INSIDE Chico State
0 January 31, 2002
Volume 32 Number 9
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
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Inside

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Psychology’s Art Sanchez Chosen as Outstanding Professor 2001­2002

Warthog by P. Feldhaus

Photo by J. Teeter

“I have never been one to be on the front page—it’s not something I feel comfortable with,” said Art Sanchez. Nevertheless, here he is—despite his self-professed “healthy dose of humility”—on the front page, with the Faculty Recognition and Support Committee’s naming Sanchez CSU, Chico’s Outstanding Professor for 2001­2002.

In her nomination on behalf of the Chicano Studies Advisory Committee, Professor Susan Marie Green, Department of History and Center for Multicultural and Gender Studies, cited Sanchez’s “selfless commitment to the CSU, Chico campus” for more than two decades.

Sanchez is not, she said, “the isolated academic in the Ivory Tower thinking great thoughts for personal gratification. He has touched the lives of many students, student organizations, and colleagues, as well as community organizations.”

Sanchez has focused his research on issues in the community that lead to better programs for some of society’s most serious problems, including the Hispanic dropout rate, substance abuse, and homelessness. “He embodies the best possible combination of professional knowledge, publication, presentation, teaching, advising, and service,” said Green.

For Sanchez, the journey to this point “outshines the arrival.” His whole life is a remarkable story. One of 10 children, he was born in Santa Barbara into a rich Mexican tradition, as a fifth-generation Californian. His ancestor Mariano Cordero was part of the Portola expedition to settle the missions. His family lost a 5,000-acre land grant to drought in the 1800s.

Then at the age of nine, his family was split up, due to a “cultural misunderstanding” about leaving children on their own with relatives nearby. His grandmother arranged for half of the children to be placed with their aunt and uncle, “godparents who were like co-parents to us,” but this entailed a move to “white suburbia” in southern California. “For me, it has always been a struggle for cultural identity. Ethnic identification was an area I published in early and continue to work in. Staying connected with culture is critical,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez wasn’t a great high school student, concentrating instead on sports. After graduation, he worked as a grocery clerk, then was drafted and sent to Vietnam in 1969.

“My life had revolved around a five-mile radius of home, so it was quite an awakening to me—carrying a weapon, being in the field,” said Sanchez. “It also opened my eyes to who was there—lower class, minority, low-income soldiers. It was a cultural awakening to the reality of the social and political structure. I didn’t want anybody telling me what to do. That attitude and the GI Bill opened the door to college for me.”

That year at Santa Barbara City College was, he said, “the most challenging year of my academic career. I discovered I could actually do this. I had base skills missing, but I had good mentors who worked with me, paid tribute to my strengths. I do a lot of that with my students now.”

Transferring to CSU, Chico, Sanchez received both his B.A. (1978) and M.A. (1981) in psychology. His Ph.D. in counseling psychology is from UC Santa Barbara (1986). He has been a professor of psychology at CSU, Chico since 1989.

Recently, he authored the chapter “Multicultural Family Counseling, Toward Cultural Sensibility” in the Handbook of Multicultural Counseling (Sage Publications, 2001).

Sanchez’s community contributions include 13 years consulting to Chico Unified School District, 10 years to California Migrant Head Start, and seven years to Esplanade House. He is a member of the Chicano Studies Advisory Committee, the Chicano Latino Council, and the Juvenile Justice Committee of Butte County. With Lal Singh, College of Agriculture, he started a mentor program for newly hired minority faculty and is active in the recruiting and retention of minority students.

Sanchez also makes time for creating strong connections with students. He has long been involved with M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán), an organization for support and education of Chicano and Chicana students, is adviser to Nu Alpha Kappa Latino fraternity, and was twice elected as Latino graduation speaker by graduating students. “I want to make a meaningful disruption in students’ lives,” he said.

“My childhood made me more sensitive to others, rather than bitter about life. I try to do what others have done for me—provide observations we can’t provide for ourselves. A cultural/personal disruption creates a sense of clarity about ourselves and helps us grow,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez’s wife, Rochelle, is a counselor for Fair View High School. “She and her colleagues provide help with academic and personal development to kids from challenging backgrounds,” said Sanchez. Characteristically shifting attention from himself, Sanchez added, “These are the real heroes.”

Francine Gair

 

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