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Martha Saunders Approved For One-Year Extension As UWF President


President Martha Saunders will keep her title another year.

The University of West Florida Board of Governors has unanimously approved the university’s Board of Trustees’ recommendation to approve a one-year extension of Saunders’ contract pending a final review, according to a press release sent Thursday.

In June, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the extension of Dr. Saunders’ contractual term commencing on January 1, 2020.

In 2017, the Board of Governors placed limits on contract extensions or renewals for presidents of academic institutions to one year after the initial three-year agreement.

In the press release, Mort O’Sullivan, chair of the Board of Trustees said he looked forward to seeing what the future brings for the university with Dr. Saunders at its helm.

“Dr. Saunders has keenly recognized the best opportunities for UWF and increased the visibility of the University through innovative programs,” the release said. “She has capitalized on UWF’s assets and thoughtfully determined new areas of growth. Her accomplishments have positioned the University as a desirable institution. UWF has ranked alongside top-performing public universities for three consecutive years in the performance-based funding metrics established by the Board of Governors. Additionally, UWF has introduced numerous programs and expanded opportunities for students. Dr. Saunders continues finding new ways of increasing higher education accessibility for all prospective students.”

“I am confident that Dr. Saunders will continue to carry out her vision of making UWF an institution of limitless opportunity over the next year and beyond.”

Saunders was named to succeed past UWF president Judy Bense in 2017. At her inauguration, Saunders said she envisioned similar growth at the university through a larger physical presence in downtown Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach; investing in programs such as global online, cybersecurity and supply chain logistics, and visiting local high schools to recruit talented students.

Since Saunders took office, the university established nine new degree programs to address workforce shortages, a partnerships was formed with Florida Agency for State Technology and the Florida Department of State were established to enhance Florida’s cybersecurity resiliency, and a new Office of Military Engagement was formed to enhance our partnerships with area military bases and defense industries.

At last year’s State of the University Address, Dr. Saunders touted the UWF successes including the  opening of the University Park Center, which houses UWF sports; the Florida State University College of Medicine, and the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health, 22 championships within the athletics programs and a capital campaign wrapping up at $65 million.

Looking forward at future goals, the president said they will not go it alone.

“Our alumni, our Board of Trustees, and our community are in full sail behind us. There are no limits to the success we can achieve together.”