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.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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.

2022 Saluki Women Awards

The Saluki Women Awards celebrate and honor SIU alumnae who contribute to the advancement of female leaders, demonstrate exemplary leadership, and make significant contributions to our university.

Dr. Charlotte West headshotSaluki Woman of the Year: Dr. Charlotte West

Dr. West retired as SIUC’s Associate Athletics Director in 1998 after serving the university for 42 years as a faculty member, coach, and administrator. From 1957 to 1975, she coached five women’s sports: basketball, golf, softball, volleyball, and badminton. In 1969, West led the women’s golf team to a first-place national championship and the women’s basketball team to a fifth-place finish in the national championship. West’s women’s basketball teams went 113-51 in 12 seasons. She served as director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women from 1960 to 1986. Under her leadership at SIU, women’s athletics became a nationally recognized program with a budget of more than $1 million for 11 varsity sports. After the merger of SIU’s men’s and women’s athletics in 1986, she served as associate athletics director and senior woman administrator for one-year, interim director for one year, and returned to the role of associate athletic director and senior woman administrator until her retirement in 1998.

Dr. West is a pioneer for Title IX for her contributions as an advocate for Women’s sports.

Marsha Ryan headshotSaluki Women’s Trailblazer Award: Marsha Ryan, MD/JD

SIU Law Alumni, Assistant Professor, SIU School of Medicine, Adjunct Professor at SIU School of Law,  and Co-Chair of SIUF Women’s Leadership Council

Dr. Marsha Ryan earned her MD from the University of Oklahoma and finished her residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She practiced general and breast surgery in Carbondale until her retirement in 2017. Dr. Ryan received her JD from the SIU School of Law in 1987. Dr. Ryan has held several medical staff appointments at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, serving as chairman of the department of surgery and chief of staff. She was the medical director of SIH’s Breast Center.

In addition, Dr. Ryan served as president of the SIU Foundation Board and was the campaign chair for the Foundation’s $100 million-dollar Opportunity Through Excellence campaign. She is also a former member of the SIU Board of Trustees, serving from 2017 until 2019. Dr. Ryan serves as director of her family’s philanthropic 501 (c)(3) Garwin Family Foundation and has been very involved in the Carbondale Arts Community and has been the recipient of a variety of community and university awards.

Coach Lolita Mack headshotSaluki Women’s Emerging Leader Award: Lolita Mack

Ms. Mack is a two-time graduate of SIUC. She holds a B.F.A. degree in Graphic Design with a minor in Art History. In 2006, she received her M.S.Ed in Workforce Education and Development with a specialization in Program Leadership. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the W.E.D. program at SIUC. She has approximately 20 years of experience within the higher education field. Lolita currently serves as the President of the SIUC Black Alumni Group and the Past President of the Illinois TRIO Association. She gives back to her church (Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church), campuses (Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Southeastern Illinois College), and the entire southern Illinois community.

Lolita’s Favorite Quote: “Life is not about how much we get, it’s about how much we share and the impact we have in the life of others.”

Learn more about the Saluki Women’s Weekend on September 9 and 10, 2022, and support Saluki women trailblazers: siuf.org/saluki-women

Saluki Women’s Weekend 2022

The SIU Foundation Women’s Leadership Council is hosting the inaugural Saluki Women’s Weekend in partnership with Saluki Women’s Athletics. The weekend will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX and celebrate the accomplishments of all generations of Saluki women. In addition, the weekend will honor the first Saluki Woman of the Year, Saluki Woman Trailblazer, and the Saluki Woman Emerging Leader Awards.

The weekend will serve as a catalyst to celebrate, empower, engage, and stimulate thoughts on ways Saluki women can continue to stand on the shoulders of giants of excellence such as Dr. Charlotte West, a Title IX pioneer and women’s sports advocate.

Weekend Activities:

  • Women in Philanthropy Luncheon
  • Women Empowerment Mini-Conference
  • Keynote Address by Dr. Linda Baker, SIU Professor of the Paul Simon Public Policy. Dr. Baker is the former secretary for the State of Illinois Department of Human Services and is the first African American legislative liaison for an Illinois governor.
  • Saluki Women’s Reception
  • Yoga on the Lawn
  • Mentorship Brunch
  • Women In Athletics Luncheon
  • Fireside Chat
  • Ultimate Women Saluki Tailgating Experience

“The importance of celebrating and continuing to build equitable access to education for our female students is a high priority,” said Sherrica Hunt, director of development for diversity, equity, and inclusion, said. “The role of philanthropy in this space is beyond raising funds to support students and programs. It is also about creating paths to advocate for equitable representation to close the gender gaps and provide opportunities that allow all Saluki Women to thrive beyond any social or economic conditions. We look forward to our female alumni flooding the SIU campus. Go Dawgs!”

The weekend will support the Women’s Leadership Council mentorship program and campus micro-grants to support women’s initiative and the women in athletics initiative fund. To register for the weekend or sponsor the event, please visit siuf.org/saluki-women or contact Sherrica Hunt at sherricah@foundation.siu.edu if you have any questions.

“We are excited to host the inaugural Saluki Women’s Weekend this September to bring back SIU alumnae to campus,” said Steph Taylor, director of development. “This weekend will celebrate the impact of the generations before us had on equitable access to education and sports, but also continue to help close those gender gaps and barriers women continue to face. You can help us make an impact on the future of women’s initiatives on campus through philanthropic support, mentoring our students, and inviting your fellow Saluki women to attend the event with you. We will see you in September!”

About the Women’s Leadership Council

Established in 2020, the SIU 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. Council members contribute their time, energy, resources, and expertise by serving on university boards and championing SIU in their home regions. Embodying a legacy of leadership, the council collectively funds women’s initiatives and scholarships on campus.

Compardo: Going Forward Together

Diane Compardo HeadshotDiane Compardo is not afraid of hard work. In fact, the drive to succeed was instilled in her at an early age.

“Both of my parents grew up on farms in Illinois and they eventually owned two farms where I was raised. I was one of six children who helped tend to the livestock and various crops,” she said. “I still remember waking up at 5 a.m. with my siblings to go pull weeds out of the bean fields. Growing up on a farm taught me what I wanted out of life and what I did not.”

Compardo knew early on that she wanted to go to SIU.

“My dad was a first-generation Saluki who received his degree in agriculture. He loved SIU so it just felt natural that I would follow in his footsteps,” she said.

When her parents dropped her off at Thompson Point, it was a defining moment in her life.

“I came from a rural area with a small town and high school nearby, and suddenly here I was in what felt like a big city. It was both scary and exhilarating as I watched my parents drive away,” she said. “SIU made a big imprint in my life from that moment on.”

Compardo graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1991 and went on to receive her master’s degree in accounting in 1992.

The St. Louis resident’s career encompasses more than two and a half decades of high-level client service and management experience. Compardo began her career with the international accounting & consulting firm Price Waterhouse (now PwC). After rising to the level of manager at PwC, she left to join Moneta which today is consistently ranked as one of the largest Registered Investment Advisory firms in the country. At Moneta, she became the first professional in Moneta’s 150-year history to be promoted to the role of partner from within the firm’s advisor ranks. Today, Compardo leads her own team at Moneta comprised of 30 professionals specializing in providing financial planning & wealth management services to successful families throughout the world. A nationally recognized leader, Compardo has been consistently honored as one of America’s Top 100 Women Advisors by Forbes, Barron’s, and The Financial Times, and is the only advisor in Missouri named to all three lists. In 2018, The Wall Street Journal featured her for successfully developing a sustainable business and developing team talent to ensure a successful outcome to succession planning. Also in 2018, Ingram’s magazine named Compardo as one of “50 Missourians You Should Know.”

As president-elect of the SIU Foundation, Compardo’s goal is to be a passionate leader and a have big voice in reaching alumni who may have lost their connection with SIU.

“I would like to see more of our great alumni reconnect with SIU – see first-hand all the great things going on, find ways to give back, and perhaps help pay it forward to current Saluki students. It would be great to make it the university we remember when we were there,” she said. “It’s my hope that we continue to refocus and build on the momentum currently underway. After all, SIU gave us a great start on life and our careers, and it just makes sense for us to now lend a helping hand to students who need it.”

Compardo is also a well-known role model for professional women. In 2017 she was named by InvestmentNews as one of its “Women to Watch” based on her leadership. Working Mother magazine named her to its 2017 inaugural and subsequent lists of “Top Wealth Advisor Moms.”

“As my career grew, I became passionate about helping women obtain leadership roles in the financial services industry. As there are still comparatively few women role models and mentors in finance, I make it a point to mentor and coach as many women as possible in the industry to help them succeed,” she said.

Compardo is a longtime SIU supporter. She and her husband, Ron Wienstroer whom she met while at SIU, established the Compardo/Wienstroer School of Accounting Endowment Fund at SIU. They are both members of the SIU College of Business & Analytics Hall of Fame, the Rehn Society, and lifelong members of the SIU Alumni Association. Compardo currently serves on the Boards for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and the Guardian Angel Settlement Association.

Compardo spends as much free time as possible with family. She enjoys reading, golfing, running, and spending time with friends. She and her husband have three children, Alex, 21, Sam, 19, and Jack, 15.

A love of teaching inspires others

Lida and her class at Tamaroa Grade School where she began her teaching career.

Lida Lisenby Taylor’s life and commitment to education are being remembered through a scholarship fund set up by her daughter, Cynthia Taylor Rice.

The Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship Fund is awarded to a student enrolled in the school of education and majoring in teaching, counseling, or administration. The student must be a graduate of DuQuoin High School, Pinckneyville High School, or Tamaroa Grade School.

The scholarship was created by Rice in honor of her mother, who strongly believed in the power of an education.

“She came from a family of educators. My mom began her teaching career in Tamaroa after graduating from SIU in 1942. She was offered a position in DuQuoin where she taught English and Latin until her retirement in 1968,” Rice said.

Rice said that through the years she has met many of her mother’s students and they would share how important Latin and her mother were to them throughout their lives.

Lida and her roommates in front of their Carbondale boarding
house when it was Southern Illinois Normal.

“I had one of her former students tell me what an influence my mom had been on his life. He said my mother wasn’t just a teacher but an educator of the highest degree. His message and the many letters she received from scholarship recipient students have made me very proud of my mother and her influence on others,” Rice said.

When Taylor passed away in 2003, Rice went through the process of cleaning out her mother’s home.

“I found Latin projects and posters and memorabilia throughout the house. She had Roman chariots and Parthenon replicas everywhere. I remember one of her biggest projects was throwing a Roman banquet for the students. They wore togas and drank Roman punch. She pulled out all the stops for her students,” Rice said.

Rice said the scholarship is a way for her mother to continue to influence future educators.

“There are not too many things in the world that are more important than being a teacher and loving what you do. That philosophy very accurately describes my mother and her love of teaching,” said Rice.

Meet Jamie Newton, recipient of the Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship

Jamie Newton, a senior majoring in elementary education is a recipient of the Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship. Newton looks forward to teaching first or second grade after she graduates.

“I’ve always had a love of school and learning. SIU has provided me with the tools and confidence so I can be a good educator,” Newton said.

Newton is grateful for the Lida Lisenby Taylor scholarship and how it has lessened the burden of her student loans.

“I would like to tell Mrs. Rice how thankful I am that they have so graciously chosen me to be the recipient of the Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship. I feel so grateful to have her support because she has helped give me the opportunity to further my education at SIU. The scholarship has definitely helped lift some of the weight of student loans,” she said. “Although Mrs. Rice does not know me personally, she will always be a part of my journey throughout college and into my future career. Her contribution has left its mark on my life and will affect the students that I will one day teach.”

Newton hopes others will follow in the path of Mrs. Rice and give to students who need financial assistance.

“For many students like me, scholarships help pursue our dreams and lessen the burden of student loans. Being the recipient of a scholarship, I understand how it comforts us to know that we don’t have to be alone while trying to pursue our dreams,” she said. “I also hope that someday I will provide the same sense of relief that I have felt after receiving a scholarship.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Putnam: Promoting a University of Access

It’s been 40 years since Adaire Putnam graduated from SIU, but her continued affinity for the school and its students is what brought her to the SIU Foundation Board of Directors.

“SIU is a tremendous place. It’s very important to me,” Putnam ’81 said. “My husband and I sent our two kids to SIU as students, but it wasn’t until recently that I became more involved on campus.”

It was a fellow alumnus who urged Putnam to join the SIU College of Business Advisory Board. She eventually became the chair of that board and was later elected to the SIU Foundation Board.

“The work done by the SIU Foundation is very powerful,” she said. “Our donors are investing in the future.”

Since joining the SIU Foundation Board in 2015, Putnam said she’s been excited by what she’s witnessed.

“I’m passionate about helping first-generation students, especially those of limited means,” she said. “Through scholarships and other programs, we’re able to help ensure that SIU is a university of access. I encourage alumni and others to continue to support the university’s vision.”

From then to now

After transferring to SIU following one year at Illinois Wesleyan, Putnam graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications in just two years. During this time, she also worked as an administrative assistant in the Department of Anthropology.

“Coming from a big city high school in Chicago, SIU was a good fit for me,” she said. “I was able to achieve my goals thanks to the dedicated faculty and outstanding courses.”

Directly thereafter, she started her lifelong career in corporate communications. She has worked for a number of large, global companies, including Edelman and Ketchum public relations agencies and Kellogg Company.

Currently, she’s the owner and president of Putnam Communications, helping companies advance and protect their reputations.

Through the years, she’s spent time living and working in Chicago and Michigan, but nowadays, she works and lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

“I’ve been working remotely long before the pandemic took it mainstream,” she said. “If I need to be in the U.S. for a meeting, I’m just a short flight away.”

While Putnam doesn’t live near SIU these days, her connection to the university has never been stronger.

“It’s never too late to get involved,” she said. “This is where I feel I can make a difference.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.