Category Archives: Philanthropic Women

Scholarship dinner honors donors, encourages philanthropy

By Jeff Wilson

On Friday, Nov. 3, the SIU Foundation hosted the 10th annual SIU Scholarship Dinner in the Student Center Ballroom. The event, which celebrates the impact of scholarships, was attended by more than 100 donors and 73 scholarship recipients.

“We have so many more scholarships available, and so many more students accepting those scholarships, that we’re going to need a bigger room next year. This is our biggest crowd ever,” said Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation.

During the 10 years of the event, the Foundation has awarded 12,748 scholarships, totaling more than $28 million. In the most recent fiscal year, the Foundation awarded a record number of scholarships (1,645) and total scholarship dollars ($4,931,584).

“Right now, one out of every seven students on our great campus receives a scholarship through the Foundation because of one of you and your generosity,” Kupec said.

SIU System President Dan Mahony emphasized the value scholarships present to the students and the university.

“For students, scholarship support can make the difference and enable them to finish or help them decide whether to come to SIU in the first place,” he said. “It’s critical to our university’s future and our ability to increase enrollment. It has a generational impact. It impacts the student, affects their families, and the generation after that.”

Dr. Amanda Martin ’07 ’08 provided the keynote address, and shared the story of how a fateful high school trip to SIU changed her life.

“We came to an event at SIU for FFA, and my name was randomly drawn to receive a scholarship,” she said. “I knew at that point I was meant to be a Saluki.”

Majoring in agribusiness economics, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s from SIU’s College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences. She also met her husband, Nick, in class.

“I absolutely loved the passion of the people that I had around who were focused on feeding a growing world and helping other people. I knew that one day, because of the experience I had at SIU, I wanted to give back to the place that helped me gain so much both personally and professionally,” Martin said.

LaMya Roach, a junior from Metropolis studying information technology in the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics, gave the student perspective. A McNair Scholar, she has received the Sabrina Dawn Atkinson Scholarship and Mike Lawrence Scholarship. She was recently selected for the 2024 Alexander Lane Internship through the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

“As a first-generation college student, I knew that paying for college was going to be a huge hurdle. I was able to receive some amount of financial aid, but I knew that wasn’t going to cover all the costs. However, I wasn’t going to let that deter me,” she said. “When I saw the email that I had received a scholarship, I was so elated, and the stress I had been holding went away. I am so thankful for my donor because he is allowing me to continue my education, and he will never know how much that means to me.”

For more information about the SIU Foundation or to make a gift, visit siuf.org.

Saluki Women’s Weekend: Empowering Today, Inspiring Tomorrow

By Jeff Wilson

The second annual Saluki Women’s Weekend provided a forum for women to celebrate sisterhood and find empowerment through philanthropy. More than 100 women took part of the events hosted between Wednesday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 7.

“Your resources, time, and talent – all of those things really come together to make an impact at SIU,” said Sherrica Hunt, assistant vice chancellor for anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, to dozens of women on Friday, Oct. 6, at Student Center Ballrooms.

Chancellor Austin Lane started the event by touting SIU’s enrollment numbers, pointing out a rare twist.

“Fifty-two percent of our students are female. I have never worked at an institution with more female students than male students,” he said. “When people tell you that women are running things, they’re right.”

The Saluki Women’s Weekend was presented by Compardo, Wienstroer, Conrad & Janes at Moneta Group and the SIU Credit Union. It featured breakouts sessions, sponsored by SIH; a networking breakfast, sponsored by Legence Bank; and a mentorship brunch, sponsored by Dawn Korte, Ph.D. There was also a Saluki Women Vendors Fair, featuring 20 local artisans and female entrepreneurs.

Three women were honored during Friday’s event:

  • Woman of the Year – Shari Rhode, who was a member of the SIU School of Law’s inaugural class and has more than 50 years of experience as an attorney.
  • Trailblazer Award – Lynn Lindberg, who was honored for her efforts as executive director of the SIU Research Park, forging pathways for women at the university and in the community.
  • Emerging Leader – Lauren Lurkins, who operates Lurkins Strategies, LLC, which affects environmental policy and supports academic research projects.

“I’m sure there was someone more deserving, but I appreciate the fact that you found that I was,” Rhode said. “Pay it forward.”

Friday was filled with educational and inspirational presentations from women who have led the way, as leaders in higher education, philanthropy, and service.

“Today is about shaping our future,” said Diane Compardo, president of the SIU Foundation Board of Directors. “Women in leadership isn’t a trend, but a transformative force.”

Compardo shared many of the initiatives the SIU Foundation has been involved with recently, including raising funds for Saluki Cares during the COVID-19 pandemic; a $1 million grant to accelerate the fermentation science program at McLafferty Annex; support for the Dr. Seymour Bryson Future Scholars program; faculty grants for podcasting, robotics, and more; the new entrance sign at Touch of Nature Environmental Center; and the planned Welcome Center to be built on campus.

“Southern embraced me and allowed me to grow at a pivotal moment in my life,” she said. “I invite everyone to make a lasting impact on the university.”

Dr. Sheryl Tucker, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, gave the keynote address. Tucker, who has three sisters, expressed how the bond of sisterhood stretches beyond family.

“Anyone who has ever been a mentor knows you get more out of it than the mentee,” she said. “It’s women empowering women. You should want your inspiration to lead to impact.”

Tucker established the mantra, “Link, learn, lead to leave a legacy,” as a way to empower female students.

“I wanted my legacy to be about the people. I want other young girls to understand what a college education can look like,” she said.

She also pointed out that events such as the Saluki Women’s Weekend are the model for engaging with young women to ensure they can clearly see their potential.

“The only way to effect change is to have a seat at the table. You have a seat at the table here today,” she said. “Be part of the conversation. Have input. You have to be willing to participate.”

It was a sentiment that was echoed throughout the weekend, including during a video message from Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.

“Learn, inspire, and encourage one another,” she said. “Our potential is limitless as long as we keep working together.”

Tami Kupec, who has more than 15 years of fundraising experience, spoke during the Women’s Philanthropy Luncheon, focusing on the value and impact of women in philanthropy. Most recently, Kupec was executive director of development with Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. During her trips to the African nation, Watoto worked to build an educational building and mentor the women and children in the village.

“I wanted to experience a deeper level of contribution,” she said. “I fell in love with the women and children of the village and the holistic work that Watoto was doing to raise the future leaders of Uganda.”

Kupec was introduced by Stellah Nakiranda, a young lady whom she met and mentored through her work in Uganda and who recently enrolled at SIU.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be in the U.S. on this stage speaking in front of you wonderful women,” Nakiranda said. “I have known Tami for 10 years. She’s challenged me to have my own dreams.”

Kupec defined the six Ts of philanthropy – time, talent, treasures, ties, testimony, and trust – explaining that giving in any way makes a major impact on the lives of others.

“Right here at SIU, there’s an incredible opportunity with the Women’s Leadership Council,” she said. “We are encouraging women to reach their full potential and walking alongside young women, giving them a hand up. It is a circle of women passionately focused on the needs of young women.”

An inspiring event

The Saluki Women’s Weekend began Wednesday, Oct. 4, with Jill Wine-Banks presenting the Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture at the SIU School of Law. During her presentation, “Breaking Barriers for Equality, But Still Dancing Backwards in High Heels: How Women’s Success Benefits All,” she discussed her pioneering career, which included working as the only female prosecutor during the Watergate trial, and the issues still facing women today.

On the evening of Thursday, Oct. 5, the Women’s Leadership Council Board of Directors hosted a wine and cheese reception at the McLafferty Annex, which included a presentation by Susan Lighty and Marta Albiol Tapia detailing diversity initiatives in the Fermentation Science Institute.

Mentors and mentees gathered on Saturday, Oct. 7, for a Mentorship Brunch, and the Women’s Leadership Council Board held an official meeting later that day.

“The future is in our hands,” said Dr. Dawn Korte, co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Council and member of SIU Foundation Board of Directors. “It’s that empowerment that we can all share that resides deep within us.”

Supporting sponsors of the event were Walmart Carbondale Supercenter #196, Walmart Anna Supercenter #233, Holiday Inn Carbondale, First-Mid Bank, and Dr. Kelly Higgins.

For more information about the Women’s Leadership Council, visit siuf.org/wlc.

SIU Credit Union sponsoring Saluki Women’s Weekend

Kim Babington stands in front of SIU Credit Union logo on an interior wall.

SIU Credit Union is a presenting sponsor of the second annual Saluki Women’s Weekend from Oct.  4-7 in the SIU Student Center.

“This conference will bring women together,” said Kim Babington, the credit union’s vice president of community outreach. “It is so nice to finally have a conference that focuses on the needs of a woman.”

The SIU Credit Union has a long history of supporting the university, including major donations during the annual SIU Day of Giving. In recent years, the credit union has supported SIU’s New Student Programs, Saluki Food Pantry, and Morris Library, along with Touch of Nature.

“SIU Credit Union is all about giving back to its community,” Babington said.

This year’s Saluki Women’s Weekend will be jampacked with events.

On Oct. 4, the SIU School of Law will host speaker Jill Wine-Banks as part of its Hiram H. Lesar Lecture Series. Wine-Bank served as a prosecutor in the Watergate scandal and was the first woman to be the General Counsel of the Army and the first woman to be the American Bar Association executive director.

On Oct. 6, there will be a Networking Breakfast from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.; Saluki Sisterhood Empowering Today, Inspiring Tomorrow from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.; Empowerment Conference Session I from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. (3 sessions); Women in Philanthropy Luncheon from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Empowerment Conference Session II from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. (3 sessions); Women’s Vendor Fair open from 1 to 3 p.m.; and Saluki Women’s Awards Reception from 3 to 4 p.m. These events will be hosted at the SIU Student Center.

On Oct. 7, there will be a Mentorship Brunch at 9:30 a.m., and the Women’s Leadership Council Board Meeting from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

All public events are free. Some events will be invitation-only, and others may yet be added to the schedule. Visit siuf.org/salukiwomen for more information or contact Sherrica Hunt, assistant vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion, at sherricah@foundation.siu.edu.

Compardo, Moneta leading the way in support of Saluki women

Headshot of Diane CompardoDiane Compardo, president of the SIU Foundation Board of Directors, plans to emphasize the value of consistent support during this year’s Saluki Women’s Weekend.

A 1991 alumna, she is a member of the College of Business and Analytics Hall of Fame and 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.

Compardo, a CPA and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is the founding partner of Compardo, Wienstroer, Conrad & Janes at Moneta, which is a presenting sponsor of the second annual Saluki Women’s Weekend from Oct.  4-7 in the SIU Student Center. Compardo will speak during the Women in Philanthropy Luncheon, which begins at 11:45 a.m. Friday, Oct. 6.

“The SIU Foundation’s goal is to help drive the university forward, and the Saluki Women’s Weekend is a terrific example of how it does just that,” Compardo said. “I’m excited to meet new people and learn from their experiences at this inspiring event.”

In 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.”

As president of the SIU Foundation, Compardo is focused on sharing the philanthropic message with current alumni and future generations of Salukis.

“I’m passionate about philanthropic goals and giving back is an essential part of my life,” Compardo said. “Part of our job is to ensure the university continues to thrive. One way we do that is by emphasizing the importance of paying it forward after you graduate.”

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

Odenkirk experiences SIU all over again

Actor, SIU alumnus works with students, receives degrees

SIU alumnus Bob Odenkirk (middle) stands with SIU Chancellor Austin Lane (from left), Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Media Segun Ojewuyi, Dean of the College of Arts and Media Hong Cheng, and SIU System President Dan Mahony, during his degree ceremony Monday, April 3, at the Banterra Center.

By Jeff Wilson

It was a banner day for Bob Odenkirk and SIU.

For the first time since the early 1980s, one of the university’s most well-known alumni was back on campus. It kicked off with the City of Carbondale declaring Monday, April 3, as Bob Odenkirk Day and awarding him the key to the city.

“The idea of being celebrated like this is a little mind-blowing,” Odenkirk said. “I had a great time at SIU, and a big part of it was this town.”

The 1984 SIU graduate turned actor, comedian, filmmaker, and author returned to his alma mater for two main purposes – to receive the bachelor’s degree in radio-television that he earned as a student and an honorary doctorate and to interact with students and faculty within the College of Arts and Media.

Nearly 2,000 people came to SIU’s Banterra Center for Odenkirk’s degree ceremony and Q&A session.

“We want everyone that’s here as a student to realize that you can start here and go anywhere,” Chancellor Austin Lane said during the ceremony. “Bob is living proof of that. Hopefully, he gives you the courage and motivation to follow your dreams.”

After receiving his degrees, Odenkirk – Dr. Bob Odenkirk – sat down with WSIU’s Larry Hunter for a discussion, first addressing the crowd.

“Thank you for coming here tonight,” Odenkirk said. “You guys made me feel comfortable, and I’m happy to see you here tonight. It means a lot.”

Odenkirk covered many topics during the hour-long session, including his experiences at SIU, work as a comedy writer, TV and movie roles, and much more. Of particular interest to the crowd, was his most famous role of Saul Goodman on AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.” He praised the shows’ writers and producers, particularly Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould.

“The variety within that part – he was a scoundrel; he was earnest and showed love and caring for people; he was tortured; he was sure of himself at times,” Odenkirk said. “There were scenes that would be pure comedy and then five pages later, heart-wrenching drama. I can’t think that there’s been a role that went to as many places as that one.”

Sharing experiences

Odenkirk met with two classes during his visit. The first was in the Northlight Room of the Communications Building, and the second was in the Christian H. Moe Theater.

“You can’t guarantee excellence,” he told the nearly 100 students and faculty in the Northlight Room. “You can just do your best all of the time.”

Throughout the day, he spoke fondly of his time at SIU, particularly his experience at the student radio station WIDB. He imparted wisdom, shared stories and advice, and answered numerous questions.

“SIU offered me the freedom to make stuff and do stuff,” he said. “If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t try. You have to take a risk.”

During his session in Moe Theater, he worked with multiple pairs of students as they performed various scenes. He offered the students cues and notes on everything from how to conceptualize the scene as a whole to how to deliver particular words.

“It means a lot to me that someone who’s time is so valuable made an effort to work with us in our creative space,” said Uriel Achilleus, one of the students who worked with Odenkirk in Moe Theater. “Mr. Odenkirk made it clear that he was working through his own creative process with us; he showed us what goes through his mind when analyzing a scene and portraying a character. It feels like a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get to work with someone as successful and experienced as he is.”

Fond memories

Squeezed between his speaking appearances, Odenkirk met with countless students, faculty, and staff, signing autographs and posing for photos.

He remarked on the beauty of campus and how it compared to his memories.

“It’s way more impressive than I had in my head,” he said. “It was such a sweet place to me. It’s a beautiful campus, ridiculously beautiful. It still has that great vibe. It feels like a place you can find yourself.”

He also made it a priority to stop by the former location of the WIDB radio station, which is now recognized by a plaque behind the towers on East Campus.

As he toured campus, Odenkirk took time to greet two groups of prospective students taking campus tours.

“I thrived here, and I always think of it fondly,” he said.

From Carbondale to Hollywood

After leaving SIU, Odenkirk moved to Chicago, where he performed comedy and took classes at the Players Workshop. He was later hired to write for “Saturday Night Live,” where he helped create beloved sketches such as “Da Bears” and “Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker.”

After many other writing credits and parts in film and TV, Odenkirk co-created the HBO sketch comedy show “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” alongside comedian David Cross. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Odenkirk could be found in a number of movies and television shows.

In 2009, he joined the cast of “Breaking Bad,” which catapulted him into the limelight. His character, lawyer Saul Goodman, quickly became a fan favorite. The character was also the focus of the “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul.”

Both shows were critically acclaimed, earning Odenkirk numerous awards and honors, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Odenkirk also recently starred in the hit movie, “Nobody,” and his newest show “Lucky Hank” premiered on AMC on March 19. “Lucky Hank” is based on the novel “Straight Man” by former SIU English professor Richard Russo.

Saluki Friendship Leads to Major Donation

Gift reinforces fund that support students with disabilities

Gail Mrkvicka headshot

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

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

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

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

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

A Friendship Rekindled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Commitment Reinforced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dr. Kelly Higgins: SIU Foundation Board Member and Loyal Supporter of SIU

Dr. Kelly Higgins HeadshotIt has been over 20 years since Dr. Kelly Higgins graduated from SIU School of Medicine, but her loyalty and commitment to the university are what brought her to the SIU Foundation Board of Directors.

“SIU gives students so many opportunities to change the course of their life. I just want to support it in any way I can,” Higgins said. “I got my undergraduate degree here, and I went on to get my medical degree from the SIU School of Medicine. You could say that my blood runs maroon.”

She graduated from SIU in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in physiology and a minor in chemistry. During her time as an undergraduate at the Carbondale campus, she was a member of the Saluki Softball team from 1992 to 1994 and a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

After graduating from SIU School of Medicine in 2001, she completed her residency training in internal medicine at the University of Tennessee in Memphis and served as chief resident for the Department of Internal Medicine from 2003 to 2004. She then practiced medicine in Memphis and Springfield, Illinois, before relocating to Carbondale in 2012. Dr. Higgins practiced medicine at Shawnee Healthcare for seven years before leaving clinical practice in 2020. During her time as an internist with Shawnee Healthcare, Dr. Higgins served as the assistant dean of students for the SIU School of Medicine on the Carbondale campus from January 2016 until June 2017. She also served as a clinical mentor to SIU School of Medicine first-year medical students and was voted Mentor of the Year for 2017-18.

Dr. Higgins is working as an adjunct assistant instructor in the Office of Education and Curriculum at SIU School of Medicine.

Dr. Higgins resides in Carbondale with her husband, Dr. Jeff Lehman, who is also a graduate of SIU School of Medicine Class of 2001, and two children, Lauren and Will. She is a lifetime member of the SIU Alumni Association. Dr. Higgins and her family enjoy attending SIU sporting events, and she enjoys coaching her daughter’s softball teams. Dr. Higgins is also a member of the Women’s Leadership Council and the Women’s Leadership Council Board of Directors, and will start mentoring students when this year’s program launches.

“We’ve been season ticket holders for SIU football and basketball for over 10 years, and we love watching our Salukis compete with some of the strongest teams in the nation,” she said. “The football team’s recent success has energized the university and the community, especially the win against Northwestern. We’re looking forward to a strong finish.”

Dr. Higgins is always encouraging others to give back to SIU and helping students. In July 2021, she was asked to become a board member for the SIU Foundation.

“I received a fantastic education from SIU, and the SIU Medical School is nationally recognized for its many achievements,” she said. “I encourage everyone to continue to support the university’s vision. Getting involved with the university and the SIU Foundation is a great way to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Saluki Women’s Weekend engages, inspires

Image of crowd of women at the Saluki Women's Weekend.

The inaugural Saluki Women’s Weekend celebrated the empowerment and continued advancement of women in education, athletics, and philanthropy.

Hosted by the SIU Foundation Women’s Leadership Council and Saluki Athletics, the two-day affair featured multiple events and many of SIU’s most inspiring women.

Starting on Friday, Sept. 9, with the Women in Philanthropy Luncheon at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, nearly 100 women gathered for an afternoon of engaging events.

The Women’s Leadership Council is a network of alumnae, parents, and friends who are committed to creating a culture of women-driven philanthropy at SIU and mentoring future generations of Salukis.

“Our mission is to build a powerful and diverse network of female philanthropists to support mentorships, scholarships, and gender-focused grants campuswide,” said Loren Lane, wife of Chancellor Austin Lane, in a video address at the beginning of the luncheon.

Diane Compardo speaks to the crowd at the inaugural Saluki Women's Weekend.Among the opening speakers was Diane Compardo, whose employer Moneta Group, presented the luncheon.

“We have underestimated the power of our philanthropic capital,” said Compardo, who is a member of the WLC board. “It’s not just about money. We must share our voices, talents, time, and wisdom.”

The power of Title IX

The weekend’s events partially centered around the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other educational program that receives federal funding.

Dr. Linda Baker gives her keynote speech at the Saluki Women's Weekend.The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Dr. Linda Baker, who held key managerial positions under three Illinois governors, including secretary of the Department of Human Services, before coming to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in 2003. Dr. Baker now focuses on expanding access to high-quality health care and helping minorities and people with disabilities realize their full potential.

“The impact of Title IX is all around us,” she said. “From the classroom to the boardroom to the halls of Congress, we can see it. I believe in the power of women. We have a responsibility to make a difference.”

Southern Illinois Healthcare hosted the Saluki Women’s Reception on Friday evening, during which Dr. Charlotte West was named the Saluki Woman of the Year. Dr. West retired as SIU’s associate athletics director in 1998 after serving 42 years as a faculty member, coach, and administrator. The Saluki Hall of Famer is considered a pioneer of Title IX, which she exemplified during her time with Saluki Athletics.

Marsha Ryan, MD/JD, and Lolita Mack were also honored. Ryan was honored with the Saluki Women’s Trailblazer Award, and Mack received the Saluki Women’s Emerging Leader Award.

Engaging with Saluki women

Yoga on the Lawn on Saturday morning for the Saluki Women's Weekend.Over a dozen women brought their mats to the lawn of Davies Gym on Saturday morning to participate in Yoga on the Lawn. Melissa Hahn, a WLC board member, led participants in the hour-long session.

“It was a great workout and a nice way to meet new people,” said Dr. Kelly Higgins, who is also a WLC board member, said after the session.

Later Saturday morning, Dawn Korte kicked off the Mentorship Brunch at Dunn-Richmond Center. The Mentorship Program was established by the WLC as a priority to facilitate the connection of students with successful women mentors. Its priorities include aligning classroom learning with real-life experiences, developing leadership skills, providing networking, and creating lifelong ties to each other and SIU.

Korte, who serves on the WLC board and hosted the event along with fellow board members Dr. Ryan and Julie Staley, said the initial goal was to have eight mentees for the year, but they are mentoring 17 young Saluki women.

“Every time I talk to one of my mentees, I learn something new,” said Korte. “I also get a deeper appreciation for the value they have to offer. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on progress we have made in our careers, polish our leadership skills, and create authentic relationships that we would not otherwise have.”

Tammera L. Holmes, CEO of Aerostar Aviation attended the Saluki Women's Weekend.Tammera L. Holmes, CEO of Aerostar Aviation attended the event. A 2000 graduate of SIU’s School of Aviation, Holmes said the Saluki Women’s Weekend provides a refreshing way to look at the progress SIU has made in gender equity.

“Seeing so many accomplished women come together is inspiring,” she said. “One of my professional goals is to create resources for my aviation program, and this weekend I have connected to so many people and have come away with valuable information and ideas.”

Other hosts for various events were SIU Credit Union, HireLevel, First Mid Bank & Trust, Walker’s Bluff, Walmart Marion Supercenter #216, Rendleman Orchards, Marion Sam’s Club No. 8180, and Panera Bread in Carbondale.

SIH, SIU partner for Saluki Women’s Weekend

Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) Logo

By Jeff Wilson

Excitement is building for the upcoming Saluki Women’s Weekend, which will be hosted by the SIU Women’s Leadership Council on September 9 and 10.

The two-day event will feature many events, open to the public, honoring the 50th anniversary of Title IX and celebrating women in education and philanthropy.

Southern Illinois Healthcare is one of the major supporters of the event and is sponsoring the Saluki Women’s Reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center.

“SIH is proud to support the Saluki Women’s Weekend,” said Sarah Gray, system director of business and economic development at SIH. “SIU’s efforts to connect with female students to develop leadership skills, professional skills, and exploring career paths post-graduation is beneficial for SIH as well. We are also invested in developing well-qualified candidates for job opportunities within our organization upon graduation.”

The SIU Women’s Leadership Council is a group focused on creating a pipeline of mentors for future and current female SIU students. Female Saluki alumni mentor female students as they experience college and prepare for the future.

“At SIH, just as important as the academic journey to discovering your career path as a young woman, is the importance of developing those professional relationships that can help you in reaching those goals,” Gray said. “Many of us have achieved our career aspirations by learning from other women who have paved the way before us. Having a professional network of female mentors to whom you can turn to for advice, to collaborate on some amazing projects, or even talk to in a safe space about possible career goals you may have, is a great way to realize those goals.”

Passed in 1972, Title IX prohibited sex-based discrimination in any school or educational program that receives funding from the government.

“Gender equality in leadership positions is a critical aspect of progressing the global economy,” Gray said. “Promoting women into leadership positions is crucial to ensuring that women are treated equally and assessed not on the basis of gender, but on the basis of their knowledge, skills, and abilities.”

The partnership during the Saluki Women’s Weekend is another step in the relationship between SIU and SIH. Recently, SIH announced the creation of a scholarship program for SIU’s accelerated Bachelor Science in Nursing program.

“As two of the region’s largest employers, it’s beneficial for SIH and SIU to work together to address needs in the region, including supporting students in their professional growth and connecting them with employment opportunities,” Gray said. “Our recent partnership with SIU on the nursing scholarship program is another notable example of meaningful collaboration between SIH and SIU to address the region’s workforce needs.”

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

Mueller, Deloitte Foundation make $100K investment in diversity

Pledge creates School of Accountancy fund to benefit students

Southern Illinois University Carbondale, like many institutions, has made diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority.

Beth Mueller, an SIU alumna and SIU Foundation board member, and the Deloitte Foundation, have made a financial commitment that reflects that mission.

Mueller, a Carterville native, recently made a pledge of $50,000 to the School of Accountancy, which the Deloitte Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar. Together, that $100,000 will establish the Deloitte Foundation Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fund at the School of Accountancy.

“It’s something the Deloitte Foundation and I are enthusiastic about,” Mueller said.

The goal is to bring more diversity into the accounting profession, particularly by making it easier for students to meet the requirements to achieve CPA certification. As a tax partner at Deloitte Tax LLP, Mueller knows firsthand the importance of representation.

“Incorporating DEI into an organization’s strategy is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense,” Mueller said. “Teams made up of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and points of view perform better.”

Strengthening the university’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion is one of the five pillars of Chancellor Austin Lane’s Imagine 2030 strategic plan. The College of Business and Analytics has been a leader in this area, and this pledge embodies the necessary dedication to that goal.

“Through this fund, we want to amplify SIU’s programs,” Mueller said. “SIU is positioned to serve a diverse population of students. It’s a place that has historically given all people a chance.”

The contribution by Deloitte Foundation reflects Deloitte’s ongoing dedication to driving greater diversity in accounting. Through its $75 million MADE (Making Accounting Diverse and Equitable) commitment, Deloitte is working to fuel greater racial and ethnic diversity in accounting through a comprehensive strategy that aims to attract more diverse individuals into the field and support them as they chart their pathway from high school to business professional to leadership in the profession.

While becoming a CPA requires proven professional qualifications, such as rigorous educational, exam, and experience requirements, this fund can help students aspire to a CPA career and cultivate inclusive pipelines of CPA talent.

“Many major organizations are seeking more diversity as a way to better reflect society as a whole,” Mueller said. “The underlying challenge the profession is facing is the ability to both drive awareness and attract diverse candidates to the tax and accounting field.”

Mueller sees this fund as part of a full-circle tool that can boost existing programs, increase awareness among younger students who are interested in accountancy, and help bridge the gap for those who plan to become CPAs.

“We want to advance students of diverse backgrounds and increase their visibility across the profession,” she said. “Many groups are underrepresented in the world of accountancy, and we feel very passionately about changing that trajectory.”

For more information about the SIU Foundation and how to give, visit siuf.org.