From humble beginnings, Valencia College has become an innovative leader in higher education with a reputation for student success.
History of Valencia College
1967: In the Beginning
In fall of 1967, we began as Valencia Junior College in a few portable buildings on West Oakridge Road in Orlando. Although the facilities weren't lofty, our goal was to help our students become as successful as possible in their classes, their careers and their lives. Armed with a passion for teaching and a concern for the students, a small group of educators began to teach the increasing number of students coming to the campus.
1971-1998: Growth Years
In 1971, we changed our name to Valencia Community College and moved to our first permanent location, the 180-acre West Campus located on South Kirkman Road. To meet the needs of a growing community, Valencia continued to expand, opening additional campus locations. The East Campus opened in 1975, the Osceola Campus in 1997 and the Winter Park Campus in 1998.
1995-2000: New Focus on Student Success
Even as Valencia grew, we never lost sight of our original goals. Armed with practical knowledge, Valencia's faculty and staff put their energies into developing a "learning-centered" approach to teaching. Adopted in 1995, this philosophy emphasizes individual student success and is still in effect today.
In 2000, Valencia was recognized for the effectiveness of our student-first philosophy when we were selected by the League for Innovation in the Community College as one of twelve international Vanguard Learning Colleges.
2000-2010: Building Partnerships
In an ongoing effort to be responsive to the community, Valencia has always built relationships with K-12 school districts, universities and corporate partners to strengthen academic scholarship and economic development.
In 2002, we opened the Walt Disney World® Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts on the West Campus and in 2004, we opened the Criminal Justice Institute, which provides training academies for law enforcement and corrections officers.
In 2006, we established a unique partnership to expand students’ access to bachelor’s degrees. DirectConnect® to UCF guarantees* Valencia graduates admission to the University of Central Florida and is now the most productive university-community college partnership in the country (*Consistent with university policy.).
In 2008, Valencia College, in partnership with Orange County Public Schools, began administering Horizon Scholars Program of Orange County, a program that provides mentoring and college scholarships to promising middle school students from low-income backgrounds.
In 2009, we partnered with Northrop Grumman Laser Systems and Orange County Public Schools to create the Photonics Academy at Wekiva High School and in 2010, we began administering a training program for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Orlando International Airport. Valencia has hundreds of additional corporate education/training partnerships, including those with Lockheed Martin, CNL, Darden, Universal Studios®, Sysco and Bright House Networks.
2011: Big Changes and Recognition
In July 2011, we dropped the “community” from our name and became Valencia College. That same year, we began to offer bachelor’s degrees for the first time with the launch of two new programs: Radiologic and Imaging Sciences, and Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology.
By the end of 2011, Valencia College was named the inaugural winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence as “the best community college in the nation.” The prize was based on measurable achievements in graduation rates, workforce placement and innovative programs.
Recognized nationally as the best community college in America, Valencia College is also one of the largest, with more than 76,000 students enrolled during 2019-2020. We also award more associate degrees than any other community college in the nation, with our graduates going on to successful futures. Our A.S. degree graduates have a 94 percent job-placement rate with an average annual salary of about $46,000.
In an effort to continue to meet the demands of a growing population, Valencia College opened the Lake Nona Campus in east Orlando in August 2012, built the Poinciana Campus in 2017 and opened the Downtown Campus, a shared campus with UCF.
- 2012 – Opened Lake Nona Campus
- 2012 – Established a smoke-free policy collegewide
- 2017 – Opened Poinciana Campus and celebrated 50-years of service to Orange and Osceola counties
- 2016 – Opened our Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Kissimmee, where we offer 18-20 week training courses in welding, CNC machining, electronic board assembly, and mechatronics. The successes here have led the college to open Centers for Accelerated Training at our Poinciana and Downtown campuses.
- 2019 – Opened Downtown Campus and celebrated 50th commencement ceremony graduates of the Orange and Osceola counties
Looking toward the future, Valencia College will continue to seek innovative and effective ways to improve student success and serve the Central Florida community.