While UCF is getting a lot of attention for its expansion into Downtown Orlando, it's not alone in its endeavors.
Valencia College will be partnering with UCF in the downtown expansion, which will bring approximately 10,000 students to the downtown campus. Valencia leaders have discussed with UCF for some time about the possibility of a downtown expansion, said Carol Traynor, senior public relations manager at Valencia, and at this point it is anticipated that the campus would be funded and built by UCF, with Valencia sharing some of the space.
"UCF is seeking the funding for the building. Valencia will share some of the space," Traynor said. "Any further details, such as financial arrangements haven't been worked out at this time."
Valencia is considering moving its culinary and hospitality programs from the West Campus on Kirkman Road to the new downtown campus, Traynor said.
Its officials have also discussed moving the graphics technology program, currently housed on the East Campus, and offering general education classes for students pursuing associate of arts degrees.
"You can just imagine the opportunities that open up for internships for our graphic design students or the culinary opportunities for budding chefs and restaurateurs," Traynor said.
But the two schools' relationship goes way back.
In 2005, Valencia and four other Central Florida community colleges joined UCF to establish the DirectConnect to UCF program, where graduates of the four state colleges are guaranteed admission to UCF if they graduate with an associate's degree.
The program has increased the partnership between Valencia and UCF, and new shared facilities have opened in recent years on two Valencia campuses, said UCF spokesman Chad Binette.
"UCF has awarded more than 24,000 bachelor's degrees to DirectConnect to UCF students, and the largest group has come from Valencia College," Binette said.
Thirty-four percent of UCF's community-college transfer students are from Valencia, making it the largest feeder into UCF among community colleges, according to UCF's Office of University Analysis and Planning Support.
This alliance with what Hitt calls UCF's "long-time partner" will allow students from both schools to live and learn downtown. It will also give students the downtown experience, Traynor echoed.
Valencia currently has five campuses across Central Florida, but none are currently close to the downtown area.
"The prospect and possibility of being in a downtown environment and the resulting energy that [it] brings is very exciting to us and to our students," Traynor said.
The strong commitment by all partners, not just to be in downtown, but to be of the downtown community is something that Hitt described as a "must" for the downtown expansion.
The downtown campus would also benefit the people of Parramore, a generally low-income community. Traynor said she is looking forward to engaging residents in a series of conversations to hear what their needs are for educational programs and workforce training.
"Valencia and UCF desire to be vital forces for improving the lives and livelihoods of the residents who live nearby," Hitt said.