Dr. Vicki Lord Larson, 74, died at home in Eau Claire on January 31, 2019 under the outstanding care of St. Joseph’s Hospice. Vicki was born in Prentice, WI on September 21, 1944. She was the daughter of Edward A. and Stella M. Lord. She was the youngest of three children, having an older brother Virgil and a sister Vivian. She married James R. Larson on September 3, 1966. He was the love of her life and her best friend.
Vicki was a first-generation college graduate. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1966, a master’s degree in 1968, and a Ph.D. in 1974 in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From 1968 to 1970 she worked as a speech-language pathologist in the Wisconsin public schools, and from 1970 to 1972 as an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In 1973 she joined the faculty in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and she chaired that department from 1976 to 1983. From 1984 to 1991 she served as Assistant Dean and then Associate Dean of the Graduate School and University Research. During this time in the 1980s, she was instrumental in developing the undergraduate research agenda at UW-Eau Claire through the writing of the UW System proposal for the Center of Excellence for Faculty-Undergraduate Student Collaborative Research.
From 1991 to 1994 Vicki served as Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at UW-Oshkosh and then as Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs from 1994 to 2000. Vicki retired from UW-Oshkosh in 2000 as a Professor Emerita of Communication.
She then served as consultant to the UW System President from 2000 to 2001, conducting research on the experiences of women students, faculty and staff in the UW System. Her report of this work to the UW System President and Board of Regents laid the groundwork for an action plan to improve the status of women at UW System institutions. Vicki was a founding member of Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership and worked tirelessly throughout her career to support the advancement of women and minorities in Wisconsin higher education. As researcher, advocate and role model, Vicki’s work inspired and encouraged other women to pursue leadership opportunities. For these sustained efforts on behalf of women, Vicki was recognized in 2005 with the Wisconsin Women in Higher Education Leadership Outstanding Achievement Award.
From 2005 to 2006 Vicki served as Interim Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She played a pivotal role in developing a master plan and laying the groundwork for Centennial Hall and the new Davies Center. She was deeply honored to receive the title of Chancellor Emerita by the Board of Regents in 2006.
Over her forty-year career, Vicki enjoyed the challenges and opportunities of being a speech-language pathologist and a faculty member and administrator in the University of Wisconsin System. Vicki was an advocate for the interrelationship of teaching and scholarship/research. This interest began when she participated in research as an undergraduate at UW-Madison and then as a graduate research assistant. She went on to conduct research in her discipline of communication sciences and disorders, and as an administrator set in motion the vigorous support for faculty/undergraduate student collaborative research that has become a hallmark of UW-Eau Claire. Her student scholarships at UW-Eau Claire and UW-Oshkosh and through the Wisconsin Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Association Foundation for Ph.D. students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison support students in conducting a wide variety of research studies. She and her husband James supported several faculty-student collaborative research fellows at UW-Eau Claire. James and Vicki are recognized on the “Wall of Honor” at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Carbone Cancer Center for their financial support for cancer research. Vicki was a member of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation’s Council Oak Society and Circle of Excellence, and formerly served on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
In recognition of Vicki’s decades of distinguished service to UW-Eau Claire as a faculty member and esteemed administrative leader, and in appreciation for her generous support of its students, faculty and staff, the decision was announced recently to rename a campus building in her honor. The facility known until now as Old Library was deemed the perfect choice because it houses numerous services and resources for students and educators. In mid-February Old Library will officially receive its new name as Vicki Lord Larson Hall, honoring Vicki’s indelible positive influence on the institution she loved and ensuring that her vibrant legacy will live on for many years.
Vicki was a past president of the Wisconsin Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Association and in 1991 received the Honors of the Association. She served as an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association legislative counselor and was recognized for her scholarly work on adolescents with language disorders by being named a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 1991. As a nationally recognized expert in the field of communication sciences and disorders Vicki presented numerous workshops and co-authored four books with Nancy McKinley on the topic of older students with language disorders. In 2001 Vicki became an acquisitions editor, and in 2004 an acquisitions manager for Thinking Publications in Eau Claire.
Vicki and Jim loved northern Wisconsin and spent a great amount of time fishing, hiking, and boating in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, driving the rustic roads, and watching the eagles flying and building their nests. Being from Prentice and Tomahawk, respectively, they often said “Wherever we are, when an eagle flies, look towards heaven and think of me.”
Vicki loved to travel. She found great pleasure in having traveled the fifty states, the provinces of Canada, and six of the seven continents. She especially enjoyed being in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, 1984; cruising the Amazon River; climbing to the top of Machu Picchu; sailing the Nile to the Valley of the Kings; seeing rustic Ireland, the fjords of Norway, Cappadocia in Turkey, and Monet’s Garden; and visiting the countries of England and Ireland, where her ancestors came from generations ago and Sweden, where her husband’s ancestors came from. After her husband James passed away in 2004, Vicki traveled with her best friend and walking partner of nearly forty years, Sally Webb. They had countless interesting travel adventures. People were wonderful the world over, but Vicki was always grateful to return home to family and friends. Vicki viewed death as being her final and greatest travel adventure.
Vicki is survived by her sister, brother, nieces, nephews and friends.
Online condolences may be expressed on the website for the Cremation Society of Wisconsin: https://www.cremationsociety-wi.com.
A private family celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Donations in memory of Vicki may be made to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation, either for faculty-undergraduate student collaborative research or for student scholarships in Vicki’s name. Donations may be mailed to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Box 4004, Eau Claire, WI, 54702 or may be made online at https://connect.uwec.edu/donate.