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Michael Brandy, Deseret News
William Sederburg accepts a bottle of Tylenol from interim commissioner of higher education Dave Buhler, second from right.

As the new commissioner of higher education, Utah Valley University President William A. Sederburg is prepared with energy, wit, experience — and a pocketful of goals.

The State Board of Regents announced Sederburg's new position Tuesday afternoon. It was a unanimous vote. He succeeds former commissioner Richard E. Kendell, who retired in December.

"It's a great honor to accept this position," Sederburg said.

Sederburg, 60, will transfer to his new job on Aug. 18. He will make $235,000 annual salary. Kendell was earning approximately $210,000.

Sederburg was a Michigan state senator and president of Ferris State University in Big Rapids before he came to lead the then-Utah Valley State College in June 2003.

The new commissioner received a standing ovation as he entered the room Tuesday, with a fresh celebratory red rose pinned to his lapel. He was joined by his wife, Joyce, who sported a multicolored corsage.

"Both Joyce and I look forward to putting all we have into making this a successful endeavor," Sederburg said.

Sederburg and his wife, a retired school psychologist who worked in Provo School District, have two grown children: Matthew and Kari. The couple plan to move from Orem to Salt Lake City soon for the new employment.

Within the next 30 days, UVU will form a search committee and also name an interim president. A new university president could be named as early as Jan. 1, 2009.

The goals and direction of UVU will continue, said Val Peterson, vice president for administration and legislative affairs. "We expect a smooth transition," he said.

The university now offers 57 bachelor degrees and dozens of associate degrees, plus diplomas and certificates. 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.

UVSC officially became UVU with a celebration last week, which included the ribbon-cutting for the school's new library.

Sederburg said he has four main goals as higher education commissioner.

First, he aims to conduct himself and the office with integrity. Second, he wants to seek ways to develop a clear strategic vision and goals for the regents and higher education. Third, he wants to work collaboratively and partner with related institutions, especially public education. Fourth, he plans to produce innovation and change.

"I hope that at the end of my tenure, this period will be known as a great period of growth for higher education and one of innovation," Sederburg said.

He said he acknowledges the people of Utah as supporting education. However, "we need to raise the bar a little bit, and we need to expand advocacy for higher education," he said.

Many UVU officials attended Tuesday's event, expressing mixed emotions with the regents' announcement.

"We see great strength coming to the whole state," said Janette Hales Beckham, chairwoman of UVU's board of trustees.

"We're just happy we have had this time to learn from Bill Sederburg," Beckham said. "He is a tremendous leader. He has done so much for UVU, and we think he will do it for the whole state."

Val Hale, UVU vice president for institutional advancement, added, "From a UVU standpoint, it's a sad day. But I also know what a great leader he is and what an asset he will be to the state of Utah. He will lead higher education to new heights."

The regents reviewed nearly 100 applications or nominations over the past seven to eight months. The search committee, comprised of six regents, interviewed seven candidates over the past two months, according to chairman Jed Pitcher.

Pitcher said Sederburg's "unique skills and terrific experience" were what the regents wanted, along with his legislative experience and communication abilities. "And having someone who has been the president of two institutions is very important, because of the skills he gained — it's just priceless," Pitcher added.

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said he supports the regents' decision.

"President Sederburg brings great respectability and strong leadership to this critical role," Huntsman said. "He is a proven leader and public servant of the highest standard. His knowledge, experience and persistence to continue elevating our higher education system will help future generations of Utahns become better prepared for the 21st century."

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