Logan Community Mourns the Loss of Dr. Gary Sanders
Those who knew Dr. Gary Sanders recall his commitment to helping students and colleagues, his analytic mind and passion for research, and his leadership and influence within the chiropractic industry.
Dr. Sanders, 62, left a deep impression on the Logan community of students, staff and faculty. The associate professor died Sept. 30 after serving a 28-year career in the basic science and clinical science divisions at Logan College of Chiropractic/University Programs.
“He will be missed,” said friend and Logan colleague Dr. Brian Snyder. “He was that go-to guy. I have recently found myself thinking, ‘I’m going to have to ask Gary that,’ and then realize I can’t. It’s a big loss for all of us.”
An Industry Influencer, Drs. Snyder and Sanders
Dr. Snyder and Dr. Sanders both began their careers at Logan in 1983. Though Dr. Snyder was based in the chiropractic division and Dr. Sanders served the basic science section, their paths often crossed when it came to research.
“He was always the one who would throw out questions at faculty council meetings, like ‘how do you know your results are valid?’” said Dr. Snyder. “Even if he agreed, he’d play devil’s advocate so we could get a good discussion going, and then he’d just sit back and let it go. While I was president of the faculty council, he’d always have something for me to think about before, during and after those meetings.”
During his nearly three-decade career at Logan, Dr. Sanders taught pathology, laboratory diagnosis and endocrinology, and served as director of Logan’s research division for 12 years. He also was appointed as a special projects’ coordinator, overseeing 25 administrative areas related to Logan’s curriculum and campus operations, including the direction of the biohazard safety committee and the clinical laboratories program.
“Dr. Sanders was an exemplary person and an outstanding educator, one of the finest in Logan’s long history,” said Dr. George A. Goodman, Logan president.
His passion for research was evident from the numerous articles he co-authored related to chiropractic adjusting methods and post-adjustment evaluations and measurements, which appeared in the Journal of the Neuromusculoskeletal System, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Chiropractic Technique, The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Clinical & Laboratory Immunology, among others.
Outside of Logan, Dr. Sanders taught classes at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He also presented research at meetings ofthe International Conference on Spinal Manipulation (ICSM) and the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC).
He served as a board member for the Consortium for Chiropractic Research and conducted several research projects related to Hepatitis B in biology departments at other academic institutions.
A Friend and a Mentor
Dr. Snyder said he always admired Dr. Sanders’ acceptance of chiropractic, especially coming from a nonchiropractic background. “He accepted the science part, but always felt it was critical to back it up with statistical analysis.”
His knowledge and appreciation of research proved most beneficial to Dr. Sanders’ fellow faculty members who worked with him to develop data processes for programs and projects. Dr. Snyder credits him for his understanding of the importance of validating results.
“He encouraged me to go that extra step and he helped me become a better chiropractor,” said Dr. Snyder. “He urged me to find the answers to clinical issues and ways to measure validity. He gave me the tools to have confidence and took me from the infant stages of that methodology to the point where I’m now writing and publishing research.”
Dr. Sanders always went above and beyond, whether it was responding to a student’s question or spending time with a colleague on a project. Professor Dr. Donald Christy, Logan’s dean of advising, said Dr. Sanders’ help with his dissertation provided the encouragement he needed to finish his doctorate in education.
“He was my mentor through the entire process, and he prepared me well for the defense,” Dr. Christy said, adding that Dr. Sanders’ knowledge, patience and expertise were greatly appreciated, even though Dr. Christy felt he was never able to thank him sufficiently.
Aside from his research expertise, many friends and colleagues will remember Dr. Sanders for finding humor in a variety of situations, whether it was easing the strain of a serious discussion or a golf outing where Dr. Sanders’ brand new club snapped in half.
“He could lighten the most serious moment with a revealing comment, which cleverly disguised his wisdom and understanding,” said Dr. Christy.
Many have said the value of Dr. Sanders’ instruction cannot be overstated. In addition to teaching several courses, Dr. Sanders volunteered his time behind the scenes as an academic advisor and often met with students several times a week.
In 2005, Dr. Sanders earned the Emerson’s prestigious “Excellence in Teaching” award, which honors educators at public, private and parochial schools in the St. Louis region in Missouri and Illinois. The award is given to those who demonstrate passion and commitment to the teaching profession; tangible evidence of the success of the individual’s classroom teaching approach; professional growth and development; innovation and creativity in the classroom; and knowledge of current teaching techniques and educational issues.
As a student of the late instructor, Drew Alcorn said Dr. Sanders was one of those rare instructors who always made himself available to help answer any question students had, and made it his priority to see that the students in his class felt comfortable with the material before moving to the next topic.
“Dr. Sanders was also the first professor who was truly able to integrate our basic science knowledge with our future clinical experiences,” said Alcorn, Trimester- 7 student and president of the Student Doctors’ Council. “His dedication to the teaching profession gave him the ability to discuss a single concept from various viewpoints, and this was beneficial because it allowed all students, no matter their backgrounds, to easily relate its value to our future as chiropractic physicians.”