New Interim SVPP shares vision to help students succeed

New Interim SVPP shares vision to help students succeed

New Interim SVPP shares vision to help students succeed


Photo of Dr. Sharleen Santos-Bamba
Dr. Sharleen Santos-Bamba is the new Interim Senior Vice President and Provost.

A quick glance at Dr. Sharleen Santos-Bamba’s career shows she’s been moving fast career-wise.

It’s not something she’s really had time to reflect on, she acknowledged, but her trajectory is hard to miss.

Dr. Santos-Bamba recently stepped up to be the Interim Senior Vice President and Provost. She was appointed to the role as Dr. Anita Borja Enriquez was preparing to vacate the position to be the 12th President of the University of Guam beginning August 6.

Dr. Santos-Bamba’s first job at UOG started in Fanuchånan 2002 as a part-time teacher in the English Department at the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. 

At the end of summer 2003, she was asked to apply for a full-time position in CLASS. 

And in 2015, right after she received tenure as faculty, Dr. Santos-Bamba was asked to step into the role of Associate Dean at CLASS. In late 2021, she was asked to serve as Vice Provost, beginning in January 2022.

Dr. Santos-Bamba is thankful for the mentors who guided and encouraged her.

One of her early mentors was UOG Dean Emerita Mary L. Spencer, who was her neighbor. Dr. Spencer encouraged Dr. Santos-Bamba to pursue higher education.

Then there’s Dr. Anne Hattori, Professor of History, Micronesian Studies, and CHamoru Studies.

“Dr. Anne had a great influence in my academic career. She’s been a rock – and a lot of wisdom comes from her,” Dr. Santos-Bamba said.

Dr. James Sellman, Dean at CLASS, also is on her mentor list.

“Dr. Sellman really gave me an opportunity to explore my own administrative style and management style. He had high expectations with regards to how I worked with people and how things were run and the continuity of research,” Dr. Santos-Bamba said. “His institutional memory was a definite plus – I learned a lot from him, and so I'm very grateful.”  

“Since I was an Associate Dean, my professional growth is a result of the opportunities to represent the University, to participate in different committees and initiatives. And more so, engaging with stakeholders and the larger Guam community.”

Being collaborative has kept Dr. Santos-Bamba on this path to greater roles in academic leadership.

“It’s quite liberating when a superior or someone who you look up to tremendously says, 'I'm going to defer to you, to trust you to make decisions,'” Dr. Santos-Bamba said. “I've been able to overcome many challenges because of my ability to relate to people.”

Dr. Santos-Bamba hopes to encourage more students to not give up their pursuit of higher education.

“When I was younger, it was always my position that I'm not going to school just for myself. I'm going to school for my family.  I'm a first-generation college graduate and I think that that's important to share – for first-generation students, there's a lot of help for us out there, a lot of opportunities and it's just a matter of asking and being determined to do it.”

For some, their journey in higher education might not be easy or don't happen as initially planned.

What’s important is to get to the finish line, said Dr. Santos-Bamba.

“The achievement of a college degree will never be taken away. A house can be taken away, a car can be taken away. We lose people in our lives, but this accomplishment is one that is for ourselves, as well as a way to uplift our families,” said Dr. Santos-Bamba.

With the emergence of new technologies such as AI, new career fields and new educational landscapes, UOG does face the challenge of keeping up with the times, and Dr. Santos-Bamba aims to help provide what’s expected of future graduates.

“We need to keep up, to be relevant and get ahead,” Dr. Santos-Bamba said.

“My vision is that our programs are going to be dynamic and that there are opportunities for students to discover and explore and create so that they can go into just about any career path,” she said.