Why He’s Interesting: Sands began his term as the president of Cleveland State University in June. He brings experience from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Louisville and more. Prior to his career in higher education, Sands practiced law as an assistant public defender in Miami and served on active duty for more than 10 years in the U.S. Navy, where he received two Naval Commendation Medals during Operation Desert Storm.
Yes, Sir: After earning his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Pennsylvania and participating in its ROTC program, Sands joined the Navy. He served as a Naval Reserve intelligence manager and special assistant to the director of Naval Intelligence for Technology. “It’s the way the military does things and the structure, organization and the mission — everyone tries to rally around it. You try to bring that approach to everything that you do and that’s exactly what I’m trying to bring to Cleveland State.”
Night Owl: When Sands entered the Navy after receiving his bachelor’s degree, his mentor told him to consider getting a master’s degree. It took him six years to get his MBA and law degree from George Mason University. “When I talk to our students who are working three jobs while going to school, I understand because that’s what I did. During the day I did my Navy duties and then at night I took classes.”
One Thing: Sands wants students to be heard. After he received a request from a staff member to add a directional sign in the library, he got an idea. Through Twitter and his email, he created #1thingCSU as a way for students, faculty and staff to let him know what they think should be fixed on campus. So far, they’ve replaced and cleaned windows, updated signage, added better locks on bathroom doors and more. “Who knows more about this campus than the people utilizing it every day?”
Book Nerd: Sands has always been able to get lost in the pages of books. Although he’s slowed down a bit to focus on his new position, the mention of reading has him beaming with a smile. “I’m an avid reader of everything from online publications to books.”
Family Business: He credits his strong work ethic to his parents. His father worked during the day as a substitute teacher and as a weatherman at night while his mom raised the kids. Frustrated by how quickly her kids were growing out of their clothes, his mom used it as a business idea. “She opened up a consignment shop in our basement where she would sell our old clothes and other peoples’ clothes and give them a percentage back. She later got a storefront and had it for about 20 years before she sold it.”
If your life was a hashtag, what would it be?
What is one thing people don’t know about you?
Sands is not my dad’s birth name, but that’s a mystery.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To work hard, and everything else will work itself out.