Wilkes magazine asked alumni and colleagues to share their impressions of Paul Adams. A few words consistently emerged as the ones most often used to describe him.
The fall 2022 edition of Wilkes magazine features a cover story of Paul S. Adams, recently retired vice president of student affairs. Colleagues and former students shared their thoughts about Dr. Adams for the cover article:
As Associate Provost, Partnerships, Wignot has worked with Adams in a variety of roles: as Interim Provost during the pandemic, as Faculty Athletic Representative, and as professor and chair of the Chemistry Department.
“He’s what we stand for: Community. Camaraderie. Spirit. Professionalism. Love of the institution. Love of the students. And I use the word love intentionally. The students were always front and center as he reminded us that everything we do should be focused on what’s in the best interest of the students. It’s how Paul would approach everything— always advocating for the students. That’s what Paul has done for many, many years and in every aspect of his career here.”
KAYLA ROONEY ’15
A student leader during her time at Wilkes, Rooney is now an attorney with the international law firm Cleary Gottleib Steen and Hamilton in New York City. She is a member of the University Board of Trustees.
“Paul is someone very special and a mentor in my life…. I was the president of the Multicultural Student Coalition, and Paul was very involved in supporting that group in general. Everything we did, he was always there. We had planned a silent protest, a Black Lives Matter protest. He really took the time to make sure we all felt supported… As I became more involved [at Wilkes], I was always very vocal about wanting to go to law school…I felt like he was always very supportive in that respect. He understood that was my goal and he wanted to be able to help. In senior year, when I got into law school, I think that he cared and wanted to recognize everything I had done to get to that point. And when I won the Alumni Leadership Award, he helped me write my speech. We went through it together. And even after I got to law school, we kept in touch just over the years. He’d always just check on me and make sure everything was okay.”
Interim Vice President for Student Development, and colleague in student development for 36 years, Allen recalled Adams’ strength as a leader in times of crisis, including the 2011 flood and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It goes back to the being able to manage—and not only manage, but lead in crisis…You know, for staff and faculty and students to rally around leadership and decision-making at that time is just a testament to who Paul is, as a leader….What struck me [at those times] is not only the level of caring, but the attention to detail….He would just be so very thorough and concerned that the I’s were dotted, the T’s were crossed when it came to those high-crisis situations. That’s a testament to good leadership, a different kind of leadership. If there were staff and faculty who had a need, where Paul could step in, he was quick to do that….He knew a lot about the people that he worked with, and those enhanced relationships made him that much more effective in the community. For him to be able to say, “How’s your son or daughter?” and name that person: The deepening of those relationships and the commitment to caring to remember (those details), helped build upon his success.”
FRANCESCA VARELA-SERI ’20
Varela-Seri met Adams as a student-athlete. He became her mentor, frequently sharing advice when she was at her campus job in Weckesser Hall where Adams’ office was located.
“Being Colonel can mean a lot of different things to someone. To me, it always meant being a natural leader. A leader is someone who focuses on developing others, someone who is passionate, one who motivates others, a person who serves as a role model and someone who always has a positive attitude. If there is someone I would choose to say was and always will be Colonel, it would 100 percent be Paul. He bled blue and gold. Whenever we’d run into each other, I’d ask him what he had planned for the weekend and he would always say, “it’s a weekend filled with Wilkes games, practices, plays and events.” If I had a dollar for every game/match or event Paul went to, I’d be rich. He was always supporting the students at Wilkes every single day of the week. No matter the day or time, he was there. Paul brightened up the room and lifted everyone’s spirits simply with his presence. It was quite incredible the impact he made.”
CHRIS COLLINS ’90
Collins was a resident assistant during his Wilkes student days and was supervised by Adams. He holds the distinction of being the first babysitter for the Adams’s oldest daughter. He remembers the role that Adams played in his personal growth. “What I remember about Paul and Jean is that they fostered the ability for you to mature on your own timetable. It was just so freeing. I guess I would say that the expectations were to be yourself. And to find your own path without expectations. It was really almost like a Big Brother/ Big Sister relationship that I felt with them because I have siblings their age.”
The Right Man for the Job
DAN CARDELL ’79
Cardell has known Paul and Jean Adams since his student days. As chairman of the Wilkes University Board of Trustees, Cardell called upon Adams to lead at a time that would turn out to be a critical moment in the history of the University: He asked Adams to serve as interim president, not knowing that the COVID-19 pandemic would occur during his tenure.
“When Patrick Leahy resigned as president, I was chairman of the Board of Trustees and was responsible for the leadership transition. We needed to name an interim president to allow time for a full search for our next president. It was obvious to me that Paul was the hands-down best choice for interim. There was never any doubt in my mind who I wanted, but it depended on Paul saying ‘yes.’ When I called him, with his usual class, he said, ‘I’ll do whatever is best for the University.’ His selection did indeed prove to be the best choice for the school: He did a masterful job in a tough environment. One of the highlights of my tenure as chairman was to inaugurate Paul as the interim president. Everyone involved was thrilled with the selection—trustees, faculty, administrators, staff, and students.”