By Joy S. Jones
Paul Rooney serves as Valencia College’s assistant vice president of safety, security and risk management. In this position, he manages a $3.9 million operating budget and oversees areas of risk management, compliance and security collegewide.
“Many initiatives have been implemented with the support from Paul’s team for a safer community,” said Michelle Sever, director of employee engagement. “He and his team are a wonderful resource and important partner to the Valencia community.”
Since assuming the role in February 2014, he has completed the College’s emergency plan; implemented a bike patrol; enhanced faculty and staff emergency response training including the Run, Hide, Fight concept and Response to an Active Threat training; improved video camera surveillance, signage, traffic flow and alerts; and enhanced the security presence on all campuses. In addition, emergency kits for each campus that include digital cameras, flashlights, maps, building plans, first aid equipment, rubber boots and other items have been prepared and delivered to all campuses for use in the event of a major disaster such as a tornado or hurricane.
Presently, he is co-chairing with Tracey Olsen-Oliver, director, student development, the College ID task force, an initiative that now requires all faculty, staff, students, contractors and vendors to obtain a Valencia ID. Just last month, Operation VIPER (Valencia Interoperable Partners Emergency Response) was conducted, which deployed the College’s Emergency Response Plan by using real-world threat scenarios to test the College’s capabilities and collaboration with more than a dozen public safety partners in Central Florida.
“You simply will not find a more professional individual with a can-do attitude, who makes everyone feel like they have input to perform their duties better. He is committed to getting the employees what they need to do their jobs and provides the support and trust in letting them get their jobs done,” said Mike Favorit, manager of security, West Campus.
Under his leadership, Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT) is currently being revamped, small-scale training exercises, such as evacuations, have increased in frequency and enhanced incident reporting software has been purchased. Valencia is one of a few colleges in Florida to have high-powered array speakers installed on campuses to aid with emergency communications.
Paul also co-chairs the Behavior Assessment Team (B.A.T.) with Joyce Romano, vice president of student affairs, participates in activities of the Peace and Justice Institute and has made time to mentor an 11th-grade student from Wekiva High School in the Take Stock in Children program.
“Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to work with our youth,” Paul said. “When I was with the Orlando Police Department, we used to conduct summer youth programs where we would take the young adults to theme parks, the state capital, college and university tours and sometimes play sports. This demonstrated to the young adults that officers could be seen in a different light, and they were quicker to relate to us. In the Take Stock in Children program we usually don’t meet our mentees outside the high school setting. However, I was able to help the 16-year-old mentee get hired by Chick-Fil-A. It was something he really wanted, and it was rewarding for me to connect the pieces for him.”
Looking forward to the future, Paul has plans to increase the use of video security cameras collegewide. He is closely watching the Florida legislature’s Guns on Campus bill in 2016, and is poised to develop a plan of action if the bill passes. As the College expands to include the new Poinciana Campus and Advanced Manufacturing Training sites, he looks forward to ensuring that there is proper security coverage at those locations.
Paul urges everyone to stay tuned to the “See Something. Say Something” campaign within the next few months, that is designed to raise the awareness of each employee’s responsibility to report suspicious behavior.
“What I most like about working at Valencia is that we are one big family, and everyone goes above and beyond to assist each other,” Paul said. “We also have the ability to be extremely creative. And I really enjoy interacting with our students. I am constantly reminded how intelligent, gifted and talented they are — commencement is one of my favorite times.”
Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in public administration from Troy State University. He is a 2008 graduate of the 233rd Session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy and a 2012 graduate of the 35th Session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Executive Institute. He completed Leadership Orlando in 2011 and Valencia’s Leadership Development Course PIVOT 360 in 2015. He is a current member of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, FBI National Academy Alumni Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
He and his wife Donna have been married for 28 years and have two daughters.
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.