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Saluki Takeover Tour comes to Nashville

By Jeff Wilson

NASHVILLE – Salukis are everywhere, and the leadership at SIU is out to engage as many of them as possible.

The latest stop for the Saluki Takeover Tour was Nashville, Tennessee. After a week’s worth of meetings at seven high schools and Nashville State Community College, the week was capped with two events with Nashville-area alumni and a Saluki Women’s Basketball game against Belmont.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, the SIU Alumni Association hosted an event at Bakersfield, a restaurant in downtown Nashville. Alumni gathered to share stories and enjoy light appetizers and drinks.

Chancellor Austin Lane holds microphone and addresses the crowd at the Saluki Takeover Tour Nashville Chancellor's Reception.

The keystone event for the Saluki Takeover Tour in Nashville was the Chancellor’s Reception at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint on Sunday, Jan. 22. More than 60 alumni and friends enjoyed food and drinks as they celebrated Saluki spirit and prepared for the women’s basketball game that afternoon.

“We’re rolling out the red carpet for our alumni,” Chancellor Austin Lane said. “That’s what this is all about, connecting with Salukis all over the place.”

Coach Bond-White holds microphone speaks to attendees of the Chancellor's Reception.The group was joined by many university leaders and a guest appearance by Saluki Women’s Basketball coach Kelly Bond-White. Chancellor Lane emphasized the importance SIU alumni play in the university’s goal of raising enrollment and fulfilling the goals of the Imagine 2030 strategic plan.

“We need our alumni to spread the word about SIU,” he said. “I knew Dawgs were here, and we’re going to be in your backyard recruiting like crazy.”

After the event, dozens of the guests headed to the Curb Event Center Arena to watch the Salukis take on Belmont. While the game didn’t go in SIU’s favor, the weekend was a wonderful way for alumni and friends to connect with the university.

More to come

The SIU Foundation and SIU Alumni Association have hosted Saluki Takeover Tour events in Chicago and St. Louis. With Nashville now added to the rotation, there’s no sign of slowing down. Next on the calendar is the Saluki Takeover Tour in Florida, which is set for Feb. 15-17, and a return to St. Louis during the MVC Tournament, March 2-5.

“These events are how SIU plants its flag in the ground and let’s everyone know that Saluki country is all around,” said Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation.

The Florida takeover will take place in three cities – The Villages, Tampa, and Naples. The schedule is as follows:

  • 5 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15, Savannah Recreation facility, The Villages
  • Noon, Thursday, Feb. 16, Seasons 52 restaurant, Tampa
  • 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17, Naples Yacht Club, Naples

For the St. Louis takeover tour, the Chancellor’s Reception will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at the Loews Hilton. More events will be added to the St. Louis event, so be on the lookout for more information as it becomes available.

McPheeters Makes $1M Gift to College of Business and Analytics

Lynn McPheetersAs one of SIU’s most resolute benefactors, F. Lynn McPheeters has left an impression on the university he credits with setting him up for success.

During a recent SIU Foundation Board of Trustees meeting, McPheeters, an emeritus member of the board, announced a $1 million estate gift. It will supplement the existing McPheeters Family Scholarship Endowment and establish the F. Lynn McPheeters Chair of Finance Endowment Fund in the College of Business and Analytics.

McPheeters, a 1964 graduate, donated $1 million in 2017, which provides scholarships for first-generation COBA students who are from Illinois counties south of Interstate 80, with preference given to those majoring in finance or accounting.

“I was able to complete my degree because of campus work opportunities and scholarship money,” McPheeters said. “In order to assure that future Salukis have that type of opportunity, a few years ago I established the McPheeters Family Scholarship Endowment.”

Half of the new gift will add support to the scholarship fund, and the other half will establish the endowed chair.

“Hopefully, this will spur others to make commitments, either on-the-spot commitments or future legacy-type commitments, to help us carry forward and achieve the new $500 million goal for the Forever SIU campaign,” McPheeters said.

A LAUNCHING PAD

McPheeters transferred to SIU from Canton College, now Spoon River College, a community college in his hometown of Canton, and finished his accounting degree at SIU.

Soon after, he started at Caterpillar, Inc., and began a steady rise through the company. In 1973, he moved to Switzerland to serve in a financial management position with Caterpillar overseas. He also worked in Tokyo for Caterpillar Mitsubishi and in Hong Kong at Caterpillar Far East Limited. He retired in 2005 as vice president and chief financial officer for the Corporate Services Division.

“SIU led me to an incredible career with Caterpillar that took our family around the world and gave us tremendous opportunities,” McPheeters said. “Southern Illinois University Carbondale made all this possible, and I’m very happy I’m able to do this.”

LIFELONG COMMITMENT

The new endowed chair is the second established by McPheeters in the College of Business and Analytics. In 2006, he and his wife, Susan, donated $585,000 of appreciated Caterpillar stock, which was invested to create the Susan F. and F. Lynn McPheeters College of Business Leadership Endowed Chair.

“Lynn McPheeters has been associated with SIU and the College of Business and Analytics for a long time. He has also been a loyal and generous friend,” said Terry Clark, dean of the College of Business and Analytics, at the time. “Lynn’s institutional spiritedness is legendary. Through his generosity, another generation of Salukis will be helped onto the ladder that Lynn climbed so notably upon graduation from the college in 1964.”

In the decades since his graduation, McPheeters has served SIU in multiple ways. He joined the SIU Foundation Board in 2002 and served as chair of the audit committee and board president. He was one of the first members of the College of Business and Analytics external advisory board and inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame in 1988. Among other honors, he earned the College of Business Alumni Achievement Award in 2004.

“I’m very proud to be part of this organization, the Foundation, to call myself a Saluki,” McPheeters said.

FOREVER SIU

The Forever SIU campaign launched in 2017 with the goal of raising $75 million in three years. The Foundation sped past that milestone seven months early, which prompted the decision to set a new goal of $90 million.

“At the end of 2019, we had already surpassed that new goal,” Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation, said. “That’s when we set our sights on $200 million by 2024.”

Once it became clear that SIU and its supporters were going to reach that goal early, Chancellor Austin Lane announced that the Forever SIU campaign would extend to 2028 with a goal of raising $500 million.

Students lead fundraising charge to establish new lounge

Dr. Harvey Henson, associate professor, (from left) Chancellor Austin Lane, Leadership Development Program students Dalton Cantrell and Sam Ramirez, and Dr. Bruce DeRuntz, director of the LDP cut the ribbon on the new Student Lounge in the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics.

By Jeff Wilson

The College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics is producing the next generation of technical leaders, and the Leadership Development Program (LDP) is a microcosm of that mission.

Students in the program have increased their fundraising activity since the inception of the SIU Day of Giving in 2017. Through their Day of Giving efforts and telefund calling operation, LDP students have raised about $20,000 each year. The funds have been used for equipment and facility upgrades used by the students.

Their largest project has been the renovation and establishment of the Student Lounge on the bottom floor of the COECTM building. Through their fundraising efforts, bolstered by matching funds from Dick and Brigitte Blaudow and furniture donation from James and Deana Jannetides of University Loft Company, the lounge offers space for students to gather, study, and relax.

“This is an incredible accomplishment,” said Chancellor Austin Lane during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 9. “This is a golden opportunity to showcase our university and how our students and our alumni can make an impact.”

The creation of the Student Lounge was a multi-year project, which entailed floor-to-ceiling renovation. What was previously a poorly lit room housing vending machines, now features LED lights, new tables, barstools, chairs, and two large-screen TVs that promote college and university events.

“This is an amazing program,” said Sam Ramirez, a member of the LDP. “It has been one of the highlights of my time at SIU.”

The opening of the Student Lounge is just one of many potential projects planned in the college. Improvements to classrooms, study spaces, and other common areas are under consideration.

“This a momentous opportunity to celebrate what student initiative can accomplish,” said Bruce DeRuntz, director of the Leadership Development Program. “All of the credit goes to the students of the LDP and our sponsors.”

For more information about the Leadership Development Program, visit engineering.siu.edu/ldp. To make a gift, visit siuf.org.

Alumnus honors Werlichs with $525K in donations

Assistantship, scholarship named for longtime professor, family

SIU Morris Library

Most worthwhile college experiences include connecting with others. Some of these interactions are fleeting, but some make a lasting impact.

One such connection from decades ago inspired an SIU alumnus to ensure that impact stretches decades into the future. With two gifts, totaling $525,000, he and his wife have honored Dr. David Werlich and his family.

“I don’t think I would have ever finished my graduate degree without their support,” said the alumnus, who wished to remain anonymous. The first is a $425,000 gift that will establish the Werlich Family Graduate Assistantship in Digital Humanities at Morris Library Endowment Fund. The other is a $100,000 donation that creates the David P. Werlich Graduate Scholarship Endowment Fund in the Department of History.

Dr. David Werlich, an emeritus history professor, taught courses in Latin American history. However, it wasn’t his classes that inspired such a philanthropic gesture.

“I never took a class with Dr. Werlich, but I knew his son, Tom, and we went to graduate school at the same time. When I was there, all my undergrad friends had left, and I felt kind of alone,” said the alumnus. “That’s when we became extremely good friends. He introduced me to his family, and I ended up spending a lot of time at his home in Carbondale.

“Dr. Werlich would talk about a lot of things – history, politics, and particularly South America. The Werlichs were very good to me. It was like having a second family. It was vital for me.”

THE WERLICH LEGACY

A recipient of five assistantships during his time at SIU, the alumnus felt it was important to give other students similar opportunities. The Werlich Family Graduate Assistantship will help the library with its digitalization project.

Graduate students will be able to apply for the assistantship and receive it multiple times to help SIU and Morris Library develop future leaders in the field of digitalization.

“This gift will allow us to bring more of the treasures held in the Special Collections Research Center to our students and faculty in a digital format that leads to a deeper engagement with the actual documents,” said John Pollitz, dean of Library Affairs. “It promotes collaboration with the history department directly but will and provides the foundation for more digital humanities projects across campus.”

Pollitz shared his experience with Dr. Werlich, which makes this donation that much more meaningful.

“I took two classes in Latin American history from Dr. Werlich. They had a real impact on my life,” he said. “Many things about Dr. Werlich’s teaching have stayed with me since those times. He made the subject come alive and exciting. The idea of honoring this wonderful professor and making the library part of this gift was a high point in my life as a librarian.”

The David P. Werlich Graduate Scholarship will benefit a student in the Department of History who is focusing on Latino Studies.

“Dr. Werlich’s career at SIU spanned four decades and left a deep imprint on the teaching of history to thousands of students,” said Dr. Jonathan Bean, professor of history at SIU. “Under his leadership, SIU hired a new generation of history professors to reinvigorate the field.”

Dr. Bean, too, was directly impacted by the career of Dr. Werlich.

“He was famous for his wicked sense of humor, and he was popular as an instructor,” he said. “He was also mentor to students and faculty in ways that went beyond the imparting of advice. I am indebted to him for his mentoring – he made my early years at SIU a pleasure and his mentoring is something I aspire to pay forward to the next generation. The ripples of his influence will be felt for years to come.”

‘THIS IS WHAT IT TAKES’

After years of making smaller scale donations, including spreading funds to multiple areas during recent SIU Days of Giving, a conversation about something more substantial began.

“I was donating to a wide variety of causes, but I had not committed to a larger donation,” the alumnus said. “I knew I wanted to honor Dr. Werlich and his family.”

Both projects are forward-thinking in their nature, considering the value of digital records and understanding the importance of diversity, particularly that of the Latino culture.

“It’s important for the future success of the university. We want kids who are interested in focusing on these things,” he said.

The spirit of what Dr. Werlich was able to do for this particular alumnus is reflected in his generous donation.

“This is what it takes to have extras at the university,” he said. “There’s an element of feeling good about helping people out. It’s not easy out there.”

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Family honors alumnus’ wishes, memory: Youchoff fund will help students finish

Johnny Youchoff stands in front of Saluki Stadium next to the King Tut pyramid memorial.

Seventy years after Johnny Youchoff ’s graduation from SIU, his family is honoring his memory by establishing the Johnny Youchoff and Mary Agnes Youchoff Finish Line Endowed Scholarship.

His cousin, John Savio, and John’s wife, Anita, donated $250,000 to create this endowed scholarship honoring Youchoff and his wife, Mary Agnes. The term “finish line” refers to the goal of the fund, which aims to help students complete their degrees.

The scholarship is designed for SIU juniors and seniors who are graduates of his former high school in West Frankfort or his mother’s high school in Christopher and have experienced a major life event that may prevent them from graduating.

“Johnny had every sticker the SIU Alumni Association had sent him on his garage wall,” said John Savio. “He hoped to be a member of the Alumni Association for at least 50 years, and was proud to exceed that goal.”

Youchoff, a West Frankfort native worked at his family business, Heights Bakery, as a youth and graduated from Frankfort Community High School. At SIU, he majored in geography and graduated in 1952. In May of 2021 he passed away at age 91 and was buried with his SIU 150th anniversary pin.

“Education was very important to Johnny, and he was particularly eager to help students from his and his mother’s hometowns,” Anita Savio said. “He would love that his legacy will be supporting these students on the brink of completing their degrees.”

Family Memories

John Savio never lived in Southern Illinois, but as a youth he and his parents often visited his grandmother, and aunt and uncle there.

“That was a vacation our family took every summer for at least a week, sometimes 10 days. I had so much fun with Johnny and his brother Louis,” said John Savio, a longtime Michigan resident. “We would go fishing, boating and hiking, and travel all around the area … to Crab Orchard, Cave-in-Rock, Shawnee National Forest.”

After earning his degree, Youchoff joined the Army and served proudly during the Korean War. Upon his return he went to work at General Motors in Atlanta, and, before meeting his wife-to-be, spent his evenings studying law at John Marshall Law School.

“That was the kind of guy Johnny was,” John Savio said. “He had no interest in practicing law and never mentioned his degree. I didn’t even know he went to law school until I saw the diploma on his wall about 10 years ago. Even at SIU, he studied Russian for the fun of it. He just loved learning.”

Always a Saluki

Through the years, Youchoff never lost his Saluki spirit. Although he lived in Georgia and Tennessee, he followed Saluki Athletics closely, particularly Saluki Men’s Basketball. For years, until Mary Agnes became ill, they would travel to Carbondale for the SIU Homecoming games. Later, it was a 2014 trip to campus that reignited his plan to help students.

“After so many years, Johnny wanted to visit his alma mater,” Anita Savio said. “So, he and John went on a road trip to SIU, where they ran into the associate athletic director of marketing. Their conversation brought back many great memories, reminding him of how much he loved the school.”

Youchoff then began working with the SIU Foundation on making a large-scale gift, but, due to life-changing events, it was never finalized. The Savios knew it was important to make this dream a reality.

“He had talked often about doing this,” John Savio said. “I reached out to the SIU Foundation and had lengthy discussions about what this fund would be. Of course, Johnny passed away before it came to fruition.”

Now, with the establishment of his fund, John and Anita Savio are confident that Youchoff would be pleased with the outcome.

“He really wanted to make sure that other young people could benefit from an education like he received at SIU,” Anita Savio said. “We are thrilled that we are able to fulfill this wish in his honor.”

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Saluki love story leads to scholarships

Nick and Amanda Martin are paying it forward by establishing the Martin First-Generation Agricultural Student Scholarship.

Two $500 scholarships will be awarded annually to support first-generation students studying agricultural sciences who are also members of Sigma Alpha sorority or Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.

Nick graduated from SIU in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil science, and Amanda earned a bachelor’s degree in 2007 and master’s degree in 2008 in agribusiness economics.

Amanda grew up in the small town of Du Bois, Illinois, and credits her agriculture teacher for igniting her love of agriculture.

“I got involved in FFA in high school, and I fell in love with the service mindset,” Amanda said. “Farmers work every day making sure we can all live.

They are literally responsible for feeding and clothing the world. It is a noble profession.”

Nick fondly remembers helping his grandfather with his farm and working on other farms.

“I initially majored in architecture at SIU but it just wasn’t the right fit,” Nick said. “I talked to Karen Midden in SIU’s Department of Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems, and she helped steer me to a major in agriculture. Like Amanda, I fell in love with agriculture, especially landscape horticulture.”

SALUKIS IN LOVE

Nick and Amanda met through the Agbassador program, which is a student recruitment organization comprised of 12 outstanding students selected by faculty, administrators, and students. Students serve as speakers and present at high schools, community colleges, and attend career fairs and open houses across the country.

“Our advisor was Lucas Maxwell, and he would drive us to conferences and recruitment activities, so we had a lot of van time,” Amanda said. “I met Nick Martin through this organization and our team was always together. The longest journey was to the University of Florida for the national agriculture ambassador conference. I figured if we could stand someone for that long of a trip, then that’s a good indication that we’d get along.”

After their graduation, the Martins stayed in touch with Maxwell, and they developed a strong friendship that still exists today.

“We knew exactly who we wanted to officiate our wedding, the mentor that was with us from the start. Lucas became ordained online so he could officiate our wedding,” Nick said. “We got married in a historic little church called Kornthal Church in Jonesboro that sits in the middle of farmland. We felt it was appropriate to get married in the middle of such a big agricultural area. It felt natural and right to us.”

The wedding reception was basically a Saluki alumni event, Dean Gary Minish even gave a speech.

After leaving Carbondale, Nick and Amanda moved to Auburn, Alabama, where Nick graduated from Auburn University in 2011 with a master’s degree in forestry. During this time, Amanda served as the coordinator of recruitment for the Department of Poultry Science. They moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Nick joined Bartlett Tree Experts, the world’s leading scientific tree and shrub care company. During this time, Amanda served as a middle school science teacher as part of the TEACH Charlotte program. Nick was then able to transition to a remote position in 2012, so Amanda could pursue her Ph.D. in higher education administration, which began at Auburn University. While enrolled in classes she worked with the Auburn University College of Agriculture as the coordinator of recruitment and alumni relations. Another door opened for Amanda and the team moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2016. Amanda finished her doctorate at LSU and became an Assistant Dean for the LSU College of Agriculture.

The couple recently moved to Algonquin, Illinois, where Amanda works with the executive team at the American Egg Board at the Chicago headquarters. Amanda’s background within agriculture and education, continue to guide her professional career. She assisted with the White House Easter Egg Roll, and her current focus project is on developing the college internship program. Nick is now the vice president of Bartlett Consulting where he leads an international team throughout the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. His work has taken him to numerous university campuses in the U.S., several U.S. Army bases, oil refineries in Canada, hurricane-ravaged properties in Florida, the historic mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, and his all-time favorite, several royal properties in the United Kingdom including Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace.

GIVING BACK

The impetus behind establishing the two $500 scholarships is due to a $500 scholarship Amanda was offered through the SIU College of Agriculture.

“No one in my family had gone to college, and it just wasn’t on my radar,” Amanda said. “So, when I received that scholarship offer, it made me feel like someone believed in me. I felt for the first time that I could be successful, and it was enough to make me commit. We would love to grow our scholarship and help more students in the future.”

Nick says he hopes more people give back to SIU in whatever capacity they have.

“With our careers, we don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, but over the years we saved and what we can give just might help a student out with paying for books,” he said. “Whatever you can do to help out is important.”

Nick was recently honored at last year’s Ag Banquet and received a MidCareer Alumni Award.

“It was great to be back in Carbondale last fall to receive such a great honor. We would love to get more involved with SIU now that we live in Illinois,” he said. “We have plans for attending Homecoming and going to a football game. We love being back in the place where we fell in love.”

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Saluki Friendship Leads to Major Donation

Gift reinforces fund that support students with disabilities

Gail Mrkvicka headshot

When Gail Mrkvicka, ’64 and ’66, befriended Jim Greenwood they had an instant connection.

“Jim was such a positive person,” Mrkvicka said. “Even though he was confined to a wheelchair, I never heard him once complain. Instead, he was probably one of the most positive people I have ever met in my life. He never let his disability keep him from doing anything – whether it was attending sporting events or going to Shryock Auditorium. The physical challenges never seemed to affect his college years, and he was one of the most popular and magnetic students I ever met. He became one of my closest friends while at SIU.”

Both Greenwood and Mrkvicka worked as resident fellows, he at Thompson Point and she at Kellogg Hall.

“I remember we would always eat lunch together at the cafeteria in Lentz Hall. We also used to hang out and get coffee at the coffee shop at University Drug Store,” Mrkvicka said. “We really enjoyed each other’s company, and we would share our challenges of being resident fellows. Both Jim and I stayed at SIU, got our bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Jim and I both received our master’s degrees in higher education administration.”

Upon graduation, their paths went in separate directions. Mrkvicka eventually became a dean at Russell Sage College, a small women’s college in Troy, New York. She later worked for the city of Rensselaer, New York, as a grants administrator.

A Friendship Rekindled

Mrkvicka grew tired of the harsh winters and was battling health issues in 1999 when a friend suggested she relocate to Sarasota, Florida.

“Florida sounded really good to me at the time, and it has proven to be a great place to retire,” she said.

Soon after she moved to Sarasota, Mrkvicka recalls reading the local newspaper where she saw a photo of a vaguely familiar face.

“I hadn’t seen Jim Greenwood in years, but in the photo that accompanied the article, the man had a SIU baseball cap on. I knew then that had to be Jim,” she said.

She reached out to Jim, and they renewed their friendship along with Jim’s wife, Martha.

“Jim came to SIU from Maine, partly because SIU was one of the few institutions that provided access to students with disabilities in the 1960s,” Mrkvicka said. “He loved SIU and was a life member of the SIU Alumni Association and was active in its Central Florida Chapter.”

SIU has been an advocate for people with disabilities since the 1950s, when Delyte Morris tasked Guy Renzaglia with equipping campus with necessary improvements. Renzaglia helped make SIU one of the few universities at the time to provide services for the blind, deaf, and persons using wheelchairs.

A Commitment Reinforced

In 2013, the Greenwoods established the Jim and Martha Greenwood Fund, created through their estate. It provides $1.3 million in scholarships for students with disabilities who are studying science and engineering. The first scholarship was awarded in 2014.

“The Greenwoods left a powerful legacy by supporting the university that welcomed him in the 1960s, well before the Americans with Disabilities Act required campuses to be accessible,” said SIU Foundation CEO Matt Kupec. “It is the generosity of people like the Greenwoods for which we are forever grateful. He and his wife’s substantial gift make it possible for other students with disabilities to attend SIU.”

Mrkvicka recently decided to make a $1 million estate gift to the Jim and Martha Greenwood Fund.

“Like Jim and Martha, I just want to make the lives of students with disabilities easier while they attend SIU,” she said. “I don’t want them worrying about paying tuition or renting books. I just want them to enjoy their college years like Jim did.”

Matt Solverson, president of the SIU Foundation, said Mrkvicka’s gift will broaden the Greenwoods’ fund and continue SIU’s national reputation for assisting students with disabilities.

“Fortunately, when he came to SIU, our facilities and staff were able to accommodate him and provide an outstanding educational experience, which he remembered for the rest of his life,” Solverson said. “Ms. Mrkvicka’s gift is a great testament to the lifelong friendships that SIU cultivates.”

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Meet Scholarship Recipient Kierra Greer

Kierra Greer stands in front of SIU clocktower with hands on hips, smiling and wearing a graduation cap.

Kierra Greer is a psychology major who is graduating in December 2022.

Why did you choose SIU?

I chose SIU because SIU chose me. When the other schools didn’t give me a chance, SIU did. I have been 3.8 GPA student since.

What would you tell a prospective student about SIU?

I will tell them that SIU is here to support you along the way. Whatever your goals are, there’s a group of people at SIU waiting to help you accomplish them.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?

My passion to help others and see them become the best version of themselves is what sparked my interest in psychology. Also, I want to be a part of effective solutions for the youth when it comes to the heavy burden of mental health issues.

Kierra Greer holds her one-year-old son in front of the SIU Banterra Center.

What motivates you as a student?

My son motivates me! I’m a first-generation college student. I want him to follow in my footsteps and know that if mommy can do it, so can he.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?

My most memorable time at SIU was this commencement photoshoot with the First Saluki Center. As I was taking the photos in areas that meant the most to me, I got emotional. Success is not always easy, and to overcome obstacles as a single mother has been a blessing.

Have you received any scholarships as a student? Do you know the name of your scholarship(s)?

Yes, I received the Fred W. Samson Scholarship.

How has this scholarship benefited your academic and professional goals?

It has allowed me to start the next phase in my education journey. It also removed the stress of financial burdens, which helped me focus on my academics more.

What would you say to convince a potential donor that establishing a scholarship fund is important?

Students are the future, and many of us want to be a positive change for the future. Sometimes all we need is a helping hand to make it through. Your help would change someone’s life forever as well as their community.

How will you continue the legacy of your scholarship?

I’m going to continue my education this spring at SIU to pursue my master’s in counseling and rehabilitation, so that I can become a licensed therapist.

Kierra Greer holds hands with her son and walks up the steps of the SIU Banterra Center.

How would you like to give back to SIU one day?

I would like to create a scholarship for single mothers just like me who are going to school, succeeding, and trying to overcome obstacles.

What kind of doors have opened for you because of the scholarship?

I will be able to start my master’s program next spring with the release of my transcripts and degree.

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Meet SIU Foundation Student Caller Adam Sher

Male with short brown hair slightly smiles while wearing a maroon Southern Illinois Salukis sweatshirt with a hood.

The SIU Foundation has a team of dedicated students who call alumni in hopes of raising support for a variety of university funds. Adam Sher of Farmington Hills, Michigan, is one of those students.

Sher is a sophomore studying electrical engineering.

“My automotive teacher in high school was an SIU alum and recommended the university to me when I showed interest in engineering,” Sher said.

Sher has been on the student caller team since January 2022.

“I was nervous when I first started calling. An alum answered and after a little bit he said no. I started to say, ‘I’m sorry but I have to ask again.’ The alum told me to never apologize for asking. His words really stuck with me and helped me improve in my first month,” Sher said.

When Sher is not calling alumni, he enjoys rock climbing at the Student Recreation Center and playing board games.

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The George Bates Foundation Continues its Philanthropy to SIU and the Southern Illinois Region

Left to right: Dr. Bruce DeRuntz, Director of Development Jason Fairfield, Dr. Mike Murray, Dean Xiaoqing “Frank” Liu, and SIU Foundation CEO Matt Kupec

By Rebecca Renshaw

The College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics received $50,000 from a longtime supporter of the university.

Dr. Mike Murray, trustee of the George A. Bates Memorial Foundation, presented Dean Xiaoqing “Frank” Liu with a $50,000 check to go toward the George A. Bates Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship supports the college, the Leadership Development Program and the STEM Research Center.

“Dr. Murray and the George Bates Memorial Foundation have been great supporters of our college,” Dean Liu said. “These scholarships are important to our college, and we are deeply grateful to the Bates Foundation for its history of partnering with SIU.

“We have the passion and the dedication. Not only that, we deliver. We are working on enrollment growth and retention as well as the student activities. This generous gift will help us achieve our goals.”

Bates was a successful stock market investor and avid big game hunter. He was born in 1903 in the Chicago area, and resided in Cary until his death. The Bates Foundation was formed when he passed away in 1989. The foundation provides funding to numerous charitable organizations, as determined by its board of trustees. Along with SIU, the foundation supports The Hope Light Project, a cancer awareness organization, also located in southern Illinois.

“Mr. Bates believed in supporting education,” Murray said. “It has been an honor to be a trustee for the George A. Bates Memorial Foundation, and it was a privilege to deliver this check.”

Other organizations the foundation has supported in Southern Illinois include Brehm School, SIH Cancer Institute, the Poshard Foundation, Saluki Kids Academy, and Lead SI. The foundation supports eight different charities and has donated over $3 million dollars in the last 10 years. A total of $6 million has been donated since its inception.

“It is my hope that more people in this area recognize that a Chicago-based foundation cares deeply about the Southern Illinois region and its residents,” Murray said.

Murray was instrumental in securing funding from the Bates Foundation. As a close friend and confidant of Bates, Murray was aware of Bates’ philanthropic tendencies. He submitted a proposal for support in 1997 while working as a central development officer for the SIU Foundation. Now, as a Bates Foundation trustee, he continues to provide funding to scholarships at the College of Engineering.

“The SIU Foundation appreciates the long-time support Mike Murray and the Bates Foundation has given to SIU. Support from organizations such as the Bates Foundation is integral to advancing our academic mission,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “These types of gifts show a truly inspiring commitment to higher education and the Saluki spirit.”

The Bates Foundation looks for two things when deciding to support an organization: Dedication by the organization to the mission and passion for the cause of those representing the organization.

“I know Dean Liu and know Matt Kupec very well,” Murray said. “I have no doubt this money will be put to good use.”

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