New Dean for University College

A national leader from the University of Texas at Austin is appointed founding dean of USF’s University College.


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 26, 2011) – Following a global search, the University of South Florida has appointed a highly regarded, nationally recognized leader as founding dean of University College, which has a focus on distance learning, continuing education, workplace-based learning, adult completer and pre-college programs.


Judy Ashcroft, who has served as the dean of Continuing and Innovative Education at the University of Texas at Austin, will begin her new position at USF on Oct. 31. She has a long and accomplished history of transforming continuing and distance learning at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Tech University, and most recently served as president of the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).


“We are delighted to welcome Dean Ashcroft to the USF family,” said Ralph Wilcox, USF’s Provost and executive vice president. “At a time when the American higher education landscape continues to be transformed, she brings keen insight and a remarkable record of achievement to University College, and we expect the college to distinguish itself further as an engine of innovation and thrive as it expands into new markets. The future success of University College is a high priority for USF.”


Ashcroft has served as dean for Continuing and Innovative Education at UT Austin since 2007, overseeing strategic planning, program development and community building. Prior to her tenure as dean she served as associate vice president and the first director of the university’s Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment. She also served as director of the Distance Education Center at UT-Austin, and was director of independent study at Texas Tech University’s Division of Continuing Education.


Ashcroft earned her doctorate in higher education administration from Texas Tech University. She also received her master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech.


“I look forward to joining a talented team of professionals in USF’s University College. The College’s future is incredibly exciting,” said Ashcroft. “The rise of University College reflects a growing demand for distance learning, and a thirst for knowledge by non-traditional learners. I know there are new opportunities to further extend our reach through smart initiatives that connect USF with the broader community. I am eager to meet with public and private sector leaders throughout Tampa Bay to explore ways that we can better meet the needs of their employees.


“I am thrilled,” she continued, “to be coming to USF, a university that has shown its commitment to student success and is rapidly gaining stature as a high impact global research university.”


University College was established in January 2011 and is one of 14 colleges and schools on the main Tampa campus. Presently, it serves approximately 10,000 distance learners, working adults and other non-traditional students. It is responsible for developing state-of-the-art content for online courses and administers Corporate College and Continuing Education programs for individuals and employers in the Tampa Bay region that want to enhance professional development and leadership opportunities among their employees.


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.