Going Downtown – Culinary Arts and Hospitality Faculty Transferring to Valencia’s Downtown Campus

A Message from Falecia Williams, President, West and Downtown Campuses

With Valencia’s School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality to be based on the Downtown Campus, several Valencia faculty members are preparing to serve the Downtown community in a new innovative space specially designed to instruct and inspire culinary students. Below you’ll find a brief introduction of five professors preparing to welcome students to the campus when it opens in fall 2019.

Ken Bourgoin (Culinary Management)

Having served in a multitude of roles over the past 20 years, from part-time instructor to tenured professor, Culinary Management Professor and Culinary, Baking and Pastry Program Chair Ken Bourgoin looks forward to this next chapter for Valencia’s culinary programs. Citing new and enhanced teaching and learning spaces and the opportunity to work in a new community, Ken says this is an exciting opportunity that he knows will benefit Valencia students and the Central Florida community.

“This is a very bold move as a public institution, but also with our partners in being on the map as a great culinary and hospitality destination rivaling the big cities in terms of food,” Ken explained. “Our area is built on making dreams reality. Orlando is about to arrive at big city status where this is the place to work in our industry and eat.”

Mackie Hefka (Culinary Management)

An instructor at Valencia since 2006, Culinary Management Professor and Baking and Pastry Instructor Mackie Hefka’s previous experiences include working for Walt Disney World and establishing a Country Inn with a 50-seat restaurant and off-site catering business. Now, she eagerly awaits her next adventure at the Downtown Campus.

“There are many aspects that I am looking forward to moving to our new campus,” she said. “We have been talking about and designing the new kitchens for so long that to actually see them up and running will be exciting. At the present campus, we have four kitchens, where at Downtown we will have six. Having more kitchens will open the amount of classes available and times. We have students that travel from many areas of the state. At one point, I had students that traveled from the Daytona area and Tampa. Having the campus centrally located will be more convenient for all students. I believe that once we move Downtown we will be able to have more space to have special events, more personal interest classes and greater resources.”

Steven Rujak (Culinary Management)

With 21 years of experience at Valencia and 34 years in the culinary and hospitality industries, Professor of Culinary Management Steven Rujak deeply understands the value the Downtown Campus will bring to Valencia’s School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality. Eager to relocate to the Downtown Campus, Steven says he looks forward to the new campus’ cutting-edge building, updated technology, enhanced equipment, improved teaching spaces and access to the Downtown community.

“This is an opportunity that I know will benefit Valencia students, Valencia College, Downtown Orlando and the Central Florida community,” Steven said. “Orlando has been on the map for years as a number one tourist destination with theme parks and attractions, amazing entertainment and fantastic restaurants. It’s well-deserved that Valencia’s School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality will be on the map as a number one learning and developing center, and arrive at big city status.”

James Inglis (Hospitality and Tourism)

Professor of Hospitality and Tourism and the program chair for Hospitality and Restaurant Management, James’ career includes more than 30 years of experience in hospitality and education. As he prepares for the move Downtown, he eagerly awaits new opportunity. Specifically, he says, “the Downtown move into the new facility will be a game changer for the program and its viability across the community.” Detailing why, he highlights the importance of an updated physical facility, access to new partnerships and proximity to transportation options.

“The physical facility will be world-class and will give the program some great tools to teach with as well as serve as a showcase for the future of hospitality and culinary arts,” he said. I am very excited about the space …  It will foster new partnerships we will have with all the Downtown venues, and that is so exciting too. We have been approached by several hotels and Orlando Brewing to form partnerships for employment and internships for the students … Plus, the new Sunrail train coming from the south with four new stops should make all the difference in getting students and staff to work and school every day. With all the construction on I-4, we are concerned about traffic and parking for everyone, so this is a step in the right direction and something we needed 10 years ago.”

Joanne Goodman (Hospitality and Tourism)

A hospitality and tourism professor the past eight years at Valencia, Joanne boasts a career rich in education and hospitality. Prior to joining the College, Joanne worked with Marriott Hotels for 22 years, serving as a general manager for 13 of those years, before working with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) for six years. While at OCPS, Joanne founded the National Academy Foundation Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Oak Ridge High School.

She now looks forward to bringing her experiences Downtown. “The move is definitely an exciting one,” she said. “I think the collaboration with Disney and the University of Central Florida (UCF) is huge for the students.”

Craig Rapp (Hospitality and Tourism)

A professor since 2004, Craig has enjoyed deep-seated involvement in Valencia’s hospitality program — serving local industry associations, the Valencia Hospitality Society and multiple Valencia committees. As he prepares to move Downtown, he says he looks forward to continuing his involvement in a new space, which will bring renewed opportunity for the program.

“Like so many, I am excited to be moving to our Downtown Campus,” he said. “I think that being centrally located in an urban setting will really enhance our program. The thing I am most excited about is how the new facility will allow us to make enhancements to our existing programs, such as the beverage management and entrepreneurship concentrations or certificate programs. I also think the location will create opportunities to enhance the overall student learning experience through industry partnerships, since we will now be within walking distance to so many different hospitality venues.”

To keep up with the latest developments, follow the Valencia College Downtown Campus Facebook and track the progress using the hashtag #ValenciaDowntown.

*Poinciana Campus will also remain a location for students to participate in the Culinary program, as part of the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality.

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