You can only Be the Leader You Are

You can only Be the Leader You Are

Martha Dunagin Saunders is the sixth President of the University of West Florida. In her 30-plus years in higher education, she has served in academic and leadership roles at universities in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and Mississippi. Her area of academic expertise is in public relations and crisis communication for which she has won numerous awards, including two Public Relations Society of America’s coveted Silver Anvils. 

Saunders led the University of West Florida to its status as a top-performing public university with the third-highest score in the Florida Board of Governors performance metrics. She established the UWF Innovation Institute, Center for Cybersecurity and the Office of Equity and Diversity. She oversaw the reorganization of the institution’s colleges, and under her guidance, UWF established two new named colleges–the Usha Kundu M.D. College of Health and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. 

Saunders’ vision for UWF is for it to grow beyond its beginnings as a regional comprehensive university and be seen as a leader in innovation and cutting edge academic programs. She plans to build on the University’s strengths and its undergraduate traditions while creating programs that will attract the faculty and research funding needed to make the leap to the next level. 

As an entrepreneurial leader, Saunders is passionate about creating innovative solutions to deal with the dynamic challenges facing higher education. As a change maker, she drives action behind these solutions to propel higher education into the future.

Show Highlights

  • Martha shares how to be an authentic leader. 
  • How honest advice can make a profound impact.
  • Ways to recognize and reward top teachers 
  • 2 questions that will capture the essence of your school to help with teacher retention and recruitment
  • Martha’s advice on not letting intitivitives break your bank and zap all your energy
  • Lead with a “Frontier spirit” 
  • Leadership teams need balance to compliment your vision


“I read it in a book recently and it said, ‘if something scares you get closer.’ I think I would put that on every school because we pull away from things we don't understand. And that's true in every field. If we don't understand something, we back off from it and we often deprive ourselves of some real growth. So I think that's a rather provocative statement.”


Full Transcript

(Available on the website)

S2 E3 Dr Martha Saunders Transcript


Martha’s Resources & Contact Info:


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