Alumni News

Alumnus Sanford “Sandy” Shugart to be honored by UNC-Chapel Hill

Sandy Shugart

Sanford “Sandy” Shugart, president of Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., will be honored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with its Distinguished Alumnus Award during University Day celebrations on Oct. 11.

Shugart (B.S.S.T. ’78, M.A.T. ’83, Ph.D. ’89) has been president of Valencia College, one of the nation’s largest community colleges with approximately 70,000 students, since 1999. Under Sanford’s leadership, Valencia has become a national model for creating a culture of educational innovation.

At Sanford’s instigation, the college discovered that students’ successful outcomes could be predicted by their success in their first five courses. The college reworked its processes to include earlier advising and orientation, earlier application and admission deadlines, and predictable numbers of sections available.

After a decade of these initiatives, graduation rates for college-ready and developmental students at Valencia doubled, gaps between students from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds diminished, and the college was poised to achieve completion rates more typical of selective state universities. Valencia now has a significantly higher graduation rate than its peers, boasts the nation’s highest job placement rate at 95 percent and has the most productive transfer program in the country.

In recognition of these accomplishments, in 2011, Valencia received the first Aspen Award for Community College Excellence from among 1,000 applicants.

Shugart began his career as chair of the science department of Cobb County Schools in Georgia, moved on to become at age 25 vice president and chief academic officer of the N.C. Community College System from 1983 to 1991, and served as president of North Harris Community College in Houston from 1991 to 1999.

He earned all three of his degrees from the School of Education, with his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

Shugart also is a published poet and songwriter and author of “Leadership in the Crucible of Work: Discovering the Interior Life of an Authentic Leader.”