Valencia College picks Kathleen Plinske as next president
Image via Valencia College.

Kathleen Plinske
She is a Valencia insider with outside executive leadership experience.

Valencia College Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Plinske was selected Friday to become the fifth president of the Orlando-based college, next spring.

She will succeed Sandy Shugart, who announced in August he would retire in June after 21 years of service.

In Plinske, Valencia College‘s Board of Trustees selected someone deeply familiar with the workings, philosophy, and ambitions of the rapidly-growing college with eight campuses and one of the largest student bodies in the country. Besides serving as Shugart’s No. 2 for the past two years, she has presided as campus president of the college’s Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana campuses.

The board also picked someone with executive leadership experience outside the school. Prior to coming to Valencia in 2010, Plinske served for nearly a year as interim president of McHenry County College in suburban Chicago.

At a special meeting Friday, the Valencia College Board of Trustees made her the college’s first woman president in its 53-year history.

Plinske will begin her new role in the spring, pending approval of an employment contract.

The board selected her over two other finalists: Lee Ann Nutt, president of the Tomball campus of Lone Star College in suburban Houston; and Anton Reece, president of West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Kentucky.

Plinske’s scholarly background is multifaceted. She holds a doctorate in education from Pepperdine University in California, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in Spanish from Roosevelt University in Illinois, and bachelor’s degrees in both physics and Spanish from Indiana University. She hopes to complete a third master’s degree, in industrial and systems engineering, from the University of Florida, this spring.

She has taught Spanish, mathematics and honors leadership at Valencia, education technology at Pepperdine, community college leadership at the University of Central Florida, Spanish at McHenry, and physics at Indiana.

Plinske, 40, and her husband Larry Tyree live in Orlando. She serves on the Board of CareerSource Central Florida. She has 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.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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