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UWF forms a new Office of Workforce Development

The University of West Florida is launching the Office of Workforce Development, a one-of-a-kind presidential initiative aimed at aligning education with career success and economic growth. UWF President Martha D. Saunders has named Dr. Sherry Hartnett as director of the Office of Workforce Development.


“We envision a talent pipeline that builds on our strengths and addresses the shifting workforce needs of industry and our community,” Saunders said. “Dr. Hartnett’s leadership and expertise will be instrumental in creating valuable partnerships and empowering our students to thrive in their careers.”

The University intends to work strategically with existing industries to provide a skilled and qualified workforce. UWF’s Office of Workforce Development will oversee and accelerate the University’s efforts in four strategic areas — workforce planning and alignment, employer development, applied research, and centralized access to UWF talent and programs.

This centralized approach aims to streamline efforts, enhance collaboration and maximize the impact of workforce development programs and services. The initiative will initially focus on three key areas:

  • Serving as UWF’s liaison for the development of workforce initiatives by bringing the needs of industry partners to UWF decision-makers
  • Creating career pathways for UWF students, ensuring they are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the workforce
  • Assisting employers in finding skilled workers who will contribute to the local economy by supporting the growth of businesses

Building on the success of UWF’s Executive Mentor Program and the highly-acclaimed Women in Leadership Conference she created, Hartnett is expanding these efforts in a much broader role for the University and the community. Hartnett brings a wealth of skill and experience in creating impactful community partnerships. During her tenure she has gained a reputation locally, statewide and nationally as a leader in workforce readiness, mentoring and strategic partnership development.

“UWF’s commitment to aligning education with workforce needs is evident in its history of providing educational opportunities that respond to the demands of the state,” Hartnett said. “With this innovative workforce development initiative, UWF is poised to continue its tradition of producing highly skilled graduates who fuel the local, regional and state economies.”