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A Tribute to Longtime IAIA Employee Alvin Sandoval

May 24, 2024

Alvin Sandoval (December 21,1952–May 6, 2024)

On Monday, May 6, 2024, Alvin Sandoval (Diné; 1952–2024), a beloved longtime member of our tight-knit Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) community passed on. “People always leave a memory, a lesson, and vice-versa,” said Sandoval in a 2018 IAIA Chronicle article, “IAIA Shuttle Driver Sees Students Flourish Over the Years,” by Kyle Kootswatewa. His words resonate heavily, as he leaves behind a far-reaching legacy of stories, laughter, and lessons for IAIA Community members past and present.

Sandoval, who retired from IAIA this past March, was a staple for more than 30 years, serving as the Mail Clerk, Facilities and Operations Technician, Facilities Coordinator, and Student Life Transportation Driver. Sandoval contributed to IAIA in profoundly personal ways, lending an ear and exchanging stories and knowledge with students as he whisked them away for grocery runs and doctor visits, and often graciously providing the opening prayer at various campus events. He was fiercely loved by students, faculty, and staff alike, and was honored as the 2022 IAIA Staff Person of the Year—a highly coveted and meaningful award, as it is voted on by the students themselves.

Sandoval’s passing has been felt deeply across campus. The IAIA Powwow Club hosted a Blanket Dance at the 2024 “Honoring Our Graduates” IAIA Spring Powwow in honor of him, raising over $500 toward funeral costs—a small token of appreciation honoring the love and care that Sandoval provided to IAIA students. The following Monday, the IAIA community came together to celebrate the life of Alvin Sandoval with a potluck reception on campus to close out his memorial, where heartfelt words, memories, tears, and even a few good full-belly laughs were shared. We extend our deepest gratitude and condolences to his family and would like to thank them for sharing Alvin with our community for the past 30 years.

Institute of American Indian Arts

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is the only college in the world dedicated to the study of contemporary Native American and Alaska Native arts. IAIA offers undergraduate degrees in Cinematic Arts and Technology, Creative Writing, Indigenous Liberal Studies, Museum Studies, Performing Arts, and Studio Arts; graduate degrees in Creative Writing, Studio Arts, and Cultural Administration; and certificates in Broadcast Journalism, Business and Entrepreneurship, Museum Studies, and Native American Art History. The college serves approximately 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) Native and non-Native American students from around the globe, representing nearly a hundred federally recognized tribes. Named one of the top art institutions by UNESCO and the International Association of Art, IAIA is among the leading art institutes in our nation and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).