Valencia College is proof that great things can come from small beginnings. 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 goals were: we wanted 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, our small group of educators began to teach the increasing number of students coming to the campus. In 1971, we changed our name to Valencia College and moved to our first permanent location, the 180-acre West Campus located on South Kirkman Road.
From those humble beginnings, Valencia has become an innovative leader in higher education with a national reputation for teaching excellence. With four campuses and two centers in the Orlando area, Valencia is now the third largest of Florida's 28 community colleges, teaching more than 50,000 students a year. To better meet the needs of our students, Valencia opened the East Campus in 1975, the Osceola Campus in 1997 and the Winter Park Campus in 1998. Yet we never lost sight of our original goals. Armed with practical knowledge, Valencia's faculty and staff put their energies into a "learning-centered" philosophy that emphasizes individual student success.
In an ongoing effort to be responsive to the business community, Valencia builds relationships with high schools, universities and corporate partners to strengthen academic scholarship and economic development. Valencia has hundreds of corporate education/training partnerships, including those with Florida Hospital, Lockheed Martin, NationsBank, Sea World, SmithKline/Beecham, and Universal Studios. The National Alliance of Business named Valencia "National Community College of the Year" in 1998 for its "effective and innovative leadership" in meeting the workforce needs of business and industry. The recognition is considered one of the country's most prestigious higher education awards.
Our selection in 2000 as a Vanguard Learning College is just further affirmation of the effectiveness of our student-first philosophy. It's a philosophy we've had for more than 30 years, and it continues to guide us into what we hope is an even bigger and brighter future.
Valencia College was named the top U.S. community college in the nation in 2011. The Aspen Institute awarded Valencia College the first annual Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence after a year-long effort to recognize excellence in the nation's 1,200 community colleges, based on student performance and graduation data collected by the U.S. Department of Education.