sounds of sandy shugart

Don’t miss Sandy Shugart in concert, releasing his newest CD, “Distances We Keep, “ at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden.

Don’t miss Sandy Shugart in concert, releasing his newest CD “Distances We Keep,” at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden.  Saturday, January 14, 2012 8pm.  Tickets: $15 (students/seniors $12); visit online for tickets.

This is coffeehouse music at its best – intelligent and engaging. Ranging in style from Americana to alternative country to urban folk, this singer-songwriter offers an acoustic tour of the emotions, including humor, with original songs mixed with the occasional cover.

Extended tickets for $40 include 6:30 pm pre-show reception plus 8 pm concert; visit online for tickets.

Garden Theatre –
160 West Plant Street
Winter Garden, FL 34787


achieving the dream president congratulates valencia on aspen prize

The following statement was released by William E. Trueheart, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream Inc., a national nonprofit dedicated to helping low-income students and students of color stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.

Silver Spring, MD (December 12, 2011) – We are proud to congratulate Valencia College for winning The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.  Valencia College – an Achieving the Dream Leader College and 2009 winner of Achieving the Dream’s most prestigious award– the Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award – was recognized today for demonstrated excellence in improved student performance over time. Valencia College was also recognized for achieving high levels of equity in outcomes among all student populations, and for its deliberate and sustained focus on using data to guide practice and policy to sustain student success and program completion. Today’s recognition is the culmination of an intensive, year-long process that included the review of institutional-level, disaggregated data on completion, labor market, and learning outcomes, and two-day site visits to each of the ten finalist colleges.

We want to especially applaud Valencia College President Sanford C. “Sandy” Shugart and the entire faculty and staff, who are outstanding leaders in every sense of the word – serious, committed, and effective exemplars of the student success process.  The work of improving student success is difficult, important, and urgent. Across the nation, more colleges are committing to raising persistence and graduation rates. Achieving the Dream Institutions like Valencia College are national exemplars of what is possible with an institution-wide commitment to student success and equity.

We are also proud to congratulate Achieving the Dream colleagues at Mott Community College and Southwest Texas Junior College who were among the top ten finalists for the Aspen Prize.  

Source: Marketing & Strategic Communications

2010-2011 annual report

The 2010-2011 annual report for the foundation is available on our Web site., under the important information tab, or click here to view

Smoke-Free Campus Coming in 2012

Following an announcement last summer, Valencia College is moving forward with plans to go smoke-free on all its campuses by August 2012. Several other Florida colleges and universities, including the University of Florida in Gainesville, have enacted smoke-free policies, meaning they don’t allow students, employees or visitors to smoke anywhere on school grounds. The University of Central Florida (UCF) is considering taking similar steps.

“I hate to interfere in people’s private lives and habits, but secondhand smoke affects everyone,” said Valencia President Sandy Shugart in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

The college will spend the next eight months preparing students, faculty and staff for the change in policy, and has launched a communications effort with the theme,  “Share the Air.”

The Share the Air campaign includes campus banners, ashtray decals, printed informational materials and a new website, among other things.  Valencia, in partnership with the Quit Smoking Now program, is also providing free on-campus quit-smoking programs for students, employees and members of the community who wish to kick the habit.

In November, student groups at all four campuses held events in conjunction with the America Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke-Out, an event that challenges people to stop smoking cigarettes for a day, hoping their decision not to smoke will last forever. The students used the occasion to introduce the college’s new smoke-free policy with a focus on health and nutrition (“Smoke a turkey, not your lungs” was the fun theme of Winter Park Campus’ event).

To see a video of the East Campus festivities and hear the views of smokers and non-smokers alike on the college going smoke-free, click here:

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Source: Carol Traynor, Marketing & Strategic Communications

valencia named top in nation

Valencia Named Top Community College in Nation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program announced Monday that Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., is the nation's top community college and honored four

Valencia Named Top Community College in Nation

Monday, December 12, 2011 – By Carol Traynor

Valencia Wins 2011 Aspen Prize for Focus on College Completion, Job Preparation

Valencia College learned today that it won the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Announced in a ceremony held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the award comes with $600,000 in prize money.

“It is such a privilege to represent my colleagues and the hundreds of community colleges across the country that have done amazing work for years and years,” said Dr. Sanford Shugart, president of Valencia College. “The whole country is looking to us these days, it seems. The nation has discovered that we have this unique instrument at hand. We are institutions where excellence is not defined by exclusivity.”

“This award embodies the idea that community colleges are incredibly important; important to the future of this great country, of course, important to our education system and our economy,” said Richard Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former governor of South Carolina.  “The prize is also highlighting which community colleges best show us the way to moving beyond extraordinary access to exceptional levels of student success. That’s something we need all community colleges to do nationally.”

In a competitive year-long process, the Aspen Institute, along with a panel of some of the biggest names in higher education, selected Valencia and four runners-up from a preliminary list of 120 “top” community colleges in the nation, based on student performance and graduation data collected by the U.S. Department of Education. The runners-up include community colleges from around the country, including Miami-Dade College, Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D., Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Wash.,  and Western Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Ky.

“Valencia College has proven that devotion to assessment yields results,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “The college is an engine for employment in Central Florida, and a model for the country.”

“Community colleges are America’s best kept secret,” said Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a community college professor. “Excellence happens every day in community college classrooms and campuses across this country…Congratulations to Valencia College and all the finalists. Your commitment to your students is an inspiration to all of us.”

In selecting Valencia as the best community college in America, Aspen officials noted that over half of the college’s full-time students graduate or transfer within three years of entering the school, a rate significantly higher than the national average (51 percent versus 39 percent).

At a time when data show an increasing number of students nationwide are not ready for college-level work – and that the U.S has slipped to 12th globally in the percentage of young adults who hold at least an associate degree – Valencia is experiencing rising graduation rates among all students, including minorities.

  • Valencia has experienced dramatic increases in graduation rates among college-ready African American students, nearly tripling in the last decade from 15.4 percent to 44.3 percent today.
  • Graduation rates for college-ready Hispanic students have similarly impressive gains, jumping from 38.7 to 45.5 percent in the last decade.

Because community colleges also train students for the workforce, Aspen judges focused on the college’s workforce training programs and the likelihood of graduates landing jobs. They noted that Valencia graduates “are employed at rates higher than graduates from any of the other 10 Aspen Prize finalists. This is especially impressive given the region’s unusually high unemployment rate and low job growth rate.”

This is not the first time that Valencia has made national news. In November, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Valencia ESL professor James May the 2011 Florida Professor of the Year. May was one of only 27 state professors selected to represent the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country.

In 2009, Valencia won the inaugural Leah Meyer Austin Institutional Student Success Leadership Award for helping minority students succeed. In 2007, the New York Times named Valencia as one of the nation’s leading community colleges, and in 2001, Valencia was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the nation’s best schools at helping first-year students excel.

Valencia’s innovations include:

  • LifeMap, launched in 1998, empowers students to chart their own paths through college to achieve career and life goals through connections with advisors, faculty, staff and interactive tools.
  • Supplemental Learning, which bolsters traditional courses with small-group study sessions, led by a student who has already successfully taken the class. Since 2006, almost 32,000 students have taken SL courses – one of the largest scale learning experiments to ever take place in a U.S. community college.
  • Bridges to Success, which offers disadvantaged high school students free tuition if they enroll in Valencia immediately after high school graduation, keep their grades up and participate in Bridges activities.
  • DirectConnect to UCF, which has streamlined the admissions, financial aid, advising and transfer processes for Valencia students continuing their education at UCF.

Founded in 1967, Valencia College operates six campuses and centers in Central Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties, offering credit and continuing education programs. The college has more than 70,000 students and more than 80,000 students have earned degrees at Valencia since its founding.

Click here to view the full media kit.

follow one student’s career path to the world of museums

When Jeffreen Hayes graduated from Oviedo High School, she moved on to the University of Central Florida to major in chemistry. Her goal? To become a pharmacist.

It would have been a good plan, but there was one problem: Hayes wasn’t passionate about chemistry.

So she took some time off to consider her options, and turned to Valencia.

Here, she signed up for humanities classes and soon discovered her true love: humanities and art. After taking a class with the late humanities professor Philip Bishop, she asked him what kinds of jobs she might be able to get with a degree in humanities. “He said I could do a lot of things. I could be an art critic or work in a museum,” Hayes recalls.

Thanks to a number of internships – including one she landed while at Valencia – Hayes is on her way to her dream job as a museum director.  

Hayes’ journey began at Valencia, where college staffers helped her land an internship at Orlando Museum of Art. There, her primary job was to lead tours of the museum’s African and pre-Columbian art galleries, primarily for elementary school children. In addition, museum staffers asked her to research an African-American artist, Kerry James Marshall, who had an exhibition coming up at the museum. “They wanted help figuring out how to reach out to the African-American community,” Hayes said. “I was supposed to research him and his work and come up with ways to engage the community.”

Although Hayes was growing increasingly interested in art – and a potential career as a curator – her dad wasn’t happy about the idea. A retired military man, he wanted to know how she was going to find a job. But she had a plan.

After graduating from Valencia, Hayes transferred to Florida International University in Miami, to finish her undergraduate degree in humanities. There, she got a work-study job in the campus museum – and learned more hands-on museum work. “It was a really great experience,” she said. “I learned how to describe objects, I learned the database system.” She also learned about an internship program in New York City, sponsored by an organization for women in the arts.

Upon graduation from FIU in December 2000, Hayes packed her bags and headed to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the federal government’s General Services Administration in the department’s art and architecture program. Her responsibilities included asking artists and galleries to send their proposals for various building projects. 

She continued at that job for two years, before heading to Howard University in D.C. to earn her master’s degree in art history. At Howard, she landed even more internships – at the National Gallery of Art and the Library of Congress. It’s a path she encourages students to follow.

“I think the most important thing about the internships I’ve done was that they helped me find my niche,” Hayes says. “I learned, for instance, that I didn’t want to be a registrar — the person in charge of taking care of the collection,” who catalogs the works and coordinates the schedule. Instead, she discovered she liked researching the artists and their work and talking to them. “The internships allowed me to fine-tune my interests and really find my niche. My strategy was to work in as many different institutions in as many different positions as I could,” she said.  But at the end of her many internships, she knew she wanted to be a museum curator.

Hayes has already had a taste of that, having worked as an interim curator at the University of Delaware and as associate curator at the Hampton University Museum in Hampton, Va. Now working full-time on her doctoral dissertation at the College of William & Mary, she will soon head to the Birmingham Museum of Art, where she’ll be doing a post-doctoral fellowship.

 “I love what I do and I think that if you’re really passionate and if you’re willing to put forth the work, you can do it. But you have to be willing to do the work. You can love being an actress, but if you’re not willing to do the legwork, it’s not going to happen.”

She also advises students to find mentors and stay in touch with them. “I asked for help all along the way. I think that’s something a lot of younger people do not do,” she said.

Often, she said, it’s as easy as asking someone in the business if they have time for a cup of coffee to chat about how they got started. And after you’ve established that friendship, stay in touch. Hayes updates her mentors and friends in the art world about her moves, from one job to another.

“You would be surprised at the lifelong relationships you will have with these people. I am still in touch with the people I reached out to 10 years ago,” Hayes says. “Those people who’ve been instrumental in my life, I always let them know what my next step is. It shows them: Look, this is what you helped me accomplish.”

Source: Marketing and Strategic Communications, Valencia Community College; Valencia News;

academically motivated students apply here

The new James M. and Dayle L. Seneff Honors College at Valencia will launch Fall of 2012, offering four distinct paths to an honors degree.

Students are being asked to aim higher.

This program is for students who want more from their college experience—more challenges, more opportunities and more connections with fellow students and great professors. The Seneff Honors College is for those with a deep passion for learning.

  • overseas trips
  • special scholarships
  • recognition at commencement

Valencia offers this and more, all in a setting that nurtures the whole individual.

Admission information will be available December 2011.  For more information please visit the James M. and Dayle L. Seneff Honors College website or contact Director Valerie Burks at