Sally Sawyer joined the department as an Executive Assistant the week of February 8, 2021. She brings with her an extroverted, bubbly personality and an impressive 40 years of experience at the University of Minnesota. Throughout those years, Sawyer worked in various departments, including several associated with the Medical School.

In her past roles, Sawyer helped create fellowship programs, managed accreditation processes, and oversaw all aspects of faculty onboarding. In her new role, she supports Department Head Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD, and Department Administrator Larry Gunderson. She also supervises the administrative staff.

“This is a new adventure for me,” she said. “My position enables me to interact with Dr. Chen, faculty members, and the staff. It also offers leadership opportunities — it brings all my skills to the forefront.”

Sally Sawyer

Sawyer (pictured at left) might be called upon to work on things such as facilities management, calendaring, or (when available again) travel arrangements. “I already love the personalities in neurosurgery,” she said. “The work they do is amazing and I’m glad to be back in the Medical School.”

Having worked in the corporate world, which has a “different cadence,” according to Sawyer, she prefers being in an academic setting. “There is never a dull moment,” she said. “And our work is people focused. Patients come to us because they need our care, and the Medical School puts them first.”

One of her goals is to create a stronger internal structure for the Neurosurgery Department. “We’re in the middle of remodeling offices,” she said. “Because of COVID, no one has been around, and things are in disarray. I want to help everyone get back to normal, which is going to take a while.”

Sawyer admits that she was a “military brat” in the ‘60s (her father was in the Army). “I was born in Geneva, Ohio, and lived in Colorado and France, and traveled through Germany. I returned to the U.S. when I was eight.” She graduated from Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis and received her AA from Minneapolis Vocational Training.

When she has spare time, Sawyer loves to take a daily walk with her husband and dogs. She also makes jewelry, knits, and paints. “I love creating and will bring that perspective to my work in the Neurosurgery Department,” she said.