Sandridge receives top honors for citizenship

The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce honored "the voice and the face of the University" Wednesday night when it presented Leonard Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, with its highest accolade -- the Paul Goodloe McIntire Citizenship Award.

The Chamber established the annual award in 1975 as a way of recognizing citizens' outstanding contributions to the community.

"Our Chamber award is named in honor of Paul Goodloe McIntire, whose goodwill set a standard of service that others through the years have reached for while helping to weave a fabric of selflessness that continues to provide for our community and its citizens," said former Chamber chair Michael Gaffney at the presentation Wednesday. "Tonight we recognize another citizen who embodies those key qualities of outstanding citizen contributions.

Sandridge, an Albemarle County-native, has worked at the University for 36 years. In his current post, he oversees all non-academic support areas at the University, including student affairs, management and budget, the Health System and athletic programs.

In addition to noting Sandridge's many areas of responsibility, Gaffney said the administrator makes the time to personally represent the University in meetings with members of the Charlottesville and Albemarle community.

"This gentleman simply goes about his job without any fan-fare, defining the notion of '24/7' -- with skill, purpose and grace," Gaffney said.

Current Chamber President Timothy Hulbert said face-time with Sandridge is especially important because the University is such a vital part of the community.

"To be able to talk to senior managers about critical issues -- whether it be a parking garage, or enterprise development, or seats at a football game or whether it's diversity -- to be able to have those kinds of conversations -- we cherish it," he said.

Sandridge, however, said these conversations are just part of his job.

"The University has a responsibility to be involved in the work of the Charlottesville and Albemarle County community," he said. "Anything short of a full personal commitment would be less than our community deserves."

Nonetheless, Hulbert, who has had experience working with several colleges and universities in New York, said he has not met anyone as well connected with the community as Sandridge.

"He is as solid a citizen as there is in this community," Hulbert added. "He makes sure those connections stay connected, and not only stay, but are built upon."

Sandridge was named recipient of the citizenship award before an audience of more than 425 business and community leaders in a ceremony at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel.

He said his reaction was one of gratitude.

"The award takes on special meaning because it comes from the community that has provided my education, my employment and an outstanding environment for my family," Sandridge said yesterday. "I am extremely grateful for the award, yet fully aware that there are many others in my personal and University life that deserve to share the credit for this recognition."

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