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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.

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.