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USF’s College of Education, once on the chopping block, gets a new dean

Anthony Rolle is a former professor and department chair at the university.
Anthony Rolle was announced as the new dean of the University of South Florida's College of Education on Tuesday.
Anthony Rolle was announced as the new dean of the University of South Florida's College of Education on Tuesday. [ University of South Florida ]
Published Jun. 8
Updated Jun. 8

After a search conducted under heightened public scrutiny, the University of South Florida announced Tuesday that Anthony Rolle, a former professor and department chair at the school, will lead its College of Education.

The dean’s position was almost eliminated when the university said last year that it planned to phase out its undergraduate education programs and turn the college into a school. The plan was met with harsh backlash from faculty, students, local school district superintendents and others, prompting the university to preserve some undergraduate programs and keep the college intact.

Since then, university leaders and school superintendents have met on a weekly basis. The college is a major source of new teachers for school districts throughout the region.

Rolle understands the role USF plays in the community, provost Ralph Wilcox said at Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting, where the appointment was announced. He said the new dean’s expertise in K-12 finances will help students meet challenges as they go on to work in local school districts, and he will work to cultivate “intellectual talent.”

“We’re very excited about you,” USF president Steve Currall told Rolle, adding that local superintendents would feel the same way.

Rolle, who taught at the USF College of Education from 2010 to 2014, is finishing a four-year appointment as inaugural dean at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Education and Professional Studies. Before that, he was a faculty member and a department chair at the University of Houston.

He has been appointed to a five-year term at USF, and Wilcox said Rolle will bring “stability and vision.”

Rolle said he planned to continue engagement with school superintendents and other community partners to build trust and move the college forward. He said he hoped to focus on issues of access and equity and engaging community partners that may not have been included thus far.

Wilcox said he tried to stop Rolle from leaving the university in 2014, adding that the new dean had a reputation for having strong faculty support and was good at fundraising. Rolle said his most important task will be to listen to faculty, staff, administration and people in the community.

“The College of Education here at USF cannot solve the world‘s problems,” Rolle said. “We can’t solve national problems. Frankly, we can’t solve all of the regional problems. But we can contribute to ameliorating some of the issues of the past.”

He begins his new job in August.