USF to close College of Education, reconfigure it into graduate school amid budget cuts

Earlier this month, USF announced it planned to cut $36.7 million from its overall budget.

TAMPA, Fla — The current College of Education at the University of South Florida is set to shut its doors because of budget cuts. And, it will be reimagined as a graduate school that will become part of another college on campus.

In a message to faculty and staff, Interim Dean Judith A. Ponticell wrote USF would reduce the College of Education’s annual budget allocation by $6.8 million, or 35 percent, over the next two years. The decision comes amid budget challenges linked directly to the coronavirus pandemic.

“To that end, 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 explained. “This will allow us to continue to serve our students and communities, including our vital partners in our area school districts.”

USF confirmed the news ahead of a 3 p.m. news conference that follows information first reported by student newspapers The Oracle in Tampa and USF St. Petersburg’s The Crow’s Nest. 

The university is expected to address the situation at 3 p.m. Thursday during a virtual press conference with USF Provost and Executive Vice President Ralph Wilcox and Judith Ponticell, interim dean of the USF College of Education.

Earlier this month, USF announced it planned to cut $36.7 million from its overall budget following a new directive given to state universities by the State University System. 

In an email from USF President Steven Currall sent to students, faculty and staff, he said all state universities have been asked to make plans for an 8.5-percent reduction in state funding, which equates to $36.7 million for USF. 

To begin preparations, Currall announced the university will start by reducing the salaries of the school’s senior leadership, including a voluntary 15 percent reduction in his own salary.

The university also shared plans to reduce $13.4 million from its colleges this fiscal year.

Below is Ponticell’s entire message to faculty and staff:

Like many Institutions of Higher Education across the State and throughout the nation – USF faces significant budget challenges in the face of COVID-19 while we continue our progress as a consolidated preeminent research university. As part of our strategic budget renewal process, USF must reduce the College of Education’s annual budget allocation by $6.8 M (or 35%) over two years, a challenging task that demands a comprehensive assessment as we plan for the future of Education at USF.  

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

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