Theater injects life, art into community

SIU McLeod Summer Playhouse Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat Pick Ups

As a venue for multiple shows each summer, the McLeod Summer Playhouse brings thousands of visitors to SIU. This longstanding pillar of SIU recently wrapped up its 2017 season, bringing to a close another successful performance for a program that helps fulfill the university’s goal of providing the best for SIU students and the community at large.

“It’s a window into what we do at the university,” said J. Thomas Kidd, associate professor of theater/directing and chair of the Department of Theater at SIU.

According to Kidd, the McLeod Summer Playhouse is the only professional theater in Southern Illinois.

“It helps bring artistic life and increases the quality of life in the community,” he said.

Students also benefit greatly from the presence of a high-end theater production, and those enrolled in particular courses are offered credit for working with the playhouse. They often earn internships, which can lead to jobs within the production.

Being part of the playhouse offers important experience for graduates who plan to work in theater, film, advertising and more.

“This is a gateway degree into the entertainment industry,” Kidd said. “For many, (the McLeod Summer Playhouse) is their first professional experience.”

While the program does have an annual budget allotment, the funds don’t fully cover the costs of updating and maintaining the theater.

Kidd said the theater is in need of major upgrades, including new seats and a new sound system. Much of the backstage infrastructure has been brought up to date, but it’s the front of the house that requires improvement now.

“It’s in need of upgrades to bring it up to standards,” he said. “It needs to reflect where we are going.”

To support an endowment that fund and sustain the performing arts for students and the region, including the McLeod Summer Playhouse, visit

Grace Handlos grateful for dean scholarship

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences student Grace Handlos

By Rebecca Renshaw

Grace Handlos has set her sights high.

The junior from Salsbury, Indiana is majoring in animal science production. Throughout her life, Handlos has worked with horses. Now, she wants to become a show horse trainer.

“I love horses and always have,” Handlos said. “The College of Agricultural Sciences has made it so easy for me to achieve my dreams.”

Handlos is a dean scholarship recipient. She says she will never forget opening the envelope from SIU informing her of the scholarship award.

“When I read I received the scholarship, I was ecstatic. I never thought college could be affordable without going deep into debt,” Handlos said.

Like so many other students and faculty, Handlos says the college feels like one big family.

“Even when I first visited SIU and the college when I was trying to decide where to go to school, I sensed that they were like family,” she said.

Handlos serves as an Ag Council representative for the live-stock judging team, is a member of the honors program, and conducts research in the plant pathology program.

Earlier this year, the SIU Foundation launched Forever SIU: The Campaign for Students. The three-year campaign set a $75 million fundraising goal. Most of the money received through the campaign will go toward student scholarships.

For more information, visit For information on how to donate to the SIU College of Agricultural Sciences, visit

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Jeanne Hurley Simon Memorial Library Endowment scholarship expands horizon

Student Spotlight: SIU Morris Library Dave Whitfield

By Rebecca Renshaw

Dave Whitfield, a graduate student from Cairo, Illinois, and a Morris Library student employee, was awarded the Jeanne Hurley scholarship in May 2017. Whitfield said the scholarship has him leaning toward pursuing a master’s degree in library science after he receives his doctorate in communication studies.

Morris Library administers the endowment, created to celebrate the life and longstanding commitment to libraries and education of Jeanne Hurley Simon, wife of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon. The endowment provides up to three scholarships each year to Morris Library student employees, and the goal is fostering the development of ethnic, racial, cultural and gender diversity.

Whitfield said he thoroughly enjoys his job at the information desk, especially when he gets to help community patrons and those with disabilities.

“I was a medic in the Air Force from 1990 until 1998,” he said. “In that timeframe, my work revolved around helping people. Now, 10 years later, I’m still helping people, but just in a different environment.

“Working in the library is so fulfilling because people often don’t have the vocabulary to ask how to find the things they know little about yet. It forces me to become a good listener and to establish a positive connection with people who are trying to find something in the library. If I can make them feel welcome and comfortable, we will always end up finding out what they need,” he added.

Whitfield hopes more individuals will give to Morris Library.

“This place is transformative,” he said. “When donors give to this great library, they are opening the doors of opportunity to everyone – students, faculty, alumni and the entire community. It’s just a great place of expanding minds and forging relationships.”

For more information about Morris Library’s fundraising goals, visit

The Opportunities are Boundless at SIU College of Agricultural Sciences

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences student: Sarah Dintelmann

By Rebecca Renshaw

When Sarah Dintelmann from Belleville was asked why she chose to enroll in SIU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, she said it was one of the easiest decisions she ever had to make.

“SIU’s College of Agricultural Sciences has one of the strongest programs in the entire state of Illinois. When I visited last year, I was impressed by the number of opportunities and just how friendly the faculty were to me.”

crop, soil, and environmental management and agribusiness economics double major, Dintelmann wants to ultimately end up in agricultural research and marketing.

“I really enjoy the research aspect and am looking forward to getting as much experience as I can while doing my undergraduate studies,” she said.

Dintelmann keeps busy as a recruiter for the Agbassadors and also serves as the vice president of the agronomy society. A member of the honors program, she is also involved with the Alpha Gamma Delta international women’s fraternity. Dintelmann was the recipient of the Harold and Nora Kuehn Plant and Soil Science Scholarship.

Earlier this year, the SIU Foundation launched Forever SIU: The Campaign for Students. The three-year campaign set a $75 million fundraising goal. Most of the money received through the campaign will go toward student scholarships.

For more information about the initiatives for the College of Agricultural Sciences, visit

Childress Scholarship grows benefitting business students

James B. and Rosemary Samuel Childress

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Braden Drake had been paying his own way through Southern Illinois University Carbondale, so learning he was one of this year’s James B. and Rosemary Samuel Childress Scholarship recipients was quite a relief.

Drake, a senior accounting major from Carterville, said the scholarship was a big help in paying tuition, fees, books, apartment expenses, medical and vehicle insurance bills and other costs of living. He was also excited to learn that upon their deaths, the Carterville couple added a $2 million bequest to SIU’s scholarship fund bearing their names, allowing students to benefit even more from the scholarships in the future.

“Any time I’m able to receive a scholarship, it helps me get one step closer to covering my expenses without having to take out any student loans,” Drake said. “I really want to thank the Childresses for their donation to College of Business students and helping me be able to reach my goals.”

Drake is slated to graduate in May 2018 and plans to continue his education at SIU to obtain his master’s in accountancy with the goal of becoming a CPA and working for an accounting firm in the St. Louis, Springfield or Indianapolis areas. Upon graduating, he’ll also be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Illinois Army National Guard; he enlisted in November 2013.

James and Rosemary “Dee” Childress married as high school sweethearts before James went off to serve as an electrician’s mate with the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II. He returned to his hometown, graduated from Carterville High School and then earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The couple lived in a small second-story apartment, and he worked at the Carterville Post Office to put himself through school.

While their married life began with meager means, James became a successful businessman. Over the course of his career, he went on to own or co-own various steel erection, construction and sales businesses as well as motels and nursing homes in the Midwest and south, according to Robert Howerton, a relative of the couple who served as their attorney. Hard work and wise investing grew the Childress fortune, Howerton said.

“They were unable to have children but they were very successful, very devoted to each other, very family-oriented and very generous and charitable to others,” Howerton said. “They also realized the value of a good education and wanted to do something to help other people, people who they hoped could also go on to be successful if they just had a little help.”

Thus, the Childress’ philanthropy included SIU. The couple originally endowed a scholarship at James’ college alma mater in August 1989, earmarking the funds to go each year to SIU business students who are graduates of high schools in Jackson or Williamson counties or to students who graduated from community colleges and high schools within those counties. Financial need is considered and preference goes to students who are working to help cover their college expenses. Applicants must also submit an essay. Recipients are eligible to apply for a scholarship renewal.

Receiving a Childress scholarship this semester helped Emily Kerrens of Murphysboro transfer to SIU as a junior accounting major “with a lot less stress about finances,” she said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that this and other scholarships has given me.”

After completing her bachelor’s degree, she plans to obtain her master’s degree and become a CPA, working in the tax field.

Stephen Dickman, a junior transfer student from Marion, is a marketing major with career plans in sales. He said he’s grateful to have received a Childress scholarship this fall to help pay for his tuition and books.

Dee Childress passed away in July 2015 and her husband died the following May. Both were 90 at the times of their deaths, and they had given untold amounts through the years to charitable causes, particularly education, civic, health, historical and relief organizations. Their final wish was to offer a helping hand to even more young people, so they added a $2 million gift to SIU’s James B. and Rosemary S. Childress Scholarship endowment. SIU Foundation officials estimate the fund will now generate about $80,000 annually that can be awarded to SIU business students.

“We know scholarships make a difference in the lives of our students,” said SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.  “We at the university witness that every day. The Childresses felt that impact while they were living. Seeing how scholarships affected students meant a great deal to them. Their bequest to the Childress Endowment will help students in the College of Business in an even more significant way for years to come. Those students and SIU are most appreciative of the Childress’ generosity.”


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Cybersecurity program booming

SIU Cyber Security Dawgs

A growing number of attacks on computer networks worldwide has increased demand for university graduates with expertise in cyberdefense and cybersecurity, areas that barely existed just a decade ago.

This call comes as no surprise, as cyber criminals now show increasing new levels of ambition and sophistication – from multimillion-dollar bank heists to overt attempts at disrupting large networks that support production efforts for critical utilities.

SIU has responded to this demand by offering a specialization in cybersecurity through its School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies, and students typically have jobs lined up before they graduate because of high demand.

A point of pride for the program is the Security Dawgs cyberdefense team, a student organization that gives students hands-on experience through participation in cyberdefense and cybersecurity competitions. The team consistently earns first- or second-place honors in the state’s annual college cyberdefense competitions.

Despite these strengths, the program is in need of financial support to help educate tomorrow’s cybersecurity experts and industry leaders, according to Tom Imboden, associate professor of information systems technologies.

“Investments in equipment and opportunities will keep SIU students in the forefront of the industry,” he said. “For example, we received a grant a few years ago to acquire a remote-access solution that allows SIU to host virtual machines with curriculum content. This gives our students all of the software needed to provide an environment where students can complete lab exercises for the information technology courses they are enrolled in.”

Upkeep to the servers is essential, but costly.

“Our servers are now five years old and need to be upgraded,” Imboden said. “New servers cost around $6,000 each, and they come with an annual fee of $3,000.”

The Security Dawgs also need support getting to, and participating in, competitions.

“Typically, the team has only three weeks’ notice informing them they are invited to compete in the state or regional competitions,” Imboden said. “Ensuring that we have transportation and lodging for 10 students is a challenge. These competitions help put SIU, the program and our students on the map.”

To learn more about the information technologies program, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, visit


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Scholarships nurture healthy appetite for success

SIU College of Agriculture student Lindsey Eigsti

By Jeff Wilson

Lindsey Eigsti has a plan.

The senior from Shelbyville is majoring in human nutrition and dietetics. She’s applying to graduate school. She’s wants to become a dietitian and work to improve people’s health.

“Preventative health care is so important,” Eigsti said. “I want to tackle huge health problems and promote positive change.”

Eigsti is a legacy student. A handful of her family members attended SIU. So, when she received a full-tuition scholarship to become a Saluki, she was ecstatic.

“(The scholarship) opened a lot of doors for me. It made coming to SIU more feasible,” she said “I fell in love with campus.”

Before receiving her scholarship, junior college was a likely route. She expressed her gratitude toward the philanthropists who are willing to lend students a helping hand.

“Donations change people’s lives,” she said. “It’s so nice to have people out there who make education more accessible. Any amount can help.”

She has also received three other scholarships, which have allowed her to focus on academics and other opportunities. She works as an undergraduate intern with University Housing’s nutrition team. The group offers counseling to students with dietary issues and focuses on promoting healthy eating habits on campus.

When she’s not studying or working, she prefers to be outdoors. As someone who enjoys hiking, fishing and camping, Eigsti said she’s enjoyed her time in Southern Illinois.

Human nutrition and dietetics is a growing program within the College of Agricultural Sciences. It lends itself to careers in a number of fields, including public health, business, education, marketing, restaurants, fitness and more.

SIU’s program has been a near perfect fit for Eigsti.

“The professors are awesome. I’ve really been able to build relationships with them,” she said. “They make the program feel like it’s tailored to me.”

For more information about College of Agricultural Sciences fundraising goals, visit

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SIU graduate thankful for unique opportunities

Shaka Mitchell - Paul Simon Public Policy Instituteby Rebecca Renshaw

If Shaka Mitchell, a 2011 SIU Carbondale graduate, could sum up his experience with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in one word, it would be “exposure.”

“The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute opened doors of opportunity for me. It gave me an avenue to meet a lot of influential people in business and politics. It also introduced me to the world of networking,” he said. “Had I not had that exposure, I would certainly not be where I am today.”

Today, Mitchell lives in Chicago and is making plans to open a fitness gym, but his path to owning his own business has been far from ordinary.

Upon graduating from O’Fallon Township High School, in O’Fallon, Illinois, Mitchell received a full SIU Presidential Scholarship. Mitchell earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance from SIU Carbondale in May 2011.

“Getting a good foundation in business has really helped me with opening my gym, but it was something completely outside of the world of business that ignited my passion,” Mitchell said.

While at SIU, Mitchell discovered an interest that would reshape his future. As a sophomore, he took a martial arts class with a Korean instructor and found he excelled at the sport. After graduating from SIU, Mitchell took his passion for martial arts to a new level. He enrolled at Yong-In University in South Korea and earned a master’s degree in Taekwondo.

“I was the only American to ever attend Yong-In University,” Mitchell shared. “I did not know any of the language and I knew no one there. But, that didn’t stop me from fulfilling my dream. Because of what I learned in South Korea and placing second in the Taekwondo National Championships, I can confidently say I am the best at what I do and what I can offer others. As for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, it gave me the confidence to go fulfill my dreams.

As a student, Mitchell served the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute as an ambassador and a student worker. In those roles, he received opportunities to meet prominent people in both business and politics.

“One of my highlights was getting to meet businessman Chris Gardner. The motion picture, “The Pursuit of Happyness” is based on a book about Gardner’s life,” Mitchell said. “I was also influenced by the Vince Demuzio internship program were I worked at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

“I would encourage SIU alumni and donors to support the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute by helping fund any of the existing endowed student scholarships. Having personally worked with Mike Lawrence, former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and knowing what a tremendous impact he had on my life, I would like to see monetary donations go to further his cause.”

To learn more about the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, visit To learn more about the needs of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, visit

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Student Spotlight: Alyssa Allison shares how the School of Law broadens horizons

SIU School of Law student Alyssa Allison

By Rebecca Renshaw

Alyssa Allison says she became interested in SIU’s School of Law when a former SIU track and field teammate told her about the program and how inspiring it is to learn about the law.

“Attending law school has changed my life and broadened my horizons. As I learn about legal issues, I have a greater understanding of how to help people who are having problems in life. Helping others is why I’m in this profession. On top of that, the faculty are truly concerned about the students here. I have come to know them as both mentors and friends,” Allison said.

Upon graduation, Allison plans to enter the Army JAG Corps to become a Judge Advocate.

“A Judge Advocate is a licensed attorney qualified to represent the Army and its soldiers in military legal matters,” she said. “I have several family members who are in the military, so it just makes sense for me to follow in their footsteps,” Allison said.

A third-year law student who works in the law library, Allison says her work has opened her eyes to the many services the law school library provides to both students and the public.

“This library is not just used by law students. It’s a federal repository that provides services far beyond Jackson County. It’s just a great resource to the community and the staff here is dedicated to helping provide the best legal research resources possible,” Allison said.

“If someone were to donate to the law school today, I would ask them to help students with scholarships. As an undergraduate, I received an athletic scholarship that made all the difference for me. Because of the scholarship, I was able to keep my costs down and focus on schoolwork,” she said. “I would also ask donors to help us purchase more library resources and computers. You’d be surprised at how much our resources and computers are used each day. We would definitely appreciate any donations made to help support SIU’s School of Law,” she said.

To learn more about the SIU School of Law, visit To learn more about the needs of the School of Law, visit

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Student Spotlight: Kinesiology Student Sean Gloss

Student Spotlight: SIU Kinesiology Student Sean Gloss

by Rebecca Renshaw

Sean Gloss is a teaching assistant in exercise physiology. He will receive a master’s degree in exercise science in May 2018 and plans on getting a Ph.D. in exercise science upon graduation.

Sean Gloss originally wanted to be a physical therapist but when he enrolled in a motor behavior research class led by Dr. Porter, he quickly changed his direction of study.

“I had this idea that research was boring, but Dr. Porter made the research really interesting and challenging all at the same time,” Gloss said.

The research, coupled with the program’s community outreach, is what ignited Gloss’ passion for the program.

“Everything in the kinesiology program has vastly broadened my scope of how I can help my community. The professors are my role models on how to conduct myself as an adult. Furthermore, I see the positive impact the Strong Survivor program makes on people who have cancer,” Gloss said. “The program also hosts the men and women’s health expos each year to educate the community about healthy lifestyle choices – all of these programs makes me want to be a better person and to give back to others.”

Gloss recognizes the program has many financial needs, but he says the biggest need is to have more exercise testing equipment. “Our students need more testing equipment so they could do more research. We also need to be working on the same equipment as what is found out there in the real world,” he said. “There are so many upgrades we could use – from a new hydrostatic weighing tub to treadmills – students would greatly benefit from new equipment.”

To learn more about the Department of Kinesiology, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Education and Human Services, visit

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