Construction Set to Begin on Lake Nona Campus

Valencia College held a groundbreaking ceremony today for the first building of its new Lake Nona Campus, opening opportunities for students to study biomedical and life sciences and earn their associate degrees.

Located in the northeast quadrant of Lake Nona’s “medical city,” the campus will join UCF’s medical school, the Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, Nemours Children’s Hospital and the VA Medical Center.

Representatives from those organizations were among the more than 80 community and political leaders who gathered to celebrate Valencia’s fifth campus.

“When we knew we needed a presence in southeast Orange County, Lake Nona loomed large,” said Valencia President Sanford Shugart,” citing Lake Nona’s appeal as a community where “education is a primary part of the design.”

In addition to offering advanced science and math courses leading to the Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree, the campus will focus on meeting the technical training and employment needs of the surrounding research facilities and hospitals, as well as Orlando International Airport.

“We are delighted to bring a campus to the Lake Nona community that will allow us to expand our course offerings and develop new programs to support the unique economic development needs of the region,” said Kathleen Plinske, president of the Lake Nona and Osceola campuses.

Valencia has offered college courses in a wing of Lake Nona High School since 2009, both to the general community and through its Collegiate Academy, where high school students can enroll in advanced placement and dual enrollment courses leading to an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree.

There are currently 364 students enrolled in the Collegiate Academy, and 9 out of the top 10 students at Lake Nona High School are Collegiate Academy members. To date, 39 Lake Nona seniors have graduated with college credit and one with a full A.A. degree earned as part of the Collegiate Academy. Also, two Collegiate Academy graduates have received prestigious appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Collegiate Academy is built on the belief that students can do more. They can go deeper, faster and farther than you think they can,” said Shugart.

When it opens in August of 2012, the three-story, 83,000 square-foot building will contain 18 classrooms, six science labs, a library, a bookstore, small café and administrative offices.

Built at a cost of $21.7 million, this is the first of four buildings proposed for the campus, which will eventually accommodate about 5,000 students and total a minimum of 250,000 square feet.

The campus features an environmentally friendly design based on specifications set by Green Building Initiatives, a Portland, Oregon based non-profit. “Green” features include energy saving lights and air conditioning, reflective roofing materials, recycled construction materials and native landscaping that requires very little piped irrigation.

The contractor for the project is PPI Construction. Schenkel Shultz is the architectural firm.

The Lake Nona Campus website has construction updates and additional information:

Photographed (L to R): Chase Smith, Orange County mayor’s office; Carol Clark, Orange County mayor’s office; Kathleen Plinske, Lake Nona Campus provost; Frank Billingsley, chief of staff to Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando; Commissioner Phil Diamond, City of Orlando; Michael Bosley, Lake Nona Campus vice provost; Bertica Cabrera Morris, Valencia Board of Trustees vice chair; Sandy Shugart, Valencia president; Florida Senator Thad Altman; and Jerry Buchanan, Valencia Board of Trustees member.

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