Valencia Community College will soon be known as Valencia College after trustees today approved President Sanford Shugart’s recommendation to rename the school to more accurately convey its mission and program mix.
“The name Valencia College conveys who we are and all that we offer and may yet deliver in fulfillment of our mission,” said Shugart in an e-mail to faculty and staff earlier this week. “It is consistent with the evolving higher education landscape in Florida and with our position in it.”
Shugart stressed that the college remains committed to its core principles of an “open door,” affordable tuition, and a learning-centered philosophy for which it has become known as one of the best community colleges in the nation. Valencia produces more associate degree graduates than any two-year college in America.
In their discussions, trustees emphasized that Valencia is now the “primary on ramp” to higher education for Central Florida with more than 60,000 students. More than twice as many local high school graduates enroll at Valencia than at all public universities in the state combined.
“Valencia loves its role in serving a very broad range of students in this community and is arguably one of the best in the nation at achieving the vision of a community college,” said Raymer F. Maguire, III, chair of Valencia’s District Board of Trustees.
The college’s highly successful guaranteed transfer program into UCF, known as DirectConnect, has also turned Valencia into a sought-after college destination for many students. More than 20 percent of UCF’s upper division is made up of Valencia transfers with many in the pipeline, thanks to the seamless transition.
Valencia launches its own bachelor’s degree programs for the first time in its history next fall, with electrical and computer engineering technology and radiologic and imaging science. They add to an already strong presence of bachelor’s programs offered through UCF’s regional campus at Valencia.
“We’re pleased to see Valencia moving forward with the offering of select bachelor’s degrees,” said UCF Board of Trustee Chair Rick Walsh. “I believe our partnership can only be strengthened as we work together to ensure students a path toward degree completion.”
On Valencia’s West Campus, UCF offers complete bachelor’s degrees in applied science, architecture, business administration, criminal justice, electrical engineering, elementary education, interdisciplinary studies, legal studies, nursing, political science, psychology and sociology. On Osceola Campus, UCF offers bachelor’s degrees in applied science, business administration, elementary education, interdisciplinary studies and psychology.
Valencia’s workforce offerings are highly regarded with signature programs in film, nursing, hospitality and culinary, digital media, and computer technology.
Driven by a belief that “anyone can learn anything under the right circumstances,” Valencia has instituted several innovative strategies to improve academic performance for students in their critical first year of college, including linking paired courses to strengthen learning, and placing specially trained student leaders in the classroom to offer support and tutoring.
The success of these reforms has earned Valencia support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through non-profit group MDC, Inc., who gave Valencia almost three-quarters of a million dollars last year to expand its efforts to close educational achievement gaps across racial and ethnic lines.
Valencia also operates several programs, including Take Stock in Children and Bridges, that identify at-risk students prior to college and provides them with mentors coupled with financial support throughout their academic careers.
Valencia operates six campuses and centers in Orange and Osceola counties offering credit and continuing education programs. In 2012 it will open a new campus in Lake Nona. The college was founded in 1967 as Valencia Junior College and renamed in 1972 as Valencia Community College.
The college conducted a year-long consultation with students, faculty, and business leaders inviting them to share their thoughts on Valencia’s mission. Many attended campus forums and weighed in on the issue. “We were very open, thoughtful and deliberate about this step,” said Shugart. “Valencia holds a unique position in this community but also in many hearts and minds. This move comes at the right time and for the right reasons.”
The name change will take effect July 1, 2011. Officials say the college will incur only minimal costs to implement the name, leaving unchanged its well-recognized Valencia logo, adopted in the mid 1990s. The official college seal, used since 1967, will see slight modifications.