Friday, March 4, 2011
On February 11, more than 1,000 Valencia employees gathered under one roof – the UCF Arena – for a rare convocation we call Learning Day. Attendees heard from three remarkable alumni about their lives – lives that were shaped in part by Valencia.
They came to share their inspirational stories and to thank Valencia for having played such an important role in their success. It isn’t often that we gather the entire Valencia family to learn and serve together. It was a real treat to see these graduates again and to connect their narrative to our core mission.
Francis Angibeaud Montjen was a typical community college student, which is to say he didn’t fit in anybody’s box. He’s a native of Cameroon, West Africa, who earned a degree from Valencia in 2002. He later moved to the United Kingdom, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southampton. He hasn’t stopped there as he is currently working on a master’s degree in finance and banking at Queen Mary University in London.
Abeer Beshir Abdalla, a 2005 Valencia grad – also named that year’s distinguished graduate – works as a writer and a communications specialist in Washington, D.C. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCF. A master storyteller, she spoke with passion of the value of learning and serving others.
Eddie Ruiz is the principal of Jackson Middle School, the same place he once attended as a teenager. Ruiz received his A.A. degree from Valencia in 1999 and went on to UCF where he is currently pursuing his doctoral degree. He was a finalist for Orange County Teacher of the Year in 2006.
All three of them demonstrate the power of an opportunity. Each seized theirs and are making a difference. I invite you to watch the video where they share what Valencia has meant to them.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Now that the dust has settled on the transition to the spring term, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you.
1. We had a little extra dust to settle this year in the transition from fall to spring terms, mostly relating to “missing or phantom grades.” If you weren’t in the fray, here’s what you need to know. Valencia had some difficulty getting grades to post properly from the fall term. Some had to do with software design, some with an actual “glitch” in the software, and some from miscommunication. What I observed was the usual heroic effort to solve any issues these problems may have created for students – faculty, deans, division assistants, registration and records staff, OIT staff, and many others worked very hard to ensure our students weren’t compromised in this situation.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the spirit of cooperation in a crisis that is rare in many organizations, but the normal response at Valencia. Meanwhile, both the software and communication issues have been worked out, though there is still some work to do to reach closure on the matter. Bottom line: you can trust the integrity of the grades in our system and the goodwill and competence of the people responsible for keeping it that way. In addition, we learned a few useful lessons along the way. To all who pitched in, thank you, thank you, thank you.
2. As I have used our transition time in academic affairs to visit and listen to many of you around the college (a process that will continue through the spring.) I have heard several recurring themes in your questions and observations. An important question concerns our recent growth and plans for the future. This is understandable, as the college has grown 50% over the past five years, driven largely by the economic downturn. How should we think about this and what should we expect over the next few years?
First, let me say that growth in and of itself is not a particular goal of the college. We’ve stretched ourselves not because we want to be huge, but because our students and our community needed us to.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
As you have heard, the name change is official. We will be “Valencia College.” It will be effective July, 2011 and we have plans for rolling it out, changing signs, etc. Quite a number of students have written me to determine if their diplomas from this spring will read Valencia Community College or Valencia College. The answer is nothing changes until July…
As I announced to West Campus Monday, let me now announce to the entire college that Dr. Falecia Williams will serve as Interim Provost of the West Campus beginning January until the selection of a new leader for the campus is completed, probably around June. She has served Valencia for some ten years in a variety of leadership roles and came to us from a career in gifted education at the secondary level.
We have a large selection committee involved in a very open and collaborative process recruiting candidates and discerning together who may be the best fit for West Campus at this time: Lisa Macon, Russell Takashima, Gustavo Morales, Diane Orsini, Sharyn Gaston, Suzanne Lynch, Elizabeth Renn, Nasser Hedayat, Ty Johnson, Kathleen Plinske, Vicki Brooks (community member), Cathie Hansen, Michal Ewing, and a professional staff rep to be named, along with an SGA rep to be named.
After much reflection, I have decided to change the title of the chief campus leadership positions from Provost to Campus President, effective July 1. It is a change in title only, but it signals a couple of important things. First, our provost title has never been very well understood around the state or country because it is an unconventional title for the chief campus leader, a holdover from when Valencia had no chief academic officer. Second, this ambiguity makes it more difficult to recruit candidates to the position since it makes little sense to them, hence the decision to do this prior to the search for West Campus’s leader. (We were lucky to get Dr. Plinske to Valencia in spite of this issue!) And third, it signals the level of leadership we desire from the chief campus officers in their work with faculty, deans, and staff.
Jane and I hope with all our hearts that you will have enjoy a very special Christmas this year. See you in 2011!
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