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In Memoriam: William W. Sandler, Jr.


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    William J. 'Bill' Sandler, Jr.

    William W. ‘Bill’ Sandler, Jr.

    CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 10, 2017)—Former Dean of Students William W. Sandler, Jr., an epic figure at the University of Miami who counseled, mentored, and befriended four generations of students during his 43 years at the U, passed away August 6 at his Key Biscayne home. He was 83.

    Sandler, who began his career at the University in 1962 as a counselor for men in the old Dean of Men’s Office, continuously rose through the administrative ranks, serving as dean of student personnel or dean of students for a quarter century, until his retirement in July 2006.

    Sandler always considered himself first and foremost an advocate for students. He was instrumental in shifting the Division of Student Affairs’ focus to giving students a role in University governance and a voice in issues that mattered to them. During his time, those issues included fewer regulations on their personal lives, representation on the Board of Trustees, a rathskeller on campus, overseas conflicts, and the plight of black students.

    As he put it, “We learned to work more closely with students. We became student advocates rather than university administrators.”

    Pat Whitely, vice president for student affairs, who considered Sandler a mentor, said he had a profound impact on countless students and student affairs administrators like herself.

    “He was known for his kindness, patience, and unflappable manner, regardless of the student challenges facing him,” Whitely said. “It was such a privilege to work closely with him.”

    Over his tenure, Sandler advised fraternities and sororities, developed the Student Discipline System, instituted a student-run honor code, oversaw the Campus Chaplain’s Association, and cofounded the Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education, which today bears his name.

    Arriving at the U in the days when Interstate-95 didn’t exist, stop signs halted traffic on US 1, and campus life was disrupted by student unrest and major hurricanes, Sandler witnessed many transformative changes in the community, the student body, and the campus. He and his wife, Anita, started their own family in Building 29, one of the old World War II-era apartments on Walsh Avenue that were torn down to make way for what is now the Watsco Center. He and his daughters, Lisa Zingler and Kristine Sandler, who attended the U, were often seen walking around Lake Osceola, feeding the ducks and watching the mullet jump.

    “I’ve seen a lot of changes since ’62,” Sandler said before his retirement. “They’ve all been great things. The University has become great and well respected in those years.”

    Originally from Sunbury, Penn., Sandler attended Mansfield University and Pennsylvania State University, where he studied education and counseling psychology. He met his future boss and mentor, Dean Noble Hendrix, at an education convention in Philadelphia and was delighted to learn the young university had three dean openings. He immediately applied for a vacancy, anxious to take his young bride from the cold to the tropics.

    He left the U briefly in the mid-1960s to become dean of students elsewhere but quickly returned because he had sand in his shoes—and the growing reputation and promise of the U in his heart. “If I go anywhere…with a U on my shirt I get all kinds of people talking to me,” he proudly noted. “It really is great to be a ’Cane.’’

    Inducted into the Iron Arrow Honor Society in 1974, Sandler had many other honors over his lifetime, including the Lambda Chi Alpha Order of Merit, the Panhellenic Council’s Administrator of the Year Award, and the National Lambda Chi Alpha Award for Distinguished Service.

    In addition to his wife of 55 years and his daughters, he is survived by grandchildren Lauren Zingler Davis, Shawn Zingler, Ricky Saborido, and William Saborido.

    A celebration of his life  will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 17, at the Newman Alumni Center. Donations in his memory can be made to The Sandler Center For Alcohol and Other Drug Education, 1306 Stanford Drive, UC #2250, Coral Gables, FL 33146.

     

     

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