Opportunity and Equity Initiatives: A Collegewide Update

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 

Since its foundation, Valencia College has been committed to extending genuine opportunity in the community through access to higher education. For decades, our working theories have progressed our efforts to align our practices in order to open new doors to all of our students.

Now more than ever, our community needs our commitment to make opportunity real for everyone. For this reason, the central focus of our 2030 Strategic Impact Plan and the lens through which the College will examine its success in all areas is “Opportunity and Equity.”

Opportunity is the promise that Valencia will include all in a chance to pursue College (access), to complete a meaningful education and credential (graduation), to earn a bachelor’s degree (transfer) and to find a career path to economic mobility (workforce). Equity in each of these areas is the test of the legitimacy of these promises and a commitment to invest in efforts to redress historic disenfranchisement and racism.   

Valencia College cannot achieve its mission of opportunity and equity unless we address systemic inequities in all of our work and culture. For this reason, in October 2020, Valencia College President Sandy Shugart commissioned the following equity initiatives to evaluate our current processes and develop recommendations for equity-minded practices in four key areas:

School of Public Safety: Curriculum Review, Redesign and Training
Chair: Jeff Goltz, executive dean, School of Public Safety

A diverse task force — with representation from the agencies, the community, our Peace and Justice Institute, and faculty and leadership from the School of Public Safety (SPS) — has been reviewing and assessing the education and training at Valencia’s SPS to identify deficits in the curriculum and make recommendations to change the occupational culture of policing in Central Florida.

Valencia Safety and Security: Training and Development
Chairs: Loren Bender, vice president, business operations and finance, and Paul Rooney, assistant vice president, operations

The Safety and Security Training and Development work team has been charged to develop comprehensive plans for safety and security to help everyone on our campuses know they are welcome, belong at Valencia, and that this is a safe place for all. Valencia’s safety team has already implemented improvements in its training for equity, cultural competence, diversity and inclusion. The charge also includes the development of comprehensive plans to ensure commitment in the leadership structure of the Safety and Security department.

Organizational Development and Human Resources: Policy and Practice Review and Redesign

Chairs: Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, and Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs

A work team focused on developing and integrating equity mindedness in the employee experience has been actively reviewing current practices to develop recommendations for equity-minded practices in key areas including talent acquisition (recruitment, selection, promotion), talent activation (employee and faculty development, employee onboarding) and talent retention (annual evaluation processes and awards/recognition).

The team is also working to produce a definition of equity mindedness as an essential competency for all employees and producing an insight paper on Valencia College’s demographic composition, trends in diversity over time in hiring and promotion, and gaps/concerns for review.

Leadership for Equity and Opportunity: Infrastructure Design

Chairs: Amy Bosley, vice president, organizational development and human resources, and Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs

The Leadership for Equity and Opportunity Infrastructure Design work team is currently developing a set of well-researched options, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each, for leading equity work at Valencia. The work team will produce a brief on these options to assist our next college president in selecting a model for equity leadership that will be best aligned with the College’s equity goals and objectives.

Each team has been diligently working to fulfill its charge and ultimately ensure that opportunity is real for everyone at Valencia.

Deepening Our Opportunity and Equity Initiatives
Conversations and collaboration between different areas of the College regarding Opportunity and Equity shed light in other important areas of our work and sparked new initiatives and work teams.

Black Male Initiative
Chairs: Melvin Middleton, evening/weekend manager, West Campus, and Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs

The Black Male Initiative work group is developing a brief that synthesizes the research on Black male student success, describes models for Black male initiatives at other institutions and curates existing sources of data regarding the Black Valencia male student experience.

Focused Inquiry Team on Equityminded Practice
Chairs: Shara Lee, campus director, faculty and instructional development, and Marsha Butler, faculty, New Student Experience

The goal of this Focused Inquiry Team is to support the curation of current work that may inform a collegewide definition of equity-minded practices and to better understand what data may assist in monitoring our progress.

Demographic Data Collection and Use
Chairs: Daryl Davis, assistant vice president, analytics and reporting, Ryan Kane, assistant vice president, equity and access, and Edwin Sanchez, assistant vice president, admissions, records and graduation

The Demographic Data Collection and Use work team is currently completing research in order to recommend a consistent set of demographic choices in applications for students and employees that allows individuals to more accurately describe their identity, enable the College to more effectively disaggregate and describe our data, and allow the College to remain compliant with state and other reporting of demographic information. In addition, the team will recommend a set of demographic data use guidelines to allow consistent and appropriate use of the data for internal and external needs.

Additionally, and as we continue the work of these Opportunity and Equity Initiatives and progress the work of our Strategic Impact Plan, the Equity Plan Work Team has been tasked with developing the plans that will inform our Impact Plan goals.

Continuing Our Equity-minded Work and Communicating Our Progress
In an effort to ensure you have the most updated information on the progress, findings and experiences of each work group and the Equity Plan work team, a new series of articles, featuring a different area of our equity work, will be published in The Grove on a bi-weekly basis. In addition to these articles, you are invited to reference the Opportunity and Equity Initiatives at Valencia Work Document, which codifies our existing equity initiatives. This dynamic document was created to be a live resource that will evolve through successive updates from each work team and will be expanded and revised as needed.

Make sure to read your Juice e-newsletter and look for the Opportunity and Equity series. As an additional resource, all equity-related articles can be accessed by clicking on the “Opportunity and Equity” topic on the sidebar of The Juice or under “Explore these topics” in The Grove.

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