TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Superintendents across the Tampa Bay area can give thanks this holiday weekend for a bounty of future teachers.

Like a sharp knife through a Thanksgiving turkey, budget cuts threatened to slice away USF’s College of Education undergraduate programs. But it was pardoned after months of debate. Now there’s a new dean in place to make sure school districts can feast on the college for generations to come.

Dr. Anthony Rolle is the new dean of USF’s College of Education.

“I am excited to be here and I think the college of education here has unlimited potential. If it didn’t, I would not have accepted the challenge,” Dr. Rolle said.

His challenge: shore up a college that was on the chopping block. One year ago, bean counters tried to phase out the undergraduate education programs to save money.

The pushback was fierce. Students and teachers protested while superintendents united, making it clear they did not want to lose their pipeline for new teachers.

“We get 30% of our teachers from the University of South Florida,” Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning said.

In Hillsborough County, the college accounts for nearly 80% of new teacher hires. After months of debate, USF reversed course and saved the college from the budget ax.

Now it’s up to Dr. Rolle to lead 2,600 students and 135 faculty members at its Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses. As a former USF professor and department chair who spent the past four years as dean of the College of Education at the University of Rhode Island, Dr. Rolle brings stability and vision.

“Students today need to be focused on education, not that’s being produced now but education that’s going to be produced in five years, 10 years,15 to 20 years,” he said. “What are the things that we need to focus on as a college in order to provide those opportunities for students who are going to teach things we don’t even understand.”

He wants to invest in robotics, virtual reality and new computer technology with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

He says, in order to make positive changes, you have to be forward looking. Something now possible; less than a year after being on the brink of elimination.