UCF-Valencia Downtown Campus: A New Vision of Inner City Education

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“We’re pleased to be a part of this exciting new project in downtown Orlando, not just for our students and the future of the city, but for the people who live and work here.” – Valencia President Sandy Shugart

Since the University of Central Florida (UCF) first announced in the fall its plans to build a campus in downtown Orlando that will share space with Valencia, there has been a buzz about the possibilities and opportunities that such a presence will bring. This presence, and partnership, with UCF is a part of a larger plan known as Creative Village that is centered around education and transit, with aspirations to foster a “live, work, learn, play” experience in downtown Orlando.

With development bustling in the downtown corridor, UCF, along with the City of Orlando and other partners are working on plans for the 68-acre redevelopment project located at the site of the old Amway Arena that will house the Creative Village. In addition to the UCF/Valencia campus, a public pre-K-8 school will be reintroduced to the Parramore neighborhood, along with retail, commercial and residential units, as well as public spaces and parks.

During the West Campus Spring Convocation, held Monday, March 16, 2015, Falecia Williams, campus president, along with representatives from UCF, the City of Orlando and Creative Village, introduced faculty, staff and students to the Creative Village project and Valencia’s approach to providing educational opportunities. With a main focus of enriching the lives of Parramore residents, Dr. Williams emphasized that the downtown campus would be intrinsically linked to the mission of the West Campus.

Valencia’s goal is to strategically partner with UCF, the City of Orlando and Orange County Public Schools to increase access to higher education downtown, and ultimately add value to the Parramore community. Dr. Williams expressed that we desire “to be of the community, not just in the community.” In true Valencia style, the College has approached this project by first defining a set of principles that will guide our work.

Summarized below, these ideals will inform the College’s planning and the decisions on programming, building design and student services.

  • Integrate with the community
  • Foster student success and economic stability
  • Leverage educational partnerships
  • Expand access to higher education
  • Be strategically embedded
  • Stimulate creativity and service

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UCF-Valencia Partnership

While Valencia is partnering with UCF in the planning of the campus and delivery of academic programs and services, UCF is leading efforts to fund the project, including seeking state funding to assist with planning, design and construction. The proposed campus is estimated to cost $200 million, to be funded over multiple years. This would allow for a joint-use facility of approximately 600,000 square feet for UCF and Valencia that would serve about 13,000 students from both schools.

Planning and Timeline

Though the downtown campus is still early in the planning stage, it is slated to move along quickly through each approved funding phase, with occupation as early as fall 2017. In February, the Florida Board of Governors approved $5.8 million in funding that would kick start Phase I, the planning of the campus. UCF has hired Cannon Design to facilitate the master planning of the project over the next year. Additional funding will be requested from the state in late spring to begin the next phase, which includes a request for proposal for an architectural firm for the project.

Academic Programs

If the planning and construction go as scheduled, Valencia will begin offering the following programs at the downtown campus in the fall of 2017: Culinary and Baking; Hospitality and Tourism; Graphic and Interactive Design; and General Education (Associate in Arts). All, with the exception of the latter, will move from their current campuses to be permanently housed at the downtown campus. Additionally, selected certificate programs will be offered by Continuing Education based on demand.

UCF is currently in the process of determining the degree programs that will be offered at the downtown campus. To date, no decisions have been made, but several are being considered.

The Student Experience

Several committees and work teams have been established with diverse representation from Valencia, the Creative Village group and UCF on topics such as academic programs, community outreach, facilities, technology and transportation — all with a focus on offering educational opportunities creatively and safely. Of central importance to this project is providing enriching educational experiences, while fostering student success. To achieve this, Valencia and UCF are partnering not only in the design of the space, but in delivering services to students. The goal is to offer seamless integration of student services that provides a cohesive campus experience.

Valencia and UCF are working together with the Creative Village group on plans and logistical aspects of the campus that include parking, student housing and transportation.

Additional Resources

For additional information, visit the UCF Downtown Orlando Campus, Frequently Asked Questions or the Creative Village websites.

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