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UWL Alumni Awards Panel

The 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients will answer questions about their experience at UWL. 

The 2024 honorees include:

Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award
Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Longtime administrator Maurice O. Graff created the award in 1977.

Ronald Sentwali Bakari, Ph.D. ’82 & ’90

  • Vice President of Student Affairs at Adelphi University in New York
  • Previous winner of the Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award (2010)
  • Has held numerous leadership roles in higher education across the country, from New York to Colorado to Iowa
  • Assistant director and director of UWL’s Office of Multicultural Student Services (1990-96).

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, both longtime supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

Jeanne Halderson, ’92 & ’97

  • Seventh grade English language arts and social studies teacher at Longfellow Middle School in La Crosse (1992-present)
  • Highly accomplished teacher and educational leader dedicated to enhancing education for all children and striving to positively impact students, educators and the community through creativity, collaboration and innovation.

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed significantly to the improvement of multicultural understanding on campus and in their careers. Professor Emeritus of History James Parker created the award in 1997.

Vickie Sanchez, ’07

  • Director of UWL's Office of Multicultural Student Services
  • Nearly two decades of experience in student affairs with a focus on equity, diversity at two UW campuses, UWL (2005-2011, 2022-present) and UW-Stout (2011-2022)
  • Dedicated to recruiting, retaining and developing intercultural programming for BIPOC (Black, indigenous and other people of color)

Rada Distinguished Alumni Award
Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor Emeritus of Biology Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

Amanda McAllister Novak, ’12

  • Associate Attorney at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, Data Privacy & Cybersecurity (2020-present)
  • Avid volunteer for the Red Cross, Advocates for Human Rights, Native American Service Project and many more.

Morgan Improving Lives Alumni Award

Recognizes undergraduate alumni who hav chosen a career in the local region dedicated to improving the lives of others. The undergraduate department aligned with the award recipient will select a current undergraduate student to receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Shaundel Spivey, ’12 & ’15

  • Executive director of Black Leaders Acquiring Collective Knowledge (2021-present)
  • Director of UWL Upward Bound (2020-21)
  • Member of the Board of Education for the School District of La Crosse (2019-22).


Nominate deserving alumni

Nominate deserving UWL alumni for the university’s Distinguished Alumni Awards. Simply fill out the nomination form, and the Alumni & Friends Foundation will contact nominees.

Nominations are accepted throughout the year but must be received by Oct. 1 to be considered for the award the following year.

See past recipients .


  • 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20


Strzelczyk Great Hall, 153 Cleary Alumni & Friends Center

UWL campus map for building location and nearby parking lots.

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Cleary Alumni & Friends Center


For questions about this event or to request disability accommodations , contact Monica Organ at 608.785.8494 or


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