Education in Action is a seminal event for the USF College of Education (COEDU). It
connects a diverse group of stakeholders from across the Tampa Bay region to explore
critical issues facing the education profession. This year’s event was a full day
of networking and learning focused on “Celebrating and Innovating” that included a
college expo, luncheon with engaging presentations, and special sessions for students
and faculty.

In attendance were university and college leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni
and COEDU Distinguished Alumni Award winners. We also welcomed local school district
superintendents, principal of the year and teacher of the year award winners, as well
as business and nonprofit leaders.

Hosted at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center, the 2024 event began with an expo
area where COEDU departments, centers, and campus leaders demonstrated how they were
contributing to innovation in education. Through professional development opportunities,
unique program offerings, and research-based outcomes, all aspects of the college
were represented in this networking and experiential hour. For example, the USF St.
Petersburg campus featured an interactive station, hosted by campus dean Dr. David
Rosengrant, where attendees could experience the same virtual reality simulations
that current students use in the STEM lab.

Dean of the COEDU, Dr. Anthony Rolle moderated the formal luncheon and celebrated
the many highlights experienced by the college over the past year including:

  • Hiring 17 new faculty members throughout the college and across three campuses
  • A record breaking $39 million in externally funded grants and contracts awarded in
    2023, with 2024 on track to exceed that record with $32 million in external funds
    awarded to date
  • Graduate programs ranked #43 amongst public institutions by U.S. News & World Report
  • Experiencing bright spots in our enrollment picture, particularly at the undergraduate
  • Continuing to offer outstanding professional development programs and activities for
    our region’s educators
  • Investments in research, faculty, tech labs, and STEM education programs that continue
    to be a priority of the college

Dean Rolle also welcomed Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
for the University of South Florida, Dr. Prasant Mohapatra, who spoke about USF’s
historic invitation to join the Association of American Universities (AAU) – another component of the event’s “celebrating” theme. Joining the AAU is
a tremendous milestone as it formalizes USF’s position as a leading research university.
As an AAU institution, USF is positioned to further enhance its role of meeting the
state’s workforce needs and driving economic development. AAU membership will make USF an even more attractive destination for high-achieving
students from across the world. 

Continuing with the luncheon programing, Eileen Hafer, sponsor and chair of the Education
in Action Committee, said, “When we were planning this event, our goal was to celebrate
all of you, and all the achievements that have been reached by the college over the
past few years. Bringing in a renowned speaker to encourage, to motivate, and to remind
us of why we do what we do, was our way of achieving this goal.” She then introduced
distinguished keynote speaker, Rick Wormeli, one of the first Nationally Board Certified teachers in America. He is known for
his innovation, energy, validity and high standards to both his presentations and
his instructional practice, which include 44 years teaching math, science, English,
physical education, health, and history, as well as coaching teachers, principals,
superintendents, and other leadership.

Wormeli’s interactive keynote address left the attendees thinking through new concepts,
nodding in agreement, laughing in appreciation of his humor, and wanting more – which
they were given through virtual access to his presentation.

Two additional presentations were given by COEDU faculty members who shared emerging
technology innovations, and demonstrated how they impact life for USF students, faculty,
and staff in the College of Education, and ultimately for the students in the districts
served by USF graduates. Dr. Csaba Osvath, Assistant Professor of Instruction in Literacy
Studies showcased the transformative power of virtual reality, illuminating its potential
to elevate research, instruction and learning. Dr. Sanghoon Park, Associate Professor
of Instructional Technology demonstrated his research agenda to enhance learning experiences
within various educational contexts through effective instructional design strategies
and emerging technologies.

Before and after the luncheon, the COEDU was fortunate to secure Wormeli for special
sessions with students and faculty to answer individual questions and dive deeper
into the pressing issues they are facing in education. This full day of activities
was a first for the Education in Action event, and one that was regarded as highly
successful by all participants and guests, who ensure the College of Education remains
a thriving entity of the University and an essential part of our larger community
in and around the Suncoast Region.

Proceeds from Education in Action benefit the Bulls United for Education Fund which
provides supplemental support for the goals and purposes of the College of Education.
Leading sponsors of this event were The Hafer Family Foundation, DCE Productions,
Florida Educator Insurance company, Drs. Cynthia and Luis Visot, and WUSF.

At USF we celebrate Education and Innovation! Through our research, collaboration
with experts in education as well as other fields, and school district partnerships,
we prepare our graduates with cutting edge mindsets, strategies, and tools to empower
their students and unleash powerful learning. Innovation embraces, but is not limited
to, technology. Our faculty and students focus on problems facing education in a quickly
changing local, national, and global landscape. Our goal is to provoke thought; to
use inquiry, logic, and reasoning to generate ideas and identify solutions, and then
to act on opportunities for improvement, advancement, and achievement.  USF’s College
of Education is, thriving, and celebrating innovation!

To learn more about the exciting events happening at the USF College of Education,
please frequent our college blog, and to learn more about giving, please reach out to Lisa Riley, Director of Development for the USF College of Education.

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