Alumni Distinguished Leadership Award

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Acceptance Speech

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Dr. Kathleen Plinske is a distinguished educational leader with a passion for providing access to higher education to traditionally disadvantaged students. At a young age of 32, Dr. Plinske serves as President of Valencia College’s Osceola and Lake Nona Campuses in Kissimmee and Orlando, Florida. Dr. Plinske is responsible for all academic, administrative and fiscal leadership of the campuses, and was responsible for overseeing the development of a new $45 million, 150,000 square foot building at the Osceola Campus. Recently named as the top community college in the nation by the Aspen Institute, the Osceola Campus serves 12,000 students per term, about 45% of whom are Hispanic. Dr. Plinske uses her fluency in Spanish to communicate with students and their families. Prior to her work at Valencia, Dr. Plinske spent several years working at McHenry County College in Illinois. Her role began with working with faculty interested in developing online classes. From there, Dr. Plinske’s extraordinary talents and professional commitment were quickly noticed, and she was promoted into several roles. In 2009, she was selected to serve as the Interim President of McHenry County College and was named one of McHenry County’s “Top 10 Under 40.”

Dr. Plinske is vocal about her gratitude for the tremendous gift of her experiences at IMSA that were provided to her by the people of Illinois, and about the responsibility she feels to give back to her community. An enthusiastic member of her community, she serves as the President-Elect of the Rotary Club of Lake Nona in Orlando, and is an active member of several community organizations. She has been recognized for her leadership and accomplishments with several awards including being named the 2012 Outstanding Young Alumnus by Indiana University and “Woman of the Year” by the Orlando Business Journal in their 40 Under 40 competition. A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Plinske has a B.A. in Spanish and physics from Indiana University, an M.A. in Spanish from Roosevelt University, an M.B.A. from the University of Florida, and an Ed.D. from Pepperdine University.

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