She remains the University of West Florida’s provost, but come the new year, Martha Saunders will be the new president at UWF.
She was selected over three other finalists last month.
“I was happy and humbled and thrilled,” said Saunders who was also confident that she was the right choice for the school.
“I have a 20 something year history w this university,” she said.
“I was on the faculty for 18 years, I was a dean here, moved on and had success everywhere I went and came back and have already made a contribution in four years. I think people know me.”
Saunders says when she left UWF after 18 years in 2002, she knew someday she and her family would be back in Pensacola.
“We kept our house,” Saunders said. “We knew we would be back. This was home, that we love, where we raised our children.”
This will be Saunders’ second tenure as a university president, having spent five years leading Southern Mississippi. She arrived in Hattiesburg right after Katrina hit the Mississippi Coast and right as the recession was hitting. She resigned unexpectedly in 2012 but says she’s proud of what she accomplished in Hattiesburg.
“We got busy, we set big goals and we knocked out of the park,” she said. “But it got to a place to where we had done all that I could do.”
Despite now more than two decades at UWF, she says there’s plenty on her plate as she looks to the future.
“I certainly see enrollment growth. I see growth in pour research. Establishing programs of excellence or preeminent is something I’ll be leaning on pretty quickly. And I would really like to see us increase our on-line presence.”
The board recommended Saunders be awarded a three-year contract with total compensation approaching a half million-dollars a year.