona Campus!

      AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 10:55:48 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:55:48 +0000am17,10:55 am

  • Mike Bosley said:

    So proud to have Michael on our Lake Nona Campus team!

    AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 08:22:04 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:22:04 +0000am17,8:22 am

    • Michael Blackburn said:

      Thank you, Mike. It's been a pleasure working with you at the Lake Nona Campus and learning from you on a daily basis!

      AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 10:57:45 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:57:45 +0000am17,10:57 am

  • Daisy Hidalgo said:

    Congratulations Michael! Wonderful to see an excellent colleague and friend featured. Working together at LNC was great and it's definitely well deserved recognition for all of your hard work!

    AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 09:31:44 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 09:31:44 +0000am17,9:31 am

    • Michael Blackburn said:

      Thank you, Daisy. It was a pleasure working with you to create our LNC Library!

      AMWed, 19 Apr 2017 10:58:56 +0000Wed, 19 Apr 2017 10:58:56 +0000am17,10:58 am

  • Karen Cowden said:

    Thank you for your professionalism, humor, and wisdom. I always feel in good hands when you are around, and we are lucky to have you at VC!

    AMThu, 20 Apr 2017 09:47:59 +0000Thu, 20 Apr 2017 09:47:59 +0000am17,9:47 am

  • Samanta Matadin said:

    Thank you, Michael. It has been a pleasure working with you on the East Campus! Congratulations on your recognition.

    PMThu, 20 Apr 2017 17:28:03 +0000Thu, 20 Apr 2017 17:28:03 +0000pm17,5:28 pm

  • Alex Penn said:

    Congratulations, Michael! Great to see you being recognized as a "Featured Colleague!" You are a true professional and representative of what Valencia stands for.

    AMWed, 03 May 2017 09:43:05 +0000Wed, 03 May 2017 09:43:05 +0000am17,9:43 am

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