Cover photo for Paul Douglas Sarvela's Obituary
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1959 Paul 2014

Paul Douglas Sarvela

August 7, 1959 — November 9, 2014

Paul D. Sarvela, 55, passed away at 5:45 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, at Carbondale Memorial Hospital surrounded by family. He had been affiliated with Southern Illinois University for more than 28 years, serving as interim chancellor of SIU Carbondale since July. The great grandson of Finnish immigrants, Dr. Sarvela was born August 7, 1959, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the son of William Richard Sarvela and Junia Lois Ollila. He was a 1977 graduate of Menominee Area High School in Menominee, Michigan, and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1981, a master's degree in educational psychology in 1983 and a doctor of philosophy degree in health education in 1984, all from the University of Michigan. He married Debra Ann Price in 1985 in Laurel, Maryland, and together they shared almost 29 years of marriage. They met on a Civil War Battlefield (Bull Run, Manassas, Virginia), and the rest is history. Dr. Sarvela served as a program evaluator for Ford Aerospace and Communications Corp. prior to coming to SIU Carbondale in 1986 as a faculty member in the Department of Health Education. He was appointed director of the Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development in 1993. In 1996-97, he served as an American Council on Education Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before returning to SIU, where he became chair of the Department of Health Care Professions in 1999 and dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts in 2002. Dr. Sarvela began serving as vice president for academic affairs for the SIU System in 2009 and was appointed interim chancellor of SIU Carbondale in July 2014. His significant contributions to the university during his many years of service include developing, implementing and securing accreditation for numerous academic programs; restructuring and growing the College of Applied Arts and Sciences; and increasing administrative effectiveness through changes in university policy. A tenured professor of health care management, professor of health education and clinical professor of family and community medicine, Dr. Sarvela published more than 70 professional articles, co-authored a textbook on evaluation and measurement and presented more than 150 conference papers. His teaching interests focused on evaluation and measurement, needs assessment and strategic planning, and community health. He taught and mentored many students, serving on the thesis or dissertation committees of more than 110 graduate students, during his career with SIU. He and his colleagues received more than $4 million in grants and contracts for SIU and regional and state agencies. He has served on three Centers for Disease Control expert panels related to HIV/AIDS and injury control issues. Dr. Sarvela served the Boy Scouts as chairman of the Kaskaskia District of the Greater St. Louis Area Council. He had served as a board member of Carbondale Community Arts, played trumpet for the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the SIUC Civic Orchestra, and was an advisory board member of the Southern Illinois Children's Choir. He also served on the advisory council for the Illinois Center for Health Workforce Studies, as a judge for the Illinois Junior Academy of Science, as a volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and in many other professional and community service roles. He is survived by his wife, Debra, of Carbondale; a daughter, Kristin, studying in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; a son, John, studying in Charleston, Illinois; his mother, Junia Shackman of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; brother Mark Sarvela and wife Denise of Juneau, Wisconsin; and nieces Alexandra and Hannah Sarvela and nephew Jacob Sarvela, all of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was preceded in death by his father and a daughter, Lisa Kathleen Sarvela. A public visitation and celebration of life will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13, in the SIU Student Center Ballrooms. Father Joseph Brown will offer a word of reflection at 7:30 p.m. Private services for family and close friends will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14, in Epiphany Lutheran Church in Carbondale with Rev. Dr. Chris Repp officiating. Visitation will be held at 10 a.m. prior to services. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Paul D. Sarvela Scholarship Fund at the SIU Foundation, Colyer Hall, 1235 Douglas Drive, Carbondale, IL 62901; Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, 1001 E. Touhy Ave., Suite 50, Des Plaines, IL 60018; or Epiphany Lutheran Church, 1501 W. Chautauqua, Carbondale, IL 62901.


11:00 a.m. Friday, November 14, 2014 Visitation from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service.

Epiphany Lutheran Church Carbondale, Illinois


4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, November 13, 2014

SIU Student Center Ballrooms Carbondale, Illinois

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