Sarvela, Paul D. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
The great grandson of Finnish immigrants, Dr. Sarvela was born Aug. 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.