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Sander prepares for next president

President+Eugene+Sander+in+his+office+on+2+Feburary+2012.+He+was+being+interviewed+about+what+he+thinks+hes+accomplished+in+his+time+here.%0A%0AKeith+Hickman-Perfetti%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0A
Keith Hickman-Perfetti
President Eugene Sander in his office on 2 Feburary 2012. He was being interviewed about what he thinks he’s accomplished in his time here. Keith Hickman-Perfetti/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

During his final semester as the UA’s interim president, Eugene Sander plans to prepare the UA community for its new president next semester.

Sander was not new to the UA when he took the job as president. He previously served as executive vice president and provost of the university, as vice president for the Outreach College and as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where he oversaw 11 academic departments and two schools.

Knowing that his position was temporary, Sander said he did not want to make any major changes to the university unless absolutely imperative. If he was to make more moderate changes, he said, they would fine-tune certain aspects of the university, not twist them completely.

“When I took over this job, I really felt that (former president Robert) Shelton’s departure left the university in a position where the principal thing to do was to lead us into a new healing in order to take the next step,” Sander said. “When you put a person like myself in a deadline, the big frustration is that I can only get certain things established.”

Sander said he feels that it is his responsibility to “pave the way” for the next president, and that the regent’s search for the UA’s next president is “moving along the way most do.” Shelton was being interviewed for the position at this point in the last presidential search, Sander said, and the regents should be making a decision shortly.

Sander also said he has made sure to constantly be in the loop about the presidential search, even if it’s just on board terms.

“It’s important to not be an outside guy. If you’re going to be a successful leader, you better know what’s going on in that organization. And when you’re separated from a layer of administration, you don’t get it done,” Sander said.

The president has also been working on pushing for endowments, which he said is very difficult. The UA has a relatively small endowment, but Sander said this is because the UA is still growing and is relatively young. A campaign launched by the UA just raised more than $1 billion, and the university is now working on establishing another campaign to raise more funds.

Aside from being involved in the search for the UA’s next president, Sander said he also wants to focus on finding new professors and employees to fill the spots of those retiring.

“We have to restock the shelves in terms of new people,” he said, adding that he wants to make sure that the university has excellent deans, college presidents and other staff so when the next president takes his place, that person can pick up where he left off and see all university projects through completion.

Recently, Sander publicly opposed some proposed legislation in the state. This included House Bill 2675, which, if passed, will require most in-state students to pay $2,000 out of pocket without financial assistance unless it is from an outside source. Sander said students who come from families with less money may not be able to attend college if they have to pay an extra $2,000 without aid. He also opposed legislation that would allow guns on campus, saying that it would create “enormous problems” for law enforcement responsible for protecting the campus.

When Sander looked back on his 25 years at the UA, he said attending graduations have been what really made this job worthwhile. Not just watching the ceremony or seeing the students wear caps and gowns, he said, but seeing the graduates’ enthusiasm and knowing that they are going to be able to think through problems, make decisions and be successful. Sander said he experienced this at a luncheon he held for graduating seniors in the agriculture department when he was a dean.

“Glad I don’t have to compete against this person (graduate) — they’re smarter than me,’” he said. “It feels amazing to have been a part of their growth. They go from being a freshman to being a sophisticated, smart person that will make good decisions. It makes it all worthwhile.”

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