University mourns the loss of its leader - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

University mourns the loss of its leader

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Southern Illinois University Interim Chancellor Paul Sarvela passed away Sunday night in a hospital in St. Louis.

Close friends say just a day before he died Sarvela was taking in a Saluki basketball game before complications with an infection ultimately took his life.

After working side-by-side for close to twenty years, Tim Fink says he couldn't help but become friends with SIU Interim Chancellor Paul Sarvela, and he will miss one thing about his friend the most.

"Just sitting around having a beer,” said Tim Fink.

Sarvela's lasting legacy will be for the lives he touched in nearly three decades a SIU Carbondale as an educator.

“He was doing his dream job, or the one that he was made for,” said SIU President Randy Dunn.

According to SIU President Randy Dunn, in six months as interim chancellor Sarvela oversaw the revision of a number of policies, helped rebrand the university, and saw attendance and retention increase for the first time in a decade.

"The culture of the campus changed once he came," said Dunn.

As the university moves forward searching for a replacement as chancellor, a job that Dunn says Sarvela was more than qualified for, his closest friends like Tim Fink say they won't be able to replace his friendship.

"We miss him on a personal level,” said Fink. “We can find chancellors, but those people and the connections that you make that's the good thing."

SIU Carbondale is hosting an open visitation for Dr. Sarvela at the student center on Thursday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Sarvela's role as chancellor will remain empty for the time being.

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