The University of Florida’s College of Education has long been recognized for its commitment to excellence in teacher education and its dedication to preparing students for dynamic careers. EduGator alumni consistently demonstrate their ability to excel in their chosen paths and be leaders in their fields. Three alumni who are prime examples of this are Anne Kress, Malcolm Butler and Catherine Wehlburg.
Current Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) President Anne Kress earned four degrees from the University of Florida, including a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the College of Education. After choosing UF for its affordability, she quickly realized the quality of her education. “I sometimes think back on the incredible rigor of the courses,” she said. “It really prepares you to be a creative and critical thinker, to work independently, but it also really stressed collaboration.” Starting her academic career as an adjunct faculty member in English, she moved into various administration roles before rising to her current position as the president of NOVA. As a successful College of Education alumni, Kress urges future EduGators to remember why they pursued an education degree in the first place. “You’ve just always got to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing,” Kress said. “It’s about student success— whether that student is a 5-year-old or a 25-year-old.”
Like Kress, Catherine Wehlburg, interim President at Athens State University also earned multiple degrees at UF. Growing up in Gainesville with a UF faculty member father, Wehlburg knew she wanted to go to attend the school. She initially majored in psychology, but realized her passion for education after taking an educational psychology course. Wehlburg eventually became a triple Gator after earning a master’s degree and doctorate from UF.
Wehlburg feels that her UF education left her well-prepared to take on the task of leading an institution. While in school, she learned that she “could jump into something new and learn about it while I was doing the work” Wehlburg stated, “that has meant that when a new challenge came along, I could feel comfortable taking on that challenge and working until I was successful.”
After earning his undergraduate degree in physics, Cato College of Education Dean Malcom Butler fell in love with teaching and searched for a way to combine his two passions. He earned both his M.Ed. in Science Education and his Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction (Science Education) from UF. Butler started his teaching journey at Newberry High School where he felt like he was living out his dreams because “I was teaching future scientists,” Butler stated. His passion for the administration side of education developed while working at a university in a role which included mentoring doctoral students. He felt called to administrative work because he saw it as another way to make a difference in students’ lives.
Butler fondly recalls the camaraderie and support he felt as a UF student. He still has relationships with his mentors and fellow students to this day. When asked if he had any advice for future EduGators, he encouraged them to take full advantage of the relationships they make while at UF. But, above all, he feels the most important thing for future students to know is their “why.” Though it will be refined over time, he says the reason for wanting to be a teacher should remain consistent.
The success of UF’s College of Education in preparing future leaders is evident in the achievements of these three alumni. Anne Kress, Catherine Wehlburg and Malcolm Butler have made transformative contributions to higher education and to countless students’ lives along the way. Not only have these EduGators shaped the future of education, but they set a powerful example for current and future EduGators.