A visitor’s vision

New commissioner of higher education kicks off statewide college, university tour at USU
By Kim Burgess
The Herald Journal
September 10, 2008
William Sederburg, Utah commissioner of higher education

Alan Murray/Herald Journal
William Sederburg, Utah commissioner of higher education, talks with Utah State University President Stan Albrecht shortly before a meeting Tuesday on campus.

William Sederburg, Utah’s new commissioner of higher education, likes to say that physical stamina is essential in politics — and his recent visit to Utah State University proved the adage.

The Commissioner had a packed schedule Tuesday, starting with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast with local mayors, legislators and community leaders.

Next he heard presentations on USU research and regional campuses and lunched with the Board of Trustees.

In the afternoon, Sederburg, who came to Logan with several members of the state Board of Regents and education officials, spoke to undergraduate researchers and toured the USU campus.

What he saw impressed him.

“I’m trying to get my brain around Logan, Utah, being an aerospace center,” Sederburg said after hearing about the school’s Space Dynamics Lab, which has an international reputation.

Sederburg thinks USU is poised to expand on that reputation during the coming decade, particularly when it comes to applied research.

He cited the school’s USTAR (Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative) program, a state-funded effort to bring university technology to the marketplace, and the Water Research Lab, which is assisting the new Arab Water Academy.

USU also has many opportunities to help the rest of the state, Sederburg said.

Alan Murray/Herald Journal
Brent Miller, Vice President for Research, gives a presentation to Utah Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg on Tuesday at Utah State University.

“That’s really the land-grant mission,” he explained. “These regional partnerships (through regional campuses and extension sites) are important.”

Strengthening partnerships was the commissioner’s goal during the USU visit, which kicked off a statewide tour of colleges and universities.

After learning the hopes of each school, Sederburg will craft a plan for the Board of Regents, which he leads.

Though Sederburg only began his role as commissioner on Aug. 18, he has an extensive background in education and politics.

From 2003-08, he served as president of Utah Valley State College, now Utah Valley University.

Before coming to UVU, he lived in Michigan, where he was president of Ferris State University, vice president for public policy at a think tank, a state senator, executive director of the Michigan House Republican Caucus and founding chair of the Midwest Higher Education Commission.

He will next travel to Dixie State College on Sept. 16.

© 2008 The Herald Journal