A Long Lifetime of Blessings

Duward Bean (wearing a suit, front row, third from left) is pictured in the 1948 SIU Obelisk holding the landlord’s middle child.

By Rebecca Renshaw

Duward Bean’s personal narrative over the past nine decades offers a touching portrait of the American dream. SIU played a big part in his story of accomplishment, generosity and determination. Born in Anna to a farming family, Bean knew that hard work was going to be his personal key to achieving success.

“I worked and put my way through college. I washed dishes to pay for school and babysat my landlord’s children in exchange for a bed. I worked hard for my education, but I loved my time at SIU,” Bean said.

Bean shared that his experiences at SIU taught him a great deal about people. “Coming from a small town like Anna, I had never been exposed to people who talked, thought, and looked differently than myself. I met all types of people from other cultures and it was a great experience.”

“I believe part of my success comes from my outlook on life that I formed at SIU. I have always tried to fit in with people wherever I was. And, I have always looked at life through a positive lens. I think that is why I got along well in my career,” Bean said.

Bean received a degree in business from SIU in 1952 and began an insurance career with Country Companies in Pinkneyville. He was quickly promoted to an agency manager and moved to Benton where he spent his professional career.

During his time in Benton, Bean developed a close friendship with SIU’s legendary basketball coach, Rich Herrin.

“Before Rich came to SIU, he served as Benton’s high school basketball coach, so we were both established members in the Benton community. I helped him out during that time, and when he went on to coach at SIU, Rich did not forget me. In fact, one year when he took the Salukis to the NCAA tournament, Rich called me up and invited me to fly with the team. He was a great friend and a giving person,” said Bean.

Bean recalls that his favorite memories of SIU revolved around his membership in Nu Epsilon Alpha fraternity.

“We had about 20 guys in the fraternity and our house was called The Manor.  My roommate was John S. Rendeman who was also from Anna, so we had a lot in common. The best part about living there was that I often had to go babysit at my landlord’s house where I could watch television. That was a treat in 1952 considering very few people even had televisions back in those days,” said Bean.

Bean attributes his longevity to clean living and taking good care of his health.

“Besides Country Companies, I also owned farm land and I watched other farmers around me die early. So, I stopped eating meat several decades back and I stay physically fit. In fact, I still walk three miles a day. I think that’s what has kept me around for so long,” said Bean.

Bean is passionate about helping others.

“I’ve been blessed, so I have always tried to give back to my church and my community. When Rich Herrin passed away at the end of 2020, it reminded me of SIU and the good people and friendships I made there. I haven’t been back to SIU since those days with Rich Herrin, so my plan is to present my donation to the College of Business and Analytics during homecoming. I’m looking forward to coming home again.”

To find out how you can contribute to the SIU College of Business and Analytics, visit foreversiu.org/business.

Jensen: His Saluki roots run deep

Pictured left to right: Melissa Jensen, Grey Dawg, and Robert Jensen

Pictured left to right: Melissa Jensen, Grey Dawg, and Robert Jensen

When Rob Jensen retired from SIU in 2005 after 24 years of service, it was no surprise that over 300 people showed up to pay their respects at his retirement ceremony. Throughout his rich career, Rob served as a positive influence to many people at SIU and has always done so with a servant’s heart.

“When I walked into Corker Lounge for the reception, I could not believe the number of people who came to say goodbye,” Jensen said. “The Chancellor and the system President were there along with my colleagues and friends from over the years. I will never forget that special day.”

As a member of the SIU Foundation’s Board of Directors, Jensen is highly respected by his peers on the Board.

“Dr. Jensen provides the Foundation with a deep institutional understanding of SIU,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “We are grateful to have his guidance in our outreach and fundraising efforts.”

Rob came to SIU in 1981 as an Assistant Professor after teaching for six years at University California, Irvine and conducting research in their Department of Psychobiology.

“I knew that southern California just wasn’t the right fit for me with too much traffic and pollution,” he said. “SIU came calling and, with its strong psychology department and outstanding academic track record, I knew it was the right fit for me.”

At SIU, Jensen specialized in studies of the biology of memory and changes that occur in the brain when new information is learned. He was particularly interested in the modulation of memory and trying to gain an understanding of why some memories are stored better than others.

“I was fortunate to have an excellent research career at SIU. I received grants from NSF, NIH, and the Office of Naval Research. This external support allowed me to maintain an active research laboratory, to publish, and to support outstanding graduate assistants. I was also appointed to the position of  Associate Dean for Budget, Personnel, and Research for the College of Liberal Arts, where I served for nine years under Dean John S. Jackson,” he said. “After that, I served two years as Dean of the college and ended up in Anthony Hall as Associate Provost. During my time in administration, I was still able to run my lab and publish over 40 peer-reviewed articles with my colleagues and students. In retrospect, the combination of the two made for a really satisfying academic career.”

Jensen’s interest in fundraising blossomed when he joined the Friends of Morris Library – the very center of academic life on the SIU campus. Since 1960, the Friends have contributed to the improvement of facilities; purchased books, journals, and library equipment; supported historical art restoration; preserved existing materials; and sponsored numerous community events.

“When we began a campaign to build a patio on the southeast corner of the library, I came up with the slogan, ‘Essential Extras.’ There are a lot of essential items that departments, faculty, and students need that state allocations just can’t provide. We ended up raising around $130,000 from generous donors and by selling engraved bricks to build that patio and that’s when I realized what a positive impact philanthropy can have on campus life – and how donor support can make the university as a whole a much better place,” he said.

Rob and his wife Melissa are also active donors to SIU Athletics, the School of Music, and the Summer Music Festival.  Additionally, they’ve made a commitment through the Foundation’s planned giving program.

Rob has served on the SIU Foundation Board since 2018 and said he is honored to play a part in supporting the foundation and promoting its work.

“What some may not know is the extent the SIU Foundation plays in providing essential extras across the university. It makes me proud to be a part of an organization that is actively making a difference,” he said.

Since retiring in 2005, Rob and Melissa have traveled extensively around the world. ”We have visited over 80 countries since our retirement. We’ve had marvelous adventures together. We slid down glaciers on our fannies in Antarctica, participated in a tea ceremony in Japan, and explored the Galapagos Islands. We have been extremely fortunate to maintain good health as the years have gone by, and are looking forward to further adventures together,” Jensen said.

Compardo, Moneta leading the way in support of Saluki women

Headshot of Diane CompardoBy Jeff Wilson

Diane Compardo is passionate about supporting Salukis, and Saluki women especially. She will undoubtedly bring that passion to her keynote address during the upcoming Saluki Women’s Weekend.

Compardo is a 1991 alumna, member of the College of Business and Analytics Hall of Fame, president-elect of the SIU Foundation Board, and a member of the SIU Women’s Leadership Council. The council connects Saluki alumnae to current female students and offers guidance and mentorship as they study and prepare for life beyond college.

“It is important to make sure the next generation of women have access to essential resources and mentors,” Compardo said. “The Women’s Leadership Council is an exceptional network of women committed to supporting women.”

Diane, a CPA and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is the founding partner of Compardo, Wienstroer, Conrad & Janes at Moneta, which is sponsoring the Women in Philanthropy Luncheon at noon Friday, Sept. 9, at the Dunn-Richmond Center. It will act as the opening event for the Saluki Women’s Weekend, which will be Friday, Sept. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 10.

“I’m passionate about philanthropic goals and giving back is an essential part of my life. Encouraging other women to explore what giving back means to them and creating a culture of women-driven philanthropy are things I am excited to pursue as a member of the Women’s Leadership Council,” Compardo said.

Moneta LogoIn recent years, Moneta has put an increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Moneta’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council was founded to support the company’s mission to “empower people to navigate life’s path and protect what they cherish.” The council aims to achieve this by continually striving for an equitable inclusive culture that encourages valuing, respecting, and celebrating the differences of Moneta’s employees, clients, and all whom it encounters.

“The goals of SIU’s Women’s Leadership Council and the Saluki Women’s Weekend align with what Moneta is doing internally,” Compardo said. “It takes organizations being intentional about values and empowerment to cultivate an inclusive and positive culture.”

The Saluki Women’s Weekend will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which put women on a more equal playing field in higher education.

“Attending SIU was one of the major turning points in my life,” Compardo said. “It was a springboard to a successful professional life.”

Through her keynote speech, mentorship opportunities and everyday leadership of her team, Compardo hopes to show young women that they can achieve professional and personal success and fulfillment.

“You don’t have to give up a career to create balance,” she said. “I’ve been doing it my whole adult life, by choosing my personal and professional journey based upon my values. Understanding what values you want to focus on at various times in your life allows for greater satisfaction and acceptance, even when work and life feel out-of-balance. I want to show them that they can do it, too.”

For more information about the Saluki Women’s Weekend, visit siuf.org/saluki-women.

Building a more equitable future for all Salukis

Paul Frazier – Vice Chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion

My name is Dr. Paul Frazier, and I have been a part of the SIUC family for one year. I consider it to be an honor and a privilege to serve as the vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I hope that we can engage new alumni and continue to support our Saluki family members.

One of the five pillars of the Imagine 2030 strategic plan encompasses our work in and around diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Office of the VCDEI is composed of the Office of Affirmative Action, the Office of Equity and Compliance, the Student Multicultural Resource Center (SMRC), and the Offices of TRIO Programs.

Our team is growing, and we have recently welcomed new leaders, including Sherrica Hunt, development officer for diversity, equity, and inclusion; Dr. Renada Greer, executive director of the SMRC; and Christina Castillo, program director for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).

We are dedicated to working with students, staff, faculty and collaborating with all our community partners. We have designed Unit Effectiveness Plans to assist in advancing research, academic achievement, and student engagement. This will impact retention, persistence, and graduation rates. We will make new strides by committing ourselves to creating a sense of belonging for every Saluki.

I am excited about what lies ahead as we recruit, retain, and engage individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences that will become a catalyst for and a role model for other institutions regionally and statewide for inclusive excellence.

Pollitz: Donors drive Morris Library forward

SIU Dean of Library Affairs John Pollitz

There is no more central hub for SIU students than Morris Library, and John Pollitz plans to keep it that way.

“The library is a place to explore. It’s a place for curiosity,” said Pollitz, dean of library affairs. “Every student engages with the library. It has always been the place for students to gather and collaborate.”

Since taking over as dean in 2017, Pollitz has shared a forward-thinking vision for the library. With a focus on technology and innovation, he sees big things on the horizon.

“Students from every college and school utilize the library’s services,” he said. “It must be a one-stop shop where every student can access the information and technology they need to have a well-rounded educational experience.”

Through fundraising success, including money raised during recent Days of Giving, the library has added many technological improvements, including 3D printers, a podcasting booth, and a digital scanner.

More recently, Pollitz opened space in the library for the Digital Narratives Lab run by professor Pinckney Benedict. The 600 square-foot classroom in the library’s sixth floor offers students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with virtual reality, podcasting, Twitch streaming, and much more.

“The next step is providing an even larger, more advanced space where students can expand their horizons even further,” Pollitz said.

Library staff has already worked with architecture students to redesign a large chunk of the library’s first floor. The area where stacks of print reference guides currently sit would be transformed into the Digital Scholarship Commons.

“Our goal is to provide an area and equipment for students to collaborate as they design and create,” Pollitz said. “The are so many exciting, innovative projects to give to.”

The possibilities are many, from expanding VR and 3D printing to streaming services to podcasting to video game production and beyond.

“I have always wanted to move in this direction,” Pollitz said. “The library is named for SIU’s greatest visionary, Delyte Morris, and we must strive to further that vision.”

To support Morris Library, visit siuf.org/library.

SIBA donates $25K to enhance learning experience

COECTM will use funds to purchase 3D laser scanner

Pictured right to left: Sara Bond, Dr. Jale Tezcan, Donna Richter, Dr. Xiaoqing “Frank” Liu, Jason Fairfield

By Jeff Wilson

With a single donation, the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program of the Southern Illinois Builders Association improved the educational opportunities for SIU students and strengthened its partnership with the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics.

The $25,000 gift will be used to add a 3D laser scanner, which will help train the next generation of Salukis in the School of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering.

“This gift from the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program (SICAP) of the Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) was made to improve the talent pool for the construction industry in the region,” said Donna Richter, CEO of SIBA/SICAP. “SIBA/SICAP believes it is imperative that SIUC has the resources to teach and train future generations. We want these students to have state-of-the-art equipment to train with and hopefully remain in the Southern Illinois area working for SIBA member companies.”

On its website, SIBA/SICAP states that its purpose is to advance the construction industry through strengthening its members and offering a full range of services and programs to its members. There are around 150 SIBA/SICAP member companies in Southern Illinois.

“Our college appreciates the generosity of SIBA/SICAP and looks forward to building and strengthening a long-term partnership with it,” said Dr. Xiaoqing “Frank” Liu, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics. “SIU has produced many outstanding engineering talents for builders in Southern Illinois and beyond for a long time and will continue to do so in the future.”

The 3D laser scanner allows for high-definition surveying technology for mapping an area or large object with a high level of accuracy.

“This donation provides students in our college an opportunity of learning this modern technology and its applications in constructions and other related domains in a hands-on education and training environment,” Dean Liu said.

With a focus on increasing enrollment, ensuring that the college has the most up-to-date technology is imperative.

“As digital technology continues to evolve, many traditional processes in the engineering sector are being replaced by their quicker, safer, and more accurate counterparts,” said Dr. Jale Tezcan, interim director of the School of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering. “3D laser scanning technology has already revolutionized the surveying industry and is becoming increasingly prevalent in the construction industry.”

Expanding its partnership with SIBA/SICAP, has effects that stretch well beyond the classroom as well.

“Coupled with the internship and networking opportunities through our partnership with SIBA/SICAP, this gift will make our students better equipped to secure employment upon graduation,” Dr. Tezcan said. “We are very fortunate to have such a committed partner as SIBA/SICAP on our side, sharing our vision and goals.”

To learn more about how to make a similar gift, visit siuf.org.

Family honors alumnus’ wishes, memory

Youchoff fund will help students finish

By Jeff Wilson

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.”

To learn more about making a gift, visit siuf.org.

Smith focusing on the future of education

Dean M Cecil Smith HeadshotM Cecil Smith had big plans as the first dean for the new School of Education, despite arriving in July 2020 amid a pandemic.

“I feel as if the past 30-plus years of my career have prepared me well for this position. Now, we can accelerate and implement the exciting initiatives,” he said.

Smith said he wants to revitalize and enhance the school’s existing community partnerships and establish new relationships.

“This is my vision, my mantra for SIU’s School of Education: ‘Always learning, always leading,’” he said. “My goal is to work with the faculty and staff to assure we have a high-quality, rigorous program.”

While the School of Education has a dedicated legion of supporters, Smith said it’s more important than ever to ensure students are fully supported.

“We are fortunate to have many scholarships for our students, and we are grateful. But we need other kinds of funding support,” he said. “The pandemic took a toll on our students’ well-being and their ability to manage the various aspects of their lives.”

“We also need to recruit teacher candidates from underrepresented groups. We need teachers to reflect the diversity that is growing in the Southern Illinois region. Research shows that students of color who have teachers who are persons of color are much more likely to stay in school.”

Implementing initiatives

Smith is especially excited about an initiative known as the Saluki Teacher Residency Partnership, funded by a recent award from the Illinois State Board of Education.

It awarded $50,000 to plan the partnership and $200,000 to implement the residency partnership. Currently, the school is working with five local districts: Cairo, Meridian, Vienna, Murphysboro, and Carbondale’s two school districts.

“The plan is to create a teacher residency, much like a medical residency, geared toward recruiting students from under-represented racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups,” Smith said.

Christie McIntyre, director of teaching and education and an associate professor, wrote the grant. In it, a student resident teacher collaborates with a community mentor and works in the school for an entire school year.

“We are proud to be implementing the fruits of Christie’s efforts this fall with three teacher residents placed in each of those five communities. The community mentors will provide the residents with advice on professionalism, inform them about the larger community, and will give the teacher residents overall support,” Smith said.

During the pandemic, students suffered a significant amount of learning loss. To get these students up to speed, the School of Education will employ retired teachers, community mentors, and university students to provide afterschool tutoring as part of the Illinois Tutoring Initiative, a statewide project funded through the governor’s office. Thus far, the school has partnered with four local districts with plans to expand the program this fall.

Smith is especially excited about the Illinois Grow Your Own (GYO) initiative, which provides funding to prepare local community members for teaching careers in early childhood education and special education. GYO supports racially and economically diverse individuals who have a desire to become teachers within their home communities. The goal is to prepare teachers who will become leaders inside and outside their hometown classrooms.

The funding pays up to $25,000 for tuition, books, childcare, and transportation for each qualified student. The school graduated 17 special education teachers who were supported by the program. Eight students will graduate in December 2022 and seven will graduate in 2023. The school also has a cohort of 12 early childhood educator candidates who will graduate in 2023.

To support scholarships and initiatives such as these, visit ehs.siu.edu/giving.

Enjoying a new home

Smith and his wife, Ellin, are finding Southern Illinois a great fit for their lifestyle.

“We enjoy cycling, kayaking and visiting local wineries, and this region provides a wide array of opportunities for us to enjoy those activities,” Smith said.

Smith is also enjoying the close camaraderie he is experiencing with the other SIU deans.

“We had everyone over for dinner recently, and it is great that we all get along and support one another. The future looks bright for our colleges and schools at SIU. I’m proud to play a part,” he said.

SIU extends Forever SIU fundraising campaign: Chancellor announces $500 million goal

Chancellor announces $500 million goal

CARBONDALE – Chancellor Austin Lane has announced the expansion of the Forever SIU fundraising campaign with a new goal of $500 million.

The announcement came in front of a large crowd as SIU kicked off its Saluki Takeover Tour in St. Louis at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark on Wednesday, March 2.

“This will reshape the way we imagine the future of SIU,” Chancellor Lane said.

After raising more than $3 million during the SIU Day of Giving, Chancellor Lane was overjoyed at the show of Saluki spirit.

“This is about supporting our students and strengthening the university,” he said. “Our alumni and donors understand the importance of this mission, and their generosity is what has set us on this path to half a billion dollars.”

Forever SIU

The Forever SIU campaign was launched in 2017 with a 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, and we’re well ahead of schedule. It’s clear that we need to keep this momentum.”

The money raised through the campaign has funded scholarships, campus improvements, supported faculty, and enhanced alumni engagement.

“The SIU Foundation acts as an accelerator for the university,” Kupec said. “It’s a role we embrace every day, and we’re excited to continue the Forever SIU campaign.”

For more information about the Forever SIU campaign, contact siuf@ia.siu.edu.

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Media Contact: Rebecca Renshaw, SIU Foundation associate director of communications, 618-453-1328.

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Donation supports business students, hands-on experience

Top left to right: Mark and Laura Ford
with daughters Adelyn and Kiley.

Mark and Laura Ford, ’02 and ’01, have pledged $40,000 to the SIU College of Business and Analytics. The money will be split between the dean’s general fund and paying for upgrades to the technology used by the Saluki Student Investment Fund.

The Saluki Student Investment Fund gives undergraduate students hands-on experience in portfolio management and investment research. The SSIF is modeled after real investment management firms, and the students are focused on making the best investment decisions possible on behalf of their primary client, the SIU Foundation. Mark was a member of the Saluki Student Investment Fund during his time at SIUC.

The students now work on Bloomberg terminals, which are computer software systems that enable students to access Bloomberg Professional Services and monitor and analyze real-time financial market data and place trades on the electronic trading platform.

“When I was a member of SSIF in ’01-‘02, we did our research and made our stock trades through a low cost online brokerage account set up for the fund. It is exciting to see now how far the program has come over the past 20 years, and now under the direction of Tim Marlo. To have its own current technology and trading platform, that can also be used for a number of different business courses, is a very important asset to SIUC, COBA, and SIUC students,” added Mark. “I’m very thankful for Dr. Peterson, and for what the SSIF program did for me developing real life experience. It was important to me to pay that forward, and to make sure future students are offered the same opportunities that were made available to me through the dedication of the SIUC staff, and the financial contributions of those alumni that came before me.”

“For regular investment firms, it would cost about $24,000 to pay for the software for just one terminal,” said Tim Marlo, faculty advisor for the SSIF and a clinical investment assistant professor. “Our students rely heavily on these terminals and use them daily. Fortunately for our group, they will only charge us $24,000 to upgrade all four terminals.”

Marlo, who has advised the group for five years, has watched students build their confidence and presentation skills and says the experience prepares the students for real-world applications.

“We manage about $2.7 million for the SIU Foundation, and we fall into the top 10 percent of mid-managers,” he said. “Most of our students receive job offers before they even graduate, so it is donors like the Fords who really step up and make a difference in the lives of these students.”

Strengthening bonds

Mark and Laura Ford credit much of their success to SIU, which made it important to them to lend a helping hand to the current students.

Mark, a Senior Vice President of First Horizon Bank in Nashville, TN, specializes in providing banking services and financial advice to clients in the music industry; primarily artists/musicians, publishing companies, record labels, royalty collection societies, and event production/festival companies. Throughout his 15-year career, Mark has worked closely with internationally known musicians, major music companies, professional athletes, and NASCAR drivers/team owners.

“I was raised in Du Quoin, Illinois, and grew up attending SIU sporting events and concerts from a really young age,” Mark Ford said. “SIU really opened doors of opportunity for me once I started college, and it is in Carbondale where I met my wife and where I found my interest in finance.”

Mark Ford said the SIU College of Business and Analytics has a great reputation and shared his admiration for the professors and administrators, especially Dr. Mark Peterson and Dean Terry Clark.

Laura Ford started attending college at University of Illinois but found it wasn’t a good fit for her. She became introduced to SIU when she visited friends who were studying in Carbondale.

“I loved the campus and how beautiful it is,” she said. “When I found out that SIU had a zoology department, I just really fell in love with it. I had great professors and discovered my niche was in medical research. We’re having conversations with the College of Science as well to find ways of supporting students and programs.”

After graduation, Laura worked for Vanderbilt University doing medical research on cancer until 2016.

“I learned a lot during my time at SIU, and I hope students who are there today just keep their eyes open for opportunities, work hard and respect your peers. You will be surprised at how far you can get in life with that outlook,” she said.

The Fords enjoy spending their time living in Nashville, Tennessee, and raising their two daughters, Adelyn, 9, and Kiley, 4. Mark serves as a member of the COBA Dean’s Advisory Board, as well as the Advisory Board for the School of Analytics, Finance, and Economics.

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