New campus on horizion in Poinciana, Fla.


Frank Shala / Valencia Voice

Board member Maria Grulich (L) sits next to Valencia College president Dr. Sandy Shugart (R).

Valencia College Board of Trustees meeting discussed expansion of international opportunities, funding and construction plans for a new campus in Poinciana, and the first-ever multi-campus student advisory board. The board also accepted three new trustees and bid farewell to long-time board member, Jo Quittschreiber.

An all-women’s university currently underway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia sought out Valencia to collaborate on the development of degree programs together. College president, Dr. Sanford Shugart, claims that the Saudi Arabian educators viewed us as the “Harvard of community college.” Valencia College’s senior executive of strategic initiatives and economic development, Dr. Gaby Hawat, has spent much of recent months working in Riyadh as the point-person on this international deal.

Dr. Shugart declared that the board would be making efforts to expand the establishment’s international reach through greater foreign enrollment as well as study abroad opportunities for its local students. More opportunities in cross-cultural curriculum will soon be offered at all campuses. These changes reflect his stance that “cross-cultural learning is important.”

The next Valencia College campus will soon break ground in Poinciana for construction of a 60,000-square-foot building. Senator Soto met with representatives on Monday and enthusiastically supported this move to new territory. A funding proposal is now forming, considering support options from the county and the state as an “economically distressed area.”

With enrollment down by 2.5%-2.6% from last year, the new campus could significantly increase enrollment statistics. The board hopes that this location will also carry out its goal to maintain cultural diversity by increasing the population of Hispanic students.

President of the East Campus Student Government Association, or “SGA,” Jacob Howe, reported the outcome of the first meeting. SGA’s focus this year is to create unity among students throughout the campus, college, community, and state. This includes involvement opportunities for non-traditional students as well as the first board of student advisors to represent all campuses as one.

The board heavily discussed finances with a focus on getting more annually recurring funds for the college. One suggestion recently made by Dr. Shugart to the state is to exempt textbooks from sales tax, which would benefit schools statewide. A first look into the probable governor’s requests, suggested from the state board legislative budget report, may provide about $48 million, which Shugart claims “will not be enough to meet our needs.”

Since duel enrollment of high school students makes up 4% of Valencia’s total enrollment, the funding for this program is becoming a problem, as it is essentially an “unfunded scholarship program,” according to Shugart. He believes that a law for state funds to follow the student, not the school, for courses could be the answer. Vice chair, Lewis Oliver, plans to make an appeal with Shugart to a representative to break down the affordability of educating a high school student at a community college.

The board also announced its plans to improve the curriculum with updates influenced by the Senate Bill 1720 to include a new course in student success to be piloted in the 2014 fall term, to be required in fall of 2015 for all new students, according to Deidre Holmes DuBois.

Three new members were accepted as board trustees, welcomed “to the family” by chairwoman Maria Grulich. The board also said goodbye to Jo Quittschreiber, long-time trustee, with a presentation of gifts that included a caricature portrait, personalized blouse, and many kind words.