Warhawk Almanac: First Female Chancellor

In the beginning of 2005 the 13th chancellor of the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Jack Miller, stepped down from the position. The search for the next Chancellor began that spring. On May 21st, UW President Kevin P,. Reilly and the Board of Regents Special Committee for the UW-Whitewater Chancellor Search recommended Dr. Martha Dunagin Saunders for Chancellor. At the board meeting in June of 2005, the UW-Whitewater Chancellor Search committee unanimously voted Dr. Martha Dunagin Saunders as the 14th Chancellor. Dr. Saunders was also the first female chancellor at UW- Whitewater and her term officially began August 1, 2007.

Martha Saunders
Anderson Library Archives and Area Research, Anderson Library, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Whitewater, WI.

Dr. Martha Saunders earned her bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Southern Mississippi, Master’s degree from the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia, and finally her doctorate in Communication Theory and Research from Florida State University. She has held multiple different positions in higher education in her career. Before coming to UW-Whitewater, Dr. Saunders was the vice president for Academic Affairs at Columbus State University of the University System of Georgia.[1]

Royal Purple Saunders Image
Saunders leaving UW-Whitewater for alma mater, 2007, in 2007 Whitewater Register (Whitewater: University of Wisconsin Whitewater, 2007), 1

Dr. Saunders served the Whitewater community for two years before departing campus. Her main accomplishments during her time as chancellor were updating the mission and goals statements of the university. She also finalized funding for building projects on campus. During her short time on campus, Dr. Saunders connected both with students and faculty as well as the Whitewater community as a whole. Dr. Saunders visited the Children’s Center on campus multiple time throughout the school year. She also had a passion for supporting Whitewater’s downtown economy and showing the business owners UW-Whitewater’s support. On June 6, 2006, Dr. Saunders started a blog for this purpose, named “Around Campus with Chancellor Saunders.” Here she not only wrote about happenings around the campus but also the Whitewater community.[2]

On April 5, 2007, Dr. Saunders was named the next president of the University of Southern Mississippi.[3] Dr. Martha Dunagin Saunders is now the current president at the University of West Florida.

[1] “Saunders named UW-Whitewater chancellor,” The Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI) August 25, 2005.

[2] “Chancellor Martha Saunders Launches Blog,” The Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI) August 17, 2006.

[3] Doug Dalsing, “Saunders leaving UW-Whitewater for alma mater, USM,” The Whitewater Register (Whitewater, WI) April 12, 2007.

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