Don’t miss Sandy Shugart at the Garden Theatre Jan. 10

Please join Valencia Foundation board and friends

to enjoy original music by

 Sandy Shugart in concert at the Garden Theatre

Saturday, Jan. 10, 8 p.m.

160 W. Plant Street in Winter Garden

Don’t miss our multi-faceted college president in concert, sharing his eclectic musical talents.

This is coffeehouse music at its best — intelligent, humorous and engaging. Ranging in style from Americana to alternative country to urban folk, this singer-songwriter and his bandmates offer an acoustic tour of the emotions with original songs and the occasional cover.

To purchase tickets ($25 general admission; $15 with Valencia ID), please visit the concert ticket site. Proceeds benefit Valencia students and the arts.

To learn more about the crown jewel of Plant Street, please check out the Garden Theatre online.

Thank you for expanding college access in Central Florida

2015 2

As the year winds to a close, please allow me to thank you for your generous support and advocacy. Because of our Valencia donors, the foundation has shared $32.8 million in the past decade — offering students the opportunity to learn, earn degrees and build careers that will sustain them.

     Although economic indicators have brightened, students working minimum-wage jobs without benefits remain among the working poor — cobbling together funds to cover tuition, books, supplies and transportation. Without scholarships, thousands of potential students are unable to manage these expenses and still balance their fragile family finances.
     On this final day of 2014, I invite you to invest in our deserving students.
     Your philanthropy extends beyond the individual lives that are changed through scholarships and college degrees. In fact, an independent study, based on a national model and conducted by EMSI, revealed that Valencia has a $1 billion economic impact on Central Florida.
      Billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein has pointed out that “Philanthropy means loving other people, not rich people giving away their money.”
     Regardless of the size of your personal nest egg, your charitable giving provides opportunities for another — offering a hand up, not a handout. Valencia donors demonstrate this daily. Every dollar counts. Every gift makes a difference.
     Thanks to our contributors, thousands of individuals this year have renewed hope for their futures, understanding that education is the ticket to a compelling future. Please consider contributing to scholarships or to the specific program that touches you.
     Your check dated Dec. 31 (please see our new address on the bottom of this page) or your online gift will be credited for 2014 taxes unless you tell us otherwise.
     On behalf of our Valencia students and the foundation board, please accept our fervent hope that your New Year is filled with family, friends and great joy.

Geraldine Gallagher, PhD, CFRE

President and CEO

P.S. Please take a few minutes to view our YouTube channel, which includes this brief video of our college president, Dr. Sandy Shugart, discussing the economic benefits of community colleges as a better place to start, along with the amazing commencement address given by the 2014 Mary Smedley Collier Distinguished Graduate, Angel Sanchez.

Valencia Foundation

1768 Park Center Drive, #400

Orlando, Florida 32835


Foundation donor recognizes heroism in saving the planet

Green is the new black.

And as college sustainability efforts continue to expand — offering energy conservation, cost savings and protection of the planet — one college philanthropist has stepped forward to help share that message.


Attorney and estate planner Helen Von Dolteren-Fournier, a long-time donor and board member emerita, contributed polo shirts for Valencia College’s Energy Heroes to reinforce Valencia’s commitment to “greening up” and sharing it in the community and on campus. Von Dolteren-Fournier co-sponsors the Energy Hero program with Valencia Foundation.

The Energy Hero Awards are given periodically to recognize those who submit energy-smart ideas and programs. Some notions are modest but powerful, while others result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.

Helen worked with Patti Riva, who serves as operations manager, energy education, in the department of sustainability to produce the shirts. Brandon Albert, senior graphic designer, conceived the logo.

Left to Right: Brandon Golbeck, energy specialist; Patti Riva, operations manager, energy education; Resham Shirsat, director, sustainability; and Robert Hickman, operations manager, energy efficiency.

Left to Right: Brandon Golbeck, energy specialist; Patti Riva, operations manager, energy education; Resham Shirsat, director, sustainability; and Robert Hickman, operations manager, energy efficiency.

“The shirts are a visual reminder of Valencia’s energy heroism,” Helen explains. “As our sustainability folks travel throughout the community, these shirts are a reinforcement and affirmation of the opportunities available when partnering with the college and our foundation.”

Nominations for the Energy Hero Award, including self-nominations and earth-friendly plans, should be submitted to Patti, No forms are necessary; simply email your idea or program.

Rick Rietveld: a dramatic flair and adventuring spirit

Rick Rietveld had a flair for the dramatic, a spirit of adventure, a penchant for methodical planning and the gift of impeccable timing.

Each talent served him well as theater administrator, actor, and 25-year Valencia College professor, dean and founder of innovative programs that were the first of their kinds in Central Florida.


Rick graduated from Thornridge High School in Cook County, Ill., where he was introduced to the magical world of theater. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hope College in Holland, Mich., in 1967, acting prolifically in school plays. In fact, he won first place in the state oratorical conference and second place in multi-state oratorical finals. Rick completed a master’s degree in arts, majoring in speech and performance theater, from Colorado State University in 1972.

He journeyed around the country in a career adventure, which included floor producer for a TV station, general manager of the Milwaukee Opera Company, theater director for the School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Ala., and general manager and director of the Birmingham Children’s Theatre. In that role, he transformed a struggling company deeply in the red into the thriving company it remains today.

“His vision was that a traveling children’s theater could reach school-age children, expose them to theatrical experiences and plant seeds for future interest in the arts,” his wife, Kris, says.


A life-long learner, he enrolled at Florida State University to pursue a second graduate degree in theater. “Searching for a job in the arts during the Reagan era was difficult because budgets for the arts had been cut, and every school, university and college – as well as community companies – were struggling,” his wife explains. “But Rick was confident that, if he could sell a children’s theater to small, rural towns in Alabama, he could sell himself. He just needed to get the interview.”

While at FSU, he met his bride through a series of calamities that included a fender bender and a messy wine collision. They soon realized their lives had directly crossed among different cities, programs and people, but they had never met. “Not surprisingly, Rick’s timing was perfect,” Kris says. “He always instinctively knew how to do the right thing at the right time. He would tell us, ‘Life is all about timing. Say it with me, T-I-M-I-N-G.’”


Timing aside, they had their individual differences. When Rick was obviously moved and bemused by the subtle nuances of George Bernard Shaw’s play “Misalliance” during their courtship, Kris felt out of her element and almost gave up. “Friends said it wouldn’t last. Little did they know,” she says now with a laugh. “But the yin yang of the relationships was the glue. We were on a perpetual honeymoon, rarely separated.”


Rick was, indeed, granted the interview and hired by Valencia in 1982. He wore many hats: professor of theater; director of the Performing Arts Center; technical director and designer; founding program director of theater and entertainment technology; and dean of humanities, foreign language, visual art and performing arts.

But students and colleagues treasure far more than a series of titles. Rick partnered with Orlando theme park companies to create innovative programs and degrees that served the community and local industry, as well as Valencia learners. He changed countless lives.


His vision of a Central Florida associate’s degree in theater arts came to fruition in 1984, offering opportunity for thousands of local students. Rick led two grants in collaboration with Walt Disney World and Universal. And he wrote the curriculum that created, in 1985, the region’s first film technician training program. It has since produced 47 full-length feature films. As dean, he worked with faculty to expand Valencia’s offerings to include sound and music technology, and digital media. As a professor, he inspired three generations of students. As a philanthropist, he raised significant funds for the college foundation and was instrumental in expanding the faculty endowed chairs program. In 2008, the college honored Rick as one of 10 distinguished contributors for the previous decade.

“Whether you met Rick or not, his influence is permanent in our arts and entertainment programs at Valencia College today,” says Valencia arts and entertainment dean, Wendy Givoglu. “He envisioned and created the synergies between our disciplines and how they could function at the college, mirroring the cross-disciplinary collaboration of creative industries. Rick was an icon and the consummate leader – witty, creative, strategic, diplomatic, compassionate, intelligent, and perhaps a little clairvoyant. We are just now catching up to all that Rick imagined we would be able to do and be as educators in the arts.”

The college’s president agrees. “Rick was an amazing leader for Valencia. He knew how to get the best out of everyone around him – including me – without calling attention to himself,” Sandy Shugart says. “Losing him from the college was like losing a lung – we knew we’d survive, but we’d never be the same.”


In addition, Rick continued to pursue his love of the stage, directing shows, teaching speech and impressing the importance of elocution, which he had learned as a child and understood gave students the power to influence in every field of endeavor.

He traveled and was sure to pack in as many performances as possible. “One Christmas break in London, he saw 11 plays in six days,” Kris explains. “He loved quirky little plays and was passionate about the theater of the absurd. He sought out venues and plays that never make it to big playhouses.”

But Rick’s dearest passion was his family. He was so thrilled about his daughter Harley’s arrival that he sent out a giant birth notice with a size-6 footprint. He encouraged her to discover her own path, be flexible and make a plan, saying “if you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there,” Kris recalls.


Likewise, he relished his grandchildren, whether it was feeding them, celebrating each developmental stage, ensuring their Christmas wish list was under the tree, or taking them to fish and ski on the lake – a place had found solace since his own childhood. “He made time to teach, guide and show them the ways of the world,” Kris explains. “He wanted them to know unconditional love, that he was always there for them.”


He handled life-threatening challenges with calm determination and aplomb, whether it was a serious fall from a ladder or a diagnosis of MDS (Myelodisplastic Syndrome).

A successful 2011 stem-cell transplant, donated by his sister, Sue, bought the Rietvelds three more years. In fact, coupled with his “fall from grace” off a roof, his wife maintains he “cheated death” more than once: “Rick said, ‘I have lived the lives of two or three persons in my one life.’ That he did.”


His illness and treatment mirrored that of news anchor Robin Roberts of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and was featured in a newspaper. But that was not the first time their paths had crossed. In 2004, Rick had hand-delivered a copy of the Tuskegee Airmen documentary produced by Valencia’s film program directly to Robin, whose father proudly served in the unit.

Here is a link to Rick’s television spot.

Rick was born in South Holland, Ill., a small farming community where is grandfather was an onion farmer and his father the owner of a roofing company. He credited his work with the hot tar kettle during summer breaks with paying his way through college.

Richard Delbert Rietveld, 69, passed away on Oct. 30, 2014, leaving behind his wife, Kris, his daughter, Harley Anthony, his grandchildren Jazmin Lynch and Thomas Lynch, and his siblings, Carol Barnes, Sue Ebbens, Tim Rietveld and Bill Lee Rietveld, along with loving and supportive nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Adele Bonnema Rietveld, and younger brother Robert Rietveld.

Family and friends will celebrate Rick’s life at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, at Valencia College’s East Campus Performing Arts Center, 701 North Econlockhatchee Trail in Orlando.

In lieu of flowers, Rick wished his friends to consider: becoming involved in the “Be a Match” marrow transplant campaign; donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at; or contributing to Valencia’s Richard Rietveld Memorial Scholarship, or 1768 Park Center Drive, Orlando, FL 32835.

Carl Andriano: A man of character, rigor and grit

carl harness

Carl Andriano, an Orlando firefighter, was a man of character, rigor and grit.

His family, friends and fellow firefighters know that firsthand.

They have raised funds to create a scholarship to celebrate his memory.

carl truck

Carl adored his profession. The 24-year-old was committed and driven, setting a goal to become one of Orange County’s youngest lieutenants. He also was a true fighter for life. Last November, he was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer, which he fought valiantly. His fellow professionals rallied on his behalf, raising thousands of dollars.

He attended Florida State Fire College, and in May 2008, joined Orange County Fire Rescue. Carl was initially stationed in Windermere. But he desired a greater challenge and worked his way up the ladder to Fire Station 30 in Orlo Vista, one of Orange County’s most prolific.

Colleagues admired Carl for his work ethic, integrity and professionalism. They raised more than $30,000 for Team Andriano, and $25,000 will go toward scholarships for students in Valencia College’s firefighter training program in honor of Carl Andriano.

Team Andriano continues to raise funds in his honor. You may donate here and use the drop-down menu, or include as the notation on your check.

carl and court

He left behind his beloved fiancee, Courtney Day, along with: his grandfather Edward Mullis; grandmother Rose Mullis; grandmother, Irene Myers; father, Dominick Andriano; mother, Linda Mullis; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

His dear friend Robert Boone and his soon-to-be father-in-law, Mike Day, created this scholarship along with his fellow firefighters.

Here is what the Orlando Sentinel reported:

“He’s a really good fireman,” said Lt. Jimmy Berry.

Andriano spent his own money for additional training, which enabled him to work in specialized positions, such as driving a ladder truck.

Fire Chief Otto Drozd said Andriano made an impact in the community during his short time in the service.

“He was well-respected and well-loved,” Drozd said.

The Fire Department became Andriano’s life.

After Andriano was diagnosed with cancer, his peers rallied to support him as much as they could, coining the phrase: “He’ll forever be 30 strong” — a reference to their station number.

More than $30,000 was raised for “Team Andriano” to help with his medical expenses. Now, money will go toward scholarships for people who want to attend the fire academy.

Andriano didn’t live long enough to become a lieutenant. But during his years at Orange County Fire Rescue, Andriano — an only child — gained many brothers.

“We would take a bullet for each other,” Berry said.

Assistant Chief Jose Gainza Jr. said he watched as firefighters from Station 30 and across the region came together rally behind Andriano, his fiancée and family.

Downtown Orlando streets were shut down briefly to accommodate Carl’s funeral procession.

A memorial tribute celebrates his life.

carl jacket

Here is the Team Andriano Facebook page.

Thank you, Carl Andriano, for putting yourself in harm’s way to keep our neighbors safe. I am grateful to his family and friends for entrusting Carl’s legacy to Valencia, where another generation of firefighters will train.

Brad Pierce: relishing life and enjoying every second of the ride


When it comes to the corporate world, Brad Pierce will do just about anything to differentiate his enterprises from the competition.

When it comes to his charitable and Valencia Foundation work, that passion and work ethic are just as visible; however, his ambition to “stand out” changes immensely.

“I find that when nobody cares who gets the credit, a whole heck of a lot gets done,” Brad says.

brad-pierce-orlando-floridaThat philosophy is firmly embedded in Brad’s commitment to Valencia Foundation. He credits fellow board directors Larry Walker and Patrick Buffa for convincing him that – despite his busy schedule – being a part of the Valencia Foundation would benefit him and Valencia students.

“There was something about Patrick that made me feel that he was a guy I can trust,” Brad explains. “I’m very appreciative of Patrick to this day for giving me that nudge when I figured I couldn’t fit one more morsel of activity into my days … because honestly Valencia has been one of the most fulfilling, rewarding, amazing organizations to be involved in.”

Brad recognizes he is a small piece of a larger team, but he wants to ensure his contributions allow the foundation to thrive for years to come.

“It has been an honor to be a part of the everyday business and discussion. I feel like giving my input, thoughts and ideas always is valued by the other people there,” Brad says. “I relate a little better to the student population, as a lot of my employees are from Valencia and from UCF. I’m a different generation than many, and that provides a little bit different perspective.”

That is Brad’s diplomatic way of pointing out he is a bit younger than others in the room.

Having the perspective of youth also leaves him hungry to learn from those who have been serving the foundation for multiple years. Brad plans to expand his expertise in the intricacies of the foundation’s work, including donor recruitment and investment management, which require more time to master.

“If I don’t start learning how to do those things from the people who are right now leading the board, in five to 10 years – when I’ve moved up the chain, and a lot of our board has retired – that could be problem,” Brad explains.

His eagerness to help make and build a strong unit is evident. Brad realizes it takes a group of diverse people with different sets of talents to succeed in the long run.

“What I would like to be remembered for is looking back at our whole team and saying that whole group made a difference,” Brad adds.

Reviewing Brad’s resume, one might wonder when he has any time to sleep with all the ventures he manages. From E-Commerce, restaurant equipment and supplies, computer programming and web development to his avid aviation career, Brad diagnoses himself as ADD because he always has to be moving and jumping to the next adventure.

“I don’t want to ever sit on the sidelines, I want to be in the game,” Brad explains.

haiti-relief-flight-arrival-smallThe same can be said for his work with the different charities he supports. His work with Angel Flight Southeast, whose mission is to “arrange free flights so children and adults can have access to the far-from-home doctors that can save their lives,” grants him an opportunity to put his piloting skills to work helping people in life-or-death situations.

Brad’s aviation expertise benefited the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) in a relief mission to Haiti that donated $100,000 in medical provisions, as well as school supplies, clothing, musical instruments, toys and other items for residents. He is set to make another trip to the country later this year.

“I don’t have the desire to give to things as a passive donor. I want to be part of these amazing stories,” Brad says. He acknowledges the necessity of two types of donors: the ones who write checks quietly behind the scenes and the ones who deploy funds into action and outcomes.

After graduating from Winter Park High School, Brad attended Valencia College. That decision gave him the chance to continue working to develop his family’s local business, Restaurant Equipment World (REW), which has been around for nearly 40 years. By the time he completed Valencia, he had earned two pilot’s licenses and finished his aviation training.

“It worked out really well. To some degree I wasn’t ready to go off to another school,” he adds.

haiti-relief-flight-walking-self-pic-smallBrad enrolled at Florida State University’s School of Business, where he earned a marketing degree. He commuted from Tallahassee to Orlando on weekends to work at REW, where he was transitioning a local, smaller business into what is today a digital enterprise with more than 220 web sites and 330,000 products. The company was the first in the industry to embrace the online marketplace and currently receives millions of hits per month to its network of web sites. The company serves more than 100,000 customers in all 50 states and 110 countries,.

“When I came back here from college, Day One in the business, I already had a decade of experience, not only with REW, but developing what the business was going to become,” Brad explains.

He carefully balances his family life with wife, Lori, and their twin boys.

Whether today’s venture is business, charity, family or pleasure, Brad recognizes that success requires serious effort. But that doesn’t mean overlooking the opportunity that unexpectedly emerges: “When opportunity comes to you, don’t just disregard it. You never know which one of these can be life changing.”

Frank Shala is a Valencia College journalism student.

Meet the class of 2018

Every year Beloit College releases a list that describes the world view of today’s freshman class. I remember the first batches of freshmen that had never known a world without Fed Ex, faxes, email or the Internet. 

Fast forward to 2014. Meet the Class of 2018.

Students heading into their first year of college this year were generally born in 1996.

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetime are Tupac Shakur, JonBenet Ramsey, Carl Sagan, and Tiny Tim.

On Parents’ Weekend, they may want to watch out in case Madonna shows up to see daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon or Sylvester Stallone comes to see daughter Sophia.

For students entering college this fall…

1. During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.

2. Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too.

3. Meds have always been an option.

4. When they see wire-rimmed glasses, they think Harry Potter, not John Lennon.

5. “Press pound” on the phone is now translated as “hit hashtag.”

6. Celebrity “selfies” are far cooler than autographs.

7. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has always been the only news program that really “gets it right.”

8. Hard liquor has always been advertised on television.

9. Ralph Nader has always been running for President of the U.S.

10. They never sat glued to Saturday morning cartoon shows but have been hooked on FOX’s Sunday night “Animation Domination.”

11. The water cooler is no longer the workplace social center; it’s the place to fill your water bottle.

12. In their lifetime, a dozen different actors have portrayed Nelson Mandela on the big and small screen.

13. Women have always attended the Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel.

14. FOX News and MSNBC have always been duking it out for the hearts and minds of American viewers.

15. Pepsi has always refreshed travelers in outer space.

16. Hong Kong has always been part of China.

17. Courts have always been overturning bans on same-sex marriages.

18. Joe Camel has never introduced one of them to smoking.

19. Bosnia and Herzegovina have always been one nation.

20. Citizens have always had a constitutional right to a “dignified and humane death.”

21. Nicotine has always been recognized as an addictive drug requiring FDA oversight.

22. Students have always been able to dance at Baylor.

23. Hello Dolly…cloning has always been a fact, not science fiction.

24. Women have always been dribbling, and occasionally dunking, in the WNBA.

25. Ads for prescription drugs, noting their disturbing side effects, have always flooded the airwaves.

26. Hell has always been associated less with torment and more with nothingness.

27. Whether to embrace fat or spurn it has been a front page debate all their lives.

28. Parents have always been able to rely on a ratings system to judge violence on TV.

29. They never tasted the “texturally enhanced alternative beverage” known as Orbitz.

30. There has always been “TV” designed to be watched exclusively on the web.

31. The Unabomber has always been behind bars.

32. Female referees have always officiated NBA games.

33. There has always been a national database of sex offenders.

34. Chicago, a musical about a celebrity getting away with murder, has always been popular on Broadway.

35. Yet another blessing of digital technology: They have never had to hide their dirty magazines under the bed.

36. U.S. major league baseball teams have always played in Mexico.

37. Bill Gates has always been the richest man in the U.S.

38. Attending schools outside their neighborhoods, they gather with friends on Skype, not in their local park.

39. While the number of Americans living with HIV has always been going up, American deaths from AIDS have always been going down.

40. They have no memory of George Stephanopoulos as a senior White House advisor.

41. The PGA has always offered golfers with disabilities a ride—reluctantly.

42. “African-American Vernacular English” has always been recognized as a distinct language in Oakland.

43. Two-term presidents are routine, but none of them ever won in a landslide.

44. The family has always been able to buy insurance at local banks.

45. One route to pregnancy has always been through frozen eggs.

46. They have probably never used Netscape as their web browser.

47. Everybody has always Loved Raymond.

48. “Salon” has always been an online magazine.

49. The rate of diagnosed diabetes has always been shooting up during their lifetime.

50. Affirmative Action has always been outlawed in California.

51. Boeing has never had any American competition for commercial aircraft.

52. U.S. soldiers have always been vaccinated against anthrax.

53. “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.

54. Their collection of U.S. quarters has always celebrated the individual states.

55. Since Toys R Us created a toy registry for kids, visits to Santa are just a formality.

Copyright© 2014 Beloit College

The McLoughlins: Everyone deserves a second chance


Throughout 60-plus years of marriage, George and Viola “Vi” McLoughlin have led long, successful lives. What they are most proud of, though, are the opportunities to help provide college access for students, especially those that might not have had a chance otherwise.

George, 94, and Viola, 91, have been retired for nearly 30 years, but their impact is still felt throughout the Valencia community. The scholarship that is in their name is a special one.

george and viola

George and Viola with Geraldine.

The George and Viola McLoughlin Scholarship has been especially tailored to meet the needs of the non-traditional student, especially an individual who may not qualify for other, more restrictive programs. Such applicants include those with a checkered academic record, recovering substance abusers, homeless people, survivors of domestic or sexual abuse, mid-career workers looking to upgrade or retool, single parents, and those seeking re-entry to society after incarceration.

They seek to serve deserving individuals who don’t have a safety net and need just one more shot to succeed.

“It seems that for the majority of scholarships available, you have to be a part of a certain group, a certain degree path,” George says. “There aren’t many that help kids who need a second chance.”

Both George and Vi have strong roots in education. George taught at Valencia for 16 years, from 1969-1985. George started when the school was only in its third year of existence, and he jokes that the school was still in portable buildings. Viola was a Seminole County elementary school teacher, and eventually advanced to assistant principal at Red Bug Lake Elementary.

The pair began their scholarship in 1997 and together they have provided countless students that second chance to pursue something bigger than they imagined possible. Their philanthropy includes daughter, Priscilla, who helps choose their scholars. The support and willingness to help their students is something that emerges when you hear the McLoughlins share stories of lives they have touched.


George and Vi with their daughter Priscilla, who has taken up the philanthropic mantle.

A Persian student brought them an authentic rug when he returned from vacation in his homeland after George helped him find a car to get to school. A Vietnamese couple walked to the McLoughlin home in Maitland with a full, home-cooked meal after George anonymously bought them a Christmas tree.

“I hope that anybody that goes into education goes in with a sense of mission,” George says with emphasis. “The students I taught were really a pleasure, especially the first wave of them.”

“We both started in life very serious about our religion,” Viola adds. “We can relate with students and families who never thought of going to college.”

George was the first in his family: He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Boston University and a doctorate in education with a minor in music education from the University of Kentucky. When George was teaching at Asbury College, Viola decided to start college at age 40.

Viola had earned a secretarial degree and worked as an executive assistant. She would eventually earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Asbury and her master’s degree in education from Rollins College.

“One thing that’s changed in the last 30 to 40 years is that kids didn’t necessarily grow up with the idea of going to college,” George explains. “But today the opportunities are there if kids will take them. “All the students have to do is try,” his bride quickly chimes in.

Both George and Vi know that sometimes individuals just need that little push, that nudge to get them going. They preach on the opportunities that exist and the people and resources available to help those who are willing to put forth the effort.

“The best advice is to say, ‘yes.’ Things will come along, certain opportunities, and you just have to say ‘yes,’” George adds. “Basically the only thing we ask is that our students are capable of doing their work, and that they be motivated.”

The couple is so proud of the work Valencia president Sandy Shugart has done to maintain Valencia’s focus on students, something George says sometimes lacks at the bigger colleges and universities. They believe the philanthropic foundation has been set for their mission to continue for years to come.

Vi jokes that she nearly forgot to share the most important factor to longevity: “When people ask us what have we done to live a long, healthy life, all I can think of is that we did live rather simply – out of necessity at times, but we don’t have expense taste. It’s the simplicity. It has its beauty.”

To learn more about the McLoughlin family, please visit this article, which appeared in the Valencia Foundation annual report.

Frank Shala is a Valencia College journalism student. 

Thank you, Florida College Foundation, Helios, Florida Blue and Dream Makers



Our sincerest gratitude to the Florida College Foundation, which relayed three gifts to Valencia Foundation totaling $59,000. Donations were for the Helios Education Scholarship, the Florida Blue Scholarship and the Dream Makers Scholarship.

Two Valencia Foundation board members, Michael Lingerfelt and Pat Buffa, joined college president Sandy Shugart to accept three checks from Brian Buwalda, Florida College Foundation board leader, and Randy Hanna, system chancellor.

Thank you to Helios, Florida Blue, Dream Makers and Florida College Foundation for expanding learning opportunities for deserving students.

From left: Foundation board members Michael Lingerfelt and Pat Buffa; Valencia College president Sandy Shugart; Florida College Foundation board member Brian Buwalda; and Florida College System chancellor, Randy Hanna.

From left: Foundation board members Michael Lingerfelt and Pat Buffa; Valencia College president Sandy Shugart; Florida College Foundation board member Brian Buwalda; and Florida College System chancellor, Randy Hanna.

Shop. Donate. Smile.

Combining your routine Amazon purchases with a donation — at no additional cost to you — is as easy as a click.



Visit the new Amazon Smile website, and you will be prompted to choose your favorite charity from an extensive list registered with the IRS. This site uses your same ID and password, and has all your favorites stored. The only difference is that Smile has a yellow avatar, and a percentage of your sale goes assist to a nonprofit.

Naturally, I hope you’ll consider Valencia College Foundation.

You can change your designee at any time or share donations with different organizations throughout the year.

Happy shopping!



Pallotta: Is the way we talk about charity dead wrong?

According to the TED website: “Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.”

So, the question is: As nonprofit organizations, do we focus mostly on how modestly we spend or do we imagine and envision in an enormous way — much the way a transformative, for-profit enterprise might?

Some highlights that stand out in Pallotta’s 18-minute, though-provoking challenge:

  • “The next time you’re looking at a charity, don’t ask about the rate of their overhead. Ask about the scale of their dreams.”
  • “We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people. Interesting that we don’t have a visceral reaction to the notion that people would make a lot of money not helping other people.”
  • “Philanthropy is the market for love. It is the market for all those people for whom there is no other market coming.”
  • “When you prohibit failure, you kill innovation. If you kill innovation in fundraising, you can’t raise more revenue. If you can’t raise more revenue, you can’t grow. And if you can’t grow, you can’t possibly solve large social problems.”
  • “Our generation does not want its epitaph to read, ‘We kept charity overhead low.’ We want it to read that we changed the world.”

What do you believe? Are nonprofits playing too small? Are you a donor or a fundraiser or both? Please respond to the poll and reply below with more details.



Reflections from Jonni Kimberly ’79, Valencia Foundation board chair


My relationship with Valencia started when I was still at Osceola High School. This was back in the ’70s, and dual enrollment was a relatively new thing. I took sociology and freshman comp. This was before the Osceola Campus, and my freshman comp was a night class that met in the school library. I remember that we would meet in the library, both high school and college students. Some had just graduated from high school and some were older, married with children. It was my first sense of the “community” that was at that time in our name.

Geraldine Gallagher and Jonni Kimberly

Geraldine Gallagher and Jonni Kimberly

The wonderful partnership between UCF and Valencia is apparent at Osceola, where students can attend UCF from our college campus. And through the DirectConnect to UCF program, AS or AA graduates from Valencia are guaranteed admission to UCF.

Valencia continues to expand our service area. In September 2012, the ribbon was cut at the site of our new Lake Nona campus, which trains students for careers in the life sciences. 2012 also brought about the fruition of the new James M. and Dayle L. Seneff Honors College. Funded by a $1 million donation, as part of the foundation’s major gifts campaign, the new honors college expands Valencia’s current honors program into a full-fledged honors college with four different tracks, each housed on a separate Valencia campus.

Through an independent research study, we learned that Valencia College boosts the economy of Orange and Osceola counties by $1.05 billion a year. And an economic study released by the Council of Presidents for the Florida College System (FCS) found that Florida’s public colleges pump an additional $26.6 billion per year into the state’s economy by producing graduates who are better prepared to become high-income earners.

As board chair, I have followed in the footsteps of the wonderful Linda Landman Gonzalez. I hope to continue what Linda has started, and what Dr. Shugart is so gifted at, telling the Valencia story.

Taste for Learning

Taste for Learning

In my time as a board member one thing I am so proud of is Taste for Learning. I first attended Taste in my inaugural year as a board member, when it was at Royal Pacific Resort. I remember as I was leaving, I said to fellow board member Alan Helman, “We need to have this at Shingle Creek.” I was impressed with the amount of money that Taste brought in to begin with, and the fact that it all goes for the purpose is amazing! I am so happy that Rosen joins with ABC Fine Wine and Spirits and continues to be a presenting sponsor and benefactor for the event.

The September 2012 event was a partnership with Orlando Health Foundation, and they were a joy to work with – bringing sponsors, food vendors, silent auction items and attendees to the event. I think this collaboration marks a unique trend in joint philanthropy and the power of education and its positive impact on the community. In the past two years, we’ve generated $460,000, including match. The total proceeds from Taste are about $2.6 million.

In this next year, I hope your relationship with Valencia continues to blossom. We are so pleased to count thousands in our community as friends

and donors. I hope you are as moved as I am by our students’ thank-you letters that appear in our blog, on Facebook, in the annual report – and that land in donor mailboxes. And this year, we even hosted a scholarship recipient photo shoot to bring you the faces behind the words.

Let me add my gratitude and truly thank you for your support.


Jonni Kimberly ’79

Valencia Foundation board chair,
Director, human resources
Rosen Hotels and Resorts


Volunteer to help tell Valencia’s story in the community

button-together (1)

The power of the plume

I appreciate technology. Communication has become quick and easy.

It can also be a bit impersonal.

And I miss handwriting. I miss personally written notes and letters – however imperfect and sans “spell check.”

Recently I discovered a box of cleverly folded (who knew I was so clever?) notes from high school – penned when I was supposed to be paying attention to the teacher.

I enjoyed unfolding and reading each one, surprised at and reminded of the tales they told. And no doubt the lessons I missed in class.

I have a very similar joy when I receive a scribed thank you note from a student, donor or partner. I know that it may have taken a little more time than a quick email. They took an extra minute to prepare the envelope and put it in the mail.  They put pen to paper in a very lovely and personal way. Sometimes they are musical (For our students who have sent those, please know I am the geek who opens your card over and over, still enjoying every moment). Every now and then they have a misspelling. (I am reminded of biblical observation and the tradition of Amish quilters that there is no perfection but for God. I know that is true of my own handwriting too.)

Always your notes me make me smile.

Among lessons I may have missed in school, I did learn one thing: The power of the pen and the pleasure of a handwritten note are without question. Below are two cards I’ve received in the last six months. Both are on my refrigerator.

What was your most memorable handwritten note?



What has been Valencia’s biggest advantage for you?


  • Among all college-going seniors, twice as many attend Valencia as any other college or university in the state.
  • About 95 percent of associate of science graduates are placed in their disciplines after graduation.
  • One-quarter of UCF graduates started at Valencia.
  • Taxpayers see an 8.9 percent return on investment.
  • Valencia’s economic return on investment, as determined by an independent research firm that studies higher-ed ROI nationally, is more than $1 billion.

What has been the most important benefit you’ve received from the college?

You can benefit students without spending an extra cent

So many Valencia donors make significant, even sacrificial gifts, which help change the lives of students.

Amazon Smile has unveiled a model that allows get-to-know-you giving — or supplemental contributions — by donating a portion of your purchases.

Good idea? Would you be more likely to start a relationship with a charity this way or through a direct gift?


Unsung heroes: Patti Riva


Patti Riva is the operations manager of Valencia’s Energy Education program. Serving in this newly created position since July 1, 2011, she has focused on identifying energy conservation opportunities and making adjustments, without compromising comfort.


Patti Riva

When asked what she likes most about her new role, Patti replied, “I’m learning new details each day about energy education and potential for savings. I never imagined I would be climbing stairs to the ‘penthouse’ area to conduct an audit on our air handler units or walking across roof tops to gain entry to another area to view air handles.”

Through her work with the Energy Education program, Patti has been trained on facility and technology issues, specifically HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air condition), lighting and data implementation. At Academic Assembly, Dr. Shugart reported that the college’s air conditioning systems are saving $900,000 a year and an estimated 1 million gallons of water. He shared his thoughts that, “there’s another million dollars to be saved, but it will be through behavioral change, the little habits that we can change.”

Patti reinforces this and states, “the premise of the program is that it is our program. It’s not mine. It’s not yours,” she continues, “It’s our program. We can make a difference. We can capture savings that will ultimately benefit our students and us.”

Patti Riva

Patti Riva

Before serving as the operations manager of the Energy Education program, Patti was the evening/weekend manager of the Credit Department at Winter Park, and prior to that, the program manager for the Displaced Homemaker program. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a Bachelor of Arts in public relations and psychology from the University of Alabama.

Patti has acquired several fond memories of Valencia over the years, including performing as a Blues Brother with Professor Jean Marie Fuhrman, working with AAWCC to coordinate a Career Development Day for students, and having students return after graduation to let her know that they’ve secured a job or gotten married. For these reasons and more, Patti expressed that it is “a privilege and joy…working at Valencia.”

Here is a link to the original Grove article.


Chara Young, CMP, PHR, is the director of organizational communication at Valencia College.

Learning about free enterprise through a prism of peace and justice

Dr. Edie Gaythwaite

Dr. Edie Gaythwaite

Have you ever wondered what happens in an endowed chair experience? W

ell every one is unique but they share a common theme of supporting and expanding student learning. Here is a quick overview from Professor Edie Gaythwaite on her whirlwind year with the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation Endowed Chair in Free Enterprise. As you can see activities ran the gamut and offered students diverse experiences.

Dr. Gaythwaite is a professor of speech and communications, as well as facilitator of the Teaching Learning Academy at Valencia College.

Thank you to the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation, a generous donor to Valencia Foundation.

Central Florida Business Exchange extends its legacy through Valencia College scholarships

Central Florida Builders Exchange leaders presented $275,000 to Valencia Foundation to support scholarships for students in related disciplines. Trudi Larson, who served for many years as CEO, joined former board members of the recently dissolved organization David Shaw, Robert High, Tony Salvo and John Matthews.


Central Florida Business Exchange CEO Trudi Larson and her board members, Tony Salvo, Robert High, David Shaw and John Matthews, present $275,000 to Valencia leaders Jonni Kimberly and Geraldine Gallagher.

CFBE began in 1944 and evolved with the needs of the industry. Recently, the board made the difficult decision to cease operations in response to economic and local conditions.

It is celebrating its 70-year legacy of service by offering opportunity and access to college. This organization made an amazing difference to the community and to local businesses for nearly three-quarters of a century.

Through the Central Florida Business Exchange Endowed Scholarship, that history and dedication will continue to live on through students and alumni.

We are grateful that CFBE leaders selected Valencia students as the beneficiaries of their extraordinary generosity and look forward to having them meet their Central Florida Business Exchange Scholars.

Meet new trustee John Crossman

One of the college’s leaders is reaching out to let faculty, staff and students know he is here to serve. An accomplished commercial real estate broker, Trustee John Crossman says in an essay to college staff:

“I believe that colleges benefit from people like me in that as philanthropists, entrepreneurs and ‘connectors,’ we are able to:

1. Donate money.
2. Assist in raising money.
3. Serve as guest lecturers.
4. Mentor students.
5. Encourage high school students to attend.
6. Hire interns.
7. Hire graduates.

I am happy to do all of these. And I want to serve Valencia to my fullest extent.”

College President Dr. Sandy Shugart, former County Mayor Rich Crotty, and Valencia Trustee John Crossman celebrate students at the 2014 scholarship luncheon.

College President Sandy Shugart, former County Mayor Rich Crotty, and Valencia Trustee John Crossman celebrate students and academic excellence at the Valencia Foundation’s 2014 scholarship luncheon.

John is the president of Crossman and Company, one of the largest retail leasing, management, development and marketing firms in the Southeastern United States, with more than 22-million-square-feet of properties in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.

John oversees retail leasing and marketing initiatives for high-margin clients. He has been in the real estate business for more than 21 years and has personally been involved with more than $1 billion in transactions.

Learn more about Trustee Crossman through his column in The Juice, which includes links to his social media.

If you were sitting across the table from John Crossman, what question would you ask him? Please reply below. We will ask him to respond!

You can watch his “Top 5 Career Killers and Top 5 Career Builders” video, which is tailored to students.







The Maguire family: steadfastly paying their “civic rent”

Raymer Maguire Jr.

Raymer Maguire III

The governor recently appointed Raymer Maguire III to a second tour of duty as Valencia College trustee.

Maguire, an eminent domain attorney with Maguire Lassman P.A., serves on the boards of the Central Care Mission and the Youth Ministry Institute. He graduated from the University of Florida with honors and earned his law degree from Florida State University College of Law.

Maguire previously served on the trustee board from 2006 to 2011. He has led the Valencia Foundation board for more than 15 years as director, campaign captain and board chair.

Having worked with Raymer for the past 13 years, I have witnessed his gifts. He brings with him a candor, a clear sightedness, a questioning mind and an efficiency in accomplishing a goal, no matter how grand it is. In fact, when the foundation board was envisioning its first capital campaign a decade ago and received a feasibility study that suggested a $7 million to $12 million goal, Raymer challenged assumptions and challenged his fellow board members to think bigger. He said if we weren’t willing to shoot for $20 million, we might as well not bother.

His instincts were correct: The board and campaign raised $27.3 million, 10 percent of which came from board leaders.

Dean Maguire and her husband, Raymer III, with her First Place trophy.

Dean Maguire and her husband, Raymer III, with her First Place trophy.

Charitable giving and philanthropy are a family affair. Dean Maguire, an OCPS educator and Raymer’s bride, served as Valencia College’s VIP Star in the Femmes de Coeur “Lettuce Entertain You” fundraiser for nursing scholarships. Not surprisingly, Dean prevailed over dancers from UCF, Seminole State and Florida Hospital School of Nursing.

His father, Raymer Maguire Jr., helped found Valencia Community College and served on the board of trustees for 17 years. He also wrote the charter for Valencia Foundation in 1974, offering leadership and philanthropy for the rest of his lifetime. When I first arrived in Central Florida, Raymer Jr. escorted me about town to help me meet business and community leaders, and provided thoughtful insight and guidance.

The entire Maguire family has made substantial investments in student learning and academic excellence at Valencia through scholarships and faculty chairs.

Shortly after he passed away, the Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized Mr. Maguire as Philanthropist of the Year for Central Florida.

Raymer Maguire Jr.

Raymer Maguire Jr.

Scarcely can you venture throughout Central Florida without finding a street or building with the Maguire moniker.

Valencia’s West Campus Library is named in honor of Raymer Maguire Jr. He has long been known as the Father of Valencia Community College. Together with a band of determined community leaders, he demanded in the 1960s that higher education be available no matter your race, creed, means or family background. In that decade, the local private junior college would not admit students of color, Catholics or Jews.

Mr. Maguire, also an attorney, called his philanthropy and service “paying your civic rent,” and encouraged his colleagues, friends and neighbors to do their share. His generosity extended to many local organizations and prolifically to his alma mater, the University of Florida.

Today and for some two decades, his son Raymer III has been expanding the family legacy through his own generosity of time, talent, treasures and volunteerism on the Valencia Foundation and Valencia trustee boards.

Our genuine gratitude goes to the entire Maguire family for transforming the face of Central Florida forever.

As our mutual friend, Richard McCree Jr., once asked: “What would Central Florida look like if there had never been a Valencia?”


u.s. poet laureate lauds value of community colleges: saving lives and saving minds

U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan: “I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly — and with very little financial encouragement — saving lives and minds. I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle. A community college is where a student can progress from learning to read … to learning to read poetry.”

In less than 90 seconds, Ryan eloquently captures the essence of our mission.

Listen here.

Ryan taught remedial English part time for 30 years at the College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif., which helped her develop a deep appreciation for the role community colleges play in making education accessible throughout the nation.

Concerning poetry itself, Ryan describes it as an intensely personal experience for both writer and reader: “Poems are transmissions from the depths of whoever wrote them to the depths of the reader,” she said.

Her many awards include: the 2005 Gold Medal for Poetry from the San Francisco Commonwealth Club; the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from The Poetry Foundation in 2004; a Guggenheim fellowship the same year; and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship as well as the Maurice English Poetry Award in 2001.

You can learn more about Ryan and her work here, here, here, here and here.

a tribute to a dear friend

Over the holidays, Central Florida lost a dear friend, Frances Millican — the first First Lady of UCF. She was a devoted advocate of education and a tireless emblem for the university. When I arrived in Central Florida nine years ago, she took me under her wing, thanks to our mutual friendship with Helen Von Dolteren-Fournier.

Frances was the consummate fundraiser and offered me great insight. I was new to the community and also to fundraising, and I will always treasure her wise counsel. She never saw Valencia as a competitor but rather a collaborator, which also explains the amazing relationship between our institutions.

What I have heard over and over in the past few weeks about Frances is a true sentiment for me too: She made me feel like her most special buddy.

I believe she made everyone in her path feel uniquely close to her because she truly cared. She found the common ground and never forgot a name or a moment. She would never cease to amaze me with her personal gifts for hospitality and philanthropy. She embraced the causes she believed in and that belief and dedication was felt at every meeting with her.

The last time I saw her in November, she reminded me, with her very Southern gentility, that we had not been out for a private get-together recently — and that, clearly, we must remedy that! I looked forward to that future date, as I did to all the private chats and occasions we shared over the years.

It is said that behind every great man is a great woman. Certainly this was true of Frances and her devoted husband, Charlie. As his health began to fail, she stepped in to represent him even more so than before. She passed away because of a fall – she was helping Charlie, who had fallen as well. Loyal and loving, her immediate call was to a friend to request assistance for her husband.

 Charlie is the first one to tell you how instrumental Frances was during the founding of UCF, his tenure and their support ever since. If ever there were help mates, true partners together, Frances and Charlie fit the bill.

Valencia recognized her contributions to the advancement of learning in our community in April 2007. It was a meaningful, touching event that celebrated a two-plus-two scholarship named for Frances that connects students who graduate from Valencia and move on to attend UCF. About 80 percent of our AA grads do wind up at UCF, making our partnership the strongest two-plus-two relationship in the nation.

What cracked me up is that Frances always referred to us as neighbors and friends when she introduced me to other people. I was honored to be included in her circle of friends and yes, we did share a ZIP Code…but my corner of College Park and the neighborhood in which she and Charlie lived are a far cry from each other! But that was how she was. Frances saw commonalities in those she met, and I believe she did think of me as a neighbor and a friend. I suspect that was also a treasure she shared with every person she met: She appreciated you for who you were, and when Frances was talking to you (or about you) you felt like the most special person in the room and her closest pal.

Frances was exquisitely beautiful on the outside. The photos at her memorial showed this to be true. More importantly, though, she was even more gorgeous on the inside. Frances was one of those rare individuals who would remind you of shared memories — and remember names and details. When she was talking to you, you were the only person in the room – she never looked over your shoulder to see if someone more important was coming along.

What may not be widely known is that Frances was also a hoot! She enjoyed her friends, she was comfortable in her own skin and she appreciated the company of those both dear to her and new people, like me. She could be poised and perfect in a ceremonial role and just the best fun when she let her hair down. Although I knew her best through her public duties, I cherish those personal moments that brought amusement and laughter.

There just isn’t enough any of us, certainly not me, can say that would do Frances justice. Her husband and her friends did an amazing job at the memorial service and her sense of spirit and life was felt by all. But to truly know how lovely she was, you had to spend time with her. I treasure the time I had with her, although it was cut much too short. For those that knew Frances, I join with you in mourning the passing of our friend and colleague. And I am heartened by the fact that even those that didn’t know her will still feel her legacy. Her work on behalf of UCF, the important inroads she made in our partnership and the scholarship in her honor will continue to touch lives for years to come.

cfre designation


Orlando, FL – CFRE International has named Donna Marino, Valencia Foundation’s donor stewardship manager, a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Marino joins over 5,400 professionals around the world who hold the CFRE designation and has met a series of standards set by CFRE International which include tenure in the profession, education, demonstrated fundraising achievement and a commitment of service to Valencia Foundation and Valencia Community College. CFRE candidates must pass an exam which tests the knowledge, skills and abilities required of a fundraising executive.

“The CFRE process was developed as a way to identify for the public and employers those individuals who possess the knowledge, skills and commitment to perform fundraising duties in an effective, conscientious, ethical and professional manner,” states Susan Davies Goepp, CFRE, chair of CFRE International. “Achievement of the Certified Fund Raising Executive credential demonstrates the level of commitment on the part of Donna to herself and the profession as a whole.”

CFRE recipients are awarded certification for a three-year period. In order to maintain certification status, members must continue to demonstrate ongoing fundraising employment, fundraising results and continue with their professional education.

CFRE International is an independent organization whose sole mission is dedicated to the certification of fundraising executives by setting standards of philanthropy.

Valencia Foundation provides the margin of excellence for which Valencia Community College has long been known. The foundation is a separate, not-for-profit, IRS-approved 501(c)3 corporation chartered in 1974 with the objective of financially providing for the educational needs of students that cannot be met through state or federal assistance. Valencia Foundation’s mission 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

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.

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.

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?

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?

community colleges in prime time

Let’s face it, community colleges are often the Rodney Dangerfield of higher education on film and TV. I have cringed at the cheap shots.

But I get it.

Community colleges began in 1901 and swelled in the 1960s and ’70s, some 200 years after the first public US university opened. Until this current generation, two-year colleges were largely overlooked, serving primarily students with no other options. It was only a generation ago that most were junior colleges that looked a whole lot like 13th and 14th grades.

My how times have changed. Public community colleges are now the predominant mode of higher education nationwide and in Florida, enrolling 46 percent of all U.S. undergraduates. There are many other wondrous facts I could share with you about university-transfer rates,  closing achievement gaps, affordability, honors opportunities, diversity, lifelong learning and the like — but I’m really preaching to the converted here.

I raise the issue because NBC is unveiling a new fall show on Thursday nights, “Community,” debuting Sept. 17 at 9:30. I find it encouraging that we’re working our way into prime time; after all, most educational sitcoms take place in high schools. Is this a sign of our ubiquity?

It stars Chevy Chase. I’m not sure what that means exactly; I’m afraid I’m having a “Caddy Shack” flashback. The early previews (“a place where anyone can begin again”) are somewhat promising, though the description on the NBC website plays up the stereotypes. Of course comedy relies heavily on underdogs, and you’ll find a whole study group full of them on “Community.” (Think Isle of Misfit Toys).

Here is one preview.

What do you think?

We know that our colleges are places of hope and opportunity. I’m hopeful we’ll see some of that experience reflected here.

I’m willing to keep an open mind.

courageous conversations to support our learners

I read an article this weekend in the New York Times about how the economy is impacting the ability of students to afford tuition and of foundations and colleges to offer scholarships.

The article, “Scholarships for College Dwindle as Providers Pull Back Their Support,” paints a dismal picture of a perfect storm: At the same time families are struggling financially, institutions are cutting back on private student aid.

There’s a logic to a conservative approach by the leaders in higher education and nonprofits, to ensure their sustainability and long-term fiscal health.

Yet, if our mission is to serve students, how do we back down when the need has never been more urgent?

Valencia Foundation’s board asked itself that same question in many discussions over the past six months. They weren’t always easy conversations and the questions were challenging: Are we who we say we are if we take the easy way out? How do we ensure we meet our fiduciary responsibility for the financial future of the foundation? What if things get worse?

My observation is that the questions were a necessary part of the board’s due diligence but, as I watched, the outcome seemed to be a forgone conclusion. Their intention was to meet our mission and assist our students, whatever it takes.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some “yikes” moments along the way.

The next question was how, and that was a little simpler: We will raise the necessary unrestricted, new dollars to maintain our support from last year — and maybe even increase it a bit. That allows the endowment to recover at the same time that students are served.

The next steps will be less simple, securing those dollars. Over the past five years, the foundation tripled its disbursement of scholarship dollars, so the price tag is not modest and donors are tightening their philanthropic belts. (This reality inspired most of the yikes moments. :-))

It was a courageous commitment — official early this month — that runs counter to the strategy many nonprofits are taking, which is to await the economic upturn so they can return to normalcy. I can’t help wondering: At what price comes safety?

We have a volunteer board of 60 local leaders who “get it.” They are in this for the students and never forget they are our first priority.

Together with our loyal donors, we’ll make it happen. I have no doubt.

for students: sos funds may help in a pinch

Many of our students face sudden life crises that may force them out of school. Often they are an unexpected car bill, a change in child care arrangements, an insurance premium increase or other expenses that occur when “life happens.”

Too many times, a relatively minor expense looms large, and forces a student out of school.

The foundation makes available modest SOS grants — which don’t impact financial aid eligibility — of up to $300 to assist eligible students based on the recommendation of Valencia student advisers. The turnaround is typically just a few days.

The intention is to keep our students learning and enrolled in class, making progress toward their ultimate goals.

If you need a hand, please visit the student Answer Desk on campus to speak with an adviser and apply.

share your view

If you have a Valencia experience, we’d like to share it.

You might be a student, a professor, an alum or a donor.

Just send your post to and we will be sure to share.

lisa macon: the inspiration of students who defy the odds


As a child, I was often labeled “overachiever,” or, sometimes, “geek.” The term applied depended on who was doing the labeling. None of these semi-derogatory names vexed me in the slightest, because I knew I was going places. I was going to do the big things and, consequently, make the big bucks. I knew this without a doubt and no one dared to contradict me.

Flash forward to the year 1995, and my life was proceeding as planned. Following my BS degree – completed in 3.5 years, thank you very much – and my first master’s degree, I was working in a very exciting, fast-paced environment as a software developer for a highly priced, highly skilled consulting firm. We were doing cutting-edge work for high-profile clients and there was never a dull moment. My paychecks were big and my skill set was growing ever larger.

And I wanted to throw myself out of a fourth-story window every single day.

Here is what they don’t tell you in school – or at least, they didn’t tell you back then. Bosses are demanding and very often, mean. Your best work, which you were taught to produce as a student, is TOO good, and it won’t encourage the clients to call us back in to do more work and pay us more money later on. Profit-oriented business can be cut-throat, painful and completely unfriendly. I was making all the money in the world, but I had no will to spend it and my child was growing up behind my back while I missed most of the experience. It is difficult to explain how much I hated my work environment without resorting to some sort of profanity.

So, I left the business, went into temporary financial ruin, and re-evaluated my situation.

Life can take some strange and interesting routes to get you where you are meant to be. Following certain events such as divorce, moving to another state to sponge off very wonderful parents and learning to deal with single-motherhood, I found myself standing in front of a classroom of somewhat willing yet none-too-eager finite mathematics students at UCF when the thought occurred to me that for the first time in a long time, I was doing something I actually felt good about. And there was icing on the cake – I was getting paid to do it. Not much, mind you. But, still… getting paid, and most importantly, feeling good about it and not at all like jumping out of a window. This, my friends, was progress.

Continue reading

mdc invests $1 million in valencia and florida

MDC Inc. this week committed more than $1 million to Valencia and the state of Florida to expand groundbreaking developmental 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 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.

Valencia will receive $743,000 over three years. Continue reading

change a life: be a mentor

Perhaps my singular seminal experience (other than being a godmom) has been serving as a mentor.

Ashley and I were matched when she was 7 through Big Brothers Big Sisters in Houston. I still remember our first walk through a park (when she was getting to know me and we had the option of choosing another match opportunity if it was not a good “fit”), and she explained the entire ecosystem to me. Today she is 19 and we’ve shared so many priceless experiences.

I would not trade our time together for the world.

The ironic part is that you walk into this thinking you might be helping another person. What I discovered is that it had a tremendous impact on me. Some days I was sure that I was getting back way more than I was giving.

You, too, can become a mentor who has the opportunity to impact the life of a child through Take Stock in Children. This program is a little different, requiring just an hour a week onsite at the child’s school.

Valencia recently adopted the program, which offers middle school students a coach and a full 2+2 scholarship once they graduate from high school after having fulfilled their covenant of good grades and solid discipline.

We need more mentors.

Are you the one?

Please check out the Valencia site and apply if it seems like a good fit for your life. Details also are below.

As many of you know, Valencia is in its second year of implementing the Orange County Take Stock in Children initiative.  We recruited 65 mentors to kick off last year and we are welcoming 40 new mentors for the 2009-2010 school year. Continue reading

freddie filmore jr. scholarship

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.

Continue reading

easy way to help raise scholarships

A Taste for Learning will be Oct.17 at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort.

If you are wondering how you can help: Here’s an easy way.

Ask your routine service providers (nails, hair. spa, house cleaning, car maintenance, restaurants, golf, yard, a/c, plumbing (etc.) if they would offer a gift certificate.

Every dollar doubles through the first generation grant.

golf and scholarships: a good day

The American Institute of Architects’ Orlando chapter organized yet another wonderful round of golf, benefiting student scholarships. To date they’ve raised $115,000, not counting today’s earnings.

It was a toasty day but the event was amazing and perfect!

I’d like to thank Michael Lingerfelt and his AIA volunteers for orchestrating. I appreciate Anissa Alvarez, on our foundation team, for her leadership. And I cannot forget CT Hsu and Alan Helman, who brought the idea to me about eight years ago, inspired by CREW’s awesome history of tournament fundraising that has generated an endowment of about a quarter of a  million dollars.

It takes a village to raise children. It also takes a village to raise the scholarships we need to ensure that deserving students stand a chance. So many people invested in this tournament, and I am very grateful to each of you.

our students thank you

I receive many thank you notes from students. Sometimes they come in the form of those singing cards that I open again and again (I readily admit that I am easily amused; I was drawn for days to a friend’s work website that offered me a standing ovation and applause every time I visited).

But each student note is special. And each one tells a story.

Over time, we will share many of the messages we receive from students — and encourage those who are willing to post directly here.

But in the meantime, here are a few excerpts I’d like to share:

Thank you for believing in humanity. At this time in every aspect of society the financial crunch is being felt by all. The funds you have donated will be well spent by me and will surely be appreciated. Again, I must thank you for believing. – J. Bryan

It is an honor to be recognized for my hard work, and receiving this scholarship motivates me to continue to strive for excellence. Your generosity has made a profound impact on my life, and I am truly grateful to be the recipient of this scholarship. I thank you for your confidence and willingness to help me achieve my educational goals. – D. Ross

I would like to thank you for being chosen as a recipient for your scholarship. This scholarship will help with books and supplies for my education. Earning my degree will be very rewarding, but knowing that there are people who care and will be there for you means a lot. I would like to express my deepest appreciation for your sincere kindness. – L. James

As a single mother of five children, attending Valencia is a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. Juggling the demands of a full-time job, parenting and being a student requires a lot of energy, faith and support. Your assistance means a great deal to me and my children, as I always remind them that my education has been a team effort between all of us. Thank you for your continued support. – A. Llorca

To each of you who has invested in the life of another, I thank you. Our students thank you. If we had a standing ovation/applause widget, it would honor you!

please give us your opinion

on gratitude: featuring poetry by sandy

One of the great joys of my work is that every day is different. But amid the diversity a common theme emerges: Every day I get to help make people’s dreams come true. It’s nourishing work.

Sometimes it’s the donor who is able to honor the immigrant parents who ensured she went to college by endowing a scholarship in their memory. Or a benefactor who wishes to provide the opportunities for students that he never had growing up.

Many times it means that a young man will be able to attend college and break the cycle of poverty, or a single mom can balance her life with her studies to earn a degree, serving as a role model for her little ones.

A young man who grew up on food stamps and free lunches is able to visit South America to study abroad, soaking up the culture, history, politics, arts and language in a way that just can’t happen from reading a book. Or a woman experiences the bone-chilling concentration camps first hand, bringing history to life.

A midlife parent realizes that there is opportunity beyond the recession, as he trains for and builds a new career to support his family. A mother flees with her children and the clothes on her back to escape abuse and start anew. The life stories of so many of our students demonstrate triumph over adversity. Continue reading

what is your high school grad doing this fall?

Here’s a fun little video. A a word to the wise: Classes are filling up quickly and some have already closed out for fall semester. So if you’re planning to attend, be sure to apply and enroll soon.

And if you have any questions, send us a note. We’ll find the answer or get you to the right person.

welcome to second life

Valencia has been busily acquiring property to help accommodate our burgeoning student population. You probably know that we’re planning for new campuses in southeast and southwest Orlando. But the real estate I’m referring to is virtual and resides on Second Life, where the college has a building and is in the process of buying another.

I visited Second Life, and to be perfectly honest I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around it yet. Of course I’m not the target demographic. But it’s intriguing to watch learning change with each new wave of technology. I’ve read about SL over the past few years, as virtual real estate moguls amassed real dollars. I’m not sure if the recession has hit the online real estate market. (For details on the SL campus, see the very end of this post.)

Continue reading

architects raise much needed scholarships


We’re anxiously awaiting the June 19 golf outing with our friends from the local architecture community. Central Florida’s top architectural design professionals have been busily planning the 20th annual AIA Orlando Golf Tournament benefiting Valencia Community College Foundation scholarship fund and the AIA Orlando Chapter. The goal for this tournament is to raise scholarship funds for students in financial need. During the past seven years this tournament has raised more than $115,000 in scholarships!


This year the event will tee off at the The Reunion Resort. Continue reading

nisod recognizes excellence in teaching and learning

Congratulations to five of our talented Valencia employees, nominated by colleagues and selected by a representative group of peers to receive the 2009 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence in Learning Leadership Award: Priscilla Gray, Linda Hidek, Ilyse Kusnetz, Lisa Macon and James May.

take stock in children celebrates mentoring

Students from Lee Middle School, Lockhart Middle School and Howard Middle School gathered at Valencia Community College for a ceremony celebrating their selection for the 2009-2010 Take Stock in Children program in Orange County.


Take Stock in Children is a statewide initiative that provides underserved students with a college scholarship and a mentor in the effort to help them stay in school, earn a high school diploma, graduate from college and enter the workforce.
Participating students are recruited in the seventh grade and continue on until they graduate high school. Students and parents must sign performance contracts agreeing to get good grades, exhibit positive behaviors and remain drug and crime free.
“These students are making a covenantal commitment – a promise to do their best and achieve at their highest potential,” said Valencia President Sanford Shugart. “We make the promise that if you make that commitment, college is here for you.” Continue reading

how do today’s students learn?

Is it true that the only constant is change? The world is changing. With Web 2.0 engrossing people all over the globe, the way students learn is changing very dramatically too. Valencia’s professors have been embarking on creative delivery of learning to engage today’s students. Over the past few years our endowed faculty chair applications have shown increasing levels of innovation designed to facilitate learning.

Here is an insightful video that demonstrates the new learning dynamic occurring every day in our classrooms.

What do you think?

florida citrus sports donates $1 million to take stock


Sandy Shugart, Elisha Gonzalez-Bonnewitz, Chuck Beverly and Chuck Olgilvy

Florida Citrus Sports Chief Executive Officer Steve Hogan announced today that the FCSports Foundation has made a $1 million donation to help Valencia bring Take Stock in Children (TSIC) to Orange County. FCSports, the founding partner, has committed to sponsor children for five years in the program at $200,000 per year.

Take Stock in Children is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships and mentors to qualifying low-income, at-risk youth in Florida. Since its inception in 1995, it has served more than 17,600 students through use of the Florida pre-paid college fund. Prior to the collaborative effort of Valencia and FCSports, Orange County was the lone county in the state without the widely successful program. Continue reading

campaign raises $27 million

Valencia Foundation recently celebrated the successful culmination of its first-ever campaign to support Valencia Community College (Valencia). With a mid-2004 kick-off, the campaign drew more than $27 million in community support, exceeding its $20 million goal.

This year, the college will serve about 60,000 students, many of whom will need financial assistance to learn, train and retool, particularly in this challenging economic environment.

“Our students need us now more than ever, and we are grateful to our friends and partners in Central Florida for their consistent and increasing support even as they face a tough economy that impacts their own families and businesses,” says Helen Von Dolteren-Fournier, Esq., who serves as the foundation board chairwoman and principal in AEGIS Law Advisers in Winter Park.

Since 2001, the foundation”s endowment has tripled, growing from $17.2 million in 2001 to $52.6 million in 2008. Continue reading

crew golf drives home scholarships

I would like to share my sincerest gratitude to the women (and men) of Commercial Real Estate Women of Orlando for another successful golf tourney, proceeds to benefit student scholarships. They’ve raised about a quarter of a million dollars for Valencia students so far — and are now helping us to provide 2+2 scholarships for Valencia/UCF students, an area of especially urgent need. I appreciate each of you!

gg golf pix

Former CREW golf chair Jim Grumberg

mike bosley places first in nursing scholarship dance-off

I’m proud to announce that at the 2009 charity dance-off, choreographed by Femmes de Coeur friends and donors, Valencia was triumphant! Among the four nursing schools competing, our hoofer, Dr. Michael Bosley, assistant provost of our new Lake Nona campus and husband of speech professor and foundation board member, Dr. Amy, WON hands down (or is that feet down)! My sincere gratitude to FDC and Mike! You rock!