Chancellor Sandeen’s history: before and after UAA

Chancellor Sandeen recently announced that she is going to be the next president of California State University. She will officially be leaving on Jan. 3. Although she is leaving UAA after two terms, she let the student body know that UAA will always have a special place in her heart in a recent interview with me.

Chancellor Sandeen joined UAA months before the big earthquake in 2018. Image courtesy of UAA.

Chancellor Sandeen has an impressive list of degrees which include a bachelor’s in Speech Pathology, a Master of Arts in Broadcast Communication, a Doctoral degree in Communication and a Master of Management.

Sandeen’s college career began in 1984 when she was a visiting assistant professor at Mills College in Oakland California. Her responsibilities included teaching courses in communications, mass communications and video production. Sandeen said that this period in her life was when she realized what it meant to be a first-generation college student.

“I finally figured out what it was. I knew I was the first in my family to go to college, but I didn’t know that there was an actual word for it,” Sandeen said.

Sandeen moved on to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) from 1990 to 2000, where she held many administrative positions. She was a management services officer at the school of dentistry from 1990 to 1992, an assistant director from 1992 to 1994 and finally became director of UCSF from 1994 to 1997 before eventually being promoted to the Assistant Dean for the Educational Support Services at the school of dentistry from 1997 to 2000.

Sandeen’s next job was dean of the University of Los Angeles in 2006. After that, she moved on to being the Vice President of the American Council on Education in 2012. She then became the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin in 2014.

Sandeen joined the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2018 as the Dean.

Chancellor Sandeen hopes to continue to help students complete their higher education at California State University. Image courtesy of UAA.
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Over her long career, Sandeen has won over 8 awards including the President’s Award to the Distinguished College of the Year Award from the UCSF School of Dentistry in 1999, as well as the UCSF Dental Alumni Association in 2000.

Sandeen said that the biggest highlight for her was the 2019 UAA Fall Kick-Off when the Union of Students or USUAA asked if they could put her in a dunk tank to raise money for the organization. She said that people were very hesitant to dunk her and that USUAA made sure the water was warm.

“That’s what’s so special about the UAA community,” Sandeen said of the event.

Sandeen also remembers when the 2018 earthquake hit. She ensured the  University was open within five days so people wouldn’t miss their final exams. She recounted one of the construction workers trying to get the building together.

“It was amazing to see that everyone wanted to get [the campus] up and [running] again. You wouldn’t think that someone like that would be so involved,” Sandeen said.

Another accomplishment Sandeen acknowledges is that UAA was able to have about the same amount of students register for classes this semester, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Sandeen emphasized that she is inspired by first-generation university students. This was why she would ask first-generation students to stand up at every commencement ceremony.

“It gave me chills every time and it reminded me that what I’m doing is important. It just shows how remarkable our students are,” Sandeen said.

Sandeen had some parting advice for students.

“We are here for you, ask for help. The best thing you can do is to keep grinding along and stay on course on getting your degree. I appreciate the challenges you are going through and I’d just say keep going because it is definitely worth it.”

Pit Painty, the UA Director, will choose an acting-chancellor once Mrs. Sandeen leaves, according to a recent email.