April 6, 2011 — Hundreds of members of the University of Virginia community showed up Monday at John Paul Jones Arena to eat barbecue and honor Leonard W. Sandridge, who steps down as executive vice president and chief operating officer at the end of the academic year – closing a 44-year U.Va. career.
At the luncheon, he was saluted by U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan and Rector John O. Wynne, roasted gently by politics professor Larry J. Sabato and toasted by President Emeritus John T. Casteen III.
Sullivan announced the creation of the Leonard Sandridge Endowed Scholarship, which will provide financial support to children or grandchildren of U.Va. employees. It will be awarded to applicants who have demonstrated financial need.
"The scholarship combines two of Leonard's greatest interests — financial aid for students and the well-being of University's employees," she said.
JPJ was peppered with several life-sized cutouts of Sandridge, one of which happened to bear a sticker touting Sandridge for U.S. Senate – something that Sabato suggested as a post-retirement career. (Later, Sandridge made it perfectly clear that politics is not in his future.)
Addressing the crowd, Sandridge shared that the luncheon would be one of the moments he would remember always. He thanked all in attendance and paid tribute to those who had helped shape his career, including those sharing the podium along with former presidents and mentors Ray Hunt and Vincent Shea. He said they'd all served in making his "the best job in the world." He also thanked his family for their support, especially his wife, Jerry.
As the luncheon ceremony took place, a slideshow ran continuously on the center court scoreboard and factoids appeared as a timeline around the court's ribbon board. The images showed Sandridge in all facets of his life, from boardrooms and formal affairs, to Final Exercises (his favorite time at U.Va.) and being home on his lawn mower, riding his grandchildren around in a wagon.
The timeline flashed such details as his birthday (April 8); that he was senior class president and captain of his football team; and the years his sons, Rick and Mike, and two granddaughters and two grandsons were born. They shared some of his favorite sayings, too, like "That dog won't hunt," and "Do what's right."
Before the luncheon concluded, Sandridge had received three standing ovations from the crowd.