Cohen, design department founder, made lasting mark on SIU

Harold Cohen, founder of SIU School of Design

By Jeff Wilson

Harold Cohen had a tremendous impact on SIU. He founded the design department, was responsible for bringing Buckminster Fuller to Carbondale and left the SIU Foundation with one of its most profitable patents.

During this year’s Design Days, Cohen brought something else to the university – a message of inspiration and a call to action.

Recruited by Burnett H. Shryock, the first dean of the School of Fine Arts, Cohen came to SIU in 1955. The decision to bring Cohen on board was ultimately made by President Delyte Morris.

Cohen accepted a position at SIU saying he wanted the university to have a design department separate from art. He wanted students to feel empowered and unafraid of failure.

“The university is a greenhouse,” he said April 7 in Morris Library’s Guyon Auditorium. “There are many seeds that can grow.”

When he first arrived at SIU, he had no office. So, he set up shop in a broken women’s bathroom in Allyn Hall. Still, it wasn’t long before he earned the trust of President Morris and urged him to hire Fuller as a research professor.

Cohen was instrumental in connecting other notable artists and designers, such as Ray and Charles Eames, Josef Albers, Kenneth Snelson, Harry Callahan and Chermayeff, to the university.

While at SIU, Cohen designed housing, modular buildings and furniture. He also directed the Experiment in Higher Education project and started many influential design courses.

Before leaving the university in the mid-1960s, Cohen planted a seed of his own. He, along with Isaac Shechmeister, were awarded a patent for a disposable animal cage. This patent went on to be one of the foundation’s most profitable.

Now 92 years old, Cohen passed bits of wisdom from his experiences, both in teaching and life.

“Design is a process of thinking, a very powerful method of thinking,” he said. “We are great manipulators of the Earth’s resources. You have to recognize your own creativity.”

Cohen went on to teach at John Hopkins University and the Institute of Behavioral Research in Maryland and was later the dean of the School of Architectural Planning and Design at the University of Buffalo, The State University of New York.



Lighting the Way: Crowdfunding makes LED project possible

Sharon Youck - SIU College of Agricultural Sciences student

By Rebecca Renshaw

We often share stories of donors giving to the university, or of gifts received for specific initiatives, but rarely do we hear stories of the impact those gifts make upon students.

This is one of those rare times.

With the first successful SIU crowdfunding venture for the College of Agricultural Sciences LED lights, the 32 donors who generously gave between $10 and $450 (with a total amount of just over $3,000) can now hear “the rest of the story” – and discover how their donations improved students’ learning environments.

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences LED Room

On March 31, 2017, the College of Agricultural Sciences held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its LED light green space. Sharon Youck, a senior who will graduate with a plant and soil sciences degree in May, beamed with excitement as she explained her independent study.

“These lights make a world of difference in my plant and soil sciences independent study,” she said. “In two weeks I can already see the positive effects the LED lights are having on these plants.”

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences LED Room

Youck also explained one of the many reasons why these LED lights are so important not only to her, but to other students as well.

“One of the required courses in greenhouse management requires students to memorize between 150 and 200 types of perennial plants,” she said. “With existing greenhouses in disrepair, students had to travel to the University Farms greenhouse, located on the edge of campus, to visit the perennial plants located there. With limited time and limited access to vehicles, this made it difficult for students to study for their required classes.

“Now they can stop in room 169 in the College of Agriculture Services building and learn about the variety of perennials on display. It makes such a huge difference.”

SIU College of Agricultural Sciences LED Room

Youck plans to work after graduation with C.H. Robinson Worldwide as a carrier representative. She hopes to someday work for a fresh produce company, helping to increase yields, map forecasts, and eliminate pests and diseases.

When asked what she has found most surprising in her studies, she said she did not realize how many variables – and how many people – it takes to get an apple on the shelf at the grocery store.

“I have a greater appreciation for the farmers and the food producers who work to get food products to the public,” she said. “SIU has taught me all of that.”

If you would like to fund your passion at SIU, please visit to see the many new projects that need your help.

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.”

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Stella Uzoewulu

SIU Scholarship Recipient Stella Uzoewulu

Stella Uzoewulu is a freshman pre-medicine student specializing in physiology with plans of becoming a pediatrician.

Why did you choose SIU? I came to Southern Illinois University because it had an amazing science and research program. I knew that SIU would be able to prepare me for medical school and for life after college.

How did you feel when you received notification that you received the scholarship? I felt incredibly honored to receive this scholarship because any money that can help me further my education is greatly appreciated by me and my family.

What does the scholarship mean to you and how has it enabled you to pursue your goals? Growing up in a low income, single parent household, I was always taught from an early age that money was important and but always scarce. This scholarship shows me that through hard work and dedication, you can achieve your goals. With this scholarship, my mother now has one less thing to worry about and can relax a little. It has also enabled me to remain at SIU and has further encouraged me to never give up on my goals for the future.

What inspired you to choose your area of study? I want to become a pediatrician because I know that children in low income families don’t always receive medical care. I want to work with these children in low income areas and give them access the care they need.

Do you have a message you would like shared with your donor? I would love to thank everyone who has made this scholarship possible. It is an honor to be given this scholarship. My family and I are very grateful.

Hear more from scholarship donors and recipients from our SIU Academic Scholarship Brunch in this video.

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.”

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Hannah Dhom

SIU Scholarship Recipient Hannah Dhom

Hannah Dhom is a senior studying civil engineering with an environmental specialization

Why did you choose SIU? I chose SIU because of close proximity to family and home. It is a beautiful location with numerous academic opportunities.

How did you feel when you received notification that you received the scholarship? I was overwhelmed with joy! I may have done some dancing after opening and reading the contents of the envelope. Then I called my mom with the great news!

What does the scholarship mean to you and how has it enabled you to pursue your goals? It means more than any dollar amount. This scholarship means continuing a dream I have long awaited to reach and surpass. And with the help of such generosity, I am now just over a year within reach of that dream!

What inspired you to choose your area of study? Music has been the thing I have devoted my life to. I have been studying since I was 8 and put in hard work for 10 years. I had been unsure of my major until halfway through my senior year. I had been told by professors at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp that music could be a possible career choice for me. During my freshman session at the academy, I outperformed 57 other percussionists and was awarded the top spot.

What achievement in your life are you most proud of? It’s a pretty simple answer. I love math and the environment!

Do you have a message you would like shared with your donor?
Joan and Roy,

I am beyond thrilled that I got to meet the two wonderful people who personally created the scholarship I received. One of the greatest impacts of my college career was an unexpected contribution from two people I had never known. Receiving this scholarship is one of the kindest, most endearing acts I have ever experienced! A huge heartfelt thanks is always sent your way.

Yours truly,
Hannah Dhom

Hear more from scholarship donors and recipients from our SIU Academic Scholarship Brunch in this video.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Luke Shaffer

SIU Scholarship Recipient Luke ShafferLuke Shaffer is a freshman from Michigan studying music education.

Why did you choose SIU? I had a wide college search of universities in the Midwest. I wanted a public 4-year university with my program of study, Division I sports programs and a marching band. Part of me wanted to move states, and still have a campus I could call home. When I visited SIU as a guest of the Marching Salukis for a football game, I instantly saw myself as a Saluki. I loved campus, including the music buildings Altgeld Hall and Shryock Auditorium. I also liked that SIU is a big enough school to be Division I, but not so big that it seemingly swallows me. Being from Michigan, I don’t think of myself as an Illinoisan but I am, without a doubt, a Saluki.

How did you feel when you received notification that you received the scholarship? I was very relieved. Money was an issue for me going to school. I’m very glad I got the assistance I needed. Even though I still need to budget and watch my finances carefully, the scholarship gives me the boost I need to be able to have a zero balance every semester.

What does the scholarship mean to you and how has it enabled you to pursue your goals? It means I’m able to go to college. I’m not sure I would be at a Division I school like I wanted if I had not received this scholarship. Without my college degree, I could not be able to pursue my goal of being a music educator.

What inspired you to choose your area of study? Music has been the thing I have devoted my life to. I have been studying since I was 8 and put in hard work for 10 years. I had been unsure of my major until halfway through my senior year. I had been told by professors at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp that music could be a possible career choice for me. During my freshman session at the academy, I outperformed 57 other percussionists and was awarded the top spot.

What achievement in your life are you most proud of? I’m most proud of my acceptance letter from SIU School of Music. I had put my whole life into music and in that letter saw the possibility of making music for the rest of my life. The letter was the doorway from “before college” to get to “after college”.

Do you have a message you would like shared with your donor? Thank you so much for not only creating the scholarship to help college students in need but also for choosing me to receive it. It warms my heart to know that somebody believes in me and thinks that what I’m pursuing is worthwhile.

Hear more from scholarship donors and recipients from our SIU Academic Scholarship Brunch in this video.

SIU Day of Giving – Open the door to opportunity at SIU Morris Library

SIU Day of Giving – Open the door to opportunity at SIU Morris Library

Kevin Pamu is a graduate student from Hyderabad, India. He is specializing in Computer Science and is a graduate assistant at Morris Library.

Why did you choose SIU? SIU has a great program for computer science. The research that was being done in the field of computer science on campus really impressed me. The campus looked amazing, great infrastructure, and when I heard about scholarships that were offered to students who performed well, I did not look any further.

What inspired you to choose your area of study? I have always been a geek. I was an inquisitive kid. I was introduced to computers at a young age and every time I explored the possibilities this box of electronic equipment offered, I was drawn deeper into the world of computer science. Microsoft Paint was like magic when I first used the application, but what had me hooked was how it was able to do it. I guess it was that inquisitive nature in me that grew my love for computers and inspired me to choose this as my area of study.

What achievement in your life are you most proud of? I am proud of where I am right now at this moment. It wasn’t an easy task to be at SIU as a graduate student. I had to take a lot of tests, score well enough to be accepted into this university, followed by the VISA interviews. I was blessed with some great student worker jobs, a graduate assistantship and loads of amazing friends. I am happy and proud of the place I am right now.

Why should someone consider donating to Morris Library? Morris Library caters to multiple needs of students at SIU. Books, yes! We know it has over 2.6 million volumes which are an endless resource of knowledge. It is a great place for group study, with study areas that are spacious and study rooms available for all students for that important group study session before the exam. If you had a hard day at school, Morris Library is a great place to grab a cup of coffee and take a break. The students need a place like Morris Library. I know all of this comes at a cost and I know every student at SIU is grateful to everyone who help keep this place running and making it a better place than it already is.

How has Morris Library been a part of your experience as an SIU student? I was lucky enough to be given a student worker job at Library Systems my very first semester at SIU and still work here. Since I worked here all my time at SIU, it has been a huge part of my experience as a student. I had the opportunity to meet and know a lot of students, staff, and administration. I understood it is not as easy as it looks to run this place, there is so much going on behind the scenes to manage everything that goes on in the library. I admire how all the departments at the library work with each other to provide the best they can to the students at SIU. I am happy I was given the opportunity to add my tiny bit to it. I love this place and I am sure I will miss working and being here.

Do you have a message you would like shared with a potential donor? Morris Library is a place where every student is given the opportunity to search, study, evaluate and innovate. It is an amazing place for students to meet for group studies, connect and collaborate. There is so much Morris Library has to offer to students with various needs. I personally benefited so much from this facility and I know there are thousands more like me. Every donation made to Morris Library, I know would be another brick in keeping its foundation strong so more students can begin to build themselves up.

If you had $1,000 to donate to the Morris Library, what would you like to see that money benefit? I would probably donate the money to maintain and service the electronic equipment at Morris Library. Since I work with Library Systems, I know how much students depend on the computers, classrooms, and printers. There are a lot of these electronic equipment that needs to be either repaired or serviced and we do not have the funds to work on them at the moment. There are several departments at Morris Library that stop functioning efficiently if one of their electronic equipment fails. Hence, I would donate the $1,000 to Library Systems.

You can support SIU Morris Library during SIU Day of Giving on Wednesday, March 1:

SIU Day of Giving: Open the door to opportunity at Saluki Athletics

SIU Day of Giving: Open the door to opportunity at Saluki Athletics

Saluki athletics has been a tradition on the campus of SIU Carbondale for a long time.  SIU sponsors eight men’s and eight women’s teams in NCAA sanctioned sports.  The Salukis currently compete as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, with the exception of the men’s swimming and diving team who compete in the Mid-American Conference.  The men’s teams consist of baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, swimming & diving, tennis, and track & field.  Women’s teams consist of basketball, cross country, golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.  Throughout the history of SIU athletics there have been 50 past students compete in the Olympic Games.

SIU athletics takes pride in a long tradition of producing not only great athletes but great minds.  During the 2015-2016 academic year, our student athletes combined to earn a GPA of 3.193.  In the spring of 2016, 64 student-athletes recorded a perfect 4.00 GPA while 68 percent recorded a GPA of 3.00 or better.

Your contribution is an investment in our student-athletes and their success.  We are thankful for your generosity.

You can support Saluki Athletics during SIU Day of Giving on Wednesday, March 1: