Provost Update — April 2019

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

Welcoming Our New Vice President of Student Affairs

I am delighted to share the news that Joe Richardson will serve as our next vice president of student affairs.

If you had the opportunity to meet Joe during his interview process, I’m sure you saw how passionate he is about the powerful role that education plays in transforming lives and communities, and how deeply committed he is to providing access to education for traditionally underserved populations. Joe currently serves as executive director of veteran support for the Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center, which is designed to help veterans and their families explore colleges and universities in Georgia, select the best institution and programs based on their needs and interests, assist them with the enrollment process, support them while enrolled as students and guide them into the workforce after graduation. Prior to joining VECTR, Joe worked for seven years at the Mercer Engineering Research Center (MERC), leading a variety of multidisciplinary teams to complete engineering projects.

Before his work at VECTR and MERC, Joe served for nearly 30 years in the United States Air Force, honorably retiring as a lieutenant colonel. During his tenure in the Air Force, in addition to logging 3,500 hours in the skies as an aviator, Joe served as chief training officer and director of flying operations/chief operating officer of a flying unit at Robins Air Force Base and held leadership roles in Student Affairs at the United States Air Force Academy.

Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the United States Air Force Academy, a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a doctorate in educational leadership from Mercer University. Joe also is a certified Project Management Professional, and he has teaching experience at Central Georgia Technical College, Wesleyan College and Mercer University.

I am confident that Joe is just the right leader for our student affairs team. I believe the underlying working theory behind Joe’s efforts at VECTR is closely aligned with Valencia’s LifeMap philosophy, and his leadership experience in the Air Force will serve Joe well as he prepares to lead our large and distributed organization. His experience and leadership will significantly advance our efforts to provide access to higher education throughout our communities and to significantly improve student outcomes. Joe is eager to begin working with us, and will officially join us on Monday, May 13, 2019.

My sincere thanks to Sonya Joseph, who served as interim vice president of student affairs this spring. She will step into the position of associate vice president for enrollment management, providing coordinated leadership for students’ first experiences at Valencia, including student recruiting, admissions and records, and financial aid. She brings a wealth of wisdom to this role and will be instrumental in improving the ways in which we connect with students, especially while they’re early in their journeys at the College.

Invitation to Regional Forums to Review Degree Pathways

As I mentioned in my last update, the Learning Council commissioned a work team to develop a single tool for students to help them identify the courses in which they should enroll not only to meet graduation requirements at Valencia, but also to meet program prerequisites and requirements for their intended baccalaureate programs. The work team met on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, to review the existing student pathway tools at Valencia, draft design principles for a new tool and begin to identify the implications of moving to one tool.

Next month, the team will share its recommendations and solicit feedback via regional forums. In an effort to allow for maximum participation, we’ve scheduled a face-to-face feedback forum within each region, as well as an online Skype forum:

  • Monday, May 13, 2019 – 12 – 1  p.m. – East Campus, Building 8, Room 101
  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 – 1 – 2 p.m. – West Campus, Building 6, Room 202
  • Thursday, May 16, 2019 – 1 – 2 p.m. – Osceola Campus, Building 1, Room 101
  • Friday, May 17, 2019 – 9 – 10 a.m. – Skype: 407-582-5757 / Conference ID: 668349

If you are unable to attend any of the forums but would still like to provide feedback, please email Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs, at, or Sonya Joseph, interim vice president of student affairs, at

Campus Corner

The Advising Center at the East Campus recently hosted an event to provide students with extra support and encouragement before final exams. The advisors invited faculty and staff to write short, motivational notes to students, which were delivered during the event.

After receiving one of the inspirational messages, a student responded, “Thank you for the kind words. Often it seems like things are too difficult or out of reach. It means a lot to read words of encouragement and understanding in difficult times.”

Research suggests that receiving positive messages such as these can help foster in students a sense of belonging, which supports students’ persistence in college, and ultimately, positive student outcomes. How might we create the conditions so that more of our students receive a positive, inspiring message at the time that they need it most?

Special thanks to Evelyn Lora-Santos, director of advising at East Campus, and the East Campus Advising team for leading the organization of the event, and to Marizayda Torres, program advisor for Health Science, for leading the effort to collect more than 150 inspirational notes from faculty and staff.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

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