Celebrating Educational Advancements — Spring 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022

Valencia College’s recognition program is robust — spanning from career anniversary awards to appreciation badges to the Educational Advancement program.

In the Educational Advancement program, which celebrates non-instructional employees who have been employed in a full-time position for a minimum of six months and who have earned a degree from a regionally accredited institution, the College awards employees a one-time, lump-sum payment, barring any degree that is a required qualification of the employee’s current position. Please note that employees are compensated for only one award per first academic degree earned.

Through this program, the College recognized the following employees for achieving a post-secondary degree:

  • Boris Alemnka, international admissions specialist, Bachelor’s Degree
  • Wilmore Fowler, film production coordinator, Bachelor’s Degree
  • Fernando Guitierrez, technical support specialist, Master’s Degree
  • Sal Navarro, manager, campus operations, Master’s Degree
  • Samantha Pabon, admin assistant, academic affairs, Bachelor’s Degree
  • Britney Pierce, implementation coordinator, peace and justice institute, Master’s Degree
  • Karissa Rodriguez, assistant director, alumni engagement/annual giving, Master’s Degree
  • Marie Vasquez-Brooks, dean, school of allied health, Doctorate Degree (Juris Doctorate)
  • Ashley Whitehead, library services supervisor, Bachelor’s Degree

Tenure-track and tenured faculty who complete the advanced degree process will be placed at the salary commensurate with the advanced degree earned at their current step upon successful completion of their degree. In order to be considered for the salary change, faculty must make sure their course of study is approved in advance by their supervisor and submit evidence of degree completion.

Annually appointed faculty members also receive a salary adjustment commensurate with the advanced degree upon completion of the advanced degree process.

Through this program, the following faculty completed a post-secondary education recently:

  • Karen Owens, professor, humanities, Master’s Degree
  • Trymain Rivero, professor, mathematics, Master’s Degree

Congratulations to these employees for their fantastic achievements. Please congratulate them in the comment section below.

For more information on the educational advancement policy, please refer to College Policy 6Hx28-3C-04 Total Rewards: Recognition of Full-Time Employees for Educational Advancement. For questions, email HR4U@valenciacollege.edu or call the HR4U helpline at 407-582-HR4U (4748).

Join PJI for the Fourth Annual Creating a Resilient Community: From Trauma to Healing Conference

Monday, February 28, 2022

Date: Thursday, April 21 ― Friday, April 22, 2022
Time: 9 a.m – 4 p.m.
Location: Online. Register here.

The Peace and Justice Institute and the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County are hosting the Fourth Creating a Resilient Community: From Trauma to Healing Conference.

This annual conference hosts cutting-edge keynote speakers and convenes participants to explore community wellness, Positive & Adverse Childhood Experiences (PACEs), and trauma-informed practices that can transform our region into one of prevention, hope, healing and resilience for all. 

Keynote speaker Asim Jani, a local epidemiologist, will outline the paradigm shift for creating community resilience and well-being.

Building a resilient, trauma-informed community involves responding to the challenges inherent in all three realms of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) — household, community and environment. By definition, these realms respectively include the broad range of individual, social and climatic determinants of overall health. Looking at existing and emerging problems, regardless of which realm they relate to, involves a paradigm shift on an individual and collective level.

The first interactive day of the conference will introduce three key concepts, especially related to ACEs and the countervailing set of PACEs — salutogenesis, syndemics and systems thinking. These three components are part of the paradigm shift that will enable us to engage in more effective individual and collective level actions for change.

Day two of the conference will be an opportunity to more deeply connect as a community, understand what’s happening in each individual sector, and showcase workshops and best practices to support our community in becoming a resilient, trauma-informed Central Florida.

Participants will have the opportunity to attend sector-specific breakout groups to learn about the goals and work happening in their specific sector of interest (i.e. Health/Wellness, Business, Education, Government, Nonprofit, Faith, Criminal Justice, Public Safety, Child Welfare). Then, conference participants have the opportunity to select from a menu of workshops hosted by community members that will further our community knowledge, skills, and awareness of best practices around the topics of PACEs, Trauma-Informed Care and Resilience.

Employees may use Employee Development Funds (EDF) to cover the conference cost. To use EDF funds, complete the EDF and Travel Authorization forms. To access the forms:

  • Log in to Atlas.
  • Click on the Employees tab.
  • Select Tools.
  • Click on Valencia Forms.
  • Search for the forms, Request for Employee Development Funds and Travel – Authorization for Travel or Absence From Campus.
  • Complete both forms and email to HR4U@valenciacollege.edu.

2022 Conference Scholarships Available
PJI will offer limited scholarships for students and anyone with financial hardship who is interested in attending the conference. Applicants have the option to apply for a 75% discount (for students) or a 50% discount. To apply, please complete the 2022 Conference Scholarship Application by Monday, March 21, 2022.

For more information about this conference, including Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and sponsorship opportunities, click here.

If you have any questions, please email resilience@valenciacollege.edu.

Want To Be a PJI Facilitator? Join the Training Program

Monday, February 28, 2022

Interested in working as a Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) facilitator or simply enhancing your facilitation skills for your career? If so, PJI invites you to apply for Level 1 of the PJI Facilitator Training Program.

This virtual program is a four-session cohort experience over six weeks. During this time, you will be immersed in PJI philosophy and methodology, learning the basic principles and practices that make PJI workshops inclusive and engaging. You will also be supported in bringing your authentic self to the work of community building.

Dates: Saturdays, April 2, April 16, April 30 and May 14, 2022
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
Location: Online via Zoom 

Program Fees: $650. Employee Development Funds may be used for registration costs.

Those interested in becoming a PJI facilitator will have co-requisites that are explained in the application. After completing this training and the co-requisites, these applicants will be eligible to teach two PJI courses: Conversations in Inclusiveness and The Principles for How We Treat Each Other, two of PJI’s foundational and highly requested courses.

Click the button below to apply by Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

For more information, contact Celine Kavalec, professor, English, at ckavalec@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-2345

Spring Break Payroll Update: Overtime and Banked Hours

Monday, February 28, 2022

A Message from Bettie Cooper, Director, Payroll Services 

As we approach Spring Break and you enjoy your time off, please take a moment to review the overtime and banked holiday processes.


Overtime is earned when a non-exempt employee works more than 40.0 hours in a week (Sunday through Saturday). Hours worked include:

  • Coming in early to get a “head start” on the day
  • Staying late to “wrap things up”
  • Working at home before or after work commute
  • Interrupted lunch time
  • Checking emails on the weekend

Overtime must be discussed with your supervisor.

  • The overtime calculation is based only on hours worked. It does not include paid time off (holiday, sick, vacation, personal, summer hours, etc.).
  • A week cannot total more than 40.0 hours if paid time off is included (vacation, sick, holiday, etc.). Paid time off hours would need to be reduced and the corresponding Certificate of Absence (COA) would need to be reversed and resubmitted as necessary.
  • Overtime will be automatically processed from the timesheet as a payment on the next available payroll once the timesheet is in a “Completed” status.

Banked Holiday

Banked holiday is earned if a full-time, non-exempt employee works more than the required number of hours in a week and cannot record the full number of hours granted for holiday.

  • For example, if an employee works 8.0 hours during the week of Spring Break, only 32.0 hours can be recorded for the holiday break instead of 40.0.
  • In this scenario, the employee would have 8.0 hours of “banked holiday.”
  • This time is manually entered into the leave system after a timesheet analysis is done based on a spreadsheet report. This is a time consuming, manual process, so please be patient.
  • Banked Holiday hours are not granted until the timesheet is in a “Completed” status.
  • When it’s used, it’s recorded on the timesheet as Banked Holiday and a corresponding COA must be submitted.

If you have questions, please contact me at BCooper11@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-8100.

Commencement and Grad Finale: Reserve Your Spot and Order Regalia

Thursday, February 24, 2022

We look forward to celebrating our graduates later this spring in our first in-person commencement ceremony since 2019 and by continuing the popular Grad Finale events on campus. We are anticipating a larger than normal turnout as we deliver on our promise to invite 2020 and 2021 registered Graduates to our in-person ceremony.

Our in-person ceremonies will be held on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at the Addition Financial Arena at the University of Central Florida Orlando Campus. The two confirmed ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with a possible 6 p.m. ceremony to be added if needed.

Reserve Your Spot and Order Regalia

To plan for special seating, we request that you reserve your spot and order regalia (if needed) using this link no later than Friday, March 18, 2022.

We will also host indoor Grad Finale celebrations on the East, Osceola and West campuses on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23, 2022. Volunteers are needed for all three locations, so if you are interested in helping graduates celebrate, click here.

Since this is the first time we’ve hosted both the regular commencement and Grad Finale celebrations, we are offering an option for full-time faculty who are expected to participate in the commencement activities to choose how you would like to celebrate our graduates. You may select either the in-person commencement ceremony or you may choose the on-campus Grad Finale celebration. Of course, if you would like to participate in both the in-person commencement ceremony AND the on-campus Grad Finale, we welcome you to do so.

All other faculty (including annually appointed, temporary, visiting professors and part-time faculty) are invited, but not required, to attend commencement activities.

We look forward to celebrating our graduates together!

If you have any questions, contact Shauna Anstey, director, conferencing and college events, at sanstey@valenciacollege.edu.

Faculty Governance Update — February 2022

Thursday, February 24, 2022

A Message from Michael Robbins, President, Collegewide Faculty Association

It’s time for us to begin to consider our next leaders for the Valencia College Faculty Association. In the coming weeks, the Faculty Council will send out requests for nominations for our new leadership. This will include our next vice president for the Faculty Association and nominations for leaders at our Faculty Assemblies.

For the Faculty Association vice president, it is a three-year term of service, available to any faculty member who has a continuing contract with the College. In the first year, our elected representative will serve as the vice president of the Faculty Association. That time is spent learning about leadership at Valencia College. The newly elected vice president will have the opportunity to serve on the Faculty Council and engage as a fellow leader across all levels of governance. In the second year, the elected representative becomes our president, my current role. That position serves as the chair of the Faculty Council and as a spokesperson and representative for the Faculty Association. In the third and final year, the elected representative serves as the past president, providing counsel and expertise to the Faculty Council and continuing to give their wisdom and leadership to the College’s shared governance.

All this comes from our Faculty Association Constitution.

For our Faculty Assemblies, they will be seeking vice presidents, and potentially representatives-at-large. These are individual positions built at each campus, and you can find out more details by contacting your leaders at each Campus Assembly. These representatives serve as leaders for their campuses and as representatives on our Faculty Council. As campus leaders, they serve as both a voice for their campus at the Faculty Council and as leaders at their individual campuses.

It’s a bit dry put out that way. This work is more than just what’s outlined in the Faculty Association Constitution. Having participated in this work since August 2020 as part of the Valencia College Faculty Association Leadership Team, and as having served as a leader at Faculty Assemblies since 2014, I can tell you all that this work matters. It matters in allowing faculty a voice in conversations at the College; it matters in engaging in the decision-making process; it matters in planning the future of Valencia. We engage in difficult conversations, ones that promote both the needs of faculty, the needs of our students and the needs of our community.

I have to acknowledge that it can also be frustrating. These are conversations with no easy solutions — sometimes with no solutions available at all. This is why it’s important to engage in the discussion and to consider leaders who are prepared to not only criticize, but to seek to build new structures that will help us achieve our goals. Having faculty voice enriches those conversations.

I hope that you all will think of your peers and of your own capacity to serve, and provide us with recommendations for leaders who are ready to continue these conversations. Please keep an eye open for future messages calling for nominations.

If you have any questions, please contact me via email at mrobbins9@valenciacollege.edu.

Faculty Highlight: Laura D’Alessio Helps Students Grow Through Communication and Experiences

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

By Jennifer Keefe

Laura D’Alessio, professor, biology, sees her role in the classroom as less of an instructor and more as a curator, leading her students from wherever they are when they first come into the classroom toward advanced knowledge in scientific literacy, research methods, and even race and gender inequities in the sciences.

“Teaching is curating an academic experience,” Laura explains. “I design the work, trying to determine what to cover and how deep to cover it.”

She takes the skill level of her audience into consideration as well, she says, “Taking all the variables and weaving them together into tapestry of the semester.”

Laura is in year five of her tenure process.

She believes that, as she teaches, creating a system of order and transparency helps lead students to the next logical step in understanding biology.

Laura considers her teaching style to be more coaching and facilitating, rather than just lecturing.

She also believes communication is key when it comes to student success. She uses an app called Discord, instead of relying on Canvas and email to

communicate with students.

“It creates a very nice community a lot of students are familiar with,” Laura explains.

The idea to use Discord actually came from her students, one of whom had already set up a channel for the class.

After watching and learning herself, Laura set up a channel for her classes the following semester. Today, she sees it as, “A really effortless communication platform where students can bring their authentic selves to the virtual classroom.”

Once the semester ends, students have the option to stay in the class channel as new students come in and to become mentors for the new students.

Laura also uses some other tools to communicate with students. She uses the Microsoft Bookings app to allow students to make appointments online. In addition to appointments for office hours, she requires each student to meet with her over Zoom for 15 minutes within the first two weeks of class.

She is also able to give immediate feedback to students on her pre-lab quizzes using the app ZipGrade.

Instead of using HonorLock, which is available through Canvas, Laura also self-proctors exams for online students by having them sign up for a time to take the exam over Zoom. Proctoring 16 students at a time, she has them complete room scans, just like HonorLock, but she’s able to talk with the students before they start the test and after they finish it. Using this time, she also provides immediate, individualized feedback.

Laura’s action research project focused on student skills in scientific literacy, scientific reasoning and research, all areas she had identified as problem points for past students.

“Scientific literacy, scientific reasoning and research are skills-based, and they need to be practiced for students to improve,” Laura says.

She describes her project as being “very meta” in that it was an action research project about scientific research, meaning the project was “wrapped up in itself,” and she was “doing to her students what she was teaching them to do.”

What she did was assess each student’s skill level when starting her level-one biology classes through a specific module she built in Canvas. As students mastered each of the five parts of the module, the next one opened. By the end, the students were ready to perform in a face-to-face lab.

Laura deemed her action research project a success, but she says she will be scaling it back and streamlining it for future classes.

“It was big. It was just a really big intervention,” Laura explains. “Hindsight it (the individualized student assessment along with teaching 24 contact hours) was too much.”

Laura also incorporated some other projects into her three-part tenure portfolio. One was about embedding sensitive topics into the biology curriculum, such as current events like race and gender issues and inequities in the context of science.

Laura started implementing this project in spring 2020, just before classes moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She had her students write names of scientists they knew on the classroom white board. The students recognized some similarities, such as the fact that most were pre-1900 European men or post-1900 American men and all were white.

Most students didn’t even know what the scientists had contributed and some thought at least one female scientist was a man.

This exercise led to a reflective writing assignment and a conversation about the lack of diversity in the sciences and how they, as students, can help change the racial and gender makeup of the scientific community.

Laura also inadvertently had a hand in changing how future tenure class members will submit their portfolios.

When she started having trouble writing her own portfolio in a Word document or OneNote, the two previous methods for portfolio submission, she created her own Canvas sandbox and dedicated individual pages in Canvas to the sections of her portfolio.

This method meant a lot less scrolling back and forth to look for information and allowed her to “write in an unrestricted kind of way,” she explains.

When she finished, she showed the Canvas page to West Campus Dean of Science Bob Gessner, her tenure facilitator, and Faculty Director of the Teaching/Learning Academy Claudine Bentham.

It turns out, they had been looking for a better way for tenure candidates to submit their portfolios.

Laura worked with Professor of Speech Karen Borglum to create the five-year template for the tenure portfolio in Canvas.

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.


Zoom and Kaltura Integration Makes for Easy Recording Sharing

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Zoom recently enabled a Kaltura integration, making it easier to share recordings, as well as create captions for your Zoom lecture videos.

All Zoom recordings are now automatically added to your My Media space in Canvas once you conclude a meeting. Please keep in mind the process isn’t immediate. Depending on the length of the video, it may take Kaltura more time to process and add a video to your My Media library. You will receive an email when the recording is ready.

Zoom recordings are also automatically saved in your Zoom library; however, this cloud space is limited. Therefore, we ask you to delete any Zoom recordings confirmed to be in your My Media library. This will help maintain available space for more Zoom recordings in the future.

Please reference this infographic on A Guide to the Zoom/Kaltura Integration for more information.

Want to Learn About the Endowed Chair Program? Attend an Information Session

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A Message from Samuel Dunham, Assistant Director, Employee Development, and Shara Lee, Director, Faculty and Instructional Development

Are you a tenure, tenure-track or non-temporary annually appointed faculty member interested in learning more about the Endowed Chair Program? Join us at one of the following information sessions where we will review guidelines and processes; share examples of past projects; offer tips and tricks to maximizing the possibility of receiving an Endowed Chair; and have the option to schedule individual consultation sessions to talk through your ideas.

Session 1
Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location: Zoom

Session 2
Date: Friday, March 18, 2022
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. 
Location: Zoom 

Session 3
Date: Thursday, March 24, 2022

Time: 9 – 10 a.m. 
Location: Zoom

Session 4
Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Time: 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. 
Location: Zoom 

Session 5
Date: Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
Location: Zoom 

The Endowed Chair application will be open Tuesday, March 1 through Thursday, April 7, 2022. Read The Juice and The Grove for details.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our information sessions, and If you have questions, please contact Sam at sdunham@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-5140, or Shara at slee84@valenciacollege.edu or 321-682-4723.

Now Hiring: Full-time Faculty Positions

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Valencia College is hiring for multiple full-time faculty positions in a variety of disciplines.

Full-time faculty positions include:

  • Professor, Architecture
  • Professor, Baking/Pastry
  • Professor, Biology
  • Professor, Business
  • Professor, Chemistry
  • Professor, Cloud Computing
  • Professor, Computer Information Technology
  • Professor, Culinary Management
  • Professor, Dental Hygiene
  • Professor, Energy Management and Controls Technology
  • Professor, English
  • Professor, Engineering Technology
  • Professor, Health Navigator
  • Professor, History
  • Professor, Hospitality Management
  • Professor, Humanities
  • Professor, Mathematics
  • Professor, Nursing
  • Professor, Political Science
  • Professor, Sound Production Technology
  • Professor, Spanish
  • Professor, Speech

These positions are open to both internal and external candidates. Apply for these roles here. Application deadlines vary.

If you have questions about applying, contact the Talent Acquisition team at jobs@valenciacollege.edu or call the Talent Acquisition team at 407-582-8033.

To sign up for job alerts, to receive notifications when jobs become available in your field, follow these directions:

  1. Navigate to https://valenciacollege.peopleadmin.com/interest_cards
  2. Fill out the Email, First and Last Name fields
  3. Review and select the job categories of interest