He was raised in Buffalo, New York's Kaisertown district and spent over twenty years working as an academic and administrator before being named chancellor at UW-Eau Claire. Stankevich received his master's and doctoral degrees from the University at Buffalo. He received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College. In 1977, he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has worked as both a teacher and administrator at several institutions including the University at Buffalo, Florida Atlantic University, and Eastern Washington University. Stankevich is married and is the parent of twin sons.