Valencia College will soon open its fifth campus in Lake Nona Medical City, where it will train students for careers in the life sciences, as well as offer traditional coursework toward the associate degree. Although the fall semester officially begins Aug. 27, student services staff will be available to help students starting Aug. 20.
The three-story, 83,000 square-foot building replaces shared space at nearby Lake Nona High School, and is the first of four buildings proposed for the branch campus. This month, the campus received its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
When the new campus opens, it will feature 18 “smart” classrooms, six science labs—including a biotech lab—a library, a bookstore, small café and student services offices. Sitting areas throughout are meant to encourage studying in groups, catching up with friends, or just contemplating the third-floor view of Lake Whippoorwill.
But the primary focus—at least for campus leaders—will be on math and science. And students seem to be responding, with those courses filling up as fast as the college can offer them.
Teaching part-time are four scientists who work in Medical City labs. Other scientists will be invited to campus to share their research projects with students in a monthly lunchtime series called “Hungry Minds.”
“We are also in the process of developing a Life Sciences Institute,” said Michael Bosley, executive dean of the Lake Nona Campus, “and are exploring opportunities for collaborations with UCF’s College of Medicine, Nemours Children’s Hospital, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Orlando VA Medical Center, and the University of Florida Academic & Research Center.”
Together with Valencia’s Osceola Campus, a new Associate in Science degree in biotechnology is planned for the fall of 2013 and programs in physical and occupational therapy are also in the works.
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 degree. As of last spring, there were 400 students enrolled in the Collegiate Academy, up from 33 two years ago.
Built at a cost of $21.7 million by the design-build team of SchenkelShultz Architecture and PPI Construction, the campus features an environmentally friendly design. “Green” features include energy saving lights and air conditioning, reflective roofing materials, recycled construction materials and native landscaping that requires very little piped irrigation. It is slated to achieve a Level 2 Green Globes Certification based on specifications set by Green Building Initiatives, a Portland, Oregon based non-profit.
The Lake Nona Campus website has construction updates and additional information: http://valenciacc.edu/lakenona/