Michael Samara, who has been Saint Michael's College Vice President for Student Affairs/ Dean of Students for 35 years, has announced his retirement at the end of June 2012. A tribute reception brought tears and laughs as a large gathering of Saint Michael’s students, faculty and staff honored Mr. Samara with toasts and roasts and heartfelt words on May 1.
A special award was created, the Michael Samara Outstanding Student Award and was announced at the reception to be given every year to a top student from amongst Resident Assistants (RAs). The first will be given at this year’s awards ceremony on May 11. Additionally, the walkway that will be constructed between the new student center and residence hall will be named the Samara Connector, or something similar (the exact name to be determined).
President John Neuhauser said at the tribute reception, "Mike Samara has always seen his job to be really about helping young people make good choices. He insisted that every small disaster in student life was in fact an opportunity to learn if only you were careful and caring as well as just." President Neuhauser said further, "...what sets Mike apart, he has an abiding faith in people..." and "His wise intervention, seldom publicly known, changed the lives of hundreds of young people who spent time here.
President Neuhauser concluded his remarks to Mr. Samara this way, "Mike often would end a conversation with 'God Bless.' Mike, on behalf of this entire community I want you to know that God has blessed us with your presence for 35 years and we are very grateful."
As Vice President Mr. Samara was supervisor to ten departments of the college Athletics, Personal Counseling, Health Services, Public Safety, Food Services, Residence Life, including Judicial Affairs, Student Activities, Multicultural Student Affairs, International Student Affairs, and New Student Programs and Orientation.
And as Dean of Students he served tirelessly as an educator often working with the extremes of the student experience. On one end of the spectrum he worked with engaged student leaders, and on the other end, as he put it "with students in some mode of struggle—academically, socially, with physical or mental health issues, making poor or destructive choices."
In the future
Dean Samara will be carrying out the Clinical Pastoral Program at Fletcher Allan Hospital from October 2012 through April 2013. After that, he explained that the plan is to return to Saint Michael’s in a much reduced role doing special projects for President Neuhauser, some employee training for Vice President for Human Resources Michael New and some work with the Saint Michael’s Campus Ministry staff.
Michael Samara earned bachelor's (1970) and master's (1972) degrees from the University of New Hampshire, where he was also head resident and served in various student affairs positions until 1975. He was Associate Dean of Students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 1975-1977, and came to Saint Michael's College in 1977.
Mr. Samara and his wife Lucy live in South Burlington. They have two married children, Julie and Andrew.