The Valencia College District Board of Trustees met virtually on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, to discuss a number of issues, including enrollment, equity and the College’s aspirational goals for its next Strategic Impact Plan.
Preparing for Valencia’s Next Strategic Impact Plan
During the board meeting, College President Sandy Shugart, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske and others presented on multiple goals to position the College to launch its 2021 Strategic Impact Plan. These plans are updated every five years and align with the institution’s central mission of equity and access. The following four goals were outlined:
Isis-Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs, presented on Valencia’s success stories, such as that the College has a much higher graduation rate than its peers (42% versus 25%). In addition, she said graduation rates at Valencia have steadily increased, with 33.7% of students graduating in 2014, as compared to 27.9% in 2004. She also shared that the total number of associate degrees awarded has doubled, and the number of degrees earned by Black and Hispanic students has more than tripled during that same time period.
But Isis said the data also shows disparities among ethnic groups. Only 23% of Black students graduated in 2014, as compared to 34% and 37% of Hispanic and Caucasian students, respectively. To that end, Valencia will seek to establish a graduation goal of 50% for students who first enroll in fall 2025, so that more than half of them across each race and ethnicity complete an associate degree by 2030. Valencia will also disaggregate all student data by race and ethnicity.
Joe Richardson, vice president, student affairs, presented on the college-going rate of students within the Osceola School District and Orange County Public Schools. In all, he said, students in these counties increasingly are accessing college. In 2010, 50.7% of students in Orange County attended a post-secondary institution, as compared to 56.3% in 2018. In Osceola, 40% of students enrolled in a post-secondary institution in 2010, as compared to 51.1% in 2018.
Nevertheless, Joe said work remains to be done in this area, particularly when considering Osceola’s college-going rate is still below the state average and taking into account that Hispanic students have the lowest college-going rate in both Orange and Osceola. Valencia, therefore, wishes to continue its efforts to increase college access for students of all races and ethnicities. Valencia will also disaggregate all access data by race, ethnicity and county.
Wendy Givoglu, interim president, East and Winter Park Campuses, discussed our DirectConnect relationship with the University of Central Florida and the fact that the percentage of Valencia graduates receiving a bachelor’s degree at UCF within four years after transfer has remained stable at approximately 60%. Wendy also highlighted tremendous growth within Valencia’s baccalaureate degrees. To illustrate her statement, she shared that 1,666 students enrolled in Valencia’s four-year degrees in fall 2019, as compared to 287 in Fall 2015. As part of Valencia’s goals, the College will now begin tracking these students as it calculates its student transfer rates and will also disaggregate student data by race, ethnicity and major program area.
Joe Battista, vice president, global, professional and continuing education, presented on Valencia’s robust offering of Associate in Science (A.S.) degrees and Accelerated Skills Training (AST) programs to meet workforce demand, citing that approximately 2,000 students complete these programs each year. He also indicated that while A.S. degree completion has remained stable over the past few years, the College has seen significant growth within its AST programs, which provide unique opportunities for non-traditional students as well as economic mobility. In the 2015-2016 academic year, 191 students enrolled in AST programs, as compared to 425 in 2018-2019. Joe added that A.S. degree programs have experienced different completion rates based on ethnicity, with Black and Hispanic students at lower completion rates than Caucasian students, which will be addressed as part of the graduation goal set above.
Joe also indicated that in addition to increasing the number of students completing workforce credentials, the recommendation is to track the number of workforce credentials awarded annually that lead to a family-sustaining wage. Data will also be disaggregated by race and ethnicity.
Kathleen, who facilitated the meeting, said this initial discussion surrounding the Strategic Impact Plan was meant to highlight areas of mission first. She added the College would meet with faculty and staff to identify specific metrics during fall 2020 and that a final plan would be up for board approval in December.
Equity and Opportunity
After all areas were covered, Sandy emphasized that the driving force behind the Strategic Impact Plan is ensuring equity and opportunity for all students, which is itself driving the College’s mission and outcomes.
“At the core of who we are is this vision of creating opportunity for everybody,” he said.
Sandy also revisited the history of community colleges in the nation, mentioning they were places of opportunity post World War II in an existing educational landscape of exclusivity and privilege. In the 1960s, open-door policies became more common, and community colleges proliferated during that time. Sandy also recalled Valencia’s history in the community as a place that, since the 1960s, has provided access to prosperity and a path to the middle class, particularly for minorities.
“Valencia was born in exactly that time in the 60s, and it’s deep in our DNA,” said Sandy. “Remember, this was the first and still is the only open-door institution in Orange and Osceola Counties. And, it was founded over serious opposition, including a gubernatorial veto by a segregationist governor …”
Sandy, who is working on a paper on these topics, added the United States is revisiting the vision and promise of higher education as it sees its middle class shrink due to a variety of factors and learns the limits of higher education as a means of social mobility. He recommended two books addressing these challenges; the first by Robert Putnam, titled “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” and “The Merit Myth: How Our Colleges Favor the Rich and Divide America,” by Anthony P. Carnevale.
Sandy Shugart introduced Terri Graham (formerly Daniels), interim president of the West and Downtown Campuses, and provided an update on enrollment, indicating Valencia’s summer enrollment increased 17 percent but fall enrollment numbers are still unknown. He mentioned possible reasons for the latter, such as Valencia’s decision to delay fall registration slightly in order to give the College more time to develop a class schedule, and students possibly deferring registration until spring for safety and stability reasons. Sandy warned that if there is a dip in enrollment, the College will have to make significant budget adjustments in the coming year.
“We built our budget on five percent growth, and if we don’t achieve that, then we have to make adjustments,” he said.
He also said the state has withheld six percent of Valencia’s budget, and that we should not count on receiving the six percent “at any point.” As result, the College will have to be “extra careful” in its expenditures.
The District Board of Trustees elected Tracey Stockwell as chair and Daisy Lopez-Cid as vice chair, each for the second year of their respective two-year terms. Beth Smith was again elected as the District Board of Trustees’ representative to serve on the the Valencia Foundation Board of Directors. The District Board of Trustees also approved its meeting schedule for 2020-2021.
Faculty Association Report
Faculty Association president Stanton Reed provided an update on Real-time Virtual (RTV), a new modality of courses developed with feedback from faculty and students. RTV courses are taught online but at set times and dates. Stanton said despite being virtual, the courses would infuse five equity-minded practices, specifically, the following recommendations: be intrusive, be relational, be culturally affirming and relevant, be community-focused and be race-conscious.
Building 1 Renovation – Osceola Campus
Loren Bender, vice president, business operations and finance, announced that Valencia will move forward with renovations of Building 1 at the Osceola Campus, specifically with the addition of a new multi-purpose room, which is expected to be operational by fall 2021. The College entered into a contract with Oelrich Construction, Inc. to commence renovations and approved the project’s Guaranteed Maximum Price of $1,159,730.
Information Technology Update
Patti Smith, chief information officer, shared information security challenges we face at the College. As a result of the College’s increased reliance on online work, we have seen an uptick in phishing scams and malicious emails. She also highlighted a series of new and planned improvements within her department, including moving Banner to the cloud and implementing an additional firewall as well as multi-factor authentication for Office 365, among others. Read the full report here.
The board decided to postpone presenting on its Annual Affordability Report and will do so at a later date.
For more information on the meeting, visit the meeting webpage.
The next District Board of Trustees meeting will be held online on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, via Zoom.