A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

The Exit Interview

By Buzz McClain, BA '77 on October 31, 2012

When Louis C. Buffardi and James F. Sanford arrived at Mason in 1971 and 1973, respectively, parking was $2 for two cars for the year, hoagies sold in the cafeteria for 10 cents an inch, the computer was a room-sized punch card contraption, and the department secretary found typing on the new electric typewriter slower than on the manual. And Lou’s sideburns were hip. Now the associate psychology professors and best friends, who first met in graduate school, are retiring after more than 40 years of teaching together. Let the reminiscing begin.

Lou Buffardi (LB): There was the main quadrangle; there was the Lecture Hall and the library without the library tower. That was it.

Jim Sanford (JS): And the PE building. I think we had 4,400 students in 1973, most of them undergraduates. No doctoral programs or law school, just some fledgling master’s programs. And classes were small.

Mason professors Jim Sanford and Lou Buffardi

LB: I remember there was no place for students to go between classes except to sit in the hallways for hours.

JS: When I interviewed in spring of ’73, the only eating area was in the Ordinary in Krug Hall.

LB: And it really was “ordinary.”

JS: SUB I opened that fall. I can’t remember if there was a bookstore. . . .

LB: One of the biggest changes for the [Psychology] Department was the beginning of doctoral programs; that changed whom we could recruit both as faculty and students. Every time we had to replace somebody, we got better. Currently, when we advertise for the faculty, the resumes are just outstanding, coming from the top doctoral programs in the various specialties.

JS: Research has become vital. We got hired mostly for teaching; it was a “four-four” load—four classes in the spring and four in the fall. Research was expected but certainly not emphasized. You wouldn’t get hired here any more if you didn’t do research.

LB: It was a celebration when word got around the department you actually got something in a research journal. You had to spend a lot of physical time in the library to find [someone who had] done similar research. Now you can get any electronic journal you need and in an instant have more studies than you can count.

JS: The [NCAA] Final Four [in 2006] was a major highlight. We sat together at the [Elite Eight] game and saw that last shot by the UConn player was not going to go in.

LB: Then we went to Indy for the Final Four with our wives. We’ve had season tickets ever since there have been season tickets.


  1. You guys have always been so positive and constructive, and contributed more to the department than can ever be imagined. AND are prime examples of school spirit! We all owe a lot to you for what you have built here.

    Comment by Bob Pasnak — November 2, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  2. These two guys were two terrific colleagues throughout the time I was at Mason. They worked hard, laughed hard, and put up with all kinds of stuff while they built Mason into the fine University it is. I can also vouch for how primitive Mason was in those early 70’s days. Thanks to guys like Jim and Lou, however, things changed quickly and today Mason owes so much to them.

    Best wishes,
    John Allen (1974-2003)

    Comment by John Allen — November 2, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

  3. P.S. Jim and Lou were the first to sport shoes as I recall!

    Comment by John Allen — November 2, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  4. I do believe John was right about the shoes. I specifically remember having to tell John upon his arrival at Mason that once he got out of the North Carolina backwoods, that faculty needed to wear shoes (and socks as well)!!

    Comment by Lou — November 3, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

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