UWF President announces appointment of Provost Martha Saunders as executive vice president
University of West Florida President Judy Bense announced today the appointment of Provost Martha Saunders as executive vice president. In her new capacity, Saunders will not only continue to serve as the chief academic officer and vice president for the Division of Academic Affairs, but will also be the chief operating officer with oversight over all University divisions. All vice presidents, as well as the associate vice president for Human Resources and General Counsel, will report directly to Provost Saunders.
“The landscape has changed for UWF since Dr. Saunders returned here as provost in January 2013,” Bense said. “Her experience in higher education has been a tremendous asset to the reorganization of Academic Affairs and UWF as a whole. While UWF has had executive vice presidents in the past, we are at a point in our history when the chief academic officer needs to serve as the COO, providing the University community with full-time, on-campus leadership to improve internal operations and communication. I believe this structure is one in which the faculty and staff can have tremendous confidence.”
As provost, Saunders serves as the President’s first delegate, with primary responsibility for the overall administration and quality of academic programs, as well as leadership and coordination for the Division of Academic Affairs. Since January 2013, Saunders has overseen a reorganization of the Division of Academic Affairs into four academic colleges, with three new deans hired to date. Additionally, she launched University College to enhance the effectiveness of student support services at UWF by streamlining programs into one comprehensive unit.
“I appreciate the trust President Bense has placed in me and look forward to working with the other vice presidents toward a stronger University,” Saunders said.
Prior to her appointment as provost at UWF, Saunders served as president for the University of Southern Mississippi from 2007-2012. From 2005-2007, she was chancellor for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She also served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Columbus State University from 2002-2005.
Saunders began her career at UWF in 1984, as a professor in the Department of Communication Arts, where she then became coordinator of the Public Relations Program. She also served as director of the University Honors Program and associate dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences from 1996-1999. In 2000, she was named dean of the UWF College of Arts and Sciences.
She received a bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Southern Mississippi, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in communication theory and research from Florida State University.