USF Announces Plans To Retain College Of Education - WUSF Public Media | Tampa NPR, Local News Coverage

USF Announces Plans To Retain College Of Education

The University of South Florida announced it is eliminating undergraduate programs in the College of Education. Mark Schreiner/WUSF Public Media

The University of South Florida’s College of Education will remain intact under a plan to be presented to the USF Board of Trustees later this week, university officials announced Wednesday.

The announcement to continue offering undergraduate degrees comes three months after officials determined the college would be eliminated because of budget cuts, and after consulting with local educators.

In a letter to College of Education faculty and students, Interim Dean Judith Ponticell and Provost Ralph Wilcox said the college plans to continue to operate “within an autonomous college structure” that will allow it to “retain our most high-demand undergraduate education programs.”

“We will do this while meeting our fiscal responsibilities and maintaining our commitment to student access and success,” the letter read in part. “This direction has the full support of USF leadership.”

The college’s proposal will be presented to the Board of Trustees on Friday at 2 p.m.

University officials announced in October that the college would be eliminated in an effort to reduce the college’s budget by $6.8 million – or 35% over the next two years as part of widespread cost-cutting moves by the university.

That decision met with backlash from local educators who said the decision was made without consulting local school districts.

University officials backed off this plan somewhat in November, announcing it would continue offering some undergraduate degrees while continuing to review measures to keep the college in operation.

In the letter, Ponticell and Wilcox said university officials continued to consult with various groups and superintendents of schools from across the greater Tampa Bay region – conversations they said were “extremely productive and collaborative.”

The proposal calls for the college to offer bachelor’s degrees that will lead to teacher certification along with building its graduate programs, while also focusing on research to ensure that “USF remains at the forefront of innovative teaching strategies.”

“We will continue to work together and with USF leadership to make necessary, but difficult decisions to streamline our operations while maintaining our focus on student success, research and service to our community, and especially our Pre-K through 12 partners,” the letter read.

When the university announced in October it was eliminating the college, it cited a decrease in undergraduate enrollment of 63% over the last decade.

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