When Valencia Junior College opened its doors in 1967, students from every background walked through them, including those historically overlooked and excluded by traditional higher education.

Until then, African-Americans in Orange and Osceola counties who couldn’t afford to move to Tallahassee to attend Florida A&M University or to Daytona Beach to attend Bethune-Cookman College, both historically Black colleges and universities, had little choice at home.

Still, Valencia struggled to attract African-American students in the early years. Orange County Public Schools hadn’t even fully integrated by that time — and many Black high school graduates opted to go to college elsewhere, bypassing Valencia for Florida A&M University or Bethune-Cookman College or out-of-state HBCUs.

Concerned about the small number of black students on campus – which in 1970 numbered about 200 -- Valencia faculty member Thelma Dudley worked with the college’s president to change that. Dudley recruited members of Orlando’s Black community to form the Black Advisory Committee and, in 1971, the BAC held a community meeting at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church to teach minority students and their families about Valencia’s programs and degrees. More than 600 people attended.

It was a watershed moment. In three years, Dudley helped increase enrollment of Black students substantially and worked just as hard to improve the academic environment for those students.

Today, Valencia College continues to open the doors of opportunity to Orlando’s growing and changing multicultural community — and the role of the Black Advisory Committee remains critical to the college’s mission.

Black Advisory Committee Logo

Black Advisory Committee

Over the past 35 years, the Black Advisory Committee of Valencia College has achieved success through the relevance of our mission and through the strength of our networks, but most importantly, through the energy and passion of our committee members. I call upon that same passion and dedication today, because the work before us is critical not just to Valencia College but to our communities across the world.


Every year, the Black Advisory Committee awards scholarships to current Valencia College students.

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Black Advisory Committee Vintage Photo
Black Advisory Committee Vintage Photo
Black Advisory Committee Vintage Photo
Black Advisory Committee Vintage Photo