Thursday, March 11, 2021

Sara Sanders has been named dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) after serving in the role as interim since July 2020. She will begin in the permanent role on March 15.

Sanders succeeds Steve Goddard, who assumed a faculty role in the Department of Computer Science in July 2020.

Sara Sanders
Sara Sanders

Sanders, a professor in the School of Social Work, served as the undergraduate program director from 2011 to 2015 and as director of the School of Social Work from 2015 to 2019. She also was an administrative fellow in CLAS from 2018 to 2019. In addition, Sanders serves as the college’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Sara has provided excellent leadership over the last seven months, and I know she has inspired trust and excitement about her ability to lead the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences into the future,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. “Her dedication to the delivery of quality education will continue to benefit not just the college but the entire university.”

Sanders earned her PhD in social work from the University of Maryland in 2002 and joined the UI faculty in January 2003. She was awarded the Distinguished Professor Award in the School of Social Work four times and the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence in 2015. Sanders was named a Dean’s Scholar in 2011, a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America in 2013, and an Emerging Leader in Professional Practice by the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network in 2013.

While serving as interim, Sanders has enhanced the college’s focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and creating a more inclusive and civil community within the college; ensured high-quality education while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic; realigned collegiate and budget priorities; and completed a strategic plan for the college, among other initiatives.

“I am deeply honored to be asked to fill such an important role during a time of transition in higher education,” says Sanders. “We are very fortunate to be part of a community in which we are surrounded by creativity, discovery, and new innovations. Through our work, we get to change the course of life for so many people. It is my goal as dean to lead with compassion so that every member of our community can thrive and reach their highest potential.”

Sanders will receive an annual salary of $375,000. Her appointment must be approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.