Construction Phase of Film, Sound and Music Building Reaches Milestone
The “topping out” ceremony took place on November 15, and the East Campus’ state-of-the-art film, sound and music production building is one step closer to completion, set for July 2017. Currently, the arts-oriented East Campus has almost 800 students pursuing associate degrees in either film production or sound and music technology, increasingly popular fields that music production program chair Raul Valery says can lead to “high-demand, high-wage” jobs. The new $15 million, 30,705 square-foot building will double the capacity by introducing two professional recording studios; a 2,500 square-foot sound stage; and 125-seat screening theater. Valencia will also become one of the first sites in the nation and the only public college in the Southeast to house a Dolby-certified Atmos® immersive mixing and dubbing room.
Sound and music technology students will have the opportunity to gain real experience in the control room as professors train them in subjects as specific as sound restoration and archiving. Students will have access to two mixing suites: one featuring Dolby-certified equipment for Virtual Reality Gaming and one for multi-channel broadcast sound. The film production and sound and music technology programs will move into the building in the fall semester of 2017.
Valencia Ranks 4th in Number of Associate Degrees
Based on a ranking of more than 3,600 colleges and universities published in Community College Week in September, Valencia ranked 4th in associate degrees awarded. This comes after 7,625 degrees were awarded in the 2014/2015 school year, a three percent jump from the previous year. Fifty-one percent of last year’s degrees were awarded to minority students, which puts Valencia at 4th in degrees awarded to Hispanic students and 6th for degrees awarded to African-American students.
Commenting on the recent accolades, college President Sandy Shugart cited Valencia’s continued dedication to the success of an ever-diverse student body. “For the past decade the college has targeted its efforts toward helping students from all backgrounds succeed. These rankings underscore the role that Valencia plays as the first step to college for many students in Central Florida.”
The college’s continued success in this category goes beyond the two-year mark. The DirectConnect to UCF program has contributed to Valencia’s high transfer rate—considered one of the highest in the nation—paving the path to four-year degrees for more than 36,000 students since 2006.
College Leads Charge to Address Nursing Shortage
With the number of vacant nursing jobs climbing steadily since 2013, the state is expected to need 10,000 new registered nurses by the end of 2016. To tackle the nursing shortage, Valencia College has been part of a multi-stakeholder task force including local hospital systems, the University of Central Florida, Seminole State College and Lake-Sumter State College. Leading this regional initiative is former Orlando Health Administrator Anne Peach.
At a regional nursing summit held in October, the major hospitals and nursing schools in the five-county region met to identify the needs and challenges: high demand for registered nurses and even higher demand for registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees; a surplus of qualified candidates for nursing programs at local colleges and universities; and the lack of educational capacity to train all those who are interested in becoming nurses. As Rise Sandrowitz, Valencia’s dean of nursing, told the Orlando Sentinel, “We can’t graduate them fast enough.”
While Valencia currently offers nursing students the chance to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing quickly – by taking associate-level and upper-level UCF classes concurrently – the task force is searching for additional creative solutions to the nursing shortage. These could come in the form of night and weekend courses, or in-hospital courses that would allow hospital employees to earn a nursing degree.
Poinciana Campus Set to Open in Fall 2017
Meeting the increasing demand for higher education in the western edge of Osceola County, Valencia broke ground on its Poinciana Campus last spring. By October, construction was in full swing. When the 19-acre campus opens for classes in Fall 2017, college officials expect to enroll 1,500 students from the Poinciana area, an estimation that factors in both existing Valencia students and aspiring ones previously deterred by long commute times to the Osceola campus.
Valencia leaders first began looking at Poinciana as a possible location in 2003; they submitted a formal request to the state legislature in 2013. In Tallahassee, state legislators Rep. Mike LaRosa (R-Osceola) and Sen. Darren Soto (D-Osceola) championed the effort to fund the long-awaited campus, with the strong support of Gov. Rick Scott. The final approval was made possible by the diligence of the Osceola County Commission, specifically Commissioner Brandon Arrington and County Manager Don Fisher, who facilitated the county’s donation of the 19-acre site.
Once complete, the Poinciana Campus will serve as a community focal point. It will house 12 classrooms, two computer labs, a science lab and a culinary teaching kitchen, offering Associate in Science degrees in culinary management, business administration, information technology, criminal justice and office administration. The campus will also offer Associate in Arts degree courses for students seeking to transfer to bachelor’s degree programs, plus short-term skills training for working adults and English-language instruction for non-native speakers.