Cal U dedicates memorial bench to Holly Vadella 

As Cal U mourns the loss of Holly Vadella, the campus is collecting funds to dedicate a bench in her honor.  


Office of Academic Success

The photo of Holly that will be on the bench.

Jessi Phelps, Staff Writer

Holly Vadella, secretary in Academic Success, passed away on New Year’s Day. She is remembered by the people she worked with and the students she helped during her eight years at Cal U. Prior to Cal U, she worked at Intec Video Systems of Rostraver Township for over 15 years.

Jill Loop, director of student outreach and success, said the bench on the quad in front of Noss Hall will be the one dedicated to Vadella.

“We can see it from our windows in Noss 103 where Holly’s desk was located,” Loop said. “Currently, a plaque is being made that will include a photo of Holly and a dedication to her.”

Vadella’s family is working on setting a time and date for the dedication with the hopes of scheduling it close to commencement. Loop said Vadella’s family will receive her posthumous honorary degree.

“For our staff, these were the two best ways to honor Holly’s memory,” Loop said. “She loved nature and she was a non-traditional student working toward a degree that would allow her to work as a park ranger. Her retirement dream was to move out west and work in the wilderness. Having a memory of Holly on the quad gives us a place to enjoy the outdoors and hopefully spot a dog or two.”

Loop said she remembers Vadella for her “crazy leggings” and self-confidence.

“Holly was comfortable as herself and helped others around them feel comfortable as well,” Loop said. “Her love of eclectic leggings is the reason behind our scholarship fundraiser for her memorial bench.”

On March 9, the Office of Academic Success will be holding a “Crazy Legging Day” fundraiser as Vadella was known for her busily-patterned leggings. Participants are encouraged to provide a $5 donation to Carrie Perine (Noss 103; [email protected]; Venmo: Carrie-Perine).

All money raised for the bench dedication goes into a one-time scholarship fund for a non-traditional student according to Loop.

Vadella’s kindness and generosity also left lasting impressions on her colleagues and friends. 

Dori Eichelberger, director of academic success initiatives, said her favorite memory of Vadella is a story of Vadella finding the perfect Christmas gift for her mother. Eichelberger said she remembers how excited Vadella was to give her mother the Christmas gift she had arranged to get from her childhood home.

“She had wonderfully fond memories of this house, but it was no longer owned by her family,” Eichelberger said. “She drove past the home recently and was able to speak with the current homeowners who seemed to be doing renovations. She offered to buy them a replacement window if she could have the stained glass window and gift it to her mother as a framed wall hanging. She was so excited and proud to be able to score this wonderful piece of nostalgia as a gift. Holly loved her family fiercely and I’ll always remember the kindness and generosity she shared with others.”

Vadella’s love didn’t stop with her family and friends, she also had a passion for nature and animals. 

Carrie Schubert, assistant director of peer mentoring/parent/family engagement, reiterated this point. 

“Holly was truly a breath of fresh air, which is fitting given her love of nature,” Schubert said. “My fondest memories with Holly took place during our lunchtime walks and when she would visit with my dog. All animals brought Holly such joy, and I like to think she is peacefully surrounded by sunshine and fur babies.”

A GoFundMe has been started in Vadella’s name to help relieve her family of funeral and memorial expenses. According to the page, because Vadella supported the Fayette Friends of Animals and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, “what money is left will be donated to Fayette Friends of Animals in honor of Holly.”