Meet the Executive Director

About Dr. Kent-Willette

Dr. Kent-Willette joined Jacksonville University in January of 2001. As a member of the Communications Department, she began incorporating study abroad into her course curriculum early on in her tenure at JU and has been leading study abroad programs for more than 15 years.  Dr. Kent-Willette has successfully designed and lead high quality international educational experiences that embody the JU Experiential Learning model, incorporating scholarship through international research, service, and internships. 

During her tenure at JU, Dr. Kent-Willette has been widely recognized for her outstanding achievements and lead the way for her students to do the same. Many of her students have received top honors for their study abroad work, earning regional and national recognition. To date, Dr. Kent-Willette has successfully inspired a commitment to global education, excellence, and achievement in her students, sponsoring nearly forty regional and national award winning undergraduate research projects. Over the past 18 years, her students have consistently been recognized by the Florida Chapter of the Associated Press and the National Council for Undergraduate Research as some of the best college student multimedia journalists. She has won numerous faculty awards, including the University Woman of the Year (2008), University Award for Excellence in Community Service (2006) and a finalist for the Professor of the Year (2002 & 2017). 

In addition to her role as a Professor of Communication, Dr. Kent-Willette has served as the Director, of the Center for Teaching and Learning (2016-2019) and as the Education Commission for the City of Jacksonville (2013-2015) as an executive on loan. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Communication from the University of South Florida and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida. 

During her two year appointment as Education Commissioner, Dr. Kent-Willette’s work garnered local, regional, and national attention. She quickly distinguished herself as a leader in the higher education community serving on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Education Task Force, the National League of Cities Education Policy Advisors, the White House Convening on College Access, and met with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. During this time, Dr. Kent-Willette raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars to fund community initiatives focused on college access and workforce development in Northeast Florida.