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The Daily Wildcat

 

Sander adapting to new role as UA president

	News Editor Luke Money interviews acting President Eugene Sanders about his plans for the school. Filmed and edited by Heather DiPietro.

News Editor Luke Money interviews acting President Eugene Sanders about his plans for the school. Filmed and edited by Heather DiPietro.

As UA students packed up their dorm rooms at the beginning of summer, Eugene Sander was shipping his belongings to Texas, anticipating retirement after a quarter-century at the university.

Now, as students return from summer vacation, Sander is still moving, not to Texas as originally planned, but into his new office.

The Arizona Board of Regents named Sander, a longtime dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the UA’s interim president on June 18. He replaced former President Robert Shelton, who resigned to take a position as executive director of the Fiesta Bowl, effective Aug. 1.

For Sander, the biggest challenge has been coming to grips with the magnitude of his new position, and the increased demands on his time as a result.

“The principles are not that different,” Sander said.

Adding to that challenge has been a shift in the upper echelons of the UA administration. Since being named president, Sander has seen the departure of Meredith Hay, the UA’s provost since 2008. Other changes included three new deans also assuming their positions. Sander, however, praised all the new additions, saying new College of Optical Sciences Dean Thomas L. Koch “radiates brains,” that new Eller College of Management Dean Len Jessup made him look like a slacker, and that he was excited to see the work of Shane Burgess, his replacement as dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Sander especially praised new UA interim Provost Jacqueline Mok, recalling how, after meeting her years ago, he thought she was an underutilized resource.

“She’s forgotten more than I ever knew,” Sander said. “I’m her biggest fan.”

Sander said his biggest goal is ensuring that a foundation for success is laid for when a long-term president is named.

“I’d like to set the table,” Sander said. “If we get some of those details, some of the homework done beforehand, we can begin to move the university forward.”

Part of those efforts is working to make sure the UA is attractive to potential presidential applicants.

“I want to see where we are five years from now,” Sander said. “I hope we take that next step forward. I think we will.”

Sander acknowledged that some might feel marginalized or excluded from the presidential search process, but urged all those with such feelings to be patient and wait for the formal interview process.
“I’d say it’s a little premature to say anyone has been snubbed,” he said.

In the meantime, Sander said his biggest mission is to cultivate an environment that allows “everyone to do the best work they can do.”
“That’s what an effective leader does,” Sander said.

Sander also said that he hopes to work closely with the other in-state universities in a way that maximizes their value for everyone in the state. This includes identifying different institutional goals and fostering more collaborative efforts, including with Arizona State University.

“But don’t worry, we’re still going to play them in football in November,” Sander said with a wink. “Don’t you worry about that.”

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