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Program for Experienced Learners names new administrative director

By Tom Scherberger
Published May 23, 2014
Categories: About Eckerd, PEL

Eckerd College’s Program for Experienced Learners, a popular Bachelor’s degree completion program, has appointed Olivier Debure as its new Administrative Director.

The position’s responsibilities include overseeing staff development, recruitment and retention of students, marketing initiatives, strategic direction and coordination with other Eckerd departments.

The Program for Experienced Learners (PEL) gives busy adults the opportunity to complete a Bachelor’s degree in a classroom-learning environment.  Small class sizes and high-quality faculty create a premium college experience, along with the opportunity to network with other professionals. Students can take classes at PEL’s St. Petersburg or Tampa locations.

Debure’s experience in marketing and academia makes him an ideal leader to help PEL continue to adapt to the ever-changing environment of adult education.

Debure joined the Eckerd College staff in 1997 teaching French, marketing and general education courses for the residential undergraduate program.  In addition to teaching classes, Debure assumed the role of Director of International Student Programs in 2003. Then, in 2010, he also took on a role as Director of the Quality Enhancement Plan on Reflective Service-Learning, a five-year project aimed at improving the student learning experience.

Born in a village outside of Nice, France, Debure made the first of several trips to the United States at the age of 15, serving as a student ambassador to his village’s sister city, Yorktown, Va. During these month-long trips, Olivier fell in love with the country and eventually decided to move to Virginia to attend college.

Debure completed his undergraduate studies in International Cultures and Commerce at Christopher Newport University in Virginia.  He went on to receive a M.B.A. from Old Dominion University and a M.A. in French from the University of South Carolina.

While completing his studies, Debure was the Director of Marketing for Recreational Concepts in Virginia Beach, Va., where he developed marketing strategies for ariverboat and brewhouse. Then, before coming to Eckerd, he taught French for the undergraduate and M.B.A. programs at the University of South Carolina.

“Appointing Olivier as Administrative Director is an important move for PEL,” said Suzan Harrison, Dean of Faculty for Eckerd College. “His vision and leadership will help take the program to the next level of excellence, while adhering to our core mission of providing a high-quality educational experience for Tampa Bay adults looking to finish their degrees.”

In addition to appointing Debure, PEL has made several staffing changes in its Tampa center on Westshore Boulevard. Danielle Ritch, previously the Tampa location’s office manager, is moving to the role of admission counselor. Ritch earned her B.A. in Applied Behavioral Science from National-Louis University.

Alaina Tackitt, a PEL professor and a member of the PEL 2008 graduating class, will move from her role as admission counselor to academic advisor.  She began her work with PEL as a writing tutor in 2007 and began teaching writing and Western heritage courses in 2011.  In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Tackitt, who started working as an admission counselor for the Tampa center in 2012, earned her M.L.A. in Humanities from the University of South Florida.

Wally Flagg, previously Director of the Tampa center, announced his retirement in March after 22 years of leadership and service at Eckerd. Flagg established the Tampa location, originally on Reo Street, as its Center Director.  He will continue to be a member of the Eckerd faculty.

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