Couple of educators: Dan & Kathy Wheeler fund scholarship for future teachers

Dan and Kathy Wheeler

Dan and Kathy Wheeler

By Jeff Wilson

Dan and Kathy Wheeler’s passion for Southern Illinois University may only be eclipsed by their passion for education.

“SIU is part of the family,” said Kathy Wheeler. “We know it’s the primary resource for students from southern Illinois to get a higher education and become teachers. That’s where our hearts lie.”

The couple has established the Bryan-Peak Endowed Scholarship, which benefits students in the College of Education and Human Services. The name of the scholarship honors the couple’s maternal grandparents, Robert and Edith Sellars Bryan and Alexander and Marvel Klasing Peak, as well as Kathy’s mother, Lou Ellen Peak Reagan.

Both families have strong ties to the region, university and education profession. The Bryans were from southern Illinois and lived most of their lives there, and the Peaks spent their adult lives in Herrin. Lou Ellen was born in Herrin, worked as a school secretary at Southside Elementary and Herrin Junior High School and was a graduate of SIU’s Vocational Technical Institute.

Dan Wheeler graduated from SIU in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies, and Kathy Wheeler completed much of her master’s program at SIU.

“Nobody in my family had ever gone to college before,” said Dan Wheeler. “I received a small teacher’s scholarship and worked at the university post office. I had to work pretty hard, so I didn’t take full class loads.”

Kathy Wheeler, a southern Illinois native, was an undergraduate at Murray State in Kentucky, but returned home during breaks and the summer. Through mutual friends, she and Dan were introduced. In June of 1967, they were married.

“I fell in love with Danny at Morris Library,” she said.

When they decided to help future educators, their affinity for SIU made a scholarship the obvious choice.

“We see SIU as continuing to be very important for the southern Illinois area,” Dan Wheeler said. “We wanted to think about something that will last beyond our lifetime. I have a blessed life and career because of SIU.”

Teachers & advocates

After a stint in the Army, Dan Wheeler began his teaching career at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Herrin. He has also taught middle school in Christopher, Illinois, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Kathy Wheeler taught English for a decade at her alma mater, Herrin High School. She has also worked with the National Education Association, National Society of Public Relations Association and as trainer and advocate for teacher’s associations across the country.

“Public education and those who provide it are crucial to America and our way of life,” Kathy Wheeler said. “Everybody gets to come through the door. People we’re supporting with this scholarship will do the best they can with whoever walks through that door. It’s so valuable to who we are at heart.”

The Wheelers are acutely aware of the issues that teachers can face.

“Teaching is an undervalued profession,” Dan Wheeler said. “People that go into it, and stay in it, are very dedicated. For us to be able to promote the profession and help those who want to be a part of it, that’s a special thing.”

For more information on how to support student scholarships, visit foreversiu.org.

 

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Shaping the future through philanthropy

Nancy Mundschenk

By Jeff Wilson

It may seem obvious to say education is the heart of a university, but at SIU, that statement rings especially true.

That’s why Nancy Mundschenk and her husband, Paul, established the Teachers Shape the Future matching fund for the SIU Day of Giving on Wednesday, March 6. They’ll be matching donations up to a total of $5,000 to benefit the Office of Teacher Education within the College of Education and Human Services.

“We’re so proud of the tradition here, but we’re also looking to the future,” said Mundschenk, director of teacher education.

With its roots as a normal school, which was the term used for colleges that focused on training teachers, SIU’s history is one based in educating educators. As the university celebrates its 150th birthday, Mundschenk wants to put the spotlight on the important role educators play.

When walking past the Office of Teacher Education in the Wham Building, one can’t help but notice the Post-it notes filling up the window. On each one, a current teaching candidate has written about an educator that inspired them.

“It’s really the rollout of a yearlong celebration,” Mundschenk said. “It’s a reminder that we’re surrounded by educators, and it allows us to demonstrate that in a very personal way.”

There are teacher prep programs throughout the university, and teaching candidates in each college would benefit from the Mundschenks’ matching gift. The money will help pay for several things, including students’ licensure tests, which cost $300.

“Education is a gift,” Mundschenk said. “It’s fundamental to a democratic society, and SIU plays a critical role in that.”

For more information about the Day of Giving or to make a gift, visit siuday.siu.edu/ehs.

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SIU Day of Giving’s Rest of the Story

SIU Teacher Education Program Pinning Ceremony

For the 2018 SIU Day of Giving, Nancy and Paul Mundschenk had one simple goal: Ensure all students graduating from SIU’s Teacher Education Program had a proper pinning ceremony.

After making a $5,000 gift to the Teachers Shape the Future Fund, they challenged others to do the same.

“Everyone got involved,” said Nancy Mundschenk, director of the Office of Teacher Education. “To see the support for our future teachers was incredibly touching.”

Mundschenk said the pinning ceremony symbolizes an important milestone for the candidates – the moment they transition from students to professional educators.

“Each teacher candidate was called up on stage in the Guyon Auditorium and pinned by their public school mentor teachers. A personal note about the candidate, highlighting their strengths and sharing how they had matured as an educator during their time as a student teacher was read by their SIU Faculty Clinical Supervisor,” Mundschenk said.

After the pinning, the new teachers read the Educator’s Oath together, affirming their dedication to the profession.

The money raised during the SIU Day of Giving went toward the expense of the ceremony. The remaining funds will cover some of the cost of the teaching performance assessment, which is a required test that all candidates must pass before receiving their teaching license. The test is $300, and Mundschenk hopes to give at least $100 to each candidate.

“We celebrate the fact that these candidates are preparing to go out and shape the future of some young people. There’s no more meaningful profession,” Mundschenk said.

One such candidate was Jason Seaman, a COEHS alumnus and Indiana middle school teacher, who garnered national attention for his heroic actions during a May school shooting. Seaman was grand marshal of this year’s Homecoming festivities.

The college is already looking forward to the next SIU Day of Giving scheduled for March 6, 2019.

Estate gift will help others rise

Susan McClary (left) and her parents, Dan and Toccoa McClary (right).

Susan McClary (left) and her parents, Dan and Toccoa McClary (right).

By Rebecca Renshaw and Jeff Wilson

Dan and Toccoa McClary worked to ensure that their daughter, Susan McClary, had every opportunity to succeed. She didn’t let them down.

Susan, a renowned musicologist and 1968 SIU graduate, is furthering her parents’ mission by making a $400,000 estate gift through the SIU Foundation. The Don and Toccoa McClary Scholarship will benefit female Native American or African American students who enter programs focused on science, technology, engineering or math (commonly known as STEM).

Her parents were SIU professors who taught microbiology and math. Her father, who was Cherokee, grew up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. He served in World War II; through the GI Bill, he was able to attend college and earn his doctorate.

“My parents were deeply committed to education, because the education they received allowed them to get out of the Dust Bowl,” Susan said. “They made an enormous jump in life by the virtue of education.”

That drive was instilled in their daughter, and Susan took their ambition to another level. After earning a bachelor’s degree in music from SIU, she received her master’s and doctoral degrees in musicology from Harvard University.

“My parents insisted on excellence in education. It was clear I had to make the best grades and always be focused on moving forward,” Susan said. “My father wept when he learned I was going to Harvard.”

She went on to hold a number of positions in higher education, spending time at the University of Minnesota, McGill University, the University of Oslo and UCLA. Currently, she is a professor in the Department of Music at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I work with a program that brings kids from the inner city to campus,” Susan said. “My parents would want kids who are disadvantaged to have the same opportunities I did.”

Her many accomplishments include being awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship from 1995 to 2000. In the spring of 2017, she received an honorary Doctor of Music Arts degree from SIU, the place her parents loved so dearly.

“It’s a beautiful area. My parents loved going to Giant City and Little Grassy,” she said. “The landscape is just gorgeous.”

Dan and Toccoa McClary stayed in Carbondale until their deaths in 1984 and 2005, respectively.

“It was quite obvious that I wanted to reinvest in higher education,” Susan said. “SIU is a really good place for kids who are the first generation to get their degrees. It’s where the money will have the greatest impact.”

For more information about the Forever SIU campaign, visit www.foreversiu.org.

 

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Mundschenks challenge others to give

Nancy Mundschenk, director of teacher education

If there is one thing Nancy Mundschenk, director of teacher education, is passionate about, it is the Office of Teacher Education and the important work of teacher preparation at SIU. She and her husband, Paul, are setting up a $5,000 SIU Day of Giving challenge for a newly established Teachers Shape the Future fund that will directly support teacher candidates.

Mundschenk says she wants everyone to know that the Office of Teacher Education in the College of Education and Human Services works with faculty and staff across the university to prepare outstanding teacher candidates that graduate every year from SIU.

“I think some people don’t realize that we have teachers who come from the College of Agriculture, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science, in addition to the College of Education and Human Services. All of these exceptional graduates will go out into the world and teach the next generation of students in classrooms from early childhood through high school,” she said.

Nancy Mundschenk, director of teacher education

“We are a living example of dynamic synergy across many programs. I firmly believe the Office of Teacher Education is one of the shining gems in the crown of this university and we want to provide a tangible commitment to this program.”

The Mundschenks encourage everyone to share in their pride of our teacher candidates. To give to Teachers Shape the Future fund, visit siuday.siu.edu and give a gift today or on March 7.

Beggs work to better SIU, COEHS

Don and Shirley Beggs

By Rebecca Renshaw

The Forever SIU fundraising campaign is in full swing. The SIU Foundation is more than half way to reaching its goal of raising $75 million by December 2019. In fact, more than $51 million (or 68 percent) has already come in.

“We’ve raised a lot in a short time, given the fact this campaign is a three-year effort,” said Jim Salmo, SIU Foundation chief executive officer. “We are getting a better response than we originally projected.”

The campaign’s success is due to its benefactors and volunteers. Don and Shirley Beggs check both those boxes and are working on behalf of the College of Education and Human Services.

“Dean (Matthew) Keefer approached us at the MVC Tournament in St. Louis last spring and asked if we would act as the college’s campaign volunteers,” Shirley Beggs said. “Of course, we were thrilled to be of service to a college where our roots run so deep.”

Don Beggs was the dean of the College of Education and Human Services, a post he held until becoming chancellor in 1996. After his tenure in Carbondale, he retired from SIU and became the 12th president of Wichita State University in January 1999. He retired from WSU in 2012.

“The College of Education will always have a soft spot in our hearts because it was instrumental in our careers and family heritage,” Shirley Beggs said. “Don’s grandmother went to SIU Normal in 1890, Don’s mom graduated in 1926 with a teaching degree. Don and I both got our undergraduate and graduate degrees from the college, and both of our children graduated with degrees from the College of Education and Human Services. To say we are committed to SIU, and especially the college, would be an understatement.”

Having careers at SIU that span more than 30 years, the Beggs have formed relationships with thousands of alumni. With Dean Keefer’s assistance, the Beggs are reaching out to those alumni for their support in furthering the Forever SIU campaign.

“We know how much SIU means to us, and we want it to thrive, and we want our students to be successful,” Shirley Beggs said. “So we hope we can bring our knowledge and the relationships we have established to help the Forever SIU campaign in every way possible.”

For more information about the campaign, visit www.foreversiu.org.

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Childress Scholarship grows benefitting business students

James B. and Rosemary Samuel Childress

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Braden Drake had been paying his own way through Southern Illinois University Carbondale, so learning he was one of this year’s James B. and Rosemary Samuel Childress Scholarship recipients was quite a relief.

Drake, a senior accounting major from Carterville, said the scholarship was a big help in paying tuition, fees, books, apartment expenses, medical and vehicle insurance bills and other costs of living. He was also excited to learn that upon their deaths, the Carterville couple added a $2 million bequest to SIU’s scholarship fund bearing their names, allowing students to benefit even more from the scholarships in the future.

“Any time I’m able to receive a scholarship, it helps me get one step closer to covering my expenses without having to take out any student loans,” Drake said. “I really want to thank the Childresses for their donation to College of Business students and helping me be able to reach my goals.”

Drake is slated to graduate in May 2018 and plans to continue his education at SIU to obtain his master’s in accountancy with the goal of becoming a CPA and working for an accounting firm in the St. Louis, Springfield or Indianapolis areas. Upon graduating, he’ll also be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Illinois Army National Guard; he enlisted in November 2013.

James and Rosemary “Dee” Childress married as high school sweethearts before James went off to serve as an electrician’s mate with the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during World War II. He returned to his hometown, graduated from Carterville High School and then earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The couple lived in a small second-story apartment, and he worked at the Carterville Post Office to put himself through school.

While their married life began with meager means, James became a successful businessman. Over the course of his career, he went on to own or co-own various steel erection, construction and sales businesses as well as motels and nursing homes in the Midwest and south, according to Robert Howerton, a relative of the couple who served as their attorney. Hard work and wise investing grew the Childress fortune, Howerton said.

“They were unable to have children but they were very successful, very devoted to each other, very family-oriented and very generous and charitable to others,” Howerton said. “They also realized the value of a good education and wanted to do something to help other people, people who they hoped could also go on to be successful if they just had a little help.”

Thus, the Childress’ philanthropy included SIU. The couple originally endowed a scholarship at James’ college alma mater in August 1989, earmarking the funds to go each year to SIU business students who are graduates of high schools in Jackson or Williamson counties or to students who graduated from community colleges and high schools within those counties. Financial need is considered and preference goes to students who are working to help cover their college expenses. Applicants must also submit an essay. Recipients are eligible to apply for a scholarship renewal.

Receiving a Childress scholarship this semester helped Emily Kerrens of Murphysboro transfer to SIU as a junior accounting major “with a lot less stress about finances,” she said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that this and other scholarships has given me.”

After completing her bachelor’s degree, she plans to obtain her master’s degree and become a CPA, working in the tax field.

Stephen Dickman, a junior transfer student from Marion, is a marketing major with career plans in sales. He said he’s grateful to have received a Childress scholarship this fall to help pay for his tuition and books.

Dee Childress passed away in July 2015 and her husband died the following May. Both were 90 at the times of their deaths, and they had given untold amounts through the years to charitable causes, particularly education, civic, health, historical and relief organizations. Their final wish was to offer a helping hand to even more young people, so they added a $2 million gift to SIU’s James B. and Rosemary S. Childress Scholarship endowment. SIU Foundation officials estimate the fund will now generate about $80,000 annually that can be awarded to SIU business students.

“We know scholarships make a difference in the lives of our students,” said SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.  “We at the university witness that every day. The Childresses felt that impact while they were living. Seeing how scholarships affected students meant a great deal to them. Their bequest to the Childress Endowment will help students in the College of Business in an even more significant way for years to come. Those students and SIU are most appreciative of the Childress’ generosity.”

 

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Provost’s $25K gift spurred by pride, passion

Dr. Susan Ford gives back to SIU.

By Rebecca Renshaw

As a nationally renowned researcher and current SIU provost, Susan Ford understands the powerful impact that giving back has on the future. Since she came to SIU in 1979, Ford has served as a mentor to many graduate and undergraduate students and taught thousands more.

Even though Ford’s schedule as interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at SIU is full, she still manages to also teach a core curriculum online course.

“For almost 40 years, I have been teaching at SIU,” she said. “I have a true passion for it and for my students here at SIU. Through my teaching, I can help to positively impact the next generation.”

During SIU’s first Day of Giving on March 1, Ford donated $25,000 to establish an endowed scholarship for graduate students in SIU’s Department of Anthropology, her academic home, noting that she has been considering making a significant gift for some time.

“Although I grew up and went to school on the east coast, SIU has always been special to me. SIU let me build my career and has been home to my research,” Ford said. “I have a deep connection to this university and believe strongly in this institution. I have made lifelong friendships. All of my immediate family members are also SIU alums. It just has a special place in my heart and my family’s heart.”

One glance around her office reflects Ford’s passion for SIU, her research and for life. Her lifelong dedication to researching South American primates is evident in the mementos and photographs of research expeditions. Her interests in photography and travel are evident as well. But one item that hangs at the entry of her office reveals a generational pattern of a philanthropic heart.  A framed message sent in 1940 from Ford’s great grandmother to her grandson during Christmas reads, in part,

“We are told that ‘brotherhood and love are the paramount features of the Christmas message. Giving gifts is merely a method of expressing such sentiment’… My wish for you is that you may find a sense of brotherhood for all those who touch your life – that love may become the motive of a life lived largely and fully. These are the things that make life worthwhile.”

Ford’s generosity, her love for SIU, and her firm belief that SIU will continue to stand strong and offer a great education to future students is a direct reflection of her great grandmother’s words so eloquently expressed nearly 80 years ago.  She urges others to join her in sharing their collective passion for SIU.

“I believe in this institution with all my heart,” she said. “I decided to establish an endowment for the future because I believe we are still going to be attracting the best and the brightest for decades to come.”

If you would like to give to Southern Illinois University, please contact us at 618/453-4900.

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World Travelers Give Back to Their Roots

Darlene Albert Knott, World Travelers Give Back to Their Roots

by Rebecca Renshaw

Nine hundred dollars. That was all she needed to remain in school.

But Darlene Albert Knott just didn’t have it.

That was back in 1969, when she was a sophomore at SIU.

Knott grew up in the small town of Mulberry Grove, Illinois in a farming family of five children. While the family always had food on the table, her parents didn’t have the extra money to continue her education in Carbondale after her sophomore year. And for her father, debt was something to be avoided.

“My father never borrowed money for my education,” she said. “He was just co-signing on a loan on my behalf. It was my responsibility to pay it back. He just did not like debt and thought I had already borrowed too much for the first two years. … So I had to withdraw from school. It broke my heart.”

It was a setback – though, thankfully, not a permanent one – for an intelligent young woman who made good grades in high school and impressed her high school math teacher so much that she encouraged her to apply to SIU.

She did – and, with a loan of $1,800, she arrived in Carbondale in 1967.

“My parents basically just dropped me off in front of Bowyer Hall in Thompson Point, and there I was,” she said. “I knew no one – and, coming from a tiny, rural area, I thought Carbondale was this huge city. I met all types of people from other cultures and countries, and it was magical.

“While most kids complain about the size or condition of their dorm rooms, I thought mine was wonderful because it had an indoor bathroom.”

Mark Knott, a Saluki patrol student at the time, recalls how he met his future wife.

“I was walking my rounds, and I kept running into this gorgeous girl in Lentz Hall,” he said. “She turned me down several times, but finally she agreed to go out with me. I was smitten.”

The Knotts agree that their professors at SIU made a tremendous impact on their lives.

“They were so passionate about what they were doing, and they took a genuine interest in the students,” Darlene Knott said. “I think that’s why SIU remains so near and dear to our hearts; it’s because of the influence of our professors.

“That, and the fact that we fell in love there.”

The couple married in 1970, and Mark Knott soon was drafted into the Vietnam War. By carefully saving their money, the Knotts returned to SIU and earned their degrees in 1975. They experienced successful careers in accounting and in securities brokerage firms until both retired to pursue a shared passion for travel. They have visited all seven continents, and their favorite destination is Africa, which they have visited 10 times.

“Our college educations transformed our lives, and we believe that education is the key to success and opportunity,” Darlene Knott said. “I look back at my life growing up in a rural community, and kids just weren’t encouraged to go onto college. Mark and I want to change that, so we created a scholarship for students in the Mulberry Grove area to receive an SIU scholarship for four years of room and board.

“We know that education was the opportunity to get out of a limited environment and go on to do something better. We just want to lend a helping hand so that no student should have to drop out of college and miss an opportunity to find success.”

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Achenbach shares rock-solid support for Campus Lake

Dean Achenbach gives back to SIU Campus Lake.

By Rebecca Renshaw

Laurie Achenbach has dedicated her professional life to science and SIU. On March 1, she strengthened that commitment by donating $10,000 on SIU’s inaugural Day of Giving.

Her generous gift was the first individual donation on the Day of Giving and was directed toward the Campus Lake Beautification Project. She challenged others to join her in the effort to restore and enhance one of the preeminent landmarks on campus.

“The lake is what brings us all together each day,” Achenbach, the dean of the College of Science, said. “You can step out of your office and walk a few feet to the edge of the lake and be transported by its beauty.”

Her donation will be used for an illuminated boulder, which will sit prominently in the water and be known as Achenbach Rock. The name will have special meaning to Achenbach, who said her siblings joked about having a male child and naming him Rock Achenbach.

“So this naming opportunity kind of made our collective family wish come true,” she said with a smile.

This isn’t the first time Achenbach has made a major donation to the university. In 2011, she created an endowed scholarship in her parents’ name as a way to honor their devotion to the importance of education.

“I came from a family of six children, and my work ethic came directly from my parents,” she said. “They instilled in each of us that getting an education is the fuel that will give you a better life.”

Achenbach came to SIU in 1990 as an assistant professor of microbiology. She steadily rose through the ranks, serving as associate dean before being named dean of the College of Science in 2014. Grateful for the opportunities the university has afforded her, she thought it was important to make a lasting impact.

“Through SIU, I was able to travel the world and do the research I loved most. Yet, it was always a joy to come home to Carbondale — to live, work and raise a family in a smaller community,” she said. “SIU gave me this life, and I feel strongly about giving back.”

Chelsea Coursey, director of development for the College of Science, said it sends a powerful message to members of the SIU community when they see such a positive example.

“Dean Achenbach is a thought leader on campus, and she serves as a powerful influence,” Coursey said.

Achenbach urged others to join her in sharing their collective passion for SIU.

“As I reflect on my life here, I feel so lucky,” she said. “It’s time I show my gratitude and show my pride for SIU and what it represents.”