Sandra Eldridge Seay

Sandra Eldridge Seay '82, '89
2001 Award of Honor

Sandra Seay fell in love with academia the first time she saw a commencement processional on television. The flowing robes, the happy looks on the graduates' faces, and the reverence directed toward the men and women in academic regalia wooed her. Since that time, Seay has walked in many an academic processional, and her love for this world continues to grow.

Seay received her bachelor of science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and her master's degree from the University of Chicago.

Since receiving a doctorate from East Tennessee State University, she has held administrative positions at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Schnecksville, Penn., and currently serves as the Dean of the University College at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Miss. She left ETSU firmly believing that education is the most important vehicle of change in this world. She still adheres to that philosophy, but it was in Schnecksville that she came to an awareness that "change agents" must also change in time. To be an effective administrator, Seay learned that she must look beyond the campus boundaries to area communities and neighborhoods for ideas concerning curricula design and programming that meet the needs of all students. She learned to be flexible and not too reliant upon textbook authors who profess to know all there is to know about retention.

Through community service activities both in Pennsylvania and Mississippi, her awareness of the social and academic needs of students has increased tenfold. In Allentown, Penn., Seay looked forward to weekly tutoring sessions with elementary and junior high school students enrolled at a local Girls Club. In Mississippi, she has read to children on the pediatric ward of a local hospital, made presentations to students in a GED program, and conducted a computer usage workshop for adults.

Seay is ever seeking the learning environment for all students because she wants each one who desires an academic degree to achieve that goal. For this reason, she has been involved in a nationwide retention study since 1998. Through this study with Dr. Donald Lifton of Ithaca College and Dr. Andrew Busho of Widener University, the trio hopes to identify a plan that will increase the college retention rate for all students. Preliminary results from an analysis of the original data were published last year in the Academic Exchange Quarterly. Seay believes faculty are the key variable in helping students succeed in the classroom, and she is committed to helping faculty members remain informed of newer instructional techniques and tools that have been proven to be very effective.

She is an active member of the Greenwood-Itta Bena Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and numerous civic and philanthropic organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, and the annual Ebony Fashion Fair. She is married to John Seay, and the couple has two children, John Jr. and Michael.