Since the Distinguished Alumni Award was created by Sonoma State University’s Alumni Association in 1987, only 93 students have been awarded. On Thursday, the Alumni Association honored the 94th recipient Sandra Jackson-Dumont. Since May 2014, Jackson-Dumont has served as the Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere.
Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana spoke at Thursday’s ceremony, which took place at the Green Music Center’s Prelude restaurant.
“She chose the best and the best chose her,” said Armiñana in reference to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Jackson-Dumont received her B.A. in art history from Sonoma State in 1994, then proceeded to receive her M.A. in art history from Howard University in 1996. Since earning her degrees, Jackson-Dumont has worked in the arts by filling various positions which include serving as deputy director for education and public programs and adjunct curator for modern and contemporary art at the Seattle Art Museum, as well as the head of school, family and intergenerational programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
“Alumni like Mrs. Jackson-Dumon bring a name and value to Sonoma State,” said Sonoma State University Alumni Association Board Director and Liaison to the Distinguished Alumni Selection Committee Molly Rattigan, “particularly when they are in positions in nationally known organizations and outside of California.”
In addition to holding a wide range of positions for different museums, Jackson-Dumont has received a plethora of awards.
“I’m not too big on awards,” said Jackson-Dumont, “I just always think there is someone else more deserving.”
This award has a different meaning for Jackson-Dumont because it is the first time her mother, Eadie Jackson, was able to be present while she received such an honor. Jackson has never gotten to see her daughter receive any awards, nor college or graduate degrees.
“Last, but not at all least, I thank my family,” said Jackson-Dumont after being presented her accolade, “My mom, who created the stepping stone to be who I want to be.”
According to Laurie Ogg, director of alumni relations and annual giving, the association used to sell tickets to these events, but due to lack of turnout from students, introduced a more intimate venue where the honoree gets to invite select people. Surrounded by family and friends, Jackson-Dumont was presented the award.
The Sonoma State University Alumni Association searches through over 60,000 alumni to find one who exemplifies notable humanitarian contributions to the community and the society as a whole. Jackson-Dumont is responsible for developing and executing public education programs and art performances that appeal to a wide, diverse audience as to invite people from all walks of life to indulge in the arts. This particular brand of inclusiveness has allowed the San Francisco native to become a respected figure in the art world.
Over the past 15 years, Sonoma State has undergone a major overhaul introducing new buildings such as the Jean and Charles Schulz Information Center, the Student Center, the Green Music Center, as well as the residential halls of Sauvignon, Beaujolais, and Tuscany.
“What I miss most is students hanging in the big quad where the lawn is,” said Jackson-Dumont, “everyone seems to be in buildings.”
Prior to the small award reception, Jackson-Dumont found herself with a packed schedule including some speeches to current Sonoma State students and staff, as well as a tour of the revamped campus.
“I don’t even know that the [Green Music Center] was a part of the campus. It might have been a field,” said Jackson-Dumont.
With the honor of receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award comes reflection on the days when Jackson-Dumont called Sonoma State and its surrounding area home. Sonoma State has come a long way with modernized buildings to the vast array of services offered to students.
“College is about screwing up while you have the chance to do it,” said Jackson-Dumont, “College is about messing up in the best ways because you have the support system to screw up.”
Every year the Alumni Association finds an alum who stands above the rest, for 2014, it was Jackson-Dumont. This year’s distinguished alum is Sen. Mike Mcquire, who will be honored on Friday at the Green Music Center.
“The real currency of a university is graduates, alums,” said Armiñana, “the whole reason we are here is to have exemplary alums.”