University of Texas of the Permian Basin Registrar Joe Sanders doesn’t seek the spotlight, but that’s where he found himself recently as the winner of the Regents’ Outstanding Employee Award from the UT System.
Sanders has worked at UTPB for 13 years and graduated from there with a bachelor’s degree in business. He has a master’s in management from Tarleton State University and is working on a doctor of business administration from Wilmington University in Delaware.
He started as a graduation clerk in the registrar’s office, worked there for five years and then spent three years in financial aid.
A spot in the registrar’s office opened up and he returned.
Born and raised in Midland, Sanders graduated from Midland High School. He joined the Air Force to see the world, but got stationed in Abilene.
When he finished his tour, he planned to attend Texas Tech University. He drove to Lubbock, but spent an hour and a half walking around campus and couldn’t find admissions or anyone to show him where the building was. He came home to Midland and his parents suggested UTPB.
“I came over here and the dean of the college of business got me and walked me around,” Sanders said.
He and his wife also planned to become Salvation Army ministers, but while they were in seminary in Atlanta, they became pregnant with the first of six children. Their children range in age from 3 to 13.
Sanders said his wife wanted to move back to West Texas. It took him nine months to find a job and it turned out to be at the registrar’s office.
The registrar’s main job is to maintain the integrity of the student’s record. Sanders said the registrar’s office keeps track of what classes a student signs up for, how they did in their classes and other duties. There are five people in his office, including himself.
The Regents’ award came as a shock to Sanders. He added that he was told of his nomination in the middle of an email from one of his bosses, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Heimmermann.
“I did not anticipate winning,” Sanders said.
He attended the banquet for Regents’ Outstanding Employee Award winners in Austin in late May.
“You got to go to the go banquet with the chancellor; you got a certificate; you got one of the chancellor’s coins and you got $10,000, but the absolute best part is we’ve got six kids and it was 27 hours me and my wife. (For) the first time in 13 years, we were somewhere without at least one kid. It was like, ‘Wow this is good stuff,’” Sanders said.
He added that he kept waking up wondering why he didn’t hear anything.
In his nomination letter, Heimmermann said Sanders is attentive to requests at all hours of the day and night and displays an “impeccable attention to detail, professionalism, and customer service.”
Heimmermann said Sanders has served in a number of different capacities at UTPB, including as director of financial aid, which “makes him an invaluable repository of institutional memory and support. But, Joe also has been an agent of change and innovation at the university.”
He added that Sanders has been a campus leader and expert on PeopleSoft, a human resource management system, in the university’s conversion to the software.
Heimmermann wrote that in addition, during the past year, Sanders led the changeover of undergraduate and graduate catalogs to an electronic format.
Heimmermann noted Sanders’ contagious sense of humor, maintained even during difficult times.
He added that Sanders is continuing his education in a quest for a doctorate in business, as well.
The UT System website said the University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the establishment of the Regents’ Outstanding Employee Award in November 2016.
“Selection is based on the impact the employee has made on their individual job and how this impact has helped improve their institution. Thirty awards are given out each year across the fourteen UT System institutions plus the UT System Administration. The winners receive a Chancellor’s challenge coin, a certificate, a $10,000 monetary award and an invitation for the awardee and a guest to a luncheon ceremony in Austin,” the site said.