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


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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 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

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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.”


Turning Dreams into a Reality

Lori Quig Scholarhsip Donor at Southern Illinois University

By Rebecca Renshaw

It often is said that while most of us dream about great things, engineers just go and do them.

That certainly rings true for Lori Quigg, a 1991 alumna of the SIU College of Engineering. Quigg didn’t let the fact that she was entering a male-dominated field stop her when she began her engineering education in 1988. She worked hard, made the grades and did the work necessary to get her degree.

Nor did it stop her a few years later, when she decided to start her own engineering firm.

“When you wake up one day and say, ‘Today is the day I’m going to go $500,000 in debt’ – well, that took some courage and perseverance,” she says, laughing. “But I did it somehow. There’s a fine line between being really smart and really stupid. Fortunately for me, everything worked in my favor.”

Quigg Engineering Inc., now headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, has seen steady success and growth over the past 10 years.

“We went from two employees in a little office in Jacksonville to now over 75 employees in multiple offices in Illinois, as well as Iowa and Florida,” Quigg says. “Yes, I work hard, but the saying is certainly true for me that ‘when you enjoy what you do, you are not really working.’ I go 24/7. In fact, my entire family’s motto is, ‘Work hard, play hard.’ ”

Quigg attributes much of her success to SIU.

“I loved SIU because the professors actually taught me what I needed to know,” she says. “Sometimes, at large universities, professors spend all their time on research while teaching assistants do the teaching. Not SIU. I found that my professors who taught me were all very accessible and caring. That made a big impact on me that I’ve never forgotten.”

Quigg recently decided to give back to SIU and help those following in her footsteps by establishing an endowed scholarship for female engineering students.

“Whenever I see an issue, I always try to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem,” she says. “I have seen a problem in the state of Illinois in hiring female and minorities. The fact is there is a definite shortage of female engineers. Even the Illinois Department of Transportation is being forced to search for job candidates in other states because there are so few female candidates.”

Quigg says that her daughter, a pre-med student at SIU, continues to see women struggle in traditionally male-dominated fields.

“I always knew for the last 20 years that I wanted to start a scholarship specifically for women,” Quigg says. “I know how much an education costs, and how frustrating it can be. This is something I did because I have walked that path. Now I want to give a helping hand to other women who want to pursue this type of degree.”

Quigg wants students to know that getting a degree in engineering doesn’t mean they must be exceptionally gifted students.

“I always tell young people that they don’t have to be brainiacs,” she says. “I assure them that, as long as they are mathematically inclined, they will be fine. They will be taught and they will learn. I also want them to know that an engineering degree can open so many doors of opportunity. From transportation to oil and gas or the government, engineers are needed in so many fields.

“It’s a great career choice as a woman, especially if you want to raise a family someday. I have always made my family a priority throughout my career, and I want to encourage other women to do the same, if that is their goal. My career choice has truly allowed me to have the best of both worlds.”

Planting Seeds of Philanthropy

Juh and Lin Chen

By Rebecca Renshaw

If you have the good fortune of visiting the home of Juh Wah Chen and Han Lin Chen in rural Carbondale, the phrase “bloom where you are planted” might spring to mind. Up and down the front sidewalk and spilling into the surrounding yard are breathtaking flowers and greenery – some cultivated, some exotic, and all astonishingly beautiful.

Han Lin Chen, a former professor at the SIU School of Engineering, began her gardening efforts upon her retirement in 1990.

“The soil was mostly hard clay, but I found I could dig one plant up where it wasn’t thriving and move it to another place that allowed it to grow,” she says.

The results are impressive.

The milestones in the Chens’ professional careers are impressive, too. Upon joining the SIU faculty in 1965, Juh Wah Chen and his wife, Han Lin Chen, began laying down stakes in Carbondale, raising their three children and helping grow the College of Engineering into the expansive success it is today.

Juh Wah Chen also retired from the college after serving as its dean for 10 years.

“I remember riding on the train from Chicago to Carbondale with Dean Julian Lauchner, who was a bit of an exaggerator at times,” he recalls. “Trying to lure me from my position at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, he told me great stories of SIU’s College of Engineering, about its facilities and the campus. It was only when we arrived in Carbondale when the dean confessed that the buildings were still under construction.”

“Nevertheless, because my wife had attended SIU earlier and received a master’s degree in chemistry, I already had a special place in my heart for both the community and the college. We moved our family to Carbondale, where we raised them in a little home on Skyline Drive. I saw the opportunity for growth Dean Lauchner laid before me, and I was up for the challenge.”

Adds Han Lin Chen: “We thought it was great because our children could walk to and from Winkler School, which was just down the block. Life was good in those days. It still is.”

Their affinity for growing and nurturing became evident throughout the next 33 years. Their biographies both contain a long list of “firsts” and are filled with major accomplishments, such as:

  • Juh Wah Chen developed the doctoral program in engineering science, was granted a half-million dollars from the Federal Department of Energy for a coal science project and in 1989 became dean of the college.
  • Han Lin Chen was one of the first few female faculty in the college. She helped the female students initiate the “Women in Engineering” program and served as an advisor for many years. She was also the first female faculty member to receive tenure from the college.

Even though both are now retired from SIU, the Chens retain a strong commitment to the university.

“Back when we were both active at the college, we would always have students over at our house, Han Lin Chen says. “We just opened the door to them and made sure we had food on hand. I remember one time we had over 100 students at our house. They were like family.”

Because of their love for the university and the community, the Chens recently established a School of Engineering Excellence Fund to provide undergraduate scholarships, assistance to young faculty members, and funds for external activities such as sponsoring guest speakers. The Excellence Fund will complement the couple’s two existing scholarship endowment funds to the college.

“SIU is our entire life,” Juh Wah Chen says. “We have always done the best we can for SIU and the College of Engineering. For us, money is of secondary importance. We live a simple life, and we don’t like to see things go to waste. If we can help and contribute, then we will. We just want to see SIU become sustainable, and we want to help move it forward.”

Han Lin Chen adds that the fellowship SIU offered her as a student was instrumental to her success.

“Without it, I know I would not have been able to come to the United States,” she says. “I am very grateful to SIU and all it has done for our family.”

Jeanne Hurley Simon Scholarship: Paying it Forward


By Rebecca Renshaw

We all know of power couples who have the influence to do big things in our world and make it a point to help those less fortunate.

SIU Carbondale takes pride and honor being associated with its own power couple: Paul and Jeanne Simon. Together, they forged a new landscape for the university, the state and the country.

When Paul Simon, an Illinois Democrat, left the United States Senate in 1997, Jeanne Simon joined him on SIU’s faculty as an adjunct professor of library affairs. Together, they helped found and shape the agenda of the SIU Public Policy Institute.

In 1993, Jeanne Simon had been named chair of the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, a post to which President Bill Clinton reappointed her in 1997. In that position she promoted literacy programs and financing for libraries.

David Yepsen, director of what is now the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, had this to say about the Jeanne Simon’s contributions: “She was a pioneering figure in her own right and was considered a true trailblazer. She was one of the few women law students at Northwestern University and one of the first female representatives in the General Assembly.”  Although Jeanne Simon passed away in 2000, Paul Simon continued their legacy until his passing in 2003.

A longtime Simon friend and former dean of SIU Library Affairs, Carolyn Wagner Snyder, sought a way to honor Jeanne Hurley Simon. Snyder helped establish the Jeanne Hurley Simon Memorial Scholarship to honor her life and legacy. In the last few months, Snyder and associate director, Delio Calzolari have worked tirelessly to raise commitments to endow the scholarship. Their small, but dedicated team has raised more than $60,000 so far.

The scholarship will honor Jeanne Simon’s legacy by providing financial assistance, mentorship and other opportunities to Illinois students interested in public service careers.

“In a very real way, this scholarship is an effort to keep Jeanne Simon’s mission alive by ‘paying it forward’ for other young women who want to pursue public service as Jeanne did,” Yepsen says.

The first student to benefit from the scholarship is Shantel Franklin, a first-generation college student from Chicago.

“Since my freshman year, I have witnessed the Paul Simon Institute go above and beyond to provide opportunities for students,” says Franklin, a political science major. “I am grateful to have been selected to be the inaugural recipient of this award honoring the remarkable life of Mrs. Jeanne Hurley Simon. I will benefit tremendously from the financial assistance of this scholarship.”