Category Archives: Uncategorized

Reeser to guide Saluki Athletics’ fundraising efforts

Headshot of Todd ReeserThe SIU Foundation and Saluki Athletics are looking toward a bright future with the hiring of Todd Reeser as assistant vice chancellor for athletic fundraising and executive deputy director of athletics.

Beginning June 1, Reeser will spearhead fundraising and alumni engagement initiatives for Saluki Athletics. He will leverage his nearly 35 years of professional experience in athletics fundraising to help guide Saluki Athletics into an exciting, new era.

Reeser comes to SIU after nearly a decade as the director of athletics at Columbus State University in Georgia. Previously, he served in athletics leadership and fundraising roles at Georgia State University, the University of Central Florida, Illinois State University, and Drake University.

“Todd Reeser has been successful across the landscape of collegiate athletics, and his expertise is going to give Saluki Athletics a leg up on the competition,” said Matt Kupec, SIU’s vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation.

During his tenure at CSU, the Cougars won 51 Peach Belt Conference championships and 10 NCAA Southeast Regional titles; CSU student-athletes maintained a 3.0-grade point average; and the university earned two Peach Belt Conference Presidents Academic Awards.

He has also overseen the opening of the world-class John W. Walden Tennis Facility, Burger King Stadium at Ragsdale Field (baseball), and the Key Golf Studio. He founded and developed the Girls in the Game fundraising initiative, which highlights CSU’s female student-athletes and has brought icons such as Brandi Chastain, Annika Sorenstam, Jennie Finch, and Tamika Catchings to the CSU campus.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Todd in the past, and he is one of the most forward-thinking and experienced fundraisers in the business,” said Tim Leonard, SIU’s director of intercollegiate athletics. “I know he’s excited to return home to Illinois and looks forward to engaging with our alumni, donors, and the community.”

Reeser has been a member of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics and the National Association of Athletic Development Directors throughout his career. A graduate of Leadership Columbus, Reeser has also served previously on the Columbus Sports Council. He also served as the vice chair of the Peach Belt Conference Athletics Director Council.

“I look forward to joining the team at SIU and helping to advance and build upon the rich history of success for which the Salukis are widely known,” Reeser said.

A Chenoa, Illinois, native, he played baseball at Illinois State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in general finance. He earned a master’s in sports administration from St. Thomas University in Miami.

He and his wife, Janet, have three adult children.

Gift further strengthens alumna’s dedication to service, education

By Kathryn Sime

Teacher, counselor, scholar, pilot, philanthropist. Ruth-Marie Frances Chambers has excelled in a diverse range of careers and avocations. A common theme running through all these life experiences is a commitment to open doors of access and opportunity by fostering educational opportunities.

A lifelong learner, Chambers’ commitment to education was demonstrated recently when she established the Ruth-Marie Frances Chambers Endowed Scholarship through a $100,000 planned gift, naming the SIU Foundation as partial beneficiary of her retirement accounts.

Chambers received her SIU bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1974 and subsequently began graduate studies in 1974-75 in the SIU Rehabilitation Department. In 1975, her interest in education and prevailing health and humanitarian concerns in developing nations led her to travel throughout the global community as a goodwill ambassador. She subsequently accepted an invitation to the United States Peace Corps as lecturer at the National School of Administration in Niger, West Africa. Chambers returned to SIU to complete her Master of Science in rehabilitation administration and services in 1982. After graduation, Chambers relocated to California to work at several educational institutions, including the University of California at Berkeley and Los Rios Community College.

When asked why she chose the SIU Foundation for her retirement account beneficiary designations, Chambers listed the qualities of an SIU education that she continues to value, including “leadership, integrity, a respected research university, and faculty committed to student achievement.”

At SIU, Chambers was particularly impacted by her graduate school advisors and mentors, Dr. Irene Hawley and Dr. Jerome Lorenz.

“The diversification of prospective students within the campus community who require affordable access to educational and financial support to enhance their collegiate experience is a challenge for many educational institutions,” she said.

At SIU, she valued the “invaluable leadership skills, shared humanity, and scholarly pursuits” that helped her to “confidently navigate the global and campus community with purpose.”

The Ruth-Marie Frances Chambers Endowed Scholarship will support a graduate student studying behavior analysis and therapy, communication disorders and sciences, or rehabilitation counseling.

SIU Credit Union donates $45K for SIU Day of Giving

Pictured left to right: Jennifer Phillips, Mike Lantrip, Chancellor Austin A. Lane, Sara Bond, Kim Babington, Tom Brummer, Brian Croft, Matt Kupec, John Pollitz, Mark Dynis, and Kevin Clark.

As has become tradition, the SIU Credit Union kicked off the SIU Day of Giving with a donation to multiple areas of campus.

This year, the SIU Credit Union donated $45,000, which included $20,000 to SIU’s New Student Programs, $15,000 to Touch of Nature Environmental Center, and $10,000 to Morris Library.

“We want this partnership with SIU,” said Kim Babington, SIU Credit Union Vice President of Community Outreach. “It helps not only the credit union grow, but it helps SIU grow. That helps us here in our economy in Carbondale.”

Members of the credit union team gathered Thursday, March 23, at Anthony Hall to present Chancellor Austin Lane and other SIU representatives with the check before the Day of Giving officially started.

“Our students need to bridge the financial gaps, and this is one way for them to be able to do that,” said Chancellor Lane.

For the credit union, making such a donation reflects its mission.

“I’ve been here my whole life, so being able to give back to the university that helped me get to where I am is a great feeling,” said Mike Lantrip, SIU Credit Union President and CEO and a 1991 graduate of SIU’s College of Business and Analytics.

Pictured left to right: Jennifer Phillips, Chancellor Austin A. Lane, Mike Lantrip, Kim Babington, Tena Bennett, Jennifer Jones-Hall and Mark Dynis.

New Student Programs facilitates the integration of students into campus and the community. These funds will enhance its ability to engage with students.

“All of the funds that we receive go back to the students to really enrich their experience while they’re on campus,” said Jennifer Phillips, director of New Student Programs.

Pictured left to right: Sara Bond, Chancellor Austin A. Lane, Mike Lantrip, Tom Brummer, Kim Babington, Tena Bennett, Brian Croft and Mark Dynis.

Touch of Nature Environmental Center is a premier outdoor activity facility in the Midwest. The funds will largely go toward the Dawg Days summer camp.

“The money that SIU Credit Union is giving us is really going to help us grow and expand,” said Brian Croft, director at Touch of Nature. “Dawg Days is, in essence, a four-day, three-night summer camp for incoming freshmen.”

Pictured left to right: Sara Bond, Chancellor Austin A. Lane, Mike Lantrip, Mark Dynis, Kim Babington, Kevin Clark and John Pollitz.

Dean of Library Affairs John Pollitz said the library’s portion of the funds are earmarked for furthering their vision for the future.

“We are going to be using this donation to establish the Digital Scholars Commons on the first floor of the library,” he said.

The credit union’s generosity was just the spark at the beginning of a record-breaking SIU Day of Giving. The SIU Foundation raised $4,037,918 through 3,702 individual gifts during the seventh annual 24-hour fundraiser. For more details, visit

Salukis take over St. Louis during Arch Madness

SIU Chancellor Austin Lane addresses the crowd at the Saluki Takeover Tour St. Louis.

For the second straight year, the Saluki Takeover Tour in St. Louis brought together SIU alumni and friends to celebrate their shared school spirit.

Coinciding with the Missouri Valley Conference Arch Madness Tournament, Saluki maroon flooded the streets of downtown St. Louis from Wednesday, March 1, though Saturday, March 4.

More than 275 Salukis and friends gathered with university leaders on Thursday at Schlafly Tap Room for the Chancellor’s Reception.

“What an incredible sight,” Chancellor Austin Lane said. “I hope you feel the energy that’s in this room. We’re excited, we’re fired up, and we have a lot more work to do.”

SIU System President Dan Mahony echoed Chancellor Lane’s sentiment, leading the crowd in the refrain, “Salukis get it done!” between making points.

“We’re up over 40 percent in our freshman enrollment from where we were in fall of 2019,” President Mahony said. “We have, year after year, set records on our Day of Giving. That’s on March 28, and we’re going to set another record.”

Starting with a bang

Before Thursday’s main event, the Saluki Takeover Tour in St. Louis featured two gatherings on Wednesday.

One was a social for College of Business and Analytics alumni at Ballpark Village.

“The Dawgs are in the house,” said Marc Morris, interim dean of the college. “We’re going to be in St. Louis every year.”

Not far away, the SIU Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Group was hosting a similar event at Schlafly Tap Room.

“Saluki Nation is really showing out,” said Brian Munoz, SIU Alumni Association board member. “Events like this are so important to connect people.”

Earlier in the week, Chancellor Lane, President Mahony, Associate Chancellor for Enrollment Management Wendell Williams, and others met with local high school administrators in an effort to push SIU’s recruitment efforts.

An exciting weekend

On Friday, the SIU Foundation and its corporate division hosted a Corporate Networking Breakfast at Mid-America Transplant – The Family House.

Chancellor Lane led the conversation, discussing how companies could best interact with SIU and produce a pipeline that connects businesses to SIU graduates.

Later that day, Saluki alumni and friends gathered at the Crown Room in Ballpark Village for a pre-game event before the men’s basketball team took on Missouri State at the MVC tournament.

Joined by the Saluki Spirit Teams, Marching Salukis, and Grey Dawg, revelers sent the Salukis off in style. The Dawgs defeated Missouri State, 54-51, in a heart-pounding quarterfinal game.

After another send-off event on Saturday, this time at PBR St. Louis, the Salukis fell to Drake, 65-52, in the tournament’s semifinals.

More to come

After multiple successful Saluki Takeover Tours across the country, including stops in St. Louis, Chicago, Florida, and Nashville, plans are in motion to bring more events to alumni in other areas.

“We want to take the university where our alumni live,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “Salukis are everywhere! We’re looking to engage our alumni and to ignite Saluki Nation.”

Stay up to date on all SIU Foundation events, including Saluki Takeover Tours at

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 Directors 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.


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.”


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.


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 To make a gift, visit

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

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

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.