Retirement Reception for Betty Sandy

A Letter from Geoff Feiss


I recall one of the first times we met, you told me that I had to stay in the Dean's Office for at least a dozen years because you were tired of training new deans. I was your third in three years. Well, I didn't do too badly with respect to longevity. You only had to train one more.

And train each us you did. In my twenty-plus years as an administrator, I was blessed by nothing but the very best assistants - and there is no more critical person to the successful operation of an academic office than the person who sits just outside the dean's lair. You always knew where every nickel of our shrinking purse was, where every critical personnel or policy document could be found, who was supposed to be seeing me and when, where I was supposed to be (even when I was clueless), and, most importantly, whom to call. It was that latter network of colleagues whose respect for your integrity and professionalism knew no bounds that allowed Arts & Sciences to thrive and prosper at the College. You have no idea how common the refrain is on campus, "I don't know, just call Betty Sandy." We certainly said this in the Provost's Office.

But more, you were wise and sensitive to the nuances of working in the academy. I could always count on your deep understanding of the myriad complexities of an issue, the traditions that needed to be honored, or at least skillfully dodged, and the wonderful, charming, and quirky personalities with whom we dealt every day.

And you did all this with grace, humor, and a firm hand. Nothing could distract you from your obligations - not squirrels taking up long-term residence in your attic, not trees in your bedroom. Not even, though I know it was tempting at times, your grandson's baseball career.

I count among the great pleasures and privileges of my time at William & Mary the opportunity to work with you. You were my mentor, my guardian angel, and good, good friend.

Betty, Nancy joins me in hoping that you and Tillman have a relaxing and joyful retirement. There needs to be time for trips to Blacksburg and grandkids. But, mostly, time for yourselves. I commend retirement. As Sam Sadler told me a year ago, "Come on in, the water's fine."