UF OEM Student is Named President of Valencia College

Valencia College candidate for president Kathleen Plinske poses for a portrait on the West campus on December 1, 2020 in Orlando, Fla.


Kathleen Plinske, Ed.D., a current student of the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering’s Outreach Engineering Management Program at the University of Florida, has been named Valencia College’s next president. Dr. Plinske will be the first woman to serve in the role.

The Valencia College Board of Trustees were impressed with Dr. Plinske’s knowledge of the institution, as well as her demonstrated dedication to the students and their learning. Dr. Plinske has also demonstrated significant emphasis on higher education during her own career, as she is currently pursuing her third master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering at UF.

“I believe that problem-solving is enhanced by interdisciplinarity and that innovative approaches are likely to be found at the intersection of fields that, at first glance, may seem unrelated. I was curious to explore how the tools of industrial and systems engineering could provide a new lens through which we could examine and enhance our efforts in higher education to improve student learning and outcomes,” said Dr. Plinske.

Prior to her graduate studies, she received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and physics from Indiana University. She then went on to receive a master’s degree in Spanish from Roosevelt University, a MBA from UF and a doctorate in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University.

In addition to advancing her education, Dr. Plinske is highly active in her community. She currently serves on the Board of CareerSource Central Florida. Before this, she served as Board Chair of the Education Foundation of Osceola County, President of the Rotary Club of Lake Nona, and has also served on the Board of the Osceola Center for the Arts, Junior Achievement of Osceola County, and the Lake Nona Education Council.

Dr. Plinske’s determination to provide quality education to students extends beyond the Valencia College campus and into K-12 schools in her community. She spearheaded the “Got College?” initiative, a program that set out to increase the college-going rate among high school students in Osceola County. The program sends student ambassadors from Valencia College to local schools to talk to young students about college experiences. Students are also brought to the Valencia campuses for tours and they are provided with admissions and financial aid guidance through bilingual information sessions.

Dr. Plinske has been highlighted many times for her extraordinary efforts in education, receiving many accolades over the course of her career. In 2012, she was selected as Woman of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal in its 40 Under 40 competition. She has received many distinguished alumni awards from various universities, was named an Aspen Presidential Fellow in 2016 as well as one of UF’s 40 Gators Under 40.

Dr. Plinske, who currently serves as the Valencia College college’s Executive Vice President and Provost, as well as the Campus President for the Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses, will assume the position of Valencia College President in July.