New education dean at USFSP has deep roots in St. Petersburg
A new dean of the College of Education will join the University of South Florida St. Petersburg this summer, settling in a city her granduncle helped integrate decades ago.
Allyson Leggett Watson was appointed this week by Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska to lead the college’s faculty. She comes to USFSP from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, with a diverse student body of more than 9,000 on three campuses.
There, she serves as assistant dean for the College of Education, where she also teaches educational foundations and leadership. She holds an endowed chair for urban education, outreach and research, and is the founder and director for TURN, the Teaching and Urban Reform Network.
“She was a star faculty member, just outstanding,” said Martin Tadlock, USFSP’s regional vice chancellor of academic affairs, who previously worked as NSU provost. “Everybody knew Allyson. She was just raved about by the students.”
Watson’s family has deep roots in St. Petersburg. Her granduncle Gilbert Henry Leggett, a dentist, was a civic leader as St. Petersburg integrated.
“As a young child, my father shared stories about his uncle and taught my sister and me by example the importance of advocacy for others,” Watson said in a news release. “I am assured that Leggetts for generations would agree that our uncle changed the trajectory of our path by reaching back to give other family members the opportunity to pursue an education.”
Beginning in July, Waton will take the reins from interim dean Olivia Hodges, who took over in January.
She said that now, more than ever, colleges need to promote teacher preparation programs,
“As the dean, my goal is to work with the dynamic faculty at USFSP and the community that surrounds our great institution, and to promote the best ideas around undergraduate and graduate programs in teaching,” she said.