Stepping into PACCAR Hall next fall, you will see a multitude of differences between the Foster School’s spacious, cutting-edge facility and its former primary classroom building, Balmer Hall. Most noticeable will be the feeling one has stepped into the next century where natural light bathes a sophisticated architectural mix of brick, steel, wood and glass.
Pass through the corridor of the second floor and you’ll see a two story atrium complete with a coffee shop and a fireside lounge (again, this isn’t Balmer Hall). To your right you’ll see an undergraduate commons and three of the most advanced multimedia classrooms at the University of Washington. To the left are four more classrooms ranging from 30 to 95 seats. Outside each is a cluster of student team rooms to promote collaboration and business planning… perhaps for the launch of the next Microsoft.
It took more than $80 million in private support to build PACCAR Hall, and a closer look in the new building will show significantly greater signage carrying the names of business partners and alumni who helped make the building possible. Yet, there is more than money behind each name found in PACCAR Hall.
Here’s the story of one such amazing person: Alice W. Sandstrom.
The sign adorning the last team room on the left says Ms. Sandstrom was a 1934 graduate of the business school. 1934! Unlike today’s evenly represented programs, there weren’t many women studying business back then.
In fact, Ms. Sandstrom was one of only two women in the accounting program and an exception to many social restrictions throughout her life. In the midst of the Great Depression, she realized that an accounting degree was necessary for the future she hoped to have.
Alice, who passed away in March of last year, was one of the first female CPAs in Washington and worked as an accountant through World War II. In 1948, she began a 33-year run in helping Children’s Hospital become the vital community enterprise it is today.
When Alice stepped down as CFO in 1981, she did anything but retire. She spent more than 10 years sharing her knowledge as a lecturer at the UW. She was a long-time president and board member at both the YWCA of Seattle and Senior Services. Alice also received numerous awards for volunteerism and community service.
In 2002, on the heels of receiving the Outstanding Alumna Award from Foster students in Beta Alpha Psi, Alice was given Foster’s Distinguished Leadership Award, the School’s highest non-degree honor.
For 94 years, Alice lived in Seattle and eagerly helped those around her. She enjoyed nothing more than the opportunity to share her success and passing on nuggets of wisdom, which included the five rules she lived by:
- Be passionate about what you do
- Be a mentor
- Cherish your friends
- Always be positive and enthusiastic
- Dream big
Even in her last few years, Alice frequently attended events throughout the community.
Patricia Angell, Accounting Department Lecturer and Internship Director at Foster, accompanied Alice to many functions and was one of Alice’s many fans and friends.
“Alice was an inspiration to me and all women pursing our professional dreams.” Patricia said. “She was a trailblazer in accounting and she continues to inspire us today.”
There’s no question the Foster School and the University of Washington benefited from Alice Sandstrom’s presence, passion and persistence. The team room named for her in PACCAR Hall is but one small way she will be remembered.
And, knowing Alice, little would bring her more joy than seeing future generations of business and community leaders learning to “dream big” using the Sandstrom Team Room in PACCAR Hall. She’ll be right there with them in spirit as well as name, just like so many others who helped make Foster’s new world-class facilities a reality.