By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY —
After 11 years of leading Indiana University Southeast’s administration, Sandra Patterson-Randles will step down as chancellor June 30.
She said health issues in her family caused her to retire one year earlier than anticipated. Campus administrators in the IU system were required to step down at age 65, but a vote from the IU board of trustees extended her time at IU Southeast to June 30, 2014.
She said the decision to leave the campus now came after a lot of consideration of her family and other personal goals.
“I had actually been thinking about this for a good six months, as a matter of fact,” Patterson-Randles said. “We’ve had some health issues in my family that gave me a great deal of concern. That always puts things in a different perspective when you see friends or family in poor health.”
An interim vice chancellor will take the helm until a search for a permanent chancellor is completed. However, dates for placing an interim chancellor and beginning a search have not been set. Calls to public relations officials at Indiana University in Bloomington to confirm details about the search and interim appointment were not returned as of press time.
Patterson-Randles said she’s proud of many of the developments on campus since she became the university’s top administrator, including the addition of residence halls in 2008.
“It’s amazing,” Patterson-Randles said. “The biggest thing, I think, for IU Southeast, is after two decades of attempts, is bringing on student housing. It’s just allowed IU Southeast to step over another threshold.”
But she said she’s also glad to see the image of the campus taken from a hidden gem to a known and respected institution for higher learning. She said that was accomplished by several means, including strong development of a strategic plan and an outstanding reaccreditation report from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 2010. Enrollment also has grown during her time on campus, topping 7,200 in recent years. The low point in enrollment during her tenure was about 6,200 students.
But she also said putting students in internships and other programs in communities has helped lift the school’s rapport, as well as national awards earned by faculty and students.
“A lot of people know about us,” Patterson-Randles said. “I think enhancing the reputation of IU Southeast was a major challenge and enhancing its reputation is something I’m proud we’ve been able to do.”
The campus also built a new library in 2005 under her direction.
Dana Wavle, vice chancellor for administrative affairs, is the most senior administrator at the school. He said he thinks he’s become a better leader through working with the chancellor in the last few years.
“She always took the job very seriously and she always did her very best,” Wavle said. “I got to see a side of her others may not have been able to see, and she’s made an impact on me.”
But Patterson-Randles said she does wish she was able to see the campus’s technology center come to fruition.
She said she plans to become a faculty member on campus after a year of leave to get back to where she started in the business — teaching.
“The reason I went into academe is because of teaching, not administration,” Patterson-Randles said. “I like being close to the students; I like seeing them learn and blossom going into their lives.”
Kim Kerby, an editor for the Horizon, IU Southeast’s student newspaper, said Patterson-Randles has done a lot for the campus.
“I was a little surprised because she got that extension, but I understand because her leaving of the family conerns. I appreciate all she's done for the campus.”
Kerby said specifically she is pleased with the residence halls.
“That has greatly benefitted me because I do live an hour away from New Albany,” she said. “I’ve lived in campus for all four years so I’m grateful for her getting the lodges built. It’s helped me make connections and friends in the area.”
Patterson-Randles said she’s also going to take more time with her horses on her farm. She said she may get back into competitive horse-riding.
“There are things like that as chancellor, I have not had time to do,” Patterson-Randles said. “Once you turn 65, it’s kind of now or never. I really want to get back to riding. I’m interested in not just riding horses, but also driving them with carriages, that’s something I’ve never done.”
But she said the relationships she’s built at the campus and the people she’s worked with have made everything that’s happened under her leadership possible.
“It’s everybody kind of working together,” Patterson-Randles said. “It’s the faculty, staff, students, the board of advisers have been great and so many of our community stakeholders. There are so many people here that I know and love.
“It’s kind of like the Pony Express, you ride the horse for so long and then you have to swap off — that’s the place I’m at here.”