Taking on a new and larger role in the delivery of higher education in Utah has Commissioner William A. Sederburg excited.
"I hope it's going to be a fun and rewarding experience," he said.
He plans to hit the ground running, having already scheduled a bus tour of the state's 10 public colleges and universities "to help me and anyone else who is interested get acquainted with the issues and challenges each school faces, as well as see what they have to offer," Sederburg said.
He officially begins his new role with Utah's System of Higher Education Monday.
The job, which comes with considerably more responsibility than that of president of Utah Valley University, which was a college when he inherited it, will provide him an opportunity to further promote postsecondary education in many ways.
As part of his wish list for USHE, Sederburg hopes to promote the importance of education, as well as continue working with public education toward a seamless transition for students going into college. He hopes to work with government officials to plan for the state's economic development and generate a 20-year strategic plan for state schools.
"I look forward to working with the Utah State Legislature," Sederburg said. "The task is to get legislators and the governor into thinking in terms of higher education as an investment, as a key element to the economic success of the state as opposed to an expense."
Sederburg, 60, takes his place over the Board of Regents after many years of experience in education and public policy. Since 2003, he has been serving as president of UVU in Orem, where he recently led the transition to university status, offering more options for its growing numbers of students.
Before his hiring in Utah, Sederburg was a Michigan state senator and taught and lectured at various colleges throughout Michigan and served as president of Ferris State University in Big Rapids from 1994 to 2003.
With 15 years of experience as a college president, Sederburg said he "knows a lot of the issues and knows what the presidents are going through and what institutional change is all about," which he expects will help him in his current position.
He earned a bachelor's degree in education and political science from Minnesota State University Mankato, and master's and doctorate degrees in political science and public administration from Michigan State University. He was also founding chairman of the Midwest Higher Education Commission.
"He comes with a lot of experience in higher education," said Interim Commissioner of Higher Education Dave Buhler. "He brings a lot to the table."
Buhler has occupied the position since former Commissioner Rich Kendell resigned from the office in 2007. Buhler has tackled tough budgetary issues as well as successfully promoted the new Regent's Scholarship, which advocates a more difficult study regimen in high school.
"I'm discouraged that we're not seeing more who are interested in college," Buhler said. "For the first time in history, our younger age groups are less educated than their parents, and that is not a good trend to follow." He will continue working as the associate commissioner for public affairs and hopes to continue contributing to the system now that he has had "the great opportunity to become familiar with all the functions of it."
Sederburg said he will try his best to be "fair" and "equitable" to each of the colleges and universities, forecasting no major changes at least for his first week.On his way out the door at UVU, Sederburg was able to accomplish a few last-minute wishes, including authorization for a new running track at the Orem campus.