SIU Carbondale Day of Giving totals exceed $909,000

SIU Day of Giving Thank You

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The totals are in, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s March 6 Day of Giving raised more than $909,000 for scholarships, programs and other SIU priorities.

“We’re deeply grateful to our many donors – alumni, faculty, staff, students community members and more — for their generous support of our students and the university,” said Chancellor John Dunn. “You have made a very positive difference.”

The third annual 24-hour fundraising campaign far exceeded last year’s total of $480,000, said Rae Goldsmith, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation. This year, more than 2,900 gifts came from 45 states and 10 countries.

“The Day of Giving also served to launch our year-long celebration of our 150th anniversary,” she said. “Many donors wanted to be part of this historic event at the same time they wanted to invest in the university’s future.”

The day included a friendly competition among units and organizations for raising the most money or attracting the most gifts. This year, trophies will be given to both academic and non-academic units.

Among academic programs, the School of Medicine attracted the most gifts and also raised the most funds.

Among non-academic programs, a Facebook group raised the most gifts for the new “Balancing Education, Experience and Reality” Scholarship, while Saluki Athletics will take home the trophy for most dollars raised.

“The Day of Giving involved the entire SIU community. It was a great demonstration of the power of philanthropy bringing people together for the greater good,” Goldsmith said. “Thank you to everyone who helped us far exceed our goals.”

thank-you video is online, and photos highlighting the Day of Giving and anniversary launch can be found on SIU’s Facebook page.

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Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Randall Grider

Randall Grider, Bertrand Scholarship recipient at SIU

Randall Grider is a senior from Johnston City, Illinois, studying sociology.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because I had firsthand experience with the campus environment while growing up in the area. I really enjoyed the feel of the campus, not too small and not too big, which is something I didn’t find at any of the other universities I visited.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I really enjoy studying the social world and trying to understand our current social problems. Studying sociology has definitely been the right major for doing this.

What was your reaction when you received the Bertrand scholarship?
I was extremely grateful. Going to school full time while also working can be very stressful, so receiving this scholarship lifted some of that burden.

Do you have a message that you would like to share with Mr. and Mrs. Bertrand?
I would just like to thank them for their generosity. Not everyone is as kind or generous as the Bertrands are, and this truly makes a difference in so many students’ lives.

Why should donors consider establishing a scholarship fund for students?
Donors can truly impact so many people’s lives by establishing a scholarship fund.  From the student’s perspective, receiving a scholarship is so helpful.

Has receiving this scholarship inspired you to give back to SIU in the future?
I have worked with the Johnston City Music Alumni Association in giving scholarships to local high school seniors each year, who mostly go to SIU.  But I would definitely like to set up a larger scholarship fund in the future if I am able to.


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Join the party as SIU begins its 150th anniversary celebration March 6

SIU Day of Giving

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — It’s a 150th birthday bash and you’re invited. Southern Illinois University Carbondale was founded in 1869 and on March 6, as the third annual  Day of Giving is underway, a yearlong celebration highlighting the university’s accomplishments and future will begin.

Everyone is welcome at the Student Center

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Student Center’s first floor will be hosting a party featuring birthday cookies, disc jockey, balloon animals and a fun photo booth. A large-screen television will allow participants to watch as the tally grows for the Day of Giving, 24-hour online fundraising campaign.

Be sure and check out the displays promoting various units and programs that obtain support through the Day of Giving.

In addition, there will be some special activities and giveaways, including a commemorative gift, just for SIU students.

Get involved with the Day of Giving and SIU’s birthday kickoff

That afternoon, the celebration moves to Morris Library, where there will be a big birthday gift box reveal at 2 p.m., complete with special campus and community guests, and a birthday cake. Students and staff can take selfies at the library and add their photo stickers to the cool picture mosaic board.

There will be hourly giveaways throughout the day at the Student Center and Morris Library as well, courtesy of the SIU Foundation.

Visit the Day of Giving website to learn more about the event, which represents a great opportunity to benefit present and future Salukis, along with SIU programs, by donating to your favorite of more than 150 campus areas and projects.

In addition, keep an eye on the university’s 150th anniversary website for interesting historical tidbits and photos and to learn more about special activities happening all year long.

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Saluki Food Pantry – a worthy project for the SIU Day of Giving

Support Saluki Food Pantry on SIU Day of Giving

Since opening in August 2016, the Saluki Food Pantry has served more than 2,500 SIU students and their families. That kind of community service requires support and a lot of hard work.

Much of the work at the food pantry is done by graduate assistant Shannon Denman, said Student Center Associate Director Kent Epplin.

During the first two SIU Days of Giving, the Saluki Food Pantry has received $1,800 in donations. Most of those funds are used to pay overhead costs and fund the graduate assistant position. For the upcoming third SIU Day of Giving on Wednesday, March 6, the hope is that even more donations will be raised.

“Initially, the chancellor funded the pantry, but for the current fiscal year, we are operating off of the SIU Foundation funding,” Epplin said. “The pantry runs on a very simple budget.”

The food pantry works with students both on and off campus, and networks with Saluki Cares and other campus organizations to ensure students are aware of the available resources.

For the 2018 fall semester, students came to the pantry needing a wide variety of assistance. Four students asked for help with baby clothes and furniture while one student needed help paying her dog bills and buying dog food. 15 students were referred to outside community resources, such as additional food pantries, SNAP/WIC benefits, counseling, and clothing.

The Saluki Food Pantry is located on the Lower Level of the Student Center and is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays. Any student with a valid student ID can access the pantry’s resources. To give to the food pantry on SIU Day of Giving, visit and click Student Affairs.

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Shaping the future through philanthropy

Nancy Mundschenk

By Jeff Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the Day of Giving or to make a gift, visit

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Campus police raising funds for K9 unit

Paul Melzer and Ian Reinhart, both SIU alumni and Country Financial representatives, have chosen the department’s K9 fund for a Day of Giving matching gift.

By Jeff Wilson

The SIU Department of Public Safety wants to add one more dog to a campus represented by dawgs, and it’s getting some help March 6 during the SIU Day of Giving.

“DPS seeks to acquire a K9 trained in explosives detection,” said Chief Benjamin Newman. “The K9 will be utilized during major events on campus. In the past, we’ve requested assistance from other agencies to provide this service.”

Paul Melzer and Ian Reinhart, both SIU alumni and Country Financial representatives, have chosen the department’s K9 fund for a Day of Giving matching gift.

Through Country Financial, the pair secured $3,000 in grants to be given to the fund. They’re encouraging others to match those dollars as the department attempts to raise $50,000 to fully fund the K9 unit.

“They’re a little shy of being able to purchase the dog,” said Melzer, who is a veteran of the United States Navy. “Our gift, with the help of those who match it, will get the department that much closer to beginning this process.”

Both men expressed the importance of supporting the campus police department.

“Small amounts of money can make a big dent,” said Reinhart, who is former law enforcement officer. “This is something that’s a little less heralded and deserves funding.”

A K9 unit would be utilized during sweeps of Saluki Stadium and SIU Arena before sporting events, areas for special events, other community events and areas subjected to bomb threats.

“An explosives detection K9 would be a benefit for the agency and the university,” Newman said. “We are seeking to fund this program specifically through donations.”

Melzer and Reinhart will be presenting a check to Chief Newman and providing lunch for the department March 6 on the Day of Giving.

“We believe in this stuff,” said Melzer. “They’re keeping folks safe. This is a proactive step. They’re going above and beyond.”

For more information on the fund or to make a gift, visit For more information about the matching gift and the Day of Giving, visit

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Grad assistant to paddle the Mississippi to support veterans at Touch of Nature

By Jeff Wilson

Greg Nejmanowski, like many SIU students, enjoys the great outdoors. Of course, he’s probably the only one with a plan to canoe the entire length of the Mississippi River.

That’s right, Nejmanowski is planning to hop in his canoe on May 24 in the Minnesota headwaters of the world’s third-largest river and paddle his way to the Gulf of Mexico. More than just a thrill-seeker, he’s doing it for a cause.

“It’s called Paddle for Patriots,” said Nejmanowski, an SIU alumnus, Touch of Nature graduate assistant and Veteran Adventures coordinator. “I’m going to be raising awareness and money for the Veteran Adventures program.”

Veteran Adventures offers outdoor activities to post-9/11 veterans, including hunting, hiking, backpacking trips, whitewater rafting and more. The program is funded through grants and private donations, and it just recently lost a large state grant.

“We believe that through camaraderie, shared experiences, support and a common purpose, veterans can receive the tools necessary to navigate and overcome obstacles often encountered by those who have served our nation,” Nejmanowski said.

So, to spur donor support, he’s embarking a 2,300-mile trip down the mighty Mississippi. On paper, the plan is simple: Begin in Itasca State Park in Minnesota and spend two to three months canoeing down the river, camping on sandbars and gravel banks.

Of course, that’s an oversimplification of what the trip entails. Nejmanowski expects the journey to involve varying circumstances, including more challenging conditions at the beginning, avoiding barge traffic, navigating areas controlled by locks and dams and fast-moving water from Alton to the Gulf.

Nejmanowski, who is American Canoe Association certified, took a 140-mile trip down part of the Mississippi last summer. He’s also previously hiked the Southern Illinois River-to-River trail, which required trekking 160 miles over nine days.

“I’ve been paddling my whole life,” he said. “Last summer, I did an adventure race (a multi-disciplinary event, including biking, paddling, hiking, etc.), and it lit a fire under me.”

The trip will take Nejmanowski through 10 states and several major cities. He will be reaching out to local news agencies along the way and make his pitch for support of Veteran Adventures.

“The relationships formed during high-intensity and challenging situations are some of the strongest humans will ever create,” Nejmanowski said. “Veteran Adventures aims to build those unwavering bonds with participants by providing challenging and adventurous opportunities that push them outside of their comfort zones.”

To learn more visit, To support Touch of Nature and Veteran Adventures during the SIU Day of Giving on March 6, visit

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SIU kicks off its yearlong 150th anniversary celebration with the Day of Giving on March 6

SIU Interim Chancellor John Dunn

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale is launching a yearlong celebration of its 150th anniversary. The fun begins March 6 with the 2019 Day of Giving, an event rallying the university’s supporters from near and far.

“It’s very appropriate to launch the 150th celebration with the Day of Giving, because SIU’s success is tied to the many alumni and donors who have supported the university since it was founded,” Chancellor John M. Dunn said.

Appropriately, the theme of this year’s Day of Giving is “Celebrate.”

The count is on for 24 hours

The third annual Day of Giving is a 24-hour event held on the first Wednesday of March to commemorate the university’s Founder’s Day. Throughout the day, friends of SIU are invited to make online donations to the areas of SIU that they hold most dear.

Supporters can make a noticeable impact on the university and its students as they contribute with a campus-wide gift or by giving toward specific academic units, programs, scholarships or other areas that will enhance the educational experience for Salukis of today and tomorrow.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are invited to attend the big birthday gift box reveal, set for 2 p.m. on March 6 in the first floor rotunda at Morris Library. Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry will read the city’s proclamation recognizing March 6 as the Day of Giving and kickoff for the university’s anniversary celebration. Following a special presentation and remarks by Chancellor John M. Dunn birthday cake will be served.

“The Day of Giving shines a light on the importance of philanthropy to benefit students and programs,” Rae Goldsmith, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation, said. “Donors can support the areas they are most passionate about. Every gift, no matter the size, makes a positive difference.”

There are more than 150 areas and projects to choose from for contributions, including the new Saluki Alumni Plaza. Created to allow alumni and current students to gather and connect, the scenic area near Woody Hall will feature a sculpture of three Saluki dogs, representing past, present and future students.

Kicks off at 6 a.m.

The Day of Giving online tickertape begins rolling at 6 a.m. on March 6 and will run through 5:59 a.m. on March 7, tracking gifts to SIU. Giving booths will be set up in various locations around campus as well, offering people the chance to learn more about philanthropy and giving back to the university as they enjoy refreshments and have the chance to win prizes in hourly drawings. Contributions made at the booths will also be logged online.

And while the focus is online giving, donations, which are tax deductible as allowed by law, can also be made by calling 618/453-4900 or by sending checks payable to the SIU Foundation to Mail Code 6805, Carbondale, IL 62901. If sending a check to the foundation, indicate in the memo that the gift is for #SIUDAY and mark the area you wish to support.

Unifying and competitive

“What is remarkable about this event, is that everyone comes together and feels proud to be a Saluki,” Rebecca Renshaw, associate director of communications for the SIU Foundation, said.

She noted that it’s also become quite competitive, as campus units strive to collect the most money and the most individual donations. The College of Education and Human Services claimed the trophy for the most money raised – $96,996 – in 2018, while the College of Applied Sciences and Arts claimed the award for the greatest number of gifts with 306.

In all, the 2018 event raised nearly $480,000. That was a nice increase from the inaugural event in 2017 when the $75,000 goal was smashed by $341,000 in donations.

Day of Giving is just the beginning

The Day of Giving is the first of many special birthday events and plans at SIU.

Southern Illinois University Press will soon be releasing a special photo-filled commemorative book, “Southern Illinois University at 150 Years: Growth, Accomplishments and Challenges.” Written by John S. Jackson, with contributions by numerous others, the coffee table book is filled with interesting stories, photos and fascinating facts.

Visit throughout the year to find out more about the book and all things pertaining to SIU’s big 150th anniversary celebration.

“A sesquicentennial marks an important point in the university’s timeline,” Dunn said. “It tells the world that we have a proud history and an impressive foundation to build upon as we embrace the future with optimism and commitment to the next 150 years. Clearly, it’s a time to celebrate our humble beginning and the national and international university we have become as we imagine even greater things to come.”

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Kyleigh Decker awarded the Virginia Gordon Scholarship

Kyleigh Decker, SIU Softball

By Drew Novara

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Kyleigh Decker, a junior from Casey, Ill. and member of the Saluki Softball team, received the Virginia Gordon Scholarship for the 2018-19 academic school year. Decker is studying to become a physician’s assistant.

“When you talk about Kyleigh, she really embodies what student-athlete means,” said head softball coach Kerri Blaylock. “She’s one of the best athletes we have and in the classroom she’s working hard to pursue her dream of becoming a physician’s assistant. She’s just phenomenal.”

“When I signed my National Letter of Intent (NLI) to come to SIU, I knew that I would have to start focusing on a future beyond athletics,” said Decker. “That’s when I found a love for medicine.”

Her hard work in the classroom has paid off as she has been recognized for her academic achievements in each of her first two years at SIU. She is a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Scholar-Athlete, was named to the MVC’s Academic Honor Roll and is an MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award recipient.

Decker has excelled on the softball field as well. As a freshman, she hit a two-run home run in her first plate appearance and went on to start 17 games for the Salukis. As a sophomore, Decker started in all 53 games. She hit .273 with seven doubles, two triples and seven home runs to go along with her 23 RBIs. She finished second on the team in runs scored (33) and third in home runs (7).

Said Blaylock, “she’s one of the most mature and driven players I’ve ever coached.”

“The Virginia Gordon Scholarship isn’t just an award to me,” said Decker. “It’s an opportunity to open new doors and to become the person I’ve dreamed of being!”

Ag Students Express Their Appreciation, Excitement

Chloe Buchanan and Logan Kennard

By Jeff Wilson

Paul Georgy’s decision to donate $50,000 was based largely on his passion for SIU Farms and his hope to inspire a new generation of students and alumni.

“Alumni can step up and get stuff done,” he said. “We can make a nice home for the livestock. We can get more hands-on opportunities for the students and open some eyes to the farms.”

For two current students, the impact of Georgy’s gift is already being felt. Not only has it brought new livestock to the farms, it’s strengthened their Saluki spirits.


Chloe Buchanan and Logan Kennard share a passion for livestock and agriculture. A chance to learn and work at SIU Farms is what drew each of them to SIU.

“The opportunity to learn hands-on at the farms gives SIU students the upper hand when it comes to job placement or admission into higher levels of education, such as veterinarian school or master’s programs,” said Buchanan, a senior from Fort Wayne, Indiana. “The farms have always been a special place for me because I have always felt welcome and comfortable there.”

Both Buchanan and Kennard are members of the Livestock Judging Team. Kennard, a senior from Mount Carmel, is the team president.

“The new pigs will make it easier for us to practice,” Kennard said. “Previously, the swine center only had pigs with production-oriented genetics. There is a divide between show stock and production stock. Having show-quality pigs will allow us to practice on campus instead of traveling or relying on Web-based classes.”


SIU Farms will continue feeling the effect of Georgy’s gift long after the delivery of the new pigs and cattle.

The importance of the donation has made an impression on everyone connected to the beef and swine centers.

“Knowing that there are alumni and supporters whose lives were changed by the farms – just like mine had been – is something that keeps me going,” Buchanan said. “It’s just another reason I’m so thankful that I go to SIU.”

Beyond adding better pigs, more cattle, raising money for much-needed repairs and improvements and improving the experience of the Livestock Judging Team, Georgy’s donation will help ensure SIU Farms continues to offer a unique experience to students.

“This gift truly speaks to the influence of the program,” Kennard said. “To see that people are willing to donate their hard-earned money to the college proves to me that SIU was the right choice.”