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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The University of Florida's Century tower, as viewed from Newell Drive on Thursday, July 22, 2021. The tower commemorates UF students who fought and died in World War I and World War II -- the tower also commemorates the 100th anniversary of UF's founding in 1853.
The University of Florida's Century tower, as viewed from Newell Drive on Thursday, July 22, 2021. The tower commemorates UF students who fought and died in World War I and World War II -- the tower also commemorates the 100th anniversary of UF's founding in 1853.

UF President Ben Sasse announced Penny Schwinn as the inaugural vice president for PK-12 and pre-bachelors programs in a press release Monday. 

The position exists to create pathways to careers and higher education for PK-12 students. 

“We’re passionate about giving Florida’s kids opportunities to succeed, and Penny brings decades of bipartisan experience to our team as we think about programs that can take more of UF’s amazing and life-changing work into K-12 classrooms,” Sasse said.

Schwinn served as the Tennessee commissioner of education from 2019 to 2023. In the role, she oversaw a restructuring of the state’s $9 billion school finance system and the Grow Your Own initiative, a teacher apprenticeship program. She is the first person of color and first woman of color to hold the position.

Her previous credentials include three years as chief deputy commissioner of education at the Texas Education Agency and two years as assistant secretary of education in Delaware.

A UF spokesperson detailed Schwinn’s duties in a statement.

Schwinn will develop opportunities for PK-12 students in areas like space, aeronautics and pre-apprenticeship programs as well as create possible ‘master-class’ and exploratory high-end hybrid opportunities for high school students, according to the spokesperson.

She will also “explore partnership possibilities with local educational agencies and public charter schools to make UF the marquee service provider for state requirements, academic acceleration opportunities, and as a center for education innovation,” the spokesperson wrote.

Schwinn said she looks forward to using UF’s resources to help classrooms across Florida’s 67 counties.

“UF wants to make the world a better place, and that starts in K-12 classrooms across the state,” she wrote in a statement. “I am excited to get to work.” 

Contact Garrett at gshanley@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @garrettshanley.

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Garrett Shanley

Garrett Shanley is a fourth-year journalism major and the Summer 2024 university editor for The Alligator. Outside of the newsroom, you can find him watching Wong Kar-Wai movies and talking to his house plants.


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