Valencia College, UCF to Open Joint Downtown Campus on Aug. 26

ORLANDO – Two years after breaking ground for a new campus, Valencia College and the University of Central Florida will officially open their new joint downtown campus on Monday, Aug. 26.  On that day, more than 7,000 students from Valencia College and UCF are scheduled to begin taking classes at the 15-acre campus, which is located just west of downtown Orlando.

The joint downtown campus is part of a greater initiative — a plan to build a campus that would give students the chance to start and finish their bachelor’s degrees in one place – and in a location that provides students with the chance to land internships and part-time jobs in the many offices and businesses in the downtown area.

Valencia College will offer general education courses for an Associate in Arts degree — which is the basic two-year degree that enables students to transfer to a four-year college or university to earn their bachelor’s degrees. In addition, Valencia College has relocated several of the college’s Associate in Science degree programs, which are two-year workforce degree programs that provide extensive workforce training.

The programs moving to the new downtown campus are:  Baking and Pastry Management; Culinary Management; Hospitality and Tourism Management; Restaurant and Food Service Management; Digital Media’s Web Development specialization; and Health Information Technology.

A $1.5 million donation from Walt Disney World Resort helped fund new, state-of-the-art classrooms and new equipment for the culinary and hospitality management programs, which has been renamed the Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts & Hospitality.   The center occupies three floors and approximately 50,000 square feet of space in UnionWest, a 15-story building that also features classrooms, student services and on-campus housing for Valencia and UCF students.

Special features in the new Walt Disney World Center for Culinary Arts & Hospitality include:

  • A chocolate lab, where students can learn how to spray chocolate coatings on pastries and create culinary showpieces using colored chocolate;
  • Artisanal bread-baking ovens in each baking and pastry lab;
  • A “micro-green” growing cabinet where students can grow micro greens, herbs and baby lettuces;
  • An Italian ice-cream machine that can produce gelato and American-style ice cream;
  • Digital ceiling cameras in each lab for live demonstrations; and
  • A mixology lab with a 27-foot-long teaching bar.

But the downtown Orlando campus has another role: to provide opportunity to a neighborhood that has long been neglected.  In building the new downtown campus,  Valencia College and UCF are also partnering with leaders in the Parramore community to provide opportunities to both children and adults in the largely African-American neighborhood west of Interstate 4.

To do so, the college has created a number of scholarships for students from the surrounding neighborhoods. For adults who want short-term job training, the college has opened a new Center for Accelerated Training on nearby Pittman Street.  There, Valencia offers short-term workforce training classes to teach adults how to create electronic circuit boards for manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, as well as a class designed to teach students the skills needed to work in warehouse and distribution centers.  Coming soon will be other courses, including a 22-week program to teach students how to become industrial maintenance technicians. Students who enroll in the program may be  eligible for up to $5,000 in tuition funding from Career Source Central Florida.

Click here to learn more about Valencia College Downtown.