Provost Update: February 2021

Friday, February 26, 2021

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost

I hope this month’s Provost Update finds you in good spirits and health. In this message, I’m sharing an update on our organizational structure and campus president search timeline, including an opportunity to serve in an interim leadership role, as well as our summer credit course offerings.

Update on Organizational Structure and Campus President Searches

In last month’s Provost Update, I asked for your feedback on our organizational structure and the timing of our campus president searches. I’m so thankful that many of you participated in the town halls or shared your input personally with me. Overall, I heard enthusiasm and interest in spending time this spring to collaboratively design campus leadership roles for the future to best support our work. I did not hear a sense of urgency to conduct campus president searches this spring; rather, I heard gratitude for the talented interim leaders we currently have in place and accolades for their ability to create a sense of stability during these uncertain times, as well as a desire to ensure we had the capacity to fill other critical roles, such as key dean positions.

As such, we will delay our searches for campus leaders until the fall. This will allow us an opportunity to consider some adjustments to our organizational structure, as well as search for two dean positions this spring. First, Ana Caldero Figueroa has graciously served as both interim dean of communications and dean of arts and humanities on our West Campus for nearly two years (thank you, Ana!). Serving in multiple roles for an extended period of time takes a toll, and it will be important for us to conduct a search for a dean of communications at West this spring. Second, Dave Brunick has announced his retirement (congratulations, Dave!), so we need to conduct a search for a dean of business, information technology and public service at the East Campus. You can expect to hear more details about the timeline and process in the coming weeks in The Grove.

Furthermore, it is important to me that the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses are in good hands prior to my transition to the role of college president. Since we will not be conducting campus president searches this spring, now is an appropriate time to begin an internal search process for an interim president of the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses.

While you might wonder why I simply don’t appoint someone to the interim role, I am confident that there is a great deal of talent within the organization, and I am interested in knowing who might aspire to serve in a campus leadership role. By appointing someone without a process, I fear I would miss an opportunity to identify emerging leaders within the College. I invite anyone who would like to explore the possibility of serving as interim president of the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses to send me a letter of interest to kplinske@valenciacollege.edu by Monday, March 15, 2021. I plan to convene a small team from the campuses to provide their counsel to me in selecting an interim leader and envision that our new interim leader would start in the role around the beginning of April.

I continue to welcome your feedback about our organizational structure. Please feel free to continue sending your input by email, or let me know if you’d like to set up a time to chat via Zoom.

Summer Course Schedule

As we prepare to move into Phase 3 of our Roadmap for Reopening in summer, our focus remains on our two key priorities: the health and safety of our students, employees, and community; and providing for continuity of student learning. Phase 3 allows for certain programs, services and departments to add on-site engagement, including courses where faculty and/or students prefer an on-campus experience.

To support the development of the summer credit course schedule, our Course Schedule Design Team, composed primarily of faculty and deans, developed design principles for summer course offerings. In addition, we surveyed full-time faculty with a summer contractual teaching obligation, as well as annually appointed and part-time faculty in specific disciplines, to identify those individuals who would prefer to teach on-site this summer. Furthermore, we invited all current students to share with us which courses they planned or hoped to take this summer and in which modality they preferred to take each course.

As a result, our deans and faculty are putting the finishing touches on a summer schedule that will include more on-campus courses than we have offered over the last three semesters. In addition to the courses and programs that were offered during Phase 2, we expect to offer a limited number of on-site courses in accounting, biology, business, chemistry, earth science, English, history, humanities, mathematics, physics, political science and psychology. We are confident that thoughtful campus coordination with our facilities and operations teams, plans for smaller class sizes to accommodate physical distancing within classrooms, and our continued safety and sanitization protocols will allow for a safe increase in the number of students and faculty on campus this summer.

After Spring Break, we will begin the process of identifying which services and departments will add on-campus engagement in the summer. Please know that if you are currently working from home and prefer to continue doing so during Phase 3 this summer, your preference will be honored.

I hope that you are looking forward to a restful and relaxing Spring Break. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with your thoughts, questions, comments and concerns.

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