Looking Back on 50 Years

Looking Back on 50 Years


After a long struggle, funds were approved for Valencia Junior College and Albert T. Craig became the first college president. Raymer Maguire, Jr. and the Charter Committee helped assemble faculty.


After a long struggle, funds were approved for Valencia Junior College and Albert T. Craig became the first college president. Raymer Maguire, Jr. and the Charter Committee helped assemble faculty.

1967 – 69

Valencia leadership used student activity fees to host traveling cultural events like the opera, La Traviata, which was held at the Orlando Municipal Auditorium (present-day Bob Carr Theater) in 1969.

1968 – 69

Valencia’s first sports teams suit up for competition. Basketball squad earns a
16 – 12 record.


First Commencement held downtown at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando.


James Gollattscheck is appointed as the college’s second president, and college leadership attend groundbreaking of West Campus. To replace the citrus trees uprooted during the construction of the new permanent campus, members of the Orlando Garden Club donated various species of trees to adorn Valencia’s new home.


Thelma Dudley forms the Black Advisory Committee to serve as a liaison between Valencia College and Orlando’s black community, providing advice and direction to Valencia’s Board of Trustees and President.


West Campus opens for classes. Biology Professor Charlie Jean Salter gives students instruction on a procedure.


East Campus opens on Econlockhatchee Trail in Orange County, becoming the college’s second permanent site. Initially, people referred to the campus as “Gollattscheck’s Folly” as it was located in, what many regarded at the time, a far-flung area of the county. Today, East Campus has the highest enrollment of all five Valencia campuses.


Valencia Matadors baseball team wins the state championship.



Early intramural activities thrived throughout the decade with groups for archery, racquetball and volleyball.


Under the tutelage of African-American faculty members, Fannie Mae Butler and Thelma Dudley, newly-hired administrator Geraldine Thompson launches the College Reach Out Program (CROP) enrolling a more diverse student body. The program was a precursor to the popular Bridges to Success program.


Paul Gianini is appointed as the third college president. During his tenure, Valencia pushes for more engagement with growing industry and expanding innovation in Central Florida.


African American Cultural Society continues to grow, and in 1990, the student group hosts Rosa Parks, who delivered a speech at St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church.


First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Microsoft founder Bill Gates visit on separate occasions to speak with Valencia students and faculty.


Permanent Osceola campus opens on Denn John Lane near downtown Kissimmee. With a design founded on “classical-age geometry,” the campus’s 45- and 90-degree angles create open spaces for students looking to congregate in between classes and at events.


The Winter Park Campus is established on Morse Boulevard, moving from a series of office buildings on US Highway 17-92.


Dr. Sandy Shugart is appointed as Valencia’s fourth College President.


Walt Disney World Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts opens on West Campus.


President Shugart and UCF President John Hitt collaborate to establish a groundbreaking, guaranteed transfer agreement, known as DirectConnect, strengthening the 2+2 model and adding to the success and diversity of UCF. In 2014 – 2015, 30 percent of UCF’s minority grads came from Valencia.


President Shugart signs the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment. Since then, through carbon emissions accounting and goal setting, Valencia has reduced energy usage by 47 percent while increasing square footage of its buildings by 25 percent.


Valencia College becomes the first recipient of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, receives recognition from longtime community college instructor, Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Valencia was chosen based on the strength of its graduation and transfer rates, as well as the high job placement rates of its workforce training programs.


Valencia’s permanent Lake Nona Campus opens in Medical City, enrolling more than 1,600 students in the first semester.


President Barack Obama visits West Campus to discuss healthcare and income equality for women.


Basic construction program launches in Osceola to meet growth in Central Florida, while providing alternative education pathways to non-traditional students including ex-convicts looking to avoid recidivism.


According to Community College Week, Valencia College ranked 4th in the nation in associate’s degrees awarded. Carrying on the legacy and vision of the college’s early leadership, 51 percent of degrees go to minority students.


Advanced Manufacturing Training Center opens offering a talent pipeline for corporations specializing in industrial innovation, such as Lockheed Martin, a frequent collaborator with Valencia since the junior college days.


Valencia breaks ground on Poinciana Campus in West Osceola County. At the same time, East Campus in Orange County breaks ground on its 30,705 square-foot Film, Sound and Music Tech Building.

Spring 2017

Valencia breaks ground on its joint downtown campus with UCF. Located in the Creative Village, Valencia will play a crucial role in providing affordable and accessible higher education to more of the public—just as the college did when it opened a temporary campus on Oak Ridge Road.

Happy Birthday Valencia College

Thanks to all of our grads and friends in the community who wished us a Happy Birthday! Together, we have truly made 50 Years of Better Tomorrows.

 Valencia College 50th Anniversary Show

Valencia’s 50th Anniversary Show was a night of celebrations, featuring performances from the college’s vocal, instrumental, jazz, commercial music, theater, musical theater and dance departments. The evening concluded with a special finale performance by Valencia College’s president, Sandy Shugart.