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Jason Olson, Deseret News
Former Utah Valley University President William A. Sederburg, left, hands over the school's key to UVU's new interim president Elizabeth Hitch.

OREM — For more than an hour and a half, a procession of faculty and students flocked around Utah Valley University President William A. Sederburg on Wednesday to wish him well in his new role as Utah commissioner of higher education.

The history books will probably remember Sederburg's legacy as his ability to shepherd then-Utah Valley State College through its transition into a university. But as far as Sederburg is concerned, his real legacy is found in the work of the numerous administrators, faculty members and university students who will carry on to build UVU's reputation across the nation.

"I will miss you a great deal," he said Wednesday to hundreds gathered on the fourth floor of the new UVU library. "But I'll be back — just like the Terminator — in my new role as commissioner."

Sederburg officially handed over the key to UVU to Elizabeth Hitch, who was selected to be interim president. Hitch, who served as vice president for academic affairs, joined UVU in July 2007 with more than 35 years of experience in higher education. She said this will be a "pretty easy year" because of the quality of staff and faculty working at the university.

"We know exactly where we're going," she said. "We know exactly what we're all about."

Sederburg took over then-UVSC's helm in June 2003 after completing a nine-year stint as president of Ferris State University in Michigan. In his five years as UVSC president, Sederburg fostered many positive advancements.

He accomplished administrative reorganization, instituted planning, budgeting and accountability. He created a National Advisory Board, Community Relations Board, received funding for a major baseball field and a cutting-edge library. He successfully guided the school on its course to university status, and now he will move on to assume the leadership of Utah's universities and colleges.

Sederburg is widely known across campus and in the community for his brand of humor and approachable nature.

"He's truly been a friend of the students," said Joseph Watkins, UVU student president.

Jack Zenger, a member of the State Board of Regents, said they've assembled a committee of 16 representatives from the board, the UVU Board of Trustees, UVU faculty members and community members to conduct a nationwide search for a new university president. He said they hope to whittle down the field of applicants to five candidates in five to six months.

"(Sederburg's) got some wonderful attributes that will be hard to replace," he said.

But that's not to say Sederburg walks on water.

"He's not a very good golfer," said Sen. Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Provo, via video. "I mean, if you see the slice this guy has on him," Bramble said, tongue in cheek.

Never at a loss for words, Sederburg fired off a quick repartee.

"He has me confused with (UVU vice president) Val Peterson," he said. The audience laughed.

After giving his adieus and a few more chuckles to the audience, Sederburg took his seat. Regents chairman Jed Pitcher took the microphone.

"He, indeed, is a hard act to follow," he said of the retiring president.

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