thank you, thank you, thank you

With the foundation’s fourth signature fundraising event quickly approaching, we say thank you to Rosen Shingle Creek for graciously hosting A Taste for Learning on Oct. 17, 2009. This is the second year the event will be held at the Rosen and we are grateful for their support.


We hope you’ll consider joining us on Oct. 17 to enjoy fellowship and a common intention of advancing education in our community.

Check us out:

what is in a name?

Shakespeare’s Juliet said: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Community colleges in Florida are working through this now. Are we junior colleges, community colleges, state colleges or simply colleges?

The debate is brewing and colleges are choosing sides.

At issue is whether we’ll offer four-year degrees, as some community colleges have chosen to do.

Also at issue is presumed prestige that may be part of changing our names.

Will Valencia offer four-year degrees? It’s possible. But only in close collaboration with our partner, UCF, to determine these programs are better provided by us.

Will state naming conventions change, forcing Valencia to become Valencia College? This is also possible.

But I have to say that I’ve always appreciated the fact that Community is our middle name.

After all, that’s what we’re all about.

august rush

It’s almost August, isn’t it?

 This is usually the time of year that I run around with my pants on fire! There is so much to do in one month, thirty-one days to be exact. Every possible deadline is hidden in the month of August.  Financial aid deadlines, fee payment deadline, scholarship deadlines. WOW!

This is also the time of year that our students walk onto our campuses and feel inspired to start changing their lives. There is something special about the fall term and the students that it brings. Every person that begins this journey is special and I feel privileged to work where I can help someone achieve their dreams.

That being said, I am grateful to have such a rich partnership with so many dedicated members of the staff! I work with such a talented group of individuals that see our students through each step of the way. They help ensure that our students are able to move from one step of their educational career to the next, from applying for admission to filing their graduation forms. This is all possible by working together!

As a staff member and a returning student I know how much work and devotion each member of the staff is offered to our students on a daily basis. I feel overwhelmed by their good work and I am proud to be a Valencian!

florida and valencia get a boost

Valencia Community College’s innovative remedial programs – and improved measurement of student progress – have been selected as a model for helping more young people succeed.Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MDC, Inc. are giving over $1 million to the state of Florida and Valencia Community College to expand groundbreaking remedial education programs that promise to boost the college completion rates of low-income students and students of color.

Every year, roughly 375,000 Florida degree-seeking students attend a local community college, with nearly 40 percent of them having to take remedial classes to build basic academic skills. Many are unable to meet their goal of completing college. National studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of those who take remedial classes never graduate. However, successful programs at several colleges demonstrate that these numbers can be improved.

The grants announced today will support innovative remedial programs developed by Valencia Community College through Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count, a multi-year national initiative that is aiming to dramatically boost college graduation rates among low-income students and students of color. The remedial education models pioneered by these colleges represent some of the most promising work in the country for boosting college completion rates among struggling students. Continue reading

new scholarship winner from sungard

SunGard Public Sector recently announced the first award for the Freddie Filmore Jr. Memorial Scholarship through Valencia Foundation.

The scholarship recipient, Tonia Henselin, is a Valencia Community College student working toward her associate of applied science degree in criminal justice. She plans to transfer to the University of Central Florida and continue her education to become a juvenile probation officer.
This scholarship was developed in partnership with Valencia Foundation and is designated for students registered for the Law Enforcement Academy through the Criminal Justice Institute. The family of Freddie Filmore Jr. screens and selects the recipient for the scholarship, which offers financial assistance for tuition, books, fees and materials.
Mr. Filmore was a long-time employee of SunGard Public Sector who passed away suddenly in 2007. SunGard Public Sector provides technology and software solutions to help public safety and justice agencies, city and county governments, and K-12 school districts improve the lives of the citizens they serve. These solutions impact more than 140 million citizens in North America.
The mission of the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) at Valencia Community College is to prepare criminal justice officers to protect and serve. The institute offers a world-class learning environment in a 77,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art training facility. As the population of Florida grows and as the strained economy continues to affect the local community, the need for qualified law enforcement and correctional officers must correspondingly increase to meet the need. Criminal justice is a demanding profession, requiring the individual to have a wide variety of knowledge and highly developed skills in defensive tactics, firearms, first aid and vehicle operations, according to CJI director, Jeffrey Goltz.
Since 2005, Valencia Foundation has been recognized as having the strongest community college endowment according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ national endowment study. Valencia Foundation is a local not-for-profit, IRS-approved 501(c)3 organization that seeks to unlock access to learning for students of all backgrounds. The mission of the foundation is to enhance learning, workforce training and economic development in Central Florida through the support of scholarships, teaching chairs, programs and buildings for Valencia Community College.
For more information or to make a donation, please call (407)582-3150 or visit

valencia seeking playwrights

The Valencia Community College theater program is accepting plays for its annual Florida Playwrights competition, which has been held every year since 1991. The winning original play will be staged in April 2010, as part of Valencia’s regular subscription series.
Playwrights currently residing in Florida are invited to submit the first 15 pages of no more than two never-before-produced manuscripts. The deadline for submission is September 15, 2009.
Scripts must be original, previously unproduced, full-length plays. (Scripts that have received staged readings may be submitted.) Collaborations are acceptable, but children’s plays, musicals and adaptations are ineligible.
A panel of readers will evaluate the submitted excerpts and ask select writers to submit their full manuscripts. From those, one play will be chosen to be developed and workshopped with the playwright’s participation. The playwright will receive a stipend to cover travel and other expenses related to the production.
The administrator of the competition plans to announce the winning play around December 1, 2009. The workshop process will begin in January 2010.
Electronic submissions are requested. They may be sent to Valencia’s artistic director, Julia Gagne at For further submission information or for a mailing address, please call 407-582-2296.

time, talent and treasure

There are ways to give other than money.  A collection of musically talented faculty, staff, and friends–-fondly called The Rogue Scholars–have found a way to put their talent to work.  Contributing a love of rock-n-roll with their passion to help others, this band will perform at Valencia Osceola Campus Building 2 this Friday, July 24 at 7 PM. The modest $5 cover is designated for the Jane Dewey and Monty Bilyue Emergency Healthcare Services Scholarship benefiting Valencia Students. 

Another scholar, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, once said “Give what you have; to someone it may be better than you dare to think”.  To my new Rogue Scholar friends I say: thank you for what you have – both your time and your talents are appreciated!

social networking props to my fb buddies

Many of us have joined the Brave New World of Facebook. Data shows that FB Causes aren’t raising money at the rate that some predicted.

Valencia doesn’t have a Cause page, and that isn’t the way we go about inviting investors to join our mission.

But my own FB friends have stepped up to the plate in a big way.

I joined FB warily at the behest of childhood friends. I was so cautious that they staged a four-way conference call intervention. I have since discovered a community. And I now know so much more about each of my FB friends, lovely things that might not arise in a meeting or casual conversation. Sometimes hard things that have happened in your life. Important things I find out today that otherwise I might not know for weeks until I see you again.

I would like to give praise to my personal FB pals who’ve made commitments to Taste 4: Kay Walters, $3,500; Jay Galbraith/SeaWorld, $3,500+; Rich Maladecki/CFHLA, $5K+; Linda Landman Gonzalez (and Scott Bowman/Orlando Magic), $10K+; Sherrie Sitarik/Orlando Health, $10K; Richard McCree/McCree Design/Build, $15K; Bob Gibson/ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, $40K+; Guy Stephens/Fry Hammond Barr, $40K+; and Jonni Kimberly/Rosen, $40K+.

They are a few among many Taste supporters (though you can see how significant their contributions are), but I wanted to thank them for being my FB friends and also for being true, committed partners in a mission I hold dear.

100% of every dollar goes directly to scholarships and is doubled by a matching grant. Not a single penny goes toward the fabulous party that will ensue. 🙂

Wow, you are the best, my FB friends!

how do we count what counts?

You may have noticed that we refer to Valencia as the strongest endowment among those who report to the annual surveys of private giving in higher education. Miami-Dade is way ahead of us but they no longer are in the same category as they offer bachelor’s degrees.

So among colleges that exclusively offer two-year programs we remain the top, the most robust, ahead by some $30 million.

Very few of us respond to either the VSE or NACUBO annual surveys. Here is what I don’t quite get: Why do our counterparts not participate in these benchmarking surveys and why do our national organizations not find it important to benchmark the results of every member organization?

It is nice to get the laurels but how can we get better (knowing our students need even more right now) when we don’t benchmark ourselves nationally?

who is counting?

I like to count things. Our CFO, Michelle, and my college professor friend, Brian, would tell you I am neither a financier nor a mathematician. But still I like to count.

So when I saw the list of Orlando’s 50 most powerful people, I had to dissect it. We have a whole untold story.

Among the 50 I found at least 20 percent with a clear tie to Valencia, as donors and/or alumni.

Valencia tends to fly under the radar, quietly going about our business of offering learning opportunity to tens of thousands each year. This has been true for more than 40 years.

But I’d say that the presence of our friends on the “Most Powerful” list demonstrates Valencia’s value to our community. Perhaps more important than that are the lives that are transformed because of education and opportunity. That definitely counts!

time is a’wasting

If you’re thinking about enrolling, please don’t hesitate.

Classes are closing quickly, and time is wasting.

Our college president estimates that 3,500 or more registered students will be shut out of class, simply because there is not a place to put you.

Don’t be shut out. Register early.

and you will be doing?

that to-do list

Celebrating the Fourth of July or Independence Day, the average person has one of several images in their mind: the beach, the sand, the sun, the pool, that yearly road trip, the boat, B-B-Qs, friends, family, fireworks, picnics, and good fun and celebration. I am certainly one of those individuals. In fact, I had those very same thoughts in my head, but not too far off, I had one all-too consuming thought as I enjoyed three days away from the office –my to-do list. As I lounged pool side with an ice cold Pepsi in one hand and a yummy grilled Sabrett hot dog with just the perfect smidgen of Gulden’s spicy mustard in another, I thought of that pesky to-do list. It’s not a bad thing, right? It’s a simple to-do list, a “what comes next in my agenda” type list. Sometimes it’s an actual list of numbered items and sometimes it’s that that ever popular post-it on the side of your desk, or in my case, multiple post-its that adorn my desk in hues of purple, blue, pink and yellow.

Forgive me; I digressed momentarily as I thought about the rainbow of post-its sitting on my desk. Continue reading

vcc is not for me!

So it’s after midnight and I can’t sleep. Plagued by rogue acronyms, I’ve dragged myself from bed to rant about the errant and rampant use of VCC. I’m disturbed by the reduction of our academic institution to a few small letters. To me (a Valencia alum), the institution of Valencia is one of strong academic rigor, including a first-rate honors program and one of the largest graduating classes among two-year colleges.

Valencia possesses faculty members who care more about student learning than the modest incomes they earn and an administration that supports and encourages ways to make the student experience the center of our work. With a team devoted solely to helping new tenure-track professors understand multiple student learning styles, Valencia excels. Additional pedagogical highlights include the weaving of four core competencies in the full curriculum: think, value, communicate and act.

The foundation is privileged to call friends our myriad, loyal donors, including community members, organizations and businesses, as well as Valencia staff and faculty, who willingly put students first so generations of bright, up-and-coming scholars can have a shot at a stellar education.

Valencia has been featured in Time Magazine and USA Today and on National Public Radio. It boasts the largest university-transfer rate of 1,200 community colleges in the country. This summer, it was named the top community college nationwide by the Lumina Foundation for ground-breaking work reducing the achievement gaps from students of diverse backgrounds.  The MDC Foundation last week recognized this accomplishment by awarding a $700,000 grant to expand the project.

It seems a shame to limit a college that knows no bounds to a simple acronym.

Disturbed by the reduction of our academic institution to a few small letters Valencia Alumn Donna Marino asks for five more letters and one syllable. After all, it seems a shame to limit a college that knows no bounds to a simple acronym.