William A. Sederburg, president of Utah Valley University in Orem, was named Utah Commissioner of Higher Education by the State Board of Regents today.

"It is going to be a very exciting time," Sederburg said during a press conference at the Regents office in Salt Lake City this afternoon.

Utah Valley State College officially became UVU with a celebration last week which included the ribbon cutting of the school's new library.

Sederburg has spent much of his time in the pursuit of excellence in education.

Born in Nebraska and raised in Minnesota, Sederburg earned a bachelor's degree from Mankato State University in Minnesota and a master's degree and doctorate degree, both in political science, from Michigan State University.

Sederburg made Michigan his home, serving in the state Senate and in various education capacities for a 20-year period.

As a Michigan state senator, Sederburg tackled education issues with various state initiatives, and involved academic administrators in state-wide economic, employment and technological issues. He served as chairman of the Midwest Higher Education Commission, where he worked to increase educational opportunities in the Midwestern states.

Sederburg taught and lectured at several colleges throughout Michigan, and became the 16th president of Ferris State University in Big Rapids in 1994.

Under Sederburg's leadership, Ferris State experienced a renaissance in a short duration, an experience that made Sederburg an excellent choice to lead the then UVSC, where he began as president in June 2003.

During his time at UVU, Sederburg's leadership has fostered many positive moves forward, most recently the approval of the change to university status. He has also accomplished administrative reorganization, plus instituted planning, budget and accountability — including a comprehensive strategic directions planning process. He has created a National Advisory Board, Community Relations Board, received funding for a major baseball field and a state-of-the art library. He has met with community, education, and political leaders to promote UVU and forward his ideas for economic development, community engagement and university. Sederburg and his wife, Joyce, a school psychologist, have two grown children, Matthew and Kari.

UVU is preparing to meet the growing higher education needs of Utah Valley. Right now there are 22 percent more third-grade students than high school seniors in the local schools.

UVU aims to be ready for 5,000 additional students by 2017.

Fall enrollment at UVU was 23,840.

UVU was one of only four institutions of higher education in Utah to show an increase in enrollment for spring semester 2008, according to the Utah System of Higher Education. Spring 2007 showed a total head count of 20,976 students. In spring 2008 there were 21,431 students, an increase of 455 and 2.17 percent, according to USHE.

The college now has 57 bachelor degrees with dozens of associate degrees plus diplomas and certificates. A total of 14 degrees were added since 2006 with dental hygiene just being approved by the Regents last spring.

This fall, the school will welcome its first master's degree cohort in education. A master's degree in nursing is expected to follow in fall 2009, and a master of business administration degree sometime after that.

E-mail: astewart@desnews.com