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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Prominent UA administrator ‘advances’

    Saundra Taylor, former vice president of Campus Life, talks about highlights of her career with the Wildcat in her office last week. Taylor retired last Friday after 14 years at the UA.
    Saundra Taylor, former vice president of Campus Life, talks about highlights of her career with the Wildcat in her office last week. Taylor retired last Friday after 14 years at the UA.

    Described by colleagues as “”graceful,”” “”strong”” and a “”mentor,”” Saundra Taylor, former vice president for Campus Life and the fourth-ranked executive at UA, retired July 1 after 14 years of service.

    Allison Vaillancourt, associate vice president for human resources, said she sent out an e-mail asking faculty and community members to describe Taylor for a slideshow for Taylor’s retirement celebration and within hours, she was flooded with responses.

    “”The word that showed up over and over again was ‘gracious’,”” Vaillancourt remembers.

    From adding programs in residence halls, to making the Manuel T. Pacheco Learning Center more computer-friendly, to an eight-year battle to renovate the Student Union Memorial Center, Taylor is no stranger to standing up for students.

    “”(Taylor) was able to do some difficult things because she had created a reservoir with people,”” Vaillancourt said.

    Edith Auslander, vice president and senior associate to the president, worked with Taylor on many projects.

    “”One of the most enjoyable parts of knowing her was doing projects that involved the community,”” Auslander said.

    Vaillancourt said she worked with Taylor directly for about four years, and said she had the ability to communicate bad news to people in an optimistic way.

    “”She taught a lot of people about the importance of respect and integrity,”” Vaillancourt said.

    Taylor said one of the hardest parts of her job was dealing with budget cuts. During Taylor’s reign as vice president for Campus Life, she said she had to cut about $4 million from her budget.

    “”She’s resourceful in finding other ways to accomplish things rather than just spend money,”” Auslander said.

    It was typical for Taylor to take on assignments that required a lot of persuasion, such as the Campus Emergency Response Team, which Taylor directed, said President Emeritus Peter Likins.

    “”Sonnie made it work and made people proud of their accomplishments,”” Likins said.

    Although Taylor plans to be involved with the UA after her retirement, she said she is looking forward to spending time with her family and doing some traveling.

    Taylor said she is excited for what the future holds, and would like to think of her retirement as an “”advancement”” rather than an end.

    Likins said Taylor is a shining example of someone who has overcome obstacles that many are unaware of.

    “”This is an African-American woman who found her way to the upper reaches of leadership,”” Likins said.

    There are many deeper meanings to the word “”grace”” that appear often for Taylor, Likins said.

    “”She has an inner strength that permits her, while treating everyone beautifully, to establish her own position and lead people toward her goals,”” he said. “”It’s just a different kind of grace.””

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