Dr. Paul Sale credits one of his uncles with instilling in him a desire to make sure students with disabilities receive the same opportunities as everyone else. He recalls how his uncle would take him swimming when he was a boy and how he invited another boy with Down syndrome to join them.
"I got to learn a little about disability at a young age," Sale said.
Sale spent much of the past three decades ensuring that and researching what it takes for students with disabilities to receive the education and training they need to be successful in the work force.
Come this fall, Sale will return to doing what he loves most. After four years of serving as provost and vice president for The Division of Academic Affairs at The University of Texas-Pan American, Sale stepped down earlier this month to return to a tenured full-time professorship in the College of Education at UTPA.
"It's exhilarating, as a matter of fact," Sale said about returning to teaching. "I got into the profession to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities and the schools and institutions that deal with those folks with disabilities. I'm back into why I got into the profession."
Sale said returning to teaching is like coming home, and is glad to do so at a university he has a great affinity.
"UTPA has a strong asset base in its people here," he said. "The faculty and staff here are the most dedicated faculty and staff that I've ever seen at any place I've ever been. They have the key dedication, key persistence and key vision that you need to make a university great."
Sale said he learned about the University through coincidence four years ago when he was a dean at Radford University in Virginia and was on a committee to find a new provost for that institution. The hiring firm Radford used was the same one with which UTPA signed a contract and representatives from that company told Sale about the Texas university.
Sale began researching UTPA and was very impressed. When he came to South Texas for his interview, he snuck on campus and talked with students. He said their enthusiasm increased his interest in joining the University.
As provost, Sale said, he enjoyed building and maintaining relationships with the community, including the South Texas Independent School District and the City of McAllen through the creation of the McAllen Teaching Site.
UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen credited Sale with initiating the formation of a faculty orientation program that helped educators acclimate to South Texas and the University retain more professors; supporting improvements in academic advisement, which led to more students continuing their education at the University, and improving relationships between administration and the Faculty Senate and College Councils.
"His tenure as provost has been remarkable and his service and expertise as Provost/VPAA are very much appreciated. His legacy includes genuine caring and advocacy for all faculty and student issues," Nelsen said.
At a reception honoring Sale last week, Nelsen and administrators praised Sale for his dedication to UTPA and helping students with disabilities. Sale was also presented with a statuette of the UTPA Bronc.
"He cares about this University tremendously," Nelsen said.
Sale thanked everyone and praised faculty and staff for their dedication and team work.
"I should be celebrating you because your encouragement over the last four years has been tremendous," Sale said.