2014-2015 News

A Bittersweet Ending and a New Beginning for OCEP

The USF Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships is undergoing a leadership transition. Dr. Elizabeth Strom will be stepping down as the office's director in order to become Graduate Director for the School of Public Affairs.


Dr. Elizabeth Strom will be leaving her post as Director of OCEP to become Graduate Director for the School of Public Affairs.

While we regret losing Dr. Strom's leadership, we are excited that Dr. Harold Keller, former Associate Dean and Interim Dean of the USF College of Education, will replace her as Interim Director. Dr. Paul Dosal, Vice Provost for Student Success, was delighted that Keller was ready, willing, and able to take the lead of OCEP, which is central to the mission of Student Success.

Dr. Harold Keller is ready to take the helm as OCEP’s Interim Director.

Dr. Harold Keller is ready to take the helm as OCEP's Interim Director.

Dosal said "Dr. Strom provided exceptional leadership to the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships during this period of exponential growth. We are thrilled that Dr. Keller will provide a seamless transition for OCEP and will help the office continue to address the strategic priorities of engagement within our communities both locally and globally."

Strom was the second OCEP Director, following the tenure of Dr. Susan Greenbaum, retired Anthropology professor and former member of the USF Board of Trustees, and leaves the office in a significantly stronger position since taking the helm in January 2011, after more than doubling the OCEP's capacity.

She noted with satisfaction the growing salience of community engagement activities at USF. "I'm very pleased that OCEP has helped institutionalize engagement across campus. The OCEP staff and our many active faculty members have worked hard to accomplish this. Dr. Keller is a huge asset to USF community engagement, and I'm thrilled that he has agreed to accept the OCEP Interim Directorship."

Keller reflected that Strom would be greatly missed by OCEP and the larger community who have worked with her during her tenure. "Her leadership of OCEP has been instrumental in USF's incredible progress toward becoming the engaged university it aspires to be and consistent with its central strategic priorities." He is grateful that Strom is staying at USF and will continue to be among the core faculty that helps make OCEP so successful. He also remarked that Strom left the office in capable hands noting, the tremendous staff she assembled under her leadership.

Additionally, during Strom's tenure, OCEP developed Research that Matters conferences and grants programs to highlight the importance of community-based research to USF and the region; expanded and institutionalized experiential education as a high impact practice; expanded OCEP as a resource to support engagement across campus; and developed the engagement map and expert database to communicate the extent and impact of USF engagement.

Keller also remarked that the recent USF Engagement Summit, which looked at the progress on the fifth anniversary of OCEP's inception, was an important step in OCEP's future. Key leaders met to examine how far USF has come since the Provost's Task Force on Community Engagement five years ago and to recommend future actions to address the central USF strategic priorities of engagement with our communities both locally and globally.

OCEP will continue to support the development of community-based experiential learning and scholarship, and will collaborate with colleges and other units to develop common understandings and metrics for measuring and holding ourselves accountable for the success of our engagement. Service-learning and engagement of students in community-based research are high impact practices, so OCEP will work collaboratively to assess student success and deep learning, faculty and unit productivity (via the revised T&P guidelines and college annual reporting), and the community impact of these practices. OCEP will also work to strengthen our partnerships with our communities in a manner consistent with our USF strategic priorities.

All of us at OCEP wish Strom well in her future endeavors and feel confident knowing that she will remain an important part of the OCEP community as the office charges forward into the next five years of planning and development.