A glimpse of Dr. Vinita Sauder
“Union College: great Adventist college . . . or the greatest Adventist college?”
My question hung in the air for a split second, waiting for President Vinita Sauder’s reply.
She only took a moment to respond. “Greatest.”
President Sauder carved out an hour of her day to talk to me about her tenure at Southern Adventist University, subsequent appointment as Union College’s 29th president, her impressions of Lincoln and her new students and her plans to propel Union forward.
“I didn’t think I was going to get the job,” Sauder confided, “even when Union flew me out and they were deciding between me and the other candidate.” Despite her uncertainty, Sauder felt God leading her and her family.
“I was happy where I was at but felt like it might be a time for a change. So I put in my resume and let God do the rest.” And God started working. Within six hours of putting her home in Tennessee on the market, it sold. “God didn't stop working.”
According to Sauder, the response she received from students and faculty was warmer than she could have ever expected. “The students at Union are amazing—everything from their hospitality to their leadership. The students make this place what it is.”
Sauder sees herself as an integral part in that leadership as Union moves forward. “I am ready to get things moving. Union is already great. I’m just ready to work with everyone and give new momentum to what Union is already doing.”
Union College’s planning committee has been working closely with Sauder since her arrival. New projects are in the works, like improvements to Union’s workout facilities, the demolition of Jorgensen Hall and building plans for the space it will leave behind.
New projects aren’t the only reason to be excited for our new president. “Do you know the history of Union College presidents?” I inquired.
“Actually, I can show you.” Sauder led me into the conference room adjoining her office and reveals the showroom of past presidents. As the pictures filter from black and white to color, President Sauder chuckles when we reach the end of the line. “I’m a little different.”
Sauder is the first woman to be president of Union College, but she doesn’t think that’s where the focus should lie. “I’m not trying to make anything political. I work with a great team and I work hard too—that’s all that should matter.”
Since moving to Lincoln, Sauder has been working tirelessly but has also taken in some of the joys of the city.
“I love Lincoln. The people and the city have so much to offer.” When she’s not working, Sauder loves exploring and trying new things. “I ate at Blue Orchid not long ago and loved it, and I’m looking for new things to try.”
Most of all, Sauder wants to connect with students. “I hope that students feel free to come see me in my office and give me input on things. This is their school, afterall.”
If you have a minute or two, say hello to our new president—and tell her what restaurant she should try next.
Slade is a senior studying language arts education.