Dr. Sanford C. “Sandy” Shugart, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Central Florida at UCF’s Dec. 14 commencement ceremony, in honor of his contributions to Central Florida’s education community.
Dr. John C. Hitt, UCF’s president, presented Shugart with a Doctor of Humane Letters, saying that Shugart’s “exceptional leadership at Valencia College has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of students and created a national model for higher education.”
Shugart also served as the commencement speaker for the graduation ceremonies for the College of Arts & Humanities, College of Graduate Studies, College of Sciences, College of Undergraduate Studies and the College of Nursing..
“My message to the class of 2012 is: Be careful. Your work could form you, deform you, transform you,” Shugart told the graduates. “When you look back on the trajectory of your career, wouldn’t you want it to be a journey rather than a rat race?”
More than 4,700 students were expected to participate in graduation ceremonies on Dec. 14 and 15.
Shugart is the president of Valencia College, which was named the nation’s top community college in 2012 by the Aspen Institute.
During his 12-year tenure, Valencia has pioneered changes that have resulted in dramatic improvements in student learning and graduation rates. Today, Valencia is ranked third among the nation’s colleges in the number of associate degrees awarded.
In 2006, Shugart worked with Hitt to create DirectConnect to UCF, an innovative transfer program that guarantees admission to UCF to students who earn their associate degrees at Valencia and three other local state colleges.
Today, that program is recognized as a national model – both as a successful transfer program and one of the most affordable ways to earn a bachelor’s degree. DirectConnect has also been recognized for increasing bachelor’s degrees for minority students. In October, Valencia’s DirectConnect to UCF program was selected by Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, as America’s top program for increasing academic opportunities and success for Latino students at the associate level.
Shugart earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts in Teaching, and his doctorate in education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before taking the presidency of Valencia in 2000, Shugart served as president of North Harris College in Houston, and Vice President of the North Carolina Community College System. He is also a published author, poet and musician.