The University of South Florida has appointed Deborah Stevens as director of the Office of Early University Programs (EUP).
USF’s Early University Programs are based on the Sarasota-Manatee campus and include a Dual Enrollment Program as well as an Early Admissions Program, both of which enable qualified high school students to earn college credit while completing their high school degrees.
Stevens comes to USF with significant experience in educational leadership, with an emphasis on curriculum and faculty development, teaching, and administration at high schools, school districts and universities.
For the past two years, she served as the dean of academic affairs at Everglades University after working as a secondary curriculum supervisor for the Manatee County School District from 2014 to 2019, and as an instructional support specialist for the Hillsborough County School District from 2012 to 2014. Stevens also served as campus dean in the College of Education at the University of Phoenix (2009-12), and as an adjunct faculty member at the school from 2005 to 2019. She was named National Faculty of the Year at Phoenix in both 2011 and 2016.
Brett Kemker, who oversees the EUP initiative for USF and serves as the vice provost and regional vice chancellor of academic affairs and student success at the Sarasota-Manatee campus, is pleased to hire such an experienced person to lead the program.
“Dr. Stevens has the perfect blend of experience working in a variety of university, high school and school district environments, and we are very fortunate to have her leading our Early University programs at USF,” he said.
Kemker was quick to thank Jane Rose, who directed the program for the past year, and her team for their work. “Dr. Rose and her team laid the foundation for us to build programs that will enable high school students to strategically complete their college degrees quickly and economically. We are grateful for their efforts and excited about the innovative ways in which we will enhance the program under Dr. Stevens’ leadership.” Rose plans to return to the classroom this fall as an associate professor of English.
“I am very excited to lead this unique opportunity to further enhance the Early University Programs at USF,” Stevens said. “I am passionate about education and this is a great opportunity to develop new pathways for high school students to earn credits toward a college degree and explore career opportunities. USF is an outstanding university and I am honored to be part of the team.”
Dual Enrollment is a part-time program, available to qualified students throughout their high school years. Students may take up to three USF classes per semester, conducted on any of its campuses, online, or at selected high schools where teachers are credentialed by USF as adjunct instructors. Early Admission is a full-time program, available to qualified students in their senior year of high school. Students take four to five classes each semester of their senior year, instead of attending high school.
Dual Enrollment and Early Admission are available to students attending any type of high school recognized by the Florida Department of Education (public schools, charter schools, private schools and homeschools) if their district or school has an articulation agreement with USF. Students qualify for the program based on their Grade Point Average and SAT/ACT/PERT scores and with approval of their high school counselors. Students approved and admitted to the program do not pay for tuition or textbooks.
While USF has partnered with schools in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties for several years, the program was expanded to districts in Sarasota and Manatee counties just two years ago. More than 400 students from the Sarasota and Manatee schools enrolled in dual enrollment classes the first year, and over 600 students participated in 2020-21. USF expects 700 students or more to enroll in the programs this fall.
In addition to a mix of general education courses, the EUP offers specialized “upper-level” classes in pre-education and online engineering at two high schools in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
“Dual enrollment is an important asset to both high school students looking to pursue a college education and for their families,” Stevens said. “Not only can students save on tuition and books, but they can get a jump on their higher education, so by the time they enter college they are already well on their way to achieving their educational goals.”
Stevens is a USF graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology with minors in chemistry and geology in 1990. She also holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and a doctorate in organizational leadership, both from Nova Southeastern University. She has worked in education since 1993, starting as a middle school science teacher.