Featured Colleague Michael Robbins Helps to Shape Valencia’s Future

Monday, October 18, 2021

By Jennifer Keefe

Faculty Association President Michael Robbins says his life was “pretty boring” before he started teaching full time at Valencia. He was working at a prominent Orlando-area law firm and getting ready for law school when he says he “immediately threw out his LSAT prep book” upon learning he’d been hired as a tenure-track English professor in 2010. Teaching, he says, was really his first true love.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” he explains. “This is what I feel most comfortable doing.”

Michael first joined the College in 2008 as a part-time faculty member teaching English. Michael says he was teaching at three different Valencia campuses at once. He recalls, “I was one campus away from getting my Bingo card punched. But I keep getting further away from my goal of teaching at every campus because they opened Downtown and soon we will have Horizon West.”

Then, in 2010, he settled into his full-time role on the Osceola Campus until 2016, when he was selected to be one of the founding members of the Poinciana Campus.

These days, Michael is teaching less and doing more, though. As this year’s Faculty Association president, he’s working as a facilitator and working to understand the needs of the College’s faculty.

“The job of Faculty Association president is to understand the faculty voices and represent those voices to the leaders of the College,” he says. “I’m not looking for consensus. I want to get a good idea of what different parts of the College are thinking and portray that to our leadership.”

At the Poinciana Campus, Michael is a bit of a legend. Executive Dean Jennifer Robertson describes him as “not just an English professor, he’s a leader in every way and I’m extremely proud of all that he has done for the faculty, staff, and students at the Poinciana Campus.” Jennifer recalls that Michael was the first full-time professor hired for the campus.

And since then, he’s worn many hats.

“He has been instrumental in the work done with faculty onboarding, peer mentoring, tenure-track faculty development, writing across the curriculum and many other initiatives,” Jennifer says. “Even with his collegewide role, Michael is still teaching a couple of classes, something he says he’s doing to stay connected to our students.

Michael says there are many things he likes about working for the College.

“I like that we accept that perfection is not the goal,” he shared. “I’ve seen a lot of institutions that strive to be perfect. We are striving to meet learning outcomes and meet the needs of students.”

Michael tells his students that making mistakes is part of learning. One dream he has is to get rid of the hierarchical grading scale because the way he sees education is that it is “about growth and development” and not about one student being better at something than another. For him, the College represents the opportunity to create a more educated society. He also really enjoys teaching service learning classes because they allow students to learn and gain and understanding of their community and is really proud of the work he’s done as a co-advisor to the Valencia chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

Something fun you might not know about Michael is that, before they met, he, and his significant other Holly actually competed for the same English professor position without knowing it. She now teaches at East Campus.

Michael is an avid reader and an avid gamer, and he enjoys listening to music. He refers to himself as a “super nerd.” Despite his bubbly personality at work, when he’s off campus, Michael says he’s very much an introvert.

When he is alone, he tends not to speak to others, he says. The longest he has ever gone without speaking to anyone else is three weeks.

Within the past few months, Michael also adopted a 10-year-old Siberian cat named Jillian. The irony for this English professor is that Michael is actually allergic to cats.

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.

 

3 Comments

  • Paul Wilder said:

    Great work, Michael!

    PMTue, 19 Oct 2021 17:53:35 +0000Tue, 19 Oct 2021 17:53:35 +0000pm21,5:53 pm

  • Stanton G Reed said:

    Michael thank you for your knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment.

    PMTue, 19 Oct 2021 20:53:33 +0000Tue, 19 Oct 2021 20:53:33 +0000pm21,8:53 pm

  • Karen Murray said:

    I'm confident that Jillian is worth the sneezing.

    PMWed, 20 Oct 2021 16:43:05 +0000Wed, 20 Oct 2021 16:43:05 +0000pm21,4:43 pm

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