By Claire Abshire
Can you imagine NC State without the Bell Tower, Carter-Finley stadium, or Mr. and Mrs. Wuf? No, of course not, because these are symbols of NC State University, so it wouldn’t be the same without the Bell Tower to welcome us to campus, and it definitely wouldn’t feel right if Mr. and Mrs. Wuf weren’t in Carter-Finley on game day.
Similarly, the Department of Communication wouldn’t be the same without Sandy Stallings, and if you ask a communication student what he or she loves about the department, there’s a good chance “Sandy Stallings” might be the answer.
Stallings recently retired, and that means students and faculty now have a great opportunity to reflect on her contributions to the department and university.
Whether she was teaching class, meeting with students for scheduling appointments, attending committee meetings, or just enjoying a visit with one of her advisees, Stallings made a positive difference in the lives of students and faculty.
She joined the department in 1988 as a visiting lecturer, and she taught classes in Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Business and Professional Communication, and Presentational Speaking. Stallings later moved into a new position as the department’s Director of Undergraduate Advising, where she really got to know students and build relationships with colleagues all over campus.
“I never imagined I would have the professional career that I did, but I am fortunate to have had such a wonderful experience at NC State with faculty and students,” Stallings said.
Other faculty members and students are also fortunate to have worked with her. Department head Ken Zagacki said, “Sandy’s wisdom, experience, compassion, and determination have elevated our department, making it one of the best in the university.”
Dr. Zagacki and many others, including faculty from across campus and former students, expressed their appreciation for Stallings and applauded her passion and dedication at a retirement reception held in her honor in September. For anyone in Caldwell Lounge at the reception, it was obvious by the crowd and the warm stories that Stallings will be missed as she moves beyond her professional career and into a new phase in her life.
“I was humbled by the remarks of my valued friends and colleagues,” Stallings said of the reception. It was a remarkable evening filled with food, stories, laughs and tears that recognized a woman who has left such a lasting impression on this university.
While Winston Hall is certainly not the same without her, now the local community will have the opportunity to benefit from Stallings’ passion and dedication.
After 27 years of building relationships across campus, encouraging students, and supporting the Wolfpack family, Stallings has focused on making a difference locally with issues such as hunger and illiteracy. She says it’s no longer just about giving money to help with these issues, but now it’s time to proactively do things to make a difference in the community. Stallings and her husband, Wayne, have spent time filling backpacks for BackPack Buddies (providing holiday and weekend meals for qualified children), and she has started tutoring first and second graders in reading.
She also says she is looking forward to spending more time with her family.
The Department of Communication and the university will miss such a well-respected, well-liked, and involved faculty member, but there is no doubt that Stallings will make a lasting impression traveling her new path.