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UTPB President encourages ‘acting on passion’

UTPB+President+Dr.+Sandra+%22Sandy%22+K.+Woodley+sits+with+Alyssa+Leyva+at+the+%22Equali-Tea%22+event+conducted+in+honor+of+Women%27s+History+Month.+
UTPB President Dr. Sandra

UTPB President Dr. Sandra "Sandy" K. Woodley sits with Alyssa Leyva at the "Equali-Tea" event conducted in honor of Women's History Month.

Ana Ruth Lugo Mejia

Ana Ruth Lugo Mejia

UTPB President Dr. Sandra "Sandy" K. Woodley sits with Alyssa Leyva at the "Equali-Tea" event conducted in honor of Women's History Month.

Ana Ruth Lugo Mejia, Multi-Media Managing Editor

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Nobody has ever said that being a woman was easy. In fact, it is a challenge.

And without a doubt Dr. Sandra Woodley has taken the challenge to another level.

On March 21, at the event that was organized by Student Life, Woodley shared a little about what it’s like to be a woman and what it took her to become the first female president of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB). The event “Equali-Tea” was conducted in honor of the national Women’s History Month.

Married at the age of 18 years old, Woodley accomplished much while raising a family. Before going into detail, she joked “it was easy, no trouble whatsoever.” She said that what attracted her to UTPB was the fact that many students made it through college the same way she did in the sense that, they didn’t really take the preferred linear path. In total, college would take her ten years to graduate. Reminiscing about it made her think about how in those moments, through those ten years, she thought she couldn’t make it work. But she did.

She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Administration from Auburn University and a doctorate in Business Administration and Management from Nova Southeastern University. She served as a chief financial officer and strategic planner in university systems in Texas, Arizona, Kentucky, and Alabama. She worked with the state’s governor and legislature, the system’s Board of Regents, as well as campus presidents and members of the public on matters of higher education policy. Woodley would then become president of the one of the largest public university systems in the country, the University of Louisiana System.

Boasting a resume like hers you would think it had always been her dream to be president of the University but is quite the opposite. She recounts “nobody in my family had ever gone to college and I had no dream job, I didn’t have an aspiration, and so I thought, well, I will get married and I’ll have some children and I will be a stay-at-home mom.” She thought college wasn’t for her but then she found herself married and with two small children and she realized the bills were larger than the paycheck every single week. She didn’t have to think twice. She knew she wanted something more for herself and her family. The answer: going to college.

With great accomplishments also come great sacrifices. To have the position she now has, she says “during those ten years that it took me finish my undergraduate degree, I certainly would have liked to have done that a better way. I would like to have been able to spend more time and enjoy my babies rather than studying all night and having to be in class. I didn’t get to see them as much as I wanted to.” She also pointed out the difference of going to college back when she got her degree–there weren’t online classes.

She wasn’t alone through it all. Not only did she have amazing economic professors that inspired her interest in that particular subject, but some of the people she would later worked for, saw something that she herself didn’t see in herself at the time. She recalls the time when she didn’t think she possessed the ability to get a job as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), she didn’t see herself in that role and says “I would never had applied to be the CFO of the Alabama Education System but the executive director at the time came to me, he said: ‘you know our CFO is retiring, I think you’d be great in that role’ and I remembered going home thinking I can’t do that, I don’t know how to be a CFO.” It was in that moment that she began to see herself differently. She got the position.

When asked about the advice she would give to women, she mentioned how low her confidence was coming out of high school and “even though I was a positive person, I didn’t have the self-confidence to think that I could achieve my dreams, I didn’t think big enough. My advice is: think bigger, allow yourself to dream about what’s next for you and then create a pathway for yourself to achieve it. My other advice is, you really don’t have the ability to plan your future very specifically. What I mean by that is, I didn’t say to myself ‘this is the day I’m going to get this job and do this thing, and this is the day I’m going to be able to switch over and do this thing, this is the day I’m going to find my opportunity to be a university president’ that’s really not how life works.” She says the key is in working and being prepared “

Your ability to succeed in the jobs that come your way, all of the technical aspects you can learn, you can be trained for the job that comes your way. What you cannot train for very easily is attitude, ambition and work ethic.”

Woodley also shared about some of the barriers she faced throughout her career because of the fact she is a woman. Her philosophy though was to ignore it. She thinks it’s important to embrace the opportunity to work with both males and females in one’s career. She said “Discrimination will be there whether you’re a female, or because of your race or disability. We all … many times face these discriminatory barriers, and I just chose (most of the time) to ignore them or outwork them.”

Being the first woman to be president at this university requires leadership. Woodley states that it’s important that leaders lead with passion and not emotion. She shares that sometimes it’s hard for her, “you get really angry, everybody gets angry, but if you act on anger it’s always a mistake. Passion is not the same as emotion. As a leader you have to be passionate about what you do but you have to take the time to step back and think.” Being self-reflective is also important to her as a leader.

One of the things she hopes she’ll be able to do at UTPB is to surround herself with advice of the students and younger people so that the things that need to be done are accomplished.

Without question, being a woman isn’t easy, being a university president is not either.

But whatever the challenge is, Woodley will certainly find a way and overcome it.

After all, she has being doing it for years.

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1 Comment

One Response to “UTPB President encourages ‘acting on passion’”

  1. Todd Richardson on March 26th, 2018 1:14 pm

    Thank you, Dr. Woodley. We are glad you are with us!

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