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March 24, 2003

Contact: Bill Edmonds
Florida Department of Education
(850) 201-7130

Florida Department of Education Names Dr. Debra Austin as Chancellor of Colleges and Universities

Photo credit:
Bill Langford/
FSU Photo Lab

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Education Commissioner Jim Horne announced today that Dr. Debra Austin has been named as Florida's new Chancellor of Colleges and Universities. Dr. Austin has spent close to the last 25 years working in higher education, and brings a wealth of talent, experience and dedication to the Department of Education.

"Florida's colleges and universities are blessed to have someone of Debra's caliber at their helm," stated Horne. "Not only is she a national leader in higher education, but she also has been a leader in her state and community. I am very pleased by her appointment, and I look forward to working with her to help make Florida's colleges and universities the best in the world."

Thomas F. Petway III, chairman of the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state universities, said Dr. Austin will be instrumental in implementing the important changes and reforms initiated by Governor Jeb Bush. "Debra has a reputation as a gifted leader and administrator," Petway said. "Her good judgment is a great asset to the university system, and I very much look forward to working with her to help our 11 institutions grow stronger and to guide them into the future."

Dr. Austin is currently an Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Florida State University. She began her career as an English instructor at Lake-Sumter Community College in Leesburg. Since then, she has served in numerous academic administrative positions, from division head to chief academic officer to Acting President at Tallahassee Community College.

"It is indeed an honor to be selected as the Chancellor of Colleges and Universities for the State of Florida," stated Austin. "As in all states, higher education in Florida faces many challenges, but there are also many opportunities to showcase our colleges and universities as the world-class institutions they are. I can think of no greater professional honor than to serve as an advocate for institutions that produce outstanding graduates, engage in exceptional research, serve as economic development engines for the 21st century and provide enormous service to our communities."

Dr. Austin earned a bachelor's degree in English from Michigan State University, a master's degree in English from the University of Florida, a master's degree in business administration from Florida State University, and the doctorate in higher education from Florida State University. She also holds an honorary doctorate from Flagler College in St. Augustine.

She is a member of several national, statewide and local organizations, including the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Leadership Florida, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Florida citizens. She serves on the Knight Foundation Community Advisory Committee and as Second Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Tallahassee Urban League. A member of Bethel A.M.E. Church, Dr. Austin is married and has two daughters.