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Leading with vision

Posted 9:07 a.m. Thursday, April 18, 2024

Vickie Sanchez, '07, director of Multicultural Student Services at UWL, is the recipient of the 2024 Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award. The award recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the advancement of multicultural understanding.

UWL’s Vickie Sanchez to receive Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award 

A bridge-builder. An advocate for positive change. A visionary. 

That’s how friends and colleagues describe Vickie Sanchez, director of Multicultural Student Services at UW-La Crosse and the recipient of the university’s 2024 Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award. 

The award, established by Professor Emeritus James Parker, recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to the advancement of multicultural understanding. 

“Vickie Sanchez is an amazing advocate for students of color,” says Chelsea Lovejoy, associate professor of psychology at UW-Stout, where Sanchez worked from 2011 to 2022. “She works tirelessly to create spaces for students under her guidance to grow and thrive and become the leaders they were born to be … in the chosen career paths and graduate school training.” 

Lovejoy called Sanchez “the most hands-on, involved individual working to support the success of multicultural students” on campus. 

In her current role at UWL, Sanchez, ’07 (master’s in student affairs administration), directs the Office of Multicultural Student Services, which fosters academic, leadership and personal growth of diverse student communities on campus.  

Sanchez oversees efforts to ensure the success of Multicultural Student Organizations, leadership and career development initiatives, and intercultural development programs, as well as the academic and financial retention of students of color. 

She played an important role in helping the Native American Student Association re-establish itself as a student organization after a brief hiatus. She is also co-leading the Division of Diversity & Inclusion assessment project, which will allow campus partners to work on access, retention and graduation projects in a more data-driven way.

"Vickie is a very intentional and collaborative colleague who goes out of her way to put students at the center of everything she does," says Stacy Narcotta-Welp, interim vice chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion at UWL. "We are so lucky to have her on our campus and in our community."

Previously, Sanchez served as a UWL multicultural recruitment/admissions counselor from 2006 to 2011, before her stint at UW-Stout. 

At Stout, Sanchez ran a living and learning community intended to ease the transition for first-year students of color. When she arrived, the program had one of the worst retention rates on campus. 

But by revamping programming and student support resources, Sanchez helped boost the program’s retention rate above the rate for the campus. It was so successful that she launched a second similar program at the university. The program, called Stoutward Bound, also went on to receive the 2022 Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award from the State Council on Affirmative Action.

“Vickie nurtured each cohort group every year with a dedication like no other,” says Barb Miller, who was UW-Stout’s director of Multicultural Student Services at the time. “She developed respectful relationships with students, staff and faculty, and collaborated across campus to successfully create inclusive excellence with enhanced diversity, campus climate and equity outcomes. Students consistently referenced this multicultural living and learning community as a life-changing experience.”  

Sanchez is passionate about her work and is constantly searching for ways to advance her understanding of cultural competencies through research, literature, professional trainings and conferences. She also led workshops and provided individual advising on system equity and other diversity and inclusion issues.  

Sanchez’s impact reaches beyond the university.  

While working at Stout, she was a member of Menomonie Cares, a grassroots organization promoting the development of a safe, welcoming and inclusive community. Sanchez engaged in community outreach, increased visibility of the organization through social media and was integral in convincing local officials to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.  

Sanchez also worked with the chief of police in Menomonie to update the police department’s website, with a focus on transparency, equitable representation and reporting of information that affects constituents.

Sanchez doesn’t just talk about building a better campus and a better community, colleagues say. She leads by example. 

“Vickie is a visionary and a community builder, dedicated to doing the work that will lead to creating a community where all people enjoy the benefits of inclusion, equity and respect,” says Marion Lang of Menomonie Cares. “She has so much to teach (people) about effective partnerships and working across the community on issues of social justice and human rights.” 

Vickie Sanchez, ’07 

  • Nearly two decades of experience in student affairs with a focus in equity, diversity and inclusion at two UW campuses, UWL (2005-11, 2022-present) and UW-Stout (2011-22). 
  • Currently serves as the director of Multicultural Student Services at UWL. 
  • Previously served as a multicultural recruitment/admissions counselor at UWL (2006-11) 
  • Specializes in recruitment, retention and program development for students of color. 

About Distinguished Alumni Awards

The UWL Alumni & Friends Foundation is awarding graduates from the ’80s through 2015 its top alumni awards for 2024. They’re being honored for distinguished service and successful careers. 

The distinguished alumni will return to campus Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20 and 21, to speak with students, take part in a panel discussion and be formally recognized during a ceremony and brunch.

This year's recipients are:

  • Graff Distinguished Alumni Award — Ronald Sentwali Bakari, '82 & ‘90
  • Altman Teacher Education Alumni Award — Jeanne Halderson, '92 & '97
  • Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award — Vickie Sanchez, '07
  • Rada Distinguished Alumni Award — Amanda McAllister Novak, '12
  • Morgan Improving the Lives of Others Alumni Award — Shaundel Spivey, '12 & '15


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