Valencia opens Lake Nona campus

LAKE NONA — Valencia students will finally have the chance to get to know Nona.
The college’s inaugural Lake Nona campus celebrated the opening of its flagship building this Thursday evening with a ribbon cutting ceremony preceded by a series of speeches and a meet-and-greet between college and city officials.
Upon arrival, a smiling assemblage of student leaders clad in bright red Valencia polo shirts and glittering bronze name badges, greeted attendees. Leading those leaders was SGA President, and proud Lake Nona student, Paola Santos.

“Right now the campus is blank; students have the opportunity to suggest and take the lead on everything they want to see happening on campus, whether it’s sports or SGA. To see the student body unite is going to be really exciting,” said Santos.

The completed 83,000-square-foot building is the first of four planned for the site. Through its partnership with nearby Medical City, the location aims to focus on math and the sciences. Featuring 18 high-tech smart classrooms, six labs ranging in focus from biotech to chemistry, a shaded inner courtyard, a digital library, full student support services, a café and a bookstore, the campus is ready to welcome its first students.

When speaking of the building’s design, Executive Dean Dr. Michael Bosley said that engineers tried to cultivate a “woodland feel” and a “sense of space.” And according to Bosley, they are already planning a mirror of the building across the current courtyard.

“Think of this building as a big hug that surrounds our students everyday,” said Bosley, with a smile.

“When students walk in they always share that they feel this tranquility within the building,” said Santos in a similar reflection of the building’s character.

The campus, which just opened for business for this current fall semester, is already attracting students. According to Kathleen Plinske, president of both Osceola and Lake Nona campuses, the location has already enrolled upwards of 1500 students.

During the array of speeches, college President Sandy Shugart encouraged a grand vision for the area’s future.

“Rarely in the career of a college president do you get to build in a place that has a real vision for the future,” said Shugart in his speech.

He also praised the environmental sustainability of the building’s design, which is slated to achieve a level 2 Green Globes Certification from a Portland, Ore. based nonprofit, according to a Valencia news release.

“Imagine a place where everything is sustainable. Imagine a place that has the most beautiful town center in Florida by design,” said Shugart.

Speakers in the dedication included Dr. Bosley, President Shugart and Mayor Buddy Dyer. Those in attendance included City Commissioner Jim Gray, senatorial staffers, engineers, college trustees and board members.

Immediately following the ribbon cutting, which was repeated multiple times to allow all of the groups involved in the project a chance to cut, were guided tours and science demonstrations.

“The opportunity that students have here is boundless,” said Santos.

Visit the Lake Nona campus website for more information: