• The Power of Partnership

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    by Sandy Shugart
    Spring, 2010

    Valencia has always been an eager and effective partner in the community, and October 2009 saw an event that marked a milestone in our long and deep relationship with the University of Central Florida. On October 29, 2009, we “cut the ribbon” on the new University Center on Valencia’s West Campus.

  • Exchange Agreement Signed with College in the Netherlands

    Sanford Shugart Signs Exchange Agreement

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    May 2010 Officials from Valencia Community College and Koning Willem I College in Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, signed an agreement this week…

  • Recognition for Student Nurse Penny Scarpelli

    Thursday, April 22, 2010


    Kathy Swanson, President of Winnie Palmer Hospital, came to Valencia’s West Campus a few weeks ago to publicly recognize nursing student Penny Scarpelli, in front of a class full of fellow students and Valencia faculty for the way she handled a tragic case. She was a hero that day to a grieving family. The recognition was a touching moment captured on this YouTube video. Penny embodies the dedication and compassion that fuels someone to study this most rigorous of fields.

    — Sandy Shugart

  • Goal Four: Partner with the Community

    Strategic Planning

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    March 15, 2010
    by Sandy Shugart

    When a college commits itself so completely to an agenda of improving student learning results, as we have, there is a danger of becoming so focused on the internal programs and systems of the college, the variables we control, that we can neglect the community we serve. No one could reasonably describe Valencia as self-absorbed, but the risk remains as we engage in our daily work and manage the challenges our recent economic situation has created so we can do our daily work. But Valencia has a rich tradition of partnering with and serving the community. Perhaps it was born out of our earliest history, when there was a heated debate in the community over whether a comprehensive public community college was even needed in Orlando, now that a public university had been established.

    Fortunately for Orlando, the advocates for the creation of Valencia prevailed at last, including the founding president of the university, Dr. Charles Millican, who foresaw along with Raymer Maguire and others the possibility of a partnership between the university and community college that would better serve our community than either could alone. Today, UCF takes in almost 750 new freshmen from Osceola and Orange counties each year; Valencia takes in more than 3500. Most are headed toward further study at UCF or elsewhere after graduation, and although UCF is the third largest university in the U.S., it is still true that sixty percent of their graduates are transfers, the majority from Valencia. By partnering in our community, we have created the most powerful engine for college access in America.

  • Goal Three: Invest in Each Other

    Professor Gustavo Morales

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    March 15, 2010
    by Sandy Shugart

    The first two goals in this strategic learning plan – Build Pathways and Learning Assured – are fundamental to our mission as a learning college. They describe where we will focus our attention and resources for the next several years toward improving learning and opportunity for our students. Goals Three and Four are more instrumental in nature, describing how we will work together and in partnership with the community to grow our capacity to achieve the first two goals. They are important means to important ends.

    Extraordinary work requires extraordinary people working in extraordinary ways. Valencia has long been blessed with these vital conditions. The college has given regular attention to hiring the best. In recent years, the hiring processes were substantially modified to recruit earlier and more compellingly. The faculty developed a written summary of what they hoped to see in new colleagues (The Competencies of a Valencia Educator), a document that continues to be revised and to guide search committees. Compensation was modified to make Valencia much more competitive in hiring generally and to enable the college to hire more seasoned educators when they are the best fit by recognizing in the system relevant experience outside the college. More important than these pragmatic changes, though, is a deep culture of looking for and hiring the best.

  • Goal Two Essay: Learning Assured

    Students In Computer Lab

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    March 14, 2010
    by Sandy Shugart

    The title of this goal – “Learning Assured” – generated deep and challenging discussions at every stage of collaboration in shaping the strategic learning plan. No one can guarantee that every student will learn. That kind of assurance is beyond our control, even as a learning college. But the discussions led us to keep the language of assurance both as an aspirational goal and to describe a kind of mindfulness about our results. This mindfulness has already proven to be essential to the significant progress the college has made in fostering steadily improving student learning results for the past decade. Make no mistake, these improving results are both real and important. The college achieves graduation rates that are nearly three times as high as our peer institutions. Student persistence rates from term to term and year to year have risen by some twenty percentage points above our results in the mid-nineteen nineties and most of our peers’ current results. Rates of success in gateway courses have improved and gaps in achievement among various student groups have been narrowed, though this work poses ongoing challenges. These are the ways we represent results formally, and they are remarkable enough. But even more remarkable are the thousands of individual student stories they represent – thousands more succeeding, their lives and perhaps their families transformed by the power of an opportunity made real in performance.

  • Goal One Essay: Build Pathways


    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    by Sandy Shugart
    October 2009

    Deepening Our Commitment To Access

    What has made Valencia a “better place to start” for more than forty years? There are many ways to answer this question, but as we have discussed this with hundreds of faculty, staff, and students over the past two years of planning, four cornerstones have emerged: access, excellence in teaching and learning, amazing colleagues in collaboration, and powerful partnerships. These will continue to serve as cornerstones of our shared work, but we have discovered that each will require renewal, a fresh commitment to stretch ourselves and our vision to serve students in the coming several years.

    In this and three essays to follow, I will explore the substance of our 2008-13 strategic plan by revisiting each of these four cornerstones and relating them to the directions emerging from our strategic planning. You will find the documents relating to the college’s strategic plan on the web at http://valenciacc/strategicplan. The full plan can be found at http://valenciacc.edu/strategicplan/documents/StratPlanBOOKMARKED_000.pdf

  • Mary Collier Inspires and Enables Achievement

    Mary Collier with Sandy Shugart

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    One of my favorite people in the world, Mary Collier, also happens to be an unseen hero to countless students who have benefited from her leadership and contributions to the Valencia Foundation. Funding she helped to establish enables Valencia graduates go on to UCF, UF, USF, FSU and many more institutions nationwide.

    In 1982 Mary Collier was named Valencia’s first Distinguished Graduate. A non-traditional student, she went back to college after raising her children. Today, she and her family are among the staunchest supporters of the college and largest donors to our foundation.

    A foundation board member for more than 20 years, she has served two terms as its president. Mary’s story continues to inspire those who may at first be tentative at the prospect of going back to school. She truly lives by her belief: “Anything you can imagine…you can do.” Much of what Valencia is able to imagine and do is beause of people like Mary Collier.

    — Sandy Shugart

  • Jerry Cochran Started Valencia’s Recycling Program

    Monday, October 19, 2009


    Some Valencia heroes are just quietly doing their jobs, making a difference in students’ lives. Others are making their mark on our planet, or at least our little corner of the planet. By his own initiative, Jerry Cochran started Valencia’s recycling programs on all our campuses. That’s how the world gets changed: One person at a time doing the very best he or she can.

    — Sandy Shugart

  • College Update: A Note of Thanks

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    by Sandy Shugart September 22, 2009 We’re off to one of the most interesting semesters in recent memory. Thanks to many…