SIU Foundation Receives $25,000 to Endow Sociology Scholarship

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Sociology doctoral students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will benefit from a $25,000 gift to the SIU Foundation from J. Mark Wehrle, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Central Missouri.

The gift will endow the J. Mark Wehrle Dissertation Scholarship in Sociology and will be used to annually support dissertation research related to social and/or economic injustice.  Wehrle has established a similar scholarship for undergraduate sociology and social work majors attending the University of Central Missouri.

Wehrle, a resident of Lake Ozark, Mo., received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1971 and a Master of Arts degree in 1972, both from UCM.  He earned a doctoral degree in sociology from SIU Carbondale in 1982. He joined the UCM faculty in 1972 and served as chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work from 1982 to 2002, retiring as professor of sociology in 2003.

He has maintained memberships in more than a dozen professional organizations and academic honor societies.  He served as a board member and later as president of the Missouri State Sociological Association (1987-88).  As the owner or partner in several Kansas City and Warrensburg, Mo., businesses, he was appointed by the governor to the Missouri Private Industry Council (1985-95), a bi-partisan effort to train and return displaced workers to full employment.

Wehrle was a consultant to sociology textbook publishers and served as a liaison between the Missouri Division of Family Services and the UCM Social Work Program.  He also served on three occasions as a federal grant application review panelist for grants that funded nearly $45 million in pilot projects related to literacy and the workplace.

Wehrle, a life member of the SIU Alumni Association, said that he benefited from relationships with former classmates and faculty members and that he encourages others to extend a helping hand to deserving students as others may have done for them.  The first scholarship will be awarded in the 2018 fall semester.

William Danaher, professor and chair of SIU Carbondale’s Department of Sociology, said the scholarship creates a wonderful opportunity for graduate students.

“Students will benefit greatly from the Wehrle Dissertation Scholarship because it comes at just the right time in their studies to have an impact on their timely progress in finishing their dissertation,” Danaher said.

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Provost’s $25K gift spurred by pride, passion

Dr. Susan Ford gives back to SIU.

By Rebecca Renshaw

As a nationally renowned researcher and current SIU provost, Susan Ford understands the powerful impact that giving back has on the future. Since she came to SIU in 1979, Ford has served as a mentor to many graduate and undergraduate students and taught thousands more.

Even though Ford’s schedule as interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at SIU is full, she still manages to also teach a core curriculum online course.

“For almost 40 years, I have been teaching at SIU,” she said. “I have a true passion for it and for my students here at SIU. Through my teaching, I can help to positively impact the next generation.”

During SIU’s first Day of Giving on March 1, Ford donated $25,000 to establish an endowed scholarship for graduate students in SIU’s Department of Anthropology, her academic home, noting that she has been considering making a significant gift for some time.

“Although I grew up and went to school on the east coast, SIU has always been special to me. SIU let me build my career and has been home to my research,” Ford said. “I have a deep connection to this university and believe strongly in this institution. I have made lifelong friendships. All of my immediate family members are also SIU alums. It just has a special place in my heart and my family’s heart.”

One glance around her office reflects Ford’s passion for SIU, her research and for life. Her lifelong dedication to researching South American primates is evident in the mementos and photographs of research expeditions. Her interests in photography and travel are evident as well. But one item that hangs at the entry of her office reveals a generational pattern of a philanthropic heart.  A framed message sent in 1940 from Ford’s great grandmother to her grandson during Christmas reads, in part,

“We are told that ‘brotherhood and love are the paramount features of the Christmas message. Giving gifts is merely a method of expressing such sentiment’… My wish for you is that you may find a sense of brotherhood for all those who touch your life – that love may become the motive of a life lived largely and fully. These are the things that make life worthwhile.”

Ford’s generosity, her love for SIU, and her firm belief that SIU will continue to stand strong and offer a great education to future students is a direct reflection of her great grandmother’s words so eloquently expressed nearly 80 years ago.  She urges others to join her in sharing their collective passion for SIU.

“I believe in this institution with all my heart,” she said. “I decided to establish an endowment for the future because I believe we are still going to be attracting the best and the brightest for decades to come.”

If you would like to give to Southern Illinois University, please contact us at 618/453-4900.

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World Travelers Give Back to Their Roots

Darlene Albert Knott, World Travelers Give Back to Their Roots

by Rebecca Renshaw

Nine hundred dollars. That was all she needed to remain in school.

But Darlene Albert Knott just didn’t have it.

That was back in 1969, when she was a sophomore at SIU.

Knott grew up in the small town of Mulberry Grove, Illinois in a farming family of five children. While the family always had food on the table, her parents didn’t have the extra money to continue her education in Carbondale after her sophomore year. And for her father, debt was something to be avoided.

“My father never borrowed money for my education,” she said. “He was just co-signing on a loan on my behalf. It was my responsibility to pay it back. He just did not like debt and thought I had already borrowed too much for the first two years. … So I had to withdraw from school. It broke my heart.”

It was a setback – though, thankfully, not a permanent one – for an intelligent young woman who made good grades in high school and impressed her high school math teacher so much that she encouraged her to apply to SIU.

She did – and, with a loan of $1,800, she arrived in Carbondale in 1967.

“My parents basically just dropped me off in front of Bowyer Hall in Thompson Point, and there I was,” she said. “I knew no one – and, coming from a tiny, rural area, I thought Carbondale was this huge city. I met all types of people from other cultures and countries, and it was magical.

“While most kids complain about the size or condition of their dorm rooms, I thought mine was wonderful because it had an indoor bathroom.”

Mark Knott, a Saluki patrol student at the time, recalls how he met his future wife.

“I was walking my rounds, and I kept running into this gorgeous girl in Lentz Hall,” he said. “She turned me down several times, but finally she agreed to go out with me. I was smitten.”

The Knotts agree that their professors at SIU made a tremendous impact on their lives.

“They were so passionate about what they were doing, and they took a genuine interest in the students,” Darlene Knott said. “I think that’s why SIU remains so near and dear to our hearts; it’s because of the influence of our professors.

“That, and the fact that we fell in love there.”

The couple married in 1970, and Mark Knott soon was drafted into the Vietnam War. By carefully saving their money, the Knotts returned to SIU and earned their degrees in 1975. They experienced successful careers in accounting and in securities brokerage firms until both retired to pursue a shared passion for travel. They have visited all seven continents, and their favorite destination is Africa, which they have visited 10 times.

“Our college educations transformed our lives, and we believe that education is the key to success and opportunity,” Darlene Knott said. “I look back at my life growing up in a rural community, and kids just weren’t encouraged to go onto college. Mark and I want to change that, so we created a scholarship for students in the Mulberry Grove area to receive an SIU scholarship for four years of room and board.

“We know that education was the opportunity to get out of a limited environment and go on to do something better. We just want to lend a helping hand so that no student should have to drop out of college and miss an opportunity to find success.”

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Achenbach shares rock-solid support for Campus Lake

Dean Achenbach gives back to SIU Campus Lake.

By Rebecca Renshaw

Laurie Achenbach has dedicated her professional life to science and SIU. On March 1, she strengthened that commitment by donating $10,000 on SIU’s inaugural Day of Giving.

Her generous gift was the first individual donation on the Day of Giving and was directed toward the Campus Lake Beautification Project. She challenged others to join her in the effort to restore and enhance one of the preeminent landmarks on campus.

“The lake is what brings us all together each day,” Achenbach, the dean of the College of Science, said. “You can step out of your office and walk a few feet to the edge of the lake and be transported by its beauty.”

Her donation will be used for an illuminated boulder, which will sit prominently in the water and be known as Achenbach Rock. The name will have special meaning to Achenbach, who said her siblings joked about having a male child and naming him Rock Achenbach.

“So this naming opportunity kind of made our collective family wish come true,” she said with a smile.

This isn’t the first time Achenbach has made a major donation to the university. In 2011, she created an endowed scholarship in her parents’ name as a way to honor their devotion to the importance of education.

“I came from a family of six children, and my work ethic came directly from my parents,” she said. “They instilled in each of us that getting an education is the fuel that will give you a better life.”

Achenbach came to SIU in 1990 as an assistant professor of microbiology. She steadily rose through the ranks, serving as associate dean before being named dean of the College of Science in 2014. Grateful for the opportunities the university has afforded her, she thought it was important to make a lasting impact.

“Through SIU, I was able to travel the world and do the research I loved most. Yet, it was always a joy to come home to Carbondale — to live, work and raise a family in a smaller community,” she said. “SIU gave me this life, and I feel strongly about giving back.”

Chelsea Coursey, director of development for the College of Science, said it sends a powerful message to members of the SIU community when they see such a positive example.

“Dean Achenbach is a thought leader on campus, and she serves as a powerful influence,” Coursey said.

Achenbach urged others to join her in sharing their collective passion for SIU.

“As I reflect on my life here, I feel so lucky,” she said. “It’s time I show my gratitude and show my pride for SIU and what it represents.”


Inaugural Day of Giving exceeds expectations

SIU Day of Giving totals $341,121

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Thanks to hundreds of donors, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s inaugural Day of Giving was a resounding success.

During the unique 24-hour fundraising campaign, which took place March 1-2, donors were invited to directly support an area on campus meaningful to them. The campaign has raised $341,121– shattering the initial goal of $150,000. The SIU Day of Giving website, showing present totals and where funds were donated to, is at

“The Day of Giving was a success due to the hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff and supporters who realize the importance of philanthropy to the university’s success,” Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell said. “These donations not only help the university with key projects, but reveal the deep affection that many have for SIU Carbondale.”

Jim Salmo, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation, said the funds donated will make an immediate impact on the areas designated by donors. Another purpose of the campaign was to also attract new donors, he said.

“This event exceeded our expectations and is a great beginning,” Salmo said. “We look forward to this being an annual event that continues to grow.”

Rebecca Renshaw, who oversees communications for the SIU Foundation, said students played a pivotal role in the event’s success. Information booths were set up at Morris Library, the Student Center and in the Faner Hall breezeway. A video highlighting campus lake produced for the Day of Giving had nearly 100,000 views, she said.

Renshaw said that a student who was listening to a presentation at Morris Library told her, “I just want to give back to SIU.” The history major, who didn’t give his name, then opened his wallet and donated the only bill he had — $20 – and walked away.

“It was really moving,” Renshaw said.

The event would not have been successful without more than 70 ambassadors, including about 40 students who shared fundraising progress and messaging on various social platforms. Students who called alumni raised more than $6,000 over the 24-hour period, she said.

Of the 1,334 gifts, the largest total amount from multiple donors, $106,105, was raised for campus lake. The participating group with the greatest number of donors was the SIU School of Law.

The Day of Giving “really made a positive impact on the entire campus for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community,” Renshaw said. “It’s rare you can get everyone collectively supporting one effort.”

SIU Credit Union Makes First Corporate Gift for SIU Day of Giving

SIU Credit Union Makes First Corporate Gift for SIU Day of Giving

Pictured (left to right): SIU Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Stettler, Student Center Director Tena Bennett, Saluki Food Pantry Coordinator Sara Sauerhage, SIU Credit Union CEO Mike Lantrip, SIU Sustainability Coordinator Geory Kurtzhals, Director of Development Paul Melzer and SIU Credit Union VP of Business Development Kim Babington.

Giving is in the DNA of those at the SIU Credit Union, and local charities have regularly been the beneficiaries of their benevolence. With the credit union’s recent $10,000 donation, the Saluki Food Pantry can be added to the long list of worthwhile causes. The gift serves as a prelude to SIU Day of Giving, which is Wednesday, March 1. On that day, the university is encouraging others to follow the credit union’s philanthropic lead and help make an immediate difference in the lives of current and future Salukis.

Make a gift on March 1:

Tilden Parks – Superfan!

Foundation Tilden Parks Donor Tilden Parks donated $400.000 to SIU.

By Rebecca Renshaw

Sports statisticians are fascinated by streaks. For example, Joe DiMaggio’s 56- game hitting streak with the New York Yankees is often touted as the one baseball record that will never be broken.

So far, so good on that one.

Before Joltin’ Joe, however, there was another baseball record that the record-keepers swore would never be broken. That was the amazing accomplishment of Lou Gehrig (another Yankee), who played in 2,130 consecutive games between 1925 and 1939.

But Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles proved them wrong. He competed in 2,632 consecutive games over a 16-year span to eclipse the mark set by baseball’s “Iron Horse.”

At SIU, Tilden “Tim” Parks (a ’76 Saluki alumnus) has a little streak of his own going on.

In fact, Parks just might own the record for the longest streak in sports ever – by a fan, at least. Parks officially started keeping track of his Saluki sports attendance in 1978, and he’s proud to share that, to date, his unblemished attendance streak stands at 207 home football games and 519 men’s home basketball games. That’s no misses for 38 years. When this streak began, Jimmy Carter was president of our country – and gasoline sold for less than 85 cents a gallon.

“Believe me, there were a few times I didn’t think I was going to make it, with a couple of ice and snow storms we had throughout the years,” he said. “But I’ve always had a passion for sports, and for SIU.”

“One of my favorite memories was when the SIU football team won the Division 1-AA championship in 1983. That season, students took down the goalposts at McAndrew Stadium and carried them down Illinois Avenue.”

Over the last five decades, Parks has seen such greats as Joe Meriweather, Mike Glenn, Ashraf Amaya and Darren Brooks grace the basketball court at SIU Arena. In the SIU football stadium, he has witnessed such Saluki football legends as Brandon Jacobs, an NFL running back for the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers; Deji Karim, a running back who played for four NFL teams; Carl Mauck, a former NFL player and NFL coach; Bart Scott, an NFL linebacker; Sam Silas, a former NFL lineman; and Terry Lee Taylor, another former NFL player.

“I remember my dad bringing me to my first SIU basketball game back when I was in eighth grade,” he said. “From then on, I was hooked – on basketball, football and on SIU.”

Parks graduated from John A. Logan College in 1973, then transferred to SIU and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1976.

“The country was going through an interesting time during the 1970s, what with the Vietnam War and Kent State,” he said. “It was a great time to feel as if I was making a difference.”

It was Parks’ parents, especially his father, who encouraged him to go to school. As a first-generation student, Parks saw how hard his father worked. The senior Parks quit school in seventh grade at age 12 to go to work as a timber cutter. He also bought his first animal, a hog, for $15 when he was 12 years old. Park’s uncle was a cattle trader, which intrigued him, and he eventually became one of the most successful cattle brokers in Illinois. Like his father, Parks is extremely generous, philanthropic and quick to help people in need.

Parks recently established several memorial scholarships in honor of his parents. These scholarships are dedicated to helping student workers at Morris Library, the School of Journalism and Animal Science – and, of course, the Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund.

So the next time you’re at a Saluki football or men’s basketball game, cup your hands and yell as loud as you can, “Are you here, Tim Parks?”

We know what the answer will be.

Hannah Sweitzer wins ID photo contest

Hannah Sweitzer wins ID photo contest

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Hannah K. Sweitzer’s photo of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s iconic Paul and Virginia statue is the winner of the Student Center’s recent SIU ID Photo Contest.

Sweitzer, of South Wilmington, captured the fountain’s water dripping from the whimsical couple’s umbrella with stately Shryock Auditorium as a backdrop. The original statue was donated to the university by the Class of 1887 and moved to Stone Center after Old Main burned in 1969. A duplicate, cast in bronze, was placed back in the original location and it has stood there for nearly a half-century.

The class of 1965 decided in 2015 it wanted to make a lasting contribution to the university and led a fundraising effort to pay for a long-needed restoration of the bronze statue. Consideration was originally given to restoring and reinstalling the original statue but that wasn’t feasible. The 1970s bronze statue was refurbished by a sculptor and extensive renovation, tuck pointing and repairs of the fountain were undertaken. A recirculating pump and lighting were added.

The vast majority of the approximately $57,000 in funding for the two-fold project came from the Class of 1965 with support and labor provided by Plant and Service Operations, according to Brad Dillard, director of Plant and Service Operations. The project, completed on time and on budget, has enhanced the appearance and energy efficiency of the statue and fountain while preserving it for future Salukis to enjoy, officials said.

The project includes restoration of the Class of 1887 sculpture as well. A sculptor is currently working on that statue and it will return to Stone Center when the restoration is complete.

Sweitzer, a senior speech communication major, received a $100 University Bookstore gift certificate as her prize for submitting the winning photo. The Paul and Virginia statue photo will appear on all official campus ID cards issued after Jan. 17, 2017.

Students submitted nearly 150 scenic campus photos via Instagram or email for the competition.

Students to Donors: Thanks

Alex McVicker, SIU pre-med student, visits with donor, Mary Rendleman.

Alex McVicker, SIU pre-med student, visits with donor, Mary Rendleman.

Some of SIU’s best and brightest students attended SIU’s third annual SIU Academic Scholarship Brunch Oct. 29 at the SIU Student Center Ballrooms. More than 375 students came dressed in their finest for the early-morning event to say thanks to their donors.

SIU staff welcomed the students and the 116 donors who traveled to attend the scholarship brunch from locales such as California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and North Carolina. Vice Chancellor Jim Salmo kicked off the program by introducing Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell and Roger Tedrick, president of the SIU Foundation, who both gave a warm welcome to the 500 attendees.

Donors Marsha and Gary Bertrand, longtime supporters of SIU, then addressed the room by sharing their story of how they were raised in a modest, small Illinois farming community, and how SIU provided Marsha Bertrand with the foundation necessary to become successful writer. The couple shared their commitment to supporting young people in similar circumstances through gifts to SIU.

Avona Greene, a third-year SIU health care management major with a 4.0 grade point average, spoke on behalf of all the student recipients. Her speech eloquently described how the scholarships she received influenced her educational experience at SIU, and how important it is to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

“This is probably the most enthusiastically attended event on campus,” Salmo said. “Scholarship donors enjoy meeting their student recipients, hearing about their goals and establishing a relationship. Each student has a unique story to tell – and the donors have an impact on that story. It’s a great connection.”

Alex McVicker, a senior in the SIU pre-med program, attended the brunch as a recipient of the Dr. David and Mary G. Rendleman Pre-Med Scholarship. The scholarship’s surviving benefactor, Mary Rendleman, was not able to attend the brunch, so McVicker decided to say thanks in person after the event.

Arriving at Rendleman’s Carbondale home after the program, McVicker brought Rendleman a card and flowers.

“I just wanted to express my thanks to her in person,” McVicker said. “This is the fourth year I have received this scholarship, and I never had the opportunity to meet her face to face. I wanted to let her know how much this opportunity has meant to me.”

Rendleman was similarly touched by McVicker’s visit.

“Meeting Alex and hearing about her plans was so refreshing,” Rendleman said. “Alex is a promising young woman who has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She also has a desire to someday serve as a physician in rural Illinois, which is exactly the type of student Dr. Rendleman envisioned when he created this scholarship. The way she delivered her thanks made me feel wonderful. I won’t ever forget her appreciation.”

The scholarship brunch was a wonderful opportunity for scholarship recipients to meet the generous donors who have helped them pay for their college education. Recipients were able to see that the names on their scholarships are people just like themselves who have a love of education – and a love for SIU, too.