SIU Alumnus makes estate gift of $1 million

Brad Choate ’79, ’84 and his wife, Julie, are one of the university’s most devoted supporters. Their recent $1 million estate gift will provide funding for undergraduate scholarships and other key priorities.

The Choates, who reside in Georgetown, Texas, wanted to place SIU in their estate and help SIU remain strong for generations to come. The money will establish an endowed scholarship.

“I am so proud of SIU, and I thought this was the right way to give back to an institution that changed my life,” Brad Choate said. “While I am a first-generation alumnus, my parents drilled into my head at a young age that I would attend college. SIU just made sense as it was in the backyard of Marion, Illinois, where I grew up. I have to thank my parents for pointing me in a direction that would change my life.”

Choate is a veteran leader in the advancement industry, having served over 40 years as a fundraiser. He has served as president and CEO of the Minnesota Medical Foundation, vice president at the University of South Carolina, vice chancellor at the University of Arkansas as well as leadership positions at Penn State and Ohio State. He currently serves as special advisor to the vice president for development at the University of Texas at Austin. He and Julie, who is an accomplished artist, are also dedicated volunteers in their community.

“SIU is grateful to the Choates for their generosity and outstanding leadership,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “They demonstrate the values that we seek to instill in every SIU graduate.”

Choate said establishing the endowment through their estate just made sense, both financially and charitably for his family.

“I have seen the impact on both the donors and the students when a scholarship is created,” he said. “The impact positively affects our society and country at large.”

Raised in rural Carbondale and attending high school in Marion, Choate’s parents taught him the value of hard work, integrity, and giving back. “My parents had a clear vision of what they wanted for me so there was no doubt that getting a college degree was going to happen. I will be forever grateful to them for their direction,” he said.

Southern Illinois has a special place in his heart, largely because that is where he met Julie.

“I will never forget. I first laid eyes on her at the Dairy Queen in Marion. I was sitting at a picnic table with a friend one night, and this red Firebird drove up, and this beautiful girl jumped out,” he said. “She came over and we were introduced. I took her to Carbondale to see the sights, and we’ve never looked back since. We’ve been married 43 years.”

Choate’s Southern Illinois roots go back even further as his great uncle was Clyde Choate, a politician from Anna, Illinois, and a soldier. Choate served 30 years in the Illinois House of Representatives and during World War II, received the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for single-handedly destroying a German tank.

“SIU was always important to my Uncle Clyde. Even after he retired from the Legislature, he went to work for SIU to continue helping the university,” Choate said. Julie’s mother, Colleen Norman, has three degrees from SIU and taught at SIU and the university’s campus in Japan.

The Choates raised three children, Brent, Lauren, and Lindsey.

“Brent graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and became a fighter pilot. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin who works in marketing for a commercial insurance company in Texas, and Lindsey earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Arkansas and runs a prep school in Austin,” Choate said. “Julie and I are so blessed that all three of our children have grown up well and thrived in the world. Now, we want to ensure that other young people have the same opportunities as our children did.

“You don’t have to be phenomenally wealthy to help people. Lots of people can make an estate gift and really help others with a gift to SIU. It is our hope that we inspire others to do the same as we have done,” he said.

 

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Campaign Progress Strong; Foundation Making an Impact

Matt Kupec, CEO of the
SIU Foundation.

When the fiscal year ended June 30, it was clear the SIU Foundation had a terrific year, despite the pandemic.

During FY21, the SIU Foundation raised more than $25 million, which was just short of the record-setting $28 million raised in FY20. The Forever SIU campaign finished FY21 at just more than $130.5 million.

“Because of the generosity of our alumni and donors, we had our second-best fundraising year ever,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “The pandemic made things difficult for everyone, but it didn’t dampen the Saluki spirit. If anything, it strengthened it.”

Now, as FY22 gets off to a strong start, the campaign total sits at $134,015,976.

Interior photo of McLafferty Annex.

Acting as an accelerator

This summer, the SIU Foundation agreed to provide a grant of $1.1 million to allow for further development of the infrastructure within the McLafferty Annex. This new infrastructure will accelerate the expansion of the activities of the Fermentation Science Institute into important new and exciting areas.

“There is groundbreaking research and student development happening within the walls of the McLafferty Annex,” Kupec said. “Our Board of Directors recognizes the opportunity and views this as a major step toward fulfilling the potential of the program.”

As part of its planned expansion and in response to a request for information issued by SIU, Chicago-based Ravinia Brewing Company plans to locate a production facility within the McLafferty Annex. This lease will not only generate revenue to support the academic program, but also provide world-class training for students by allowing on-site access to large-scale production and packaging equipment not currently available in Southern Illinois. In addition, Ravinia intends to provide contract brewing and packaging services to regional breweries, which will provide growth and economic development opportunities in Southern Illinois.

Looking ahead

As the university focuses on increasing enrollment, the need for funding is great. Students are looking for financial support through scholarships and universities that offer state-of-the-art technology and facilities.

“The money raised through the Forever SIU campaign directly supports the effort to increase enrollment,” Kupec said. “The financial help provides critical funds for recruitment and retention, plus students see that our alumni are excited and engaged.”

 

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Crowdfunding campaign seeks to honor well-known poet, editor

Jon Tribble, a poet, editor, mentor, and friend to many, passed away in 2019. Now, the Department of English at SIU hopes to endow a scholarship in his memory.

For 22 years, Tribble served as the editor of the Crab Orchard Poetry series, published by Southern Illinois University Press. In that time, as in his capacity as managing editor of The Crab Orchard Review, Tribble played an unparalleled role in bringing hundreds of American literary voices into more prominent view.

“Jon Tribble was one of the first and best editors for creating an inclusive space in American publishing,” said Camille Dungy, author and winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Open Competition Award. “Many of the nation’s top writers, including women writers and BIPOC writers, got their starts because of Jon’s active, dedicated, and continuous efforts to build a more diverse and equitable writing world.”

Tribble received the 2003 Artist Fellowship Award in Poetry from the Illinois Arts Council, and his poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. At SIU, he taught creative writing and literature, and directed undergraduate and graduate students in internships and independent study in editing and literary publishing for the Department of English.

“The editorial work that Jon Tribble did for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry at SIU Press was little short of heroic. Scratch that; it was heroic,” said author Dan Albergotti. “He built that series into a powerhouse in the world of contemporary American poetry.”

By visiting salukifunder.siu.edu/tribble and making a gift of any size, donors can help the scholarship reach the $25,000 plateau, which would create an endowed fund. That would allow a $1,000 scholarship to be granted to one poet every year in perpetuity.

Donors may also send a check made payable to: SIU Foundation, Jon Tribble Memorial Endowment, 1235 Douglas Drive, Carbondale, IL 62901.

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Professor-student bond inspires memorial scholarship

Hagy donates $10K to honor memory of John Jones

Black and white photo of John Jones.

Image of John Jones.

By Jeff Wilson

When John Jones entered his first class with professor Brad Hagy he made an immediate impression.

“He sat in the front row,” said Hagy, a senior lecturer of Information Sciences and Technology at SIU. “He was a model student and was going to do anything to further his future.”

Jones, who worked in IT for the SIU Foundation, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.  In Jones’ memory, Hagy donated $10,000 to establish the John E. Jones Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will benefit non-traditional students who are majoring in Information Technology (ITEC).

The 37-year-old Jones was one semester away from earning his bachelor’s degree in information technology. He made straight A’s and was on the Dean’s List every semester.

“I want to promote what John loved,” Hagy said. “He was working to better his life. I want to help students like John.”

Jones had started his college career in 2002, but he left school after his father passed away. He returned to SIU more than 14 years later determined to get his degree. In an email to Hagy after the Spring 2020 semester, Jones shared his appreciation.

“The one thing that we all lose is time, and there is not a way to get that back,” Jones said in the email. “So, in my journey, I was fortunate enough to meet people at SIU that reminded me of myself as a young man fresh out of high school living carefree and people that are willing to help anyone who gives their time to learn. Mr. Hagy you have made this transition from working full-time to full-time student one of the best experiences I have ever had.”

Reading that message, in which Jones goes on to express his hopes for the future, Hagy can’t help but become a bit choked up.

“John understood time,” he said. “He knew he had lost time, but he was still willing to go back and get his degree. In that email, he was speaking from his heart and for his future.”

Hagy spoke at Jones’ memorial service and has remained close to Jones family, to the point that Jones’ mother gifted a pair of blue and white Air Jordan from his shoe collection that matched the color of Jones’ motorcycle. They were both members of the Carbondale Eagles 2569 Eagle Riders motorcycle club that has an annual charity ride for the Southern Illinois Special Olympics.

“Those shoes are now on the shelf in my office,” Hagy said. “He wasn’t just a student. He was a great person, a friend.”

John Jones, 1983-2021

Born and raised in Carbondale, Jones exceled in math and information technology. More than anything, Jones is remembered as a family man.

He is survived by his son, Jerald Cameron Jones; and fiancé, Tamara Buchannan-Boens; and her sons, Christopher Buchannan, Warren Eanes, and Dominique Boens. He is also survived by his mother, Debra Johnson-Jones; sister, Raven-Iman Jones; grandmother, Barbara Sanders; and a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Jones enjoyed participating in American Poolplayers Association competitions, riding his motorcycle with his fellow Eagle Riders, shooting targets at the gun range, and working on and building computer/robotics systems.

After his planned graduation, the SIU Foundation was set to make Jones a full-time member of the IT staff.

“We thought the world of John,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “He was liked by all. His words and his actions were always consistent. Everyone at the Foundation was deeply saddened by his untimely passing. Professor Hagy’s inspiring gift is a testament to their connection and the impact they had on one another.”

To make a gift to the John E. Jones Memorial Scholarship, visit salukifunder.siu.edu/johnjones.

Pictured left to right: Brad Hagy and Matt Kupec

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Meet Senior Taylor Hartke

Taylor Hartke, a Teutopolis, Illinois native, is a senior majoring in Agricultural Communications. Hartke is the recipient of the 2021-2022 College of Agricultural Sciences Leadership Scholarship. In earlier years, Hartke received the  School of Agricultural Sciences Leadership Scholarship.

What do you enjoy most about being an SIU student?
I enjoy the opportunities SIU strives to provide its students. Regardless of your interest, major, or career path, there are opportunities to gain valuable experiences both inside and out of the classroom. SIU, its faculty, and staff are committed to supporting students and providing them with the necessary tools to be successful both now as well as after graduation.

Why did you choose the major that you did?
Growing up, I had the privilege of being raised on my family’s diversified grain and livestock farm. This immediate involvement in the agricultural industry allowed me to develop a deep passion and appreciation for agriculture. Through various leadership roles in organizations like 4-H and FFA, I built upon the foundation of being raised in agriculture and discovered my passion to communicate about it. Collectively a variety of experiences and opportunities have led me to be pursuing a degree in Agricultural Communications with the ultimate goal of serving the farm, the farmer, and the consumers. I plan on utilizing my knowledge from being raised in production agriculture to bridge the gap that lies between producers and consumers by generating consumer trust and cultivating understanding.

How would you describe your favorite(s) professors/staff/admin at your college?
Committed. I’m very grateful for the commitment they have to my success both inside and outside of their classroom. Regardless of the time of day or how busy their schedule is, they make time for me, and they value my perspective as a student.

Did you benefit from a scholarship? If so, how?
I am extremely grateful for the financial support I have been gifted. The generosity of donors has provided me with some of the most amazing experiences to learn and explore a variety of opportunities. Their generosity has lessened the financial burden that paying for college can be ultimately providing me with ample time to focus on academics while maintaining high levels of involvement across campus and in my community.

Are you involved in any student organizations and, if so, in what capacity?
I am grateful for the involvement I have been able to have across our campus through a variety of student organizations as well as employment opportunities. I am currently serving as President of Sigma Alpha Sorority, which is a professional agricultural sorority, as well as President of our Collegiate Farm Bureau Chapter, Financial Chair of Agricultural Student Council, an Agbassador, a Saluki Ambassador, and a member of the Agriculture Education Club, ATA, and Collegiate FFA. I also serve on the national scale as an Agriculture Future of America Student Ambassador.

What would you say to encourage donors to give back to SIU?
Your donation is an investment. You have the power to invest in the next generation of leaders across a variety of professions and industries. I am extremely humbled to have received such support and know that it serves as encouragement going forward as I strive to make a difference in the lives of others as I know that I will encounter challenges. Regardless of if you personally know a student or not, you become an integral role in their success both educationally and beyond.

What is a fun fact about you that you would like to share?
For my siblings and me, being part of the Saluki family started prior to stepping foot on campus as students. We were raised rooting on SIU and our frequent visits started at homecoming in 1999. My siblings and I, a set of quadruplets, were 5 months old and our mom marched as an Alumni of the Marching Salukis. My parents, David & Korrie Hartke, are both proud SIU Alumni. My mom received her degree in Radio/Television and my dad in Animal Science.

They, in fact, met at SIU!

Although my brother, Dustin, decided trade school would prepare him best, my brothers Alex and Garrett, as well as myself are all Salukis. Alex graduated in May 2021 with his degree in Agribusiness Economics and Garrett and I are seniors. Garrett is a Crop, Soil, and Environmental Management major, and I am an Agricultural Communications student. All three of us have worked in different capacities on campus while also being highly involved in a variety of RSO’s. In fact, a large majority of my aunts, uncles, and cousins have chosen SIU to pursue their education as well.

 

Meet Freshman Lexi Mueller

Lexi Mueller, a Valmeyer, Illinois native, is a freshman majoring in Agricultural Education. She received the Chancellor Scholarship, the Harrisonville Telephone Company/Henry W. Gentsch Memorial Scholarship and the Thomas Stitt Scholarship.

Why did you choose the major that you did?
My father and uncle both have degrees in Agricultural Education. Growing up on a rural small farm, I knew I wanted a career in agriculture. When I joined the Valmeyer FFA, the experiences that I had helped me find the specific aspect of agriculture I wanted to be involved in, which is education. I was also elected as the 2020-2021 Illinois FFA State President and seeing the behind-the-scenes of Agricultural Education made me want to give back to my future students and my community.

What do you enjoy most so far about your college?
In the agriculture department at SIU, I’ve found in my short time here that the professors, staff, and administration truly care about us as individuals instead of as a number. Our agriculture faculty go out of their way to ensure that we as students have the most opportunities and strive to learn who we are and our stories to better serve us as students.

Are you involved in any student organizations and, if so, in what capacity?
I am just beginning to look at joining student organizations here on campus. I am interested, however, in joining Ag Ed Club, Collegiate FFA, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Sigma Alpha. I look forward to seeing what these organizations can teach me.

Did you benefit from a scholarship? If so, how?
I greatly benefited from scholarships here at SIU and from local sources at home. Here at SIU, I was honored to receive the Chancellor Scholarship, Harrisonville Telephone Company Scholarship, and the Thomas Stitt Scholarship. With the support of generous donors, I am able to attend school here for the academics and experience without the financial worry that a typical college student has. Without the support of scholarships, I don’t know if I’d be here at SIU.

What would you say to encourage donors to give back to SIU?
To donors, I would first like to say thank you for even considering giving to SIU. I am firsthand an individual who can obtain a college education because of generous donors. I encourage you to look at the stories of individual students who benefit and ask yourself if you want to be a part of something that is so much bigger than yourself. I am a farm kid from a small village in Illinois and because of outside support, I am able to make a name for myself. I am one of thousands of students here at SIU who can further their education to ultimately give back to our communities. A donation means so much to us students and we would forever be grateful for your support in us.

What is a fun fact about you that you would like to share?
I was born and raised on a grain and livestock farm. My family raises sheep, chickens, pigs, goats, horses, rabbits, corn, soybeans, rye, wheat, and pumpkins. I managed our family’s 8-12 acre pumpkin patch for four years before coming to school here.

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SIU Credit Union donates $500K to SIU’s Touch of Nature

Chancellor Austin Lane discusses the impact of the $500,000 donation made by SIU Credit Union to construct an event center at Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

SIU Foundation Media Services

CARBONDALE – The SIU Credit Union presented a $500,000 check to SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center at an event Thursday morning in the office of SIU Chancellor Austin Lane.

“Touch of Nature is a pride and joy of SIU. We have our own oasis right there,” Chancellor Lane said. “This partnership with SIU Credit Union is magnificent. This gift will provide the credit union with great visibility among our students and the community.”

The funds will be used to build the SIU Credit Union Event Center at Touch of Nature, which is located at 1206 Touch of Nature Road in Makanda, just a few miles from campus.

“The opportunity to give back to our community and to help it grow was a proposition that couldn’t be passed up. The Touch of Nature Event Center will showcase more of the beauty and fun of Southern Illinois, and we liked being able to help make a project like this happen,” said Mike Lantrip, CEO of SIU Credit Union. “SIU is the economic engine of our region, and this facility can be instrumental in helping our tourism industry. Similar projects have been proven in other regions to be a quality-of-life enhancement and have a great impact on the local economy. We don’t see why this can’t have the same impact on our area.”

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

“We have had a great partnership with SIU Credit Union over the years,” said JD Tanner, director of Touch of Nature Environmental Center. “This gift speaks volumes about how they value the quality of our environment and community.”

Touch of Nature is a full-service outdoor education center that serves SIU, the region, and the nation. It provides opportunities for team building, environmental education, zip lining, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, overnight camps, and more. Nationally recognized for its therapeutic recreation camp, Camp Little Giant, Touch of Nature has provided camps and programs for people with disabilities since 1952. Touch of Nature is an ACA-accredited facility, a National Environmental Education Landmark, and soon to be home to an IMBA -designed Mountain Bike Park.

“We have sponsored and helped with a number of camps, events and other programs at this unique facility, and this seemed like a perfect fit to continue and grow in that capacity,” Lantrip said. “Mountain biking is growing in popularity, and we thought helping establish a facility such as this would be an asset to all parties involved. In addition to being a family-friendly destination, it will also help with student, faculty, and executive recruitment, bolster an already-strong forestry program within SIU, and cultivate our growing tourism identity. These are all things that will help our region, our members, and our local businesses prosper.”

From left: Mark Dynis, SIU Credit Union vice president of marketing, Sara Bond, SIU Foundation director of development, JD Tanner, Touch of Nature Environmental Center director, Kim Babington, SIU Credit Union vice president of community outreach, Mike Lantrip, SIU Credit Union CEO, Chancellor Austin Lane, Leah Weil, SIU Credit Union marketing assistant, and Matt Kupec, SIU Foundation CEO, pose for a photo with the $500,000 check the credit union donated to Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

Extended Campus offers multitude of opportunities

By Rebecca Renshaw

Jamie Newton, a senior majoring in elementary education, has always been a good student. Now, she’s nearly ready to transition from student to teacher, and she says SIU’s Extended Campus program has had a lot to do with her preparation.

“I am very grateful to be in the elementary education program at the SIU Rend Lake Extended Campus,” she said. “I have had the chance to get to know my professors on a personal level. It is very apparent that these professors are invested in our success in the program.”

Newton, a recipient of the Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship, 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,” she said. “Spending time at my clinical sites has reinforced my belief that teaching is what I was meant to do.”

Expansive offerings, lasting connections

Featuring countless online courses and off-campus locations across Illinois, in nine other states, and at numerous military sites, SIU’s Extended Campus brings the Saluki experience to the student.

“We help bridge the physical gap between Carbondale and students around the globe,” said Julie Dunston, interim executive director of Extended Campus. “There are Salukis everywhere, and that doesn’t only refer to alumni. We have SIU students  taking classes from coast to coast.”

Having students on campus is an important factor in the college experience, but modern universities have put an emphasis on maintaining a strong off-campus reputation. That connection is something that has struck Newton about her experience.

“There are 18 students in the program including myself. This program has given me an opportunity to create lifelong friendships with my peers,” she said.

 

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Saluki Women Lead: Featuring Julie Staley ‘88

Julie Staley visits WSIU TV’s studio where she worked as a student.

Julie Staley ’88 brings her passion and positivity to giving back to her alma mater.

Growing up in central Illinois, Staley had always heard great things about Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s radio and television department. Discovering at an early age her talents of singing and performing, it was a natural fit that Staley came to SIU for a degree in mass communications with a minor in musical theater. Staley flourished in the department, received several awards, and was chosen as the Broadcast Student of the Year during her undergraduate studies.

“Every time I return to campus, I get emotional remembering all of the dreams I had and how SIU set me up for a successful career. Before I had graduated, I studied abroad at the BBC and ITV in Great Britain and had internships with KSDK, an NBC station in St. Louis, and CNN,” she said. “The department also helped me start my career with KSDK as a news reporter. I knew I was going down the right career path and SIU’s radio and television program was there to help me every step of the way.”

Staley went on to receive an MS Summa Cum Laude from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in mass communications and is a doctoral student in public administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Staley owns Spencer Films LLC, is president of Spencer Theatre Company and the Staley Museum, and is a director for the Staley Family Foundation.

Staley has recently teamed with alumnae Dawn Korte and Dr. Marsha Ryan to form an SIU Women’s Leadership Council.

“Since I have been given so much opportunity in life, I want to give back as much as I can. I want to help organize a way to help other women succeed as I have in life,” she said. “Great things happen when women support women. There is a ripple effect when leaders teach potential leaders what they have learned along the way.”

The SIU Women’s Leadership Council was established in 2020 and is a network of alumnae, parents and friends who are committed to creating a culture of women-driven philanthropy at SIU. Council members contribute their time, energy, resources, and expertise 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.

To learn more about our Women’s Leadership Council or to join this initiative, please contact SIU Foundation’s Development Officers, Steph Taylor (stephaniet@foundation.siu.edu) or Cindy Walker (cindyw@foundation.siu.edu).

‘SIU Changed my Life’

Dr. R. Lawrence Hatchett isn’t an SIU alumnus, but he’s most certainly a Saluki.

Raised in the historically black coal mining town of Colp, he attended University School, which was located in Pulliam Hall. It wasn’t easy for a child growing up during a time of racial division, but SIU made him feel right at home.

“SIU changed my life. Walking through campus on my way to class in third grade was like a dream world,” Dr. Hatchett said. “There was a feeling of utopia, and I never felt so accepted, so loved and appreciated, and it meant everything to me, and it still does even to this day.”

It’s that connection that brought Dr. Hatchett to SIU with the following pledge – $100,000 over four years to establish the Phoenix Cannabis Production Scholarship within the School of Agricultural Sciences. The scholarship, named after his son, Phoenix, will be available to African-American and Hispanic students.

“It was this campus, this university and my childhood experience that changed my life at a very critical time. I want the university and the caring people there to offer this same tremendous opportunity to improve the lives of talented young people by adding to the well-needed diversity in the cannabis industry,” he said.

Over time, Dr. Hatchett said he hopes to develop externships and create an endowment for the program.

Beyond his $100,000 commitment, Dr. Hatchett provided an additional $6,000 to fund the development of facilities in the School of Agricultural Sciences building to support the cannabis program. The upgrades will help improve research opportunities. “This is really important for us,” said Karen Jones, faculty coordinator for Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems. “This financial support helps us stay modern and gives students the opportunity to work with plants.”

Even though recreational cannabis only became legal to sell in Illinois at the start of 2020, SIU has been working toward having a program in place for years.

“Our goal is to help the people of Southern Illinois to explore this new, emerging career path,” Jones said. “Any time you start a new initiative, getting started is one of the biggest hurdles.”

Once Dr. Hatchett became familiar with Karen Jones and the School of Agricultural Sciences, he knew SIU was the right place for his investment.

“You never realize how much talent there is in a department until you look,” he said. “We are hoping to develop a footprint in the industry and highlight the talent we have.”

After attending Marquette University on a full basketball scholarship, Dr. Hatchett completed his medical school education at the University of Chicago and completed his internship and residency training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He eventually finished his fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital through Harvard Medical School.

A well-known urologist, Dr. Hatchett founded Southern Illinois Urology in Herrin in 2003. He has also spent time as a speaker for Pfizer pharmaceuticals, being featured both nationally and internationally.

“My path into the cannabis industry was atypical,” he said. “My mother, who was around 90 years old, was seeking pain relief alternatives, so I began researching cannabis.”

Once Illinois legalized recreational cannabis use, Dr. Hatchett became majority owner of Cannabliss Depot. “Medical cannabis helps with PTSD, seizure disorders, pain relief, and it has some anti-cancer applications,” he said. “It also helps with drug addiction if someone is hooked on opioids.”

According to Dr. Hatchett, doctors share the responsibility when it comes to solving these issues.

“We should be part of the solution and play a role in the future of cannabis,” he said. “We should allow research and prepare for the expansion of its use. I, personally, never used cannabis in my life, but I think it can help people.”

Challenges will arise, but Dr. Hatchett said he believes it’s possible to figure out all the legal details.

“I see the negative. We’re not promoting it for the young,” he said. “This is about responsible, adult use. We hope people will use good judgment.”