Sarvela’s life honored at visitation

By Luke Nozicka

The line of people waiting to speak with the family of interim Chancellor Paul Sarvela, who died Sunday, wrapped through the Student Center Ballrooms and out the door between 4 and 7 p.m. Thursday, university spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said.

University officials such as SIU President Randy Dunn, SIU Board of Trustees member Roger Herrin, interim Provost Susan Ford, former SIU President Glenn Poshard, student trustee Adrian Miller, professors, community members and students attended the public visitation to celebrate Sarvela’s life.

A reflection by the Rev. Joseph Brown was given at 7:30 p.m., followed by a performance from Sarvela’s polka band, Polka Dawgs. The performance began with a Finnish march Sarvela insisted be played during commencement every year when he was the dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, and ended with upbeat songs while people exited the ballroom.


Brown said Sarvela’s positive attitude put people at ease.

“He was friendly, had a great sense of humor and was often smiling,” Brown said as he read a letter expressing condolences from the Graduate and Professional Student Council. “These are characteristics of a great leader and as student leaders, we will continue to learn from his example.”

Brown said people of the university have an obligation to continue to learn from Sarvlea’s example.

“We didn’t lose a friend, a beloved, a father, a son, a brother. We didn’t lose him. He hasn’t gone anywhere. We came in here with little bits and shards of gratitude, and we leave here with bits and pieces of this man. That’s our treasure,” he said. “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, think about these things… because that’s what he thought about when he walked among us.”

Sarah Gardner contributed to this story.

Luke Nozicka can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @lukenozicka.