Campus Community Mourns Student

On Feb. 17, St. Mary’s College was notified of the unexpected death of sophomore Sarah “Sadie” Pyles through a campus-wide email sent by President Joseph Urgo.

In a later interview, Urgo said, “It’s always a huge loss when a young person dies. We just reach out to the family and try to be as supportive as possible… if we can learn anything from this we will take all appropriate action.”

Daniel Blair, overseas Resident Assistant in Alba, said, “She will be missed. The others are doing as well as can be expected. It’s been hard on the students and me, but all of St. Mary’s, from the students to the faculty and staff, has been very supportive.”

“The college has made itself available 24/7 via any communication means possible…Beyond that, however, Sarah’s family has asked that we not discuss details.”

Dean of Students Laura Bayless, who has been in contact with Pyles’ family every day since the death, said she has been “hypersensitive to the wishes of the family.”

Bayless explained that the family has requested privacy regarding specific details in this matter, but that there was “no evidence of foul play or anything like that.”

The College sent Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Larry Vote, Director of the Signature Program in Alba Jeffrey Silberschlag, and Assistant Director of Counseling Services Kyle Bishop to Alba on Feb. 23 to provide support to the students in the Alba study abroad program.

Support is also available free on-campus at the Counseling Center.

A later email from Urgo on Feb. 25  contained a message from Pyles’ family as well as instructions if individuals wish to make donations or participate in planning the on-campus memorial service.

Pyles’ family is establishing a scholarship fund for her high school and at St. Mary’s. They have requested that instead of sending flowers, individuals can donate to the scholarship fund.

Donations can be sent to Sarah, c/o Michele Swanger, 908 Chestnut Woods Court, Baltimore, MD 21226; checks should be made out to her parents, Susan Swanger and/or Mark Pyles.

Also, condolence cards can be sent to her parents: Susan Swanger, 3631 Handel Court, Pasadena, MD 21122, or Mark Pyles, 1701 Norfolk Rd, Glen Burnie, MD 21061.

The memorial service is being coordinated by Associate Dean of Students. Joanne Goldwater, and details will be announced as they arrive. Any students wishing to assist can contact her at


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