Challenging Alumni to Make a Difference

Interim SIU System President Kevin Dorsey

By Rebecca Renshaw

Note: Since the publication of this article, Dr. Kevin Dorsey has assumed the role of interim president for the SIU system as of July 30, 2018.

If you talk to Dr. Kevin Dorsey for more than a few minutes, you’ll recognize that his life passion is reflected within the mission of SIU School of Medicine, which he led for 14 years. That mission is “to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health care needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community.”

Dorsey, who has been with the school since the early 1970s, says it was founded to improve the health of central and southern Illinois residents.

“We recruit and admit students from those regions, educate them and hope that, after they complete their training, they will return back to central or southern Illinois because the people in those areas need physicians,” he says.

Dorsey’s other commitment is to total community health.

“I’m pretty passionate about community health and service,” he says. “It’s just not enough to create physicians to go back to our Illinois communities. We must get out into the community to improve poverty and education and housing. Social determinants of health are critically important.”

He says the new generation of doctors will make a difference.

“Our students are great,” he says. “They are more committed to social justice, they have a strong conscience and they want to do good in the world. We need to enable their success, which is why I decided to initiate the SIU School of Medicine ‘Alumni Class Challenge.’ ”

As his parting act as dean and provost of the School of Medicine, Dorsey issued an SIU School of Medicine “Alumni Class Challenge” in 2015. He challenged each class to collectively raise at least $25,000 to endow a scholarship in honor of their class. Matching grant funds totaling $500,000 would be available to double the gifts or pledges received by Dec. 31, 2015.

The result was a resounding success. Most notably, gifts in honor of Dorsey’s leadership established the J. Kevin Dorsey Endowed Scholarship. This is the School of Medicine’s largest endowed scholarship fund, and it will assist several students each year for generations to come.

The need for the scholarships might be a surprise to some, but not to Dorsey.

“One thing you must understand about our students is that, coming from central and southern Illinois, they are in the lower parental income brackets,” he says. “However, medical students across the nation tend to be from the top 20 percent in parental income.

“When you look at the average indebtedness of an SIU School of Medicine graduate, he or she comes out with an average accrual of roughly $180,000 in debt. That figure is significantly higher compared to other medical schools that can offer huge scholarships to students. The Alumni Class Challenge will help more students with more scholarships to assist them in their medical studies.”

Dorsey came to SIU School of Medicine as one of its founding faculty members, arriving with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and teaching the first two classes in the school’s history. Dorsey then became a student in the third class and obtained an M.D. degree from SIU. He completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in rheumatology at the University of Iowa before returning to southern Illinois to practice rheumatology.

“While I had obtained a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin and a postdoctoral fellowship in cell biology at Johns Hopkins a few years before, I recognized that a career in bench research just wasn’t going to do it for me,” he says. “I wanted to directly and immediately make a difference in people’s lives.”

As the end of his tenure as dean and provost in December 2015, more than 2,600 medical students had graduated from the School of Medicine.

The school offers an M.D., a master’s degree and doctoral degree in various biomedical sciences, including a master’s degree for physician assistant students, as well as advanced training in clinical specialties (17 residencies and 13 fellowships). There also is a small number of SIU students each year who pursue combined degree programs in law and medicine, or in medicine and public health.

When asked what he wants his legacy to be, his answer is simple: “I tried to fulfill the mission.”

Reflecting on his parting gift as dean and how others could contribute, Dorsey says, “Whatever anyone can contribute – whether it is time, talent or resources – all of it is valuable and important.”

Donations to SIU Carbondale increase by 25 percent

SIU Pulliam Clocktower

Donors contributed more than $25.2 million last year to support Southern Illinois University Carbondale students and programs, a 25 percent increase over the previous year, according to SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.

“Our alumni and friends believe in SIU, and they are coming together to advance the university,” Montemagno said. “Their investment in our students and our future is incredibly important. On behalf of the entire campus community, I thank all donors for their support and confidence as we move forward to fulfill our vision for the university.

“These gifts support scholarships for SIU students, equipment for laboratories, library resources, positions for outstanding faculty and much, much more,” Montemagno added. “Many students wouldn’t be able to attend SIU – or benefit from all we offer — without the generosity of our alumni and friends. Donors make the difference.”

All of the gifts and pledges were made between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.

More than $15 million of the total came in the form of cash and other gifts that can have an immediate impact, said Jim Salmo, the foundation’s chief executive officer. The balance includes pledges for the future. For example, many donors make a commitment to include SIU in their estate plans, he said.

“All gifts — large and small — are important and valued,” Salmo said. “Donors have a lot of options in the ways they can structure a gift to serve a cause that is important to them – whether it’s paying it forward with a scholarship or investing in student and faculty research or academic facilities.”

SIU is in the midst of a three-year, $75 million fundraising initiative called “Forever SIU: The Campaign for Students.” To date, the campaign has raised more than $60 million.

To learn more about the campaign, visit www.foreversiu.org or call 618-453-4900.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Otilia Santiago

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Otilia Santiago

Otilia Santiago is a sophomore from Chicago studying Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Science. She is a Harold and Nora Kuehn Animal Science Scholarship, SIU Dean’s Scholarship, and Kloth Scholarship recipient.

Why did you choose SIU?
SIU has a pre-veterinary program and a wonderful campus.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I love the idea of being able to work with animals, while also expanding my knowledge about them.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
When i first walked on campus and went through Thompson’s Woods. I saw two falcons. I had never seen these type of birds in the wild before and they we perched on a branch very close to the path on the tour.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I brag that SIU is a beautiful university, with a great College of Agricultural Sciences and a wonderful campus.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
It made paying for college a lot easier. I am to focus in class instead of thinking about money.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Donating to SIU helps students achieve their goals when they otherwise may not be able to.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would like to see $1,000 benefit to the university farms, so more students could get hands-on experience working with animals.

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Impact of scholarships featured at annual luncheon

In February, a group of donors and students gathered for the 2018 SIU Academic Scholarship Lunch. Dozens of scholarship recipients were given the chance to meet and thank the very people who made their scholarships possible.

“It’s amazing to see people who were able to be successful come back and give to people and help them be successful, as well,” said scholarship recipient Jacob Trammel. “I can’t express how thankful I am.”

Dr. Marsha Ryan, a member of the SIU Board of Trustees and scholarship sponsor, addressed the crowd during the annual event.

“What truly matters in our communities and at this university are the people we make of ourselves and the people we assist in the making of themselves,” she said. “The nice thing about SIU is that it’s a wonderful place to do both.”

Scholarship recipients Abbie Spiwak and Saikrishna Balasubramanian spoke about the significance of financial assistance and how they hope to make a long-term impact.
“The thing I’ve had in my mind since starting school and wanting to be a dietitian is to help other people,” Spiwak said.

“What this scholarship has enabled me to do is really achieve my dreams, and I hope to give back to other students someday,” Balasubramanian said.

Forever SIU campaign co-chair Dan Korte said students need support because they are the future.

“These young people are going to change the world and help propel the future that we depend on,” he said.

To make a gift, visit www.siuf.org/giving.

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Giving made simple

Ways to give to SIU Foundation

For SIU to continue to fulfill its mission of excellence in teaching, research and service, the university relies on private support from individuals and organizations sharing its commitment to students.

The SIU Foundation offers a number of ways to maximize your gift.

Real and Personal Property
Gifts of real or personal property, also known as gifts-in-kind, can enhance the mission of the university.

Gifts-in-kind may include a personal residence, farm equipment, artwork, rare books and other property that has a determinable value. The Internal Revenue Service has established rules for valuing these gifts, and the foundation reviews them prior to acceptance.

Annual Gifts
Each year, annual gifts contributed by alumni and friends of the university help provide scholarships to students, in addition to funding for research efforts, equipment and other needs.

The annual giving campaign is an excellent opportunity for alumni to maintain close contact with their colleges or departments.

Your annual support plays an essential role in ensuring SIU students and faculty have the best resources available to pursue their academic endeavors. Any kind of private support is crucial and will have a positive impact on the university.

Endowments
An endowment is a great way to ensure your gift has a noticeable, lasting effect on those it benefits.

Contributions can be made in the form of cash, securities, life insurance or real estate. An endowment also can be established through a will or charitable trust.

Each donor has the option of endowing a chair, professorship, visiting lecturer, faculty fellowship, graduate fellowship, scholarship or facility. The minimum amount necessary to create an endowment is $25,000 (payable over a period of up to five years).

IRA Gifts
An IRA charitable rollover is an effective way to help SIU advance its mission.

Plus, the financial benefits to each donor are significant. You can:

  • Avoid taxes on transfers of up to $100,000 from an IRA to the foundation.
  • Satisfy the required minimum distribution for the year.
  • Reduce taxable income, even without itemizing deductions.
  • Make a gift that is not subject to the 50 percent deduction limits on charitable gifts.

Contact your IRA plan administrator, and the funds can be directly transferred to the foundation.

Corporate Gifts
Gifts from corporations and foundations can play a significant role when it comes to serving students. Whether you are part of a large global company or a local business, a partnership with SIU can be mutually beneficial.

Becoming involved with the university in this fashion can assist in the recruitment of SIU’s top students, and in internships, research opportunities and exposure during campus events.

What Next?
All of this information, and the necessary forms, can be found here.

For more information, call 618-453-4900.

 

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Corey Albrecht

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Corey Albrecht

Corey Albrecht is a senior from Algonquin, Illinois, studying civil engineering. He is a recipient of the SIU Dean’s Scholarship, SIU College of Engineering Scholarship and Waldemar J. Klasing Foundation Scholarship.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because of the quality of the College of Engineering, the beautiful campus and region, the low cost of tuition, the scholarship opportunities, the proximity and ease of transportation to the Chicago suburbs and the dedication that students appeared to have on campus visits.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I had always been good at math and science classes in high school, and I always had an interest in the structure of buildings and bridges.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
My most memorable experience at SIU was probably the scholarship luncheon this year. It was inspiring to see so many generous donors, hardworking students, SIU faculty and administration coming together to celebrate the successes of the university. It was basically all of the great components of SIU coming together to meet each other for a great meal and presentation. I really enjoyed the interaction with donors.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I mostly brag about how beautiful the campus and region is, the weather here compared to northern Illinois, the outstanding professors in our civil engineering program and our sports teams when they are doing well.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
Scholarships have relieved a significant amount of financial stress from my life. This has allowed me to focus more on my courses and RSOs, and it has motivated me to perform better in my courses. It has also impacted my family and relieved financial stress from them, which is very important to me.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Donors, in my opinion, are probably the most important contributors to the health and strength of SIU. Scholarships assist in growing enrollment, give opportunities to students who would not be able to afford college and are role models for SIU students. Seeing individuals and couples who graduated from SIU and became successful motivates me and other students that one day we can accomplish the same level of success. Donors are role models to students and allows students to accomplish more with their help. This results in better students graduating from SIU and a higher quality alumni base.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would like to see that money benefit the RSOs in engineering. From working with and being a part of Steel Bridge Team and ASCE, and seeing students in Baja and Robotics, Engineering RSOs consist of some of the brightest, most dedicated and hard-working students at this university. Engineering RSOs are essential for students obtaining hands-on experience in their field.

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The ripple effect

The Ralph E. Becker Boat House and Pavilion Dedication

Ralph E. Becker, third from left, joins university officials to open the renovated Ralph E. Becker Boathouse Pavilion.

It all started with a phone call in August 2016.

“I can remember it clearly,” said Jim Salmo, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations. “The phone rang and it was Ralph Becker, a 1955 SIU alumnus, pioneer of SIU’s radio-television program, and loyal donor. He called to challenge me with a $1 million donation that would make a difference on campus.”

Salmo presented Becker with several projects, and Becker chose the Campus Boathouse. As the renovations began, the SIU plant and service operations crew set up a camera so Becker, who lives in North Carolina, could watch the renovation progress.

Fast forward 18 months to April 28, when the SIU Foundation dedicated the newly renovated Ralph E. Becker Boathouse Pavilion. Hundreds came to attend the ceremony, and many lingered to offer Becker a heartfelt thanks and to share their memories of what the boathouse meant to them.

Sally Wright waited in line to share a memory. When she reached Becker, she said, “I just want to thank you for restoring the boathouse. My husband Mike and I were married here. This year will mark our 31st wedding anniversary. This place has some unforgettable memories for us and I just want to thank you for your generosity.”

Troy Vaughn, recreational sports and services director, believes the renovated boathouse will reenergize both students and the community.

“This brings an incredible amount of energy to the campus,” he said. “So many units came together to make it a reality. It was just an incredible team effort.

“Students are going to have a blast here,” Vaughn added. “The diversity of events is going to be amazing. Biology professors can hold classes here, student organizations can meet at the boathouse, and community members can rent it for a variety of events. We even hope to host weddings here again.”

In remarks made at the ceremony, SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno said, “The Becker Boathouse is a transformative gift that symbolizes the resurgence of SIU and its prominence as the bright maroon jewel in the crown of Illinois higher education.”

Becker summed up the celebration. “This is absolutely terrific. I never expected the university to go to this extreme,” he said. “Everything I ever accomplished started right here at SIU Carbondale. Seeing this, and all of the people who came out, I believe this is the best day of my life.”

“The campus lake restoration and the boathouse renovation are the two most uplifting projects we have promoted this past year … they just bring back good memories for people,” Salmo said.

 

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Scholarship, atmosphere enhance student’s Saluki experience

SIU Scholarship Recipient Nyah Addison

It didn’t take long for Nyah Addison to feel a deep connection to SIU.

“The main reason I came to SIU was the community,” she said. “My mom’s best friend went to SIU. The alumni are wonderful. It’s a family-type of feeling.”

A business student from Chicago, Nyah received the University Excellence Scholarship. It is available to academically high-achieving high school students who have demonstrated leadership skills.

The financial assistance played an integral role in her decision to attend SIU and decreased the stress that comes with making such an important life decision.

“The scholarship was the tip over the edge for me coming here,” she said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t put too much on myself as far as loans are concerned. Without the scholarship, I probably wouldn’t be here.”

Before learning about the scholarship, Nyah considered attending a community college, but she’s thankful for the opportunity to be on a university campus and enjoy all the benefits it provides.

“Community college is OK, but this is a completely different atmosphere here,” she said. “I’m actually able to be on campus, be around the alumni and my peers. The scholarship was a big help to me, and I know it’s a big help for others.”

While scholarships can help attract prospective students to the university, Nyah said it’s the Saluki experience that makes the time here special.

“The community is great,” she said. “Everybody is really helpful, really nice. My overall experience has been great. I really enjoy that community feeling.”

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Campaign Update: A Goal Within Reach

Forever SIU campaign goal is $75 million and we have currently raised $60 million. (80 percent)

SIU Carbondale launched the Forever SIU at the beginning of January 2017 with a goal of $75 million. Thanks to the generosity of many donors during the past year and a half, 80 percent of the goal has already been achieved, according to campaign co-chair Dan Korte, a 1985 SIU alumnus.

“It’s a great place to be at this point in the campaign, but the public phase of any campaign can be more challenging because it requires a greater number of people to make many smaller gifts,” said Korte.

“That’s why we need the help of all loyal Saluki donors now more than ever, because in the increasingly competitive world of higher education, this campaign is vital to ensuring that SIU Carbondale will continue to be a university that future generations of students want to attend.”

As attendees learned at last year’s public kickoff event, the campaign goals include increased scholarships for students, provide expanded opportunities in the classroom, enhance facilities and resources, and offer a deeper community engagement.

As of April 30, 2018, approximately 30,000 gifts have been received for the $60,616,889, or 80 percent of the $75 million goal, according to Jim Salmo, chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation.

“Support from alumni has made a major impact in the early success of the Forever SIU campaign. More than 57 percent of all donations have come from alumni. More than 27 percent have come from other friends of the university,” said Salmo.

Salmo urges donors to connect with the foundation staff members to identify the many different opportunities to make a gift.

“Many alumni mistakenly think we are looking for only large donations, but that is just not true,” said Salmo. “We offer a number of ways to make donations of all sizes, from matching gifts, to securities, or to honor loved ones.”

To learn more about the campaign, visit www.foreversiu.org or call 618-453-4900.

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Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Esmeralda Valerio

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Esmeralda Valerio

Esmeralda Valerio is a junior from Chicago studying social work. She is a Harvey and Trish Welch Scholarship recipient.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because it felt like home. I felt I could make some sort of impact on this campus and I am glad I have. I’m making my impact by working with New Student Programs.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
Having to work with other social workers growing up.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
Being part of the New Student Orientation as a team lead.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I brag about how proud I am to be a leader on campus through our New Student Programs office.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
This scholarship helped me have peace of mind to not worry about my current financial struggles. The $1000 I received really did make a huge difference.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Because our students have heart, they are passionate for their institution and what SIU does to impact its students.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would use it to create a scholarship for first generation Latinx students who struggle with physical or mental disabilities.

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