After becoming president in 1909, Sandefer navigated the school through many important changes that led HSU to where it is today.
Sandefer helped advance the standing of the school in many ways, the first of which was getting Simmons College recognized as a teacher training agency by the Texas State Department of Education in 1912. 1914 saw the admission into the Texas Intercollegiate Association, for the purpose of athletics and oratorical contests.
A little over a decade later, 1925 brought along the first name change to happen under Sandefer, from Simmons College to Simmons University. Since his appointment in 1909, he dreamed of the school becoming a university and offering graduate level programs, as there were none available in west Texas at the time. Only two years later, in 1927, Simmons University was admitted into the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and in 1928 acceptance into the American Association of Colleges followed. The School of Music also advanced in stature and in 1930, along with Baylor, was the first Texas schools to be members of the National Association of Schools of Music.
In the early 1930s Sandefer got word of a gift given to Baylor by Mr. and Mrs. John Hardin. With high hopes, Sandefer approached the Hardin’s about a donation to Simmons, and in 1934, thanks to the efforts of Sandefer, the Board of Trustees accepted a gift of $250,000 and changed the name of the school to Hardin-Simmons University.
Throughout his tenure, Sandefer spoke regularly at chapel, held dinner parties large and small in his residence, and became the face of the university. Prexy Sandefer would lead the school through a world war, a great depression, two name changes, and leave a mark on the school that is unmatched, and he chose to be buried along with Simmons and Pope in the campus cemetery outside of present day Moody Center.