UR president Sarah Mangelsdorf brushed the snow off her Kia Sorento, humming “Hail to the Chief.” It was her day. It was Presidents’ Day.
She sang along to Billie Eilish and Lizzo as she drove to campus, her car sliding around on the poorly-plowed Rochester roads.
Upon arriving at her office in Wallis Hall, Mangelsdorf discovered that her chief of staff, Anthony Green, had left a branded UR party hat on her desk.
“Happy Mangelsdorf Day!” read the accompanying card, which was signed by all nine vice presidents. Smiling, Mangelsdorf put on the party hat. She could kill any one of the VPs with her bare hands. She had the strength. And she could get away with it, too. She was president.
After a 9 a.m. meeting with several members of the Board of Trustees, it was on to a meeting with Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Holly Crawford. Mangelsdorf expected a boring meeting, but was shocked when plans for the currently unannounced Sarah C. Mangelsdorf Hall were written into the University budget. It was at that moment that Mangelsdorf knew. She had achieved immortality. Her body, like all bodies, would decay and die. But her building would survive.
As Mangelsdorf left her meeting with Crawford, ecstatic, she realized that the next item on her calendar was a meeting with the man with the supermarkets.
Walking in, Mangelsdorf was greeted by Wegman’s Chairman Danny Wegman. And there they were, the usual Wegmans’ premade sandwiches. But there was one sandwich Mangelsdorf didn’t recognize.
“Sarah, I would like to present to you our newest sandwich: the Sarah C. Mangelsdorf,” Wegman said. “It is turkey, ham, provolone, lettuce, and tomato on a ciabatta roll with Mel Sauce. I heard it was your favorite.”
Mangelsdorf’s eyes lit up. Millions of people would be able to eat her sandwich. They would feel her feelings and know her truth.
The afternoon was relatively uneventful and filled with conference calls. That is, until 3:30 p.m., when Mangelsdorf heard a commotion outside. Looking out from her office, she saw dozens of University of Wisconsin students, holding banners and signs saying “We love you Sarah” and “We miss you, President Mangelsdorf.” With a benevolent wave, like a Roman emperor sparing a gladiator, she bid them goodbye.
But then, as Public Safety officers started dragging the students away, Mangelsdorf became angry. How dare anyone arrest those students when they were demonstrating in support of her! This was exactly the kind of demonstration that was okay! The only kind of demonstration that was okay! She made a phone call to Director of Public Safety Mark Fischer and issued the first presidential pardons of her tenure at UR.
While she normally went home at the end of the day, Mangelsdorf figured she’d stick around. It was the one day of the year that the Carillon was played in honor of the UR President. In honor of her, Sarah C. Mangelsdorf. It was her concert, and she wasn’t missing it for the world. As “Hedwig’s Theme” drifted down from the top of Rush Rhees for the fifth time in three days, she smiled. She felt like Dumbledore.
The evening was somber for Mangelsdorf. Her day was coming to an end. But as she lay in bed, a tear rolling down her cheek, she had a thought. Looking at her calendar on the wall, with Feb. 15, 2021 circled, Mangelsdorf smiled.
Only 364 days to go.
Correction (5/18/20): A previous version of this article included a misspelling of the name of the University President. Her name is Sarah Mangelsdorf, not Manglesdorf.