Salukis take over Chicago with series of events, college partnership agreements and celebrations

SIU touts many successes including a 46% increase in freshman class enrollment over the past five years

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane addresses the crowd at the Saluki Takeover Tour Chicago Chancellor’s Reception.

By Jeff Wilson

For the second straight year, the Saluki Takeover Tour brought SIU alumni, friends, faculty, and staff together all over the Windy City.

Hosted by Chancellor Austin A. Lane and the SIU Foundation, the takeover tour featured 16 school visits, seven receptions, a posthumous degree presentation, and the Alumni Association tailgate and Saluki Football game at Northwestern.

The kickoff event was the Chancellor’s Reception on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant. Chancellor Lane touted the impact of the Imagine 2030 strategic plan and encouraging enrollment trends.

“There’s a lot of history of Salukis in Chicago,” said Chancellor Lane. “Our goal is to have 15,000 students by 2030, and Chicago is going to play a major role in that plan.”

President Dan Mahony echoed the chancellor’s message about enrollment.

“I’m here to tell you our freshmen enrollment is up 46 percent over the past five years, which is one of the best numbers in the country,” he said.

Marc Silverman

Marc Silverman

Marc Silverman, an SIU alumnus and host of “Waddle & Silvy” on ESPN Chicago 1000 AM, opened the night by telling the hundreds of alumni and guests to let their Saluki spirit shine.

“Embrace our students. Embrace the region. Embrace it all,” he said. “Tell your friends about SIU. Let’s make sure it’s not the best-kept secret.”

Honoring a Saluki

Ronald Regan Jr’s daughter, Qianna, is pictured with (from left) SIU College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan, SIU System President Dan Mahony, Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, and Lindsay Laycoax, lead site coordinator for SIU’s Public Safety Management program.

Chicago Fire Department Capt. Ronald Regan Jr. was honored with a posthumous bachelor’s degree in public safety management during a ceremony Friday, Sept. 16, at the Chicago Fire Academy.

Regan passed away Dec. 19, 2021, at the age of 58 after a bout with COVID-19. He was just one semester away from earning his degree.

“Ron was not just a firefighter or captain, he was a friend,” Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said. “He did so much for everybody else. He never thought about himself.”

Chancellor Lane, President Mahony, and College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan presented the diploma.

“Faculty members who knew Ron say he was very outgoing and full of life,” Chancellor Lane said. “We hope this diploma will provide his family and friends with a measure of comfort.”

Recognizing diversity

On Friday afternoon, a sold-out crowd filled the dining room at the Residence Inn in downtown Chicago for the Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion luncheon.

Dr. Paul Frazier, the vice chancellor for anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, honored 10 SIU alumni with Ascension Awards, which recognize alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership and service at SIU.

“We’re honoring these incredible Salukis for their contributions to SIU and society,” he said.

Each award winner made brief remarks:

  • Eric Alvarez – “After serving in the military, SIU welcomed me with wide open arms. I plan to give back in a big way.”
  • Robert Beverly – “I felt like SIU took a chance on me. I’m encouraged to recommit to the university.”
  • Andrea Brookins – “Family is everything. You all bring out the best in me. We look forward to the future.”
  • Juana Duran Charicata – “I thank SIU for opening the doors for immigrants, including those who are undocumented. I am thankful for the warmth and care that SIU gives.”
  • Pervis Conway – “I can honestly say my support structure from SIU is still touching me today.”
  • Carlos Hernandez – “We must ensure people of color and those from poor backgrounds have access to higher learning.”
  • Beth Mueller – “Me and my employer, Deloitte, are passionate about DEI initiatives. The numbers in accounting don’t reflect society. That’s what has spurred this call to action.”
  • Freddie Taylor, Jr. – “Thanks to SIU for believing in a little Black boy from the ghetto. I’m a Saluki through and through.”
  • Brothers Everett and Timothy Rand were also honored but were unable to attend.

Enhancing opportunity

Agreement signing with College of DuPage.

Chancellor Lane, President Mahony, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Wendell Williams, and other SIU Admissions representatives visited multiple high schools and community colleges.

The university signed agreements with Prairie State College and the College of DuPage, making it easier for students from those schools to enroll at SIU.

Agreement signing with Prairie State College.

There were also visits to multiple high schools, which included three schools involved in the Hope Chicago program, which provides opportunities for students from underserved communities.

Tiny Tapp Takeover

The SIU Alumni Association and members of the Carbondale in the ‘80s and ‘90s Facebook group hosted an event on the Chicago Riverwalk at Tiny Tapp & Café. The beer of choice, Salukitoberfest, was brewed by students in SIU’s Fermentation Science Institute (FSI) through its partnership with Ravinia Brewing Co.

“This is really exciting,” Matt McCarroll, director of the FSI, said. “This beer is just the first of many we’ll be producing with Ravinia.”

Dunbar Leadership Society

Alumnus Darius Robinson was honored during the Dunbar Leadership Society event.

Later Friday evening, dozens of alumni and friends gathered at the Promontory Fieldhouse for the Dunbar Leadership Society reception. The society is hoping to reinvigorate SIU’s diverse alumni and create opportunities for current and future Salukis. Its plan is to raise scholarship funds and host events that resonate with members of a multicultural campus.

“With our improved freshmen enrollment, the No. 1 category to see an increase was African-American students, and they are largely from Chicago,” Chancellor Lane said.

Kennard Tucker, chair of the Dunbar Leadership Society, and Sherrica Hunt, director of development at the SIU Foundation, spoke about the importance of philanthropy as it pertains to supporting diversity initiatives.

Alumnus Darius Robinson was honored during the event. The East St. Louis native is the operations manager at Menzies Aviation. He received a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and manufacturing systems in 1995.

Alumni Tailgate & Saluki Football at Northwestern

Hundreds of Salukis made the trip even further upstate to Evanston to take part in the Alumni Association tailgate before SIU’s football game against Northwestern.

“We had such a great crowd. It was a great weekend in Chicago for the takeover tour,” said Jeff Gleim, executive director of the Alumni Association. “We couldn’t be any happier with the turnout for all of the events.”

Little did the high-spirited crowd know what was in store when the game began.

The Saluki Takeover Tour was capped with a historic, 31-24, win for SIU Football against Northwestern. The Dawgs earned their first win of the 2022 season with their second-ever win against a Big Ten opponent.

“We had a daunting task, staring 0-3 in the face if we don’t beat a Big Ten school,” said head coach Nick Hill. “Man, they battled. It was fun to watch the competitiveness, the competitive spirit.”

It was the perfect exclamation point to an exciting, engaging weekend for hundreds of Salukis and friends.

More to come

The Saluki Takeover Tour may soon come to a city or area near you, including Southern Illinois. Follow the SIU Foundation on social media and visit www.siuf.org to stay up to date as things are announced.

See the full photo albums on the SIU Foundation Facebook page.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Chicago firefighter honored with posthumous degree from SIU Carbondale

Ronald Regan Jr’s daughter, Qianna, is pictured with (from left) SIU College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan, SIU System President Dan Mahony, Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, and Lindsay Laycoax, lead site coordinator for SIU’s Public Safety Management program.

SIU Foundation Media Services

CHICAGO – Chicago Fire Department Capt. Ronald Regan Jr. was honored Friday morning with a posthumous degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Regan passed away Dec. 19, 2021, at the age of 58 after a bout with COVID-19. He was just one semester away from earning his bachelor’s degree in public safety management.

During a ceremony in front of the Chicago Fire Academy, Regan was remembered by his fellow firefighters, family members, friends, and SIU representatives.

“Ron was not just a firefighter or captain, he was a friend,” Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said. “He did so much for everybody else. He never thought about himself.”

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, SIU System President Dan Mahony, and College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan presented the diploma.

“Faculty members who knew Ron say he was very outgoing and full of life,” Chancellor Lane said. “We hope this diploma will provide his family and friends with a measure of comfort.”

A dedicated family man and respected firefighter, Regan made a positive impression on everyone he met.

“Ron embodied both the spirit of a firefighter and the spirit of a Saluki,” Chancellor Lane said. “His commitment to bravery, along with the vision, tenacity, curiosity, and compassion of Saluki, form a remarkable combination worthy of celebration and remembrance.”

Regan’s wife, Cheryl, was unable to attend the ceremony, so his daughter, Qianna, accepted his diploma and spoke on the family’s behalf.

“My dad inspired me, and it’s amazing to see how he inspired others,” she said.

Regan started his career in the Chicago Park District, where he built successful swim teams. He later moved on to the Chicago Fire Department Academy, from which he graduated in 1996. He began his career at Truck 40. Over the years, he rose through the ranks of firefighter, engineer, lieutenant, and captain.

“Ron is definitely gone too soon,” Nance-Holt said. “He was so very special. He wanted this degree so much. I know he’s watching us today with a smile.”

Saluki Women’s Weekend engages, inspires

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The power of Title IX

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

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

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

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

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

Engaging with Saluki women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIH, SIU partner for Saluki Women’s Weekend

Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) Logo

By Jeff Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mueller, Deloitte Foundation make $100K investment in diversity

Pledge creates School of Accountancy fund to benefit students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2022 Saluki Women Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saluki Women’s Weekend 2022

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

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

Weekend Activities:

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

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

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

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

About the Women’s Leadership Council

Established in 2020, the SIU Women’s Leadership Council is a network of alumnae, parents, and friends who are committed to creating a culture of women-driven philanthropy at SIU and mentoring future generations of Salukis. Council members contribute their time, energy, resources, and expertise by serving on university boards and championing SIU in their home regions. Embodying a legacy of leadership, the council collectively funds women’s initiatives and scholarships on campus.

SIU Foundation smashes fundraising records

flowering trees on SIU campus

The SIU Foundation had the best fiscal year in its history, raising more than $32 million and awarding more scholarships than ever before.

“What we witnessed in FY22 was support for the university, its students and faculty at an unprecedented level,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “To everyone who has supported the university through the SIU Foundation, we are sincerely grateful. This kind of historic support is humbling.”

The numbers speak for themselves, each representing a new record:

  • $32,137,715 total dollars raised, a 25.5 percent increase over last year;
  • $3,464,499.85 in scholarship money awarded, a 22.8 percent increase over last year;
  • 1,445 unique scholarships awarded, which means 12.8 percent of SIU students received a Foundation scholarship.

This unparalleled success is taking place amid the Forever SIU fundraising campaign. Near the end of the 2022 SIU Day of Giving in March, Chancellor Austin Lane announced the expansion of the campaign, raising the goal from $200 million to $500 million by 2028.

“This will reshape the way we imagine the future of SIU,” Chancellor Lane said during his announcement in March. “This is about supporting our students and faculty and strengthening the university. Our alumni and donors understand the importance of this mission, and their generosity is what has set us on this path to half a billion dollars.”

The Forever SIU campaign aligns with the Imagine 2030 strategic plan, which sets forth a bold vision for the future of the university.

“We are seeing the incomparable Saluki spirit on display,” Kupec said. “That pride, that passion is what is going to continue to elevate us to new heights as we look toward a bright future.”

The money raised through the campaign has funded scholarships, campus improvements, faculty support, and enhanced alumni engagement.

“This has been an exhilarating ride, and we are excited to keep going,” Kupec said. “With every dollar, we are able to help students and faculty, enhance experiences, and further strengthen this great university.”

For more information about the campaign or make a gift, visit foreversiu.org.

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To schedule an interview with Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation, contact darlape@foundation.siu.edu.

Remembering the past and building a better future

Gene and Laura Basanta have always been interested in society and what is going on around them, particularly societal injustices. When they came across information while researching their ancestors, they knew they needed to act.

In late 2021, the Basantas established a $25,000 scholarship fund for Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC) students studying agriculture at SIUC. In 2022, they donated another $25,000 to the scholarship.

“Recently, we began researching our ancestries. I come from a deep farming background and our farmland is still actively being farmed,” Laura said. “Doing some research, I discovered that in the will of my fourth great-grandfather, a Revolutionary War veteran, there is a listing of his property, which included slaves. Just reading the names, ages, and gender of those individuals listed next to curtains, a ladle, and a mule was deeply disturbing to me.”

Both Laura and Gene’s ancestors came from an agrarian background. Laura’s ancestors have been farming in Kentucky for 150 years and Gene’s ancestors owned a sugar plantation in West Indies in the 1800s.

Gene, who is the SIU School of Law’s Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law Emeritus, made a similar discovery when he began searching his family roots. Like Laura, his ancestors owned several slaves.

“I learned my family operated a sugar plantation in Trinidad. Slaves fueled the operations of such plantations. While Laura and I honor and revere our ancestors, we also must acknowledge that our current privilege came in part from the work of enslaved individuals,” Gene said.

Supporting the future of ag

The Basantas have an interest in agriculture and are aware that SIU’s College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences is making great strides, especially through its sustainability programs.

“As we reflected on what we learned, we knew we had to do something and a scholarship for Black students at SIU seemed appropriate,” Laura said. “And because we both love agriculture, we turned to Dean (Eric) Brevik from the college and talked how we could set up an agriculture scholarship.”

Gene said the scholarship gives he and Laura personal satisfaction, and they hope it makes a difference in the lives of students.

“We want to give students opportunities to do great things. We know that our faculty accomplishes important work,” he said. “But when students go and accomplish greatness, that is the greatest satisfaction of all.”

Dean Brevik is thankful for the support of the Basantas.

“We are very grateful to the Basantas for supporting minority students who want to major in agriculture,” he said. “It is very important that we have a diverse agricultural workforce.”

SIU legacy

The Basantas have a long history with SIU and the Carbondale community.

Beyond his emeritus title, Gene was a professor in the Department of Medical Humanities at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He also founded SIU’s Center for Health Law & Policy. In 1989, he helped create the law school’s M.D./J.D. program. He served as interim dean for the law school in 2002.

Laura and Gene moved to Carbondale in 1980 and began establishing their family. Prior to their move, Laura received a BFA from Louisville School of Art and has produced art while working and raising their children.

Both have served the community with many groups, including The Varsity Center, Women’s Center, Carbondale Community Arts, and the General John A. Logan Museum.

Learn more about making a similar impact at siuf.org.

Compardo: Going Forward Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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