College Update: Baccalaureate Degrees and a Possible Name Change

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

by Sandy Shugart
November 2, 2009

You have often heard me speak of my deep commitment to our partnership with UCF and to the traditional role of the community college as the entry point to college and the first step on the pathway to a bachelor’s degree. I have made it a central part of my work, as have you. In last Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting, we opened the door to the possibility that Valencia may extend its traditional role as a point of access to also offering the baccalaureate degree.

We started this conversation at the request of our partner, UCF, which, as you may know, has decided to end its offering of several bachelor’s degree programs. Recognizing that the loss of these programs would impact our students and our community, UCF invited the community colleges in the Central Florida Higher Education Consortium to consider whether we might wish to add these programs to our offerings.

After UCF presented this opportunity, an analysis of these programs was conducted by Dr. Kaye Walter, and the programs were discussed among the members of the Consortium. Our initial analysis revealed that two of the UCF programs have significant numbers of Valencia transfer students, fit well with our existing A.S. programs, and are projected to continue to lead to employment in a large number of high wage jobs in the local community well into the future. Those programs are the Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology with an emphasis in Computer Systems Technology, Photonics, Electrical Systems Technology and Geomatics; and the Bachelor of Science degree in Radiologic Sciences.

If we decide to move forward, the next step would be for the Board to authorize a letter of intent to pursue the addition of these programs, potentially at their December 15 meeting, which would be sent to the State for approval. Given the state approval process and the need to work with SACS regarding accreditation, the earliest that these programs could be launched would be Fall 2011.

The Board also discussed the possibility of changing the name of the College. Those of you close to me know how I have wrestled with this issue just as I have with the issue of adding baccalaureate degrees. We tread very carefully around issues concerning our core values, our identity and our mission. We approach these with the intent of honoring our legacy while focusing clearly on the future, always reflecting the needs of our students.

The Trustees certainly approached this issue with great care and thoughtfulness. Characteristically, they discussed both the baccalaureate degree issue and the name change possibility from the perspective of acting in the best interests of our students and our community, and within the context of our deep partnership with UCF, a partnership that reflects our mutual commitment to serving local students.

As they discussed the opportunity to change our name, the Trustees noted the considerable recognition of the name “Valencia” far beyond the borders of our service district, in addition to the meaning that our name carries within our community. They discussed the importance of our name continuing to convey meaning and our mission, and that the name should serve the needs and interests of students.

It was agreed that a decision about whether to change the name should be made in consultation with students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders. Focus groups will be held with students in November and December, and the results of those focus groups will be shared with you and the Trustees.

We also want to hear from you. I will schedule meetings in the coming weeks on each campus so that I can talk with faculty and staff to learn your perspectives and to share what we are learning from the students. Whatever action we take, to retain the current name or to change it, will provide us with an important opportunity to tell the college’s story to the public in the year ahead.

Southeast (Lake Nona) Campus

The college Board of Trustees also approved last week a Letter of Intent to purchase 25 acres of land for the next Valencia campus. Once the purchase is completed, we will begin planning for a campus on Narcoossee Road adjacent on the north side of the new Lake Nona High School campus. In the end, the college got a great deal, with much of the land donated and a long term commitment to partnering with us from Lake Nona and Tavistock Corporation. We’re pleased, also, that our unique partnership with the high school can now go forward in space they are lending to us for the next few years. This will enable the Collegiate Academy to launch and also give us space to begin serving regular students and grow the enrollment prior to opening our own facilities.

University Center

Thanks to everyone who played a role in the successful opening ceremony for the University Center on West last week. Governor Charlie Crist joined many partners from the community in congratulating Valencia and UCF on the amazing new facility and for the partnership it symbolizes. You can read more about the facility in the next college newsletter.

Strategic Plan

I hope the essay I shared a few weeks ago on Goal One: Build Pathways was helpful to your understanding of the college’s aspirations. Please watch for the second of four essays in the coming week or so…

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