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USF Is Eliminating College Of Education Undergraduate Programs

The University of South Florida announced it is eliminating undergraduate programs in the College of Education.
The University of South Florida announced it is eliminating undergraduate programs in the College of Education.

The move comes as the university looks to cut $36.7 million over the next nine months.

The University of South Florida College of Education is being eliminated because of budget cuts.

A graduate school of Education is being established in its place.

In a letter to faculty and staff sent Wednesday, Judith A. Ponticell, professor and interim dean for the College of Education, said the move was made in an effort to reduce the college's annual budget by $6.8 million — or 35% — over the next two years.

USF will continue to offer graduate courses in education, she said.

"We are strategically reimagining and reconfiguring education at USF from a comprehensive College of Education to a more focused Graduate School of Education with an appropriate organizational affiliation with another college such as the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences," Ponticell wrote.

"This will allow us to continue to serve our students and communities, including our vital partners in our area school districts."

On Thursday, USF Provost Ralph Wilcox said once the transition is complete, students will be able to receive teaching certificates through a fifth year of education focused on research and training.

"We are not abandoning teacher education, we are not eliminating all teacher education degree programs, but we believe that we have a real opportunity to strengthen our contribution to the K through 12 community," he said.

Wilcox added that more than half of the 2,200 College of Education students now enrolled at the three USF campuses are at the graduate level.

University officials said they should know more about how many of the 130 faculty members might lose their jobs by the early part of next year.

Ponticell on Thursday emphasized that it's not "the end" of USF preparing the next generation of teachers. Existing education undergraduates at USF will be able to finish the program.

Ponticell said the move, in part, “reflects the evolving demands of students” who are obtaining teacher certification outside of the school’s standard undergraduate program.

"This the beginning of a series of very, very contemplative and very purposeful discussions, planning sessions, being able to ensure that we have a smooth transition and being able to ensure that our students at all levels continue to be served," she said.

USF offers 14 different undergraduate education majors at its Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses.

This action follows a recent announcement that USF would be cutting $36.7 million over the next nine months.

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Cathy Carter is the education reporter for WUSF 89.7 and StateImpact Florida.
Mark Schreiner has been the producer and reporter for "University Beat" on WUSF 89.7 FM since 2001 and on WUSF TV from 2007-2017.