President's Biography

Martha D. Saunders President of the University of West Florida


Martha D. Saunders, Ph.D. President

Martha Saunders became the sixth President of The University of West Florida in January 2017. In her 30-plus years in higher education, she has served as a professor of communication, honors director, dean of arts & sciences, provost, chancellor, or president 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.  

She earned her bachelor’s degree in French from the University of Southern Mississippi, her master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia, and her doctorate in Communication Theory and Research from Florida State University. 

Her philosophy of leadership parallels her philosophy of teaching:  know your students, connect them to bigger things, and set a good example. 

When she is not attending to university needs, Martha and her husband, Joe Bailey, can be found walking, shelling, gardening, kayaking or fishing on her beloved Pensacola Beach.

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