William & Mary & Sam: The green T-shirts that flooded the Wren courtyard said it all. Bearing banners and fond memories, nearly 1,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered Friday afternoon to bid a fond farewell to Sam Sadler, the vice president for student affairs who has been as much an icon to the College as its namesakes.
Sam Sadler comes as close as we can get to the living embodiment of William and Mary,” said W. Taylor Reveley III, interim president of the College. “He is the living incarnation of the best of this marvelous, ancient place. He stands for and symbolizes William and Mary to an absolutely extraordinary degree. So, William Samuel Sadler, in the vernacular, you’ve done good. You’ve done very good, indeed. We are enormously grateful to you and we are really proud of you.”
A graduate of the College himself, Sadler (’64, M.Ed. ‘71) has worked at William and Mary since 1967. Now, after more than 40 years of providing College students with guidance, support and the occasional knee-inspired weather forecast, he will retire this summer.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say that we will all dearly miss Mr. Sadler,” said senior Nick Faulkner, president of the class of 2008. “He has been a father, administrator and friend to so many of us. His leave is going to leave a bittersweet feeling with all of us. We will be saying goodbye to a William and Mary icon and longtime friend; however, he will also be going back to his family.”
During Friday’s event, students holding banners that praised Sadler in words and pictures walked through the Wren Building and encircled the courtyard. Ryan Scofield (’07) provided remarks and commentary and the College’s pep band and a cappella groups, The Gentlemen of the College and The Accidentals, provided musical tributes to the man who touched so many. During his remarks, Sadler said that it was the people of the College – its faculty, administrators, staff, students and alumni – who had touched him.
“Together, you really are William and Mary to me,” Sadler said. “You’ve really helped me become more open to change, to be stronger in my belief in the core values of this institution, clearer in my understanding of just how transforming those values could be. My life, I can honestly say, is very rich because of all of you. What a difference William and Mary has made. What a difference each one of you has made. All I can say is thank you.”
Junior Colleen Gunning was one of the many who gathered to say good-bye.
“He was one of the funniest single people during even the beginning orientation period when I was a freshman, and he’s always sent out nice, cheerful e-mails, so he’s just been a staple the last three years,” she said. “Next year, it’s gonna be kind of sad, so it (was) good to go to the final good bye.”
Faulkner, too, said it would be hard to see Sadler leave.
“But if anyone has earned a retirement, it’s Sam,” he said.