Ong establishes scholarships, brings academic competitions to SIU

By Jeff Wilson

Henry Ong has lived and worked all around the world, but he hasn’t forgotten the role SIU played in his life.

“I had an enjoyable experience at SIU and the wonderful outdoor experiences in Southern Illinois,” he said. “That was some of the best times of my life.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree and MBA from the College of Business, Ong spent many successful years working for Whirlpool. Then, in the mid-90s, he made a career change and began to focus on education.

“I wanted to create resources that would align with 21st Century learning concepts,” he said. “I have always been good at mathematical games. I started working with an educational supply company. I learned about the educational system.”

From there, he decided to develop his own mathematical competitions and founded the Singapore International Mastery Contests Center (SIMCC).

“We started in 2006, and it has grown quickly into one of the largest academic competitions in the world,” he said. “We’re now in 38 countries.”

Working with SIU’s Center for International Education, Ong has established two endowed scholarships for international students, and the SIMCC recently entered a partnership with SIU. The university will host future competitions.

“Beyond simply competing, we created a pathway for students to win awards through competition,” he said. “There are more than 200,000 students who take part in these competitions worldwide.”

A long journey

Like all young men from Singapore, Ong was required to serve in the country’s military. After that, he spent a year teaching and applied to SIU. He was accepted and came to Carbondale in January of 1982. It was then that he applied for and received a scholarship for international students.

“That helped me finish my degree,” he said. “SIU was very generous to me.”

He had a job offer from Whirlpool when he graduated but had to wait on his visa to be approved. For six months, he worked as an intern in the university controller’s office. Once he started working for Whirlpool, he rose through the ranks quickly.

Ong transferred from his U.S. position to a position in Hong Kong and later become managing director for Whirlpool in Malaysia and Singapore. He ended his career with the corporation as Asian Audit Director and took a job developing new appliances with a mentor of his in San Francisco.

“Not long after that, I decided Asia was much more attractive, so I moved back to Singapore to distribute products in Asia,” he said.

A few years later, he transitioned to the world of producing educational resources. Since founding the SIMCC, he’s seen the power of the academic competitions and is excited about bringing them and scholarships to SIU.

“We’re looking forward to this partnership,” he said. “I hope these students can also enjoy the same fantastic experience I had at SIU.”

A family legacy of teaching

Marilyn Black smiles as she signs her gift agreement for the Marilyn A. Black Scholarship in Elementary Education.

The legacy of teaching runs strong in Marilyn Black’s family. Black, a 1960 alumna from the SIU College of Education, learned about the value of teaching from her parents, who were themselves graduates of the SIU College of Education. Black’s father was a school superintendent and her mother was her high school English teacher. “Education was important to them,” said Black.

At SIU, Black benefitted from a scholarship that helped her reach her goal of becoming a teacher, ultimately teaching in the Carbondale elementary school district for over 20 years. Black and her late husband, Frank, had three children who all attended SIU.  Marilyn loved teaching and inspired two of her children to become educators as well.

In recognition of the importance of teachers, she recently established the Marilyn A. Black Scholarship in Elementary Education, saying simply, “Somebody helped me, so I want to help now.” Her scholarship will support aspiring elementary education students to reach their goals of becoming teachers, just as Black did.

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Interview with Dan Korte

Meet Dan Korte, ’81. Korte is a board member for the SIU Foundation. Korte also serves on the Industrial Advisory Board for the School of Engineering.

Dan is currently the global vice president, aerospace at PPG Industries.  He oversees more than 3,500 employees at over 25 plants, application support centers, laboratories, research centers and technical support sites worldwide.  He has 35 years of experience as a leader in the aerospace industry, working for companies such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce and LMI Aerospace.  Dan also serves on numerous company and charitable boards.  He holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from SIU and a Master of Business Administration from Lindenwood University.  He is a graduate of the strategic thinking and management for competitive advantage program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

Everyone who attended SIU has a story about their experiences during college. Below is the inspiring story about Korte’s journey to SIU as told by him in first person:

Dan Korte, circa 1970s.

Dan Korte’s SIU Story

In one’s life, there are key moments that have a lasting impact. For me, one of those moments came late in the summer after I graduated high school, when on rare occasion my father shared some advice. To that point, I had planned to follow in his footsteps and those of my uncles and many cousins who had jobs in construction.

“Son, you don’t have the back for it,” my father said. “You better figure out a way to use your mind.”

Because my father did not give advice often and this was the first career advice he had given me, his words weighed heavily. Perhaps a bit impulsively, my 18-year-old self loaded some clothes into the back of my car and set out on the two-hour drive from Breese, Illinois, toward Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The fall semester started the next day, and I had not yet enrolled as a student or registered for classes. In fact, I didn’t even have a place to live.

The first night, I managed to crash on the couch of a friend from my hometown. The following morning, as I stood at the trunk of my car brushing my teeth, I glanced down the street and, as if looking into a mirror, I saw another guy doing the same. Without hesitation, I introduced myself to Greg and that is how two kids in need of a place to live became instant roommates and lifelong friends.

That sunny day in 1978, I also stepped foot onto the campus of SIU and became the first person in my family to take even one college course. I would spend the next seven years gaining two degrees while working at the Student Center to help pay tuition, buy books and scrape together a little food with what little money remained each month. Financial aid did help defray my college expenses, yet almost every semester when I went to Woody Hall, I would hear those dreaded words, “I’m sorry, but you cannot register for classes until you clear your bursar’s hold.” Fortunately, each semester I managed to pay enough to keep going.

When I look back through the years at my successful career as an engineer and business leader, and recall that 18-year-old boy who started his college journey with only a carload of clothes, a mind to use and the will to persevere, it is easy for me to contribute to SIU. Each time I give, I know I am helping the latest generation of students that grace the halls of SIU pursue their dreams and become the bright leaders we need to address the world’s many challenges today and tomorrow. I ask you to consider doing the same.

Fun Fact

When a board member or an outstanding alumnus is featured in this campaign newsletter, we try to share something about the person that others may not know.

“I have always been curious, even at a young age. I remember taking apart my mother’s vacuum cleaner at age 8 and dismantling the dashboard of my dad’s new truck again at age 11. But, my pathway to learning really started at SIU and has continued with me throughout my life. In fact, one of my joys in life is receiving the National Geographic magazine in the mail each month. I sit down and read it cover to cover. It teaches me about culture, the planet and the universe. I can’t imagine a life without learning.”

Poshards honor others with $100,000 gift to Morris Library

Pictured left to right: Anne Marie Hamilton-Brehm (Associate Dean of Special Collections Research Center), John Pollitz (Dean of Library Affairs), Jo Poshard and Glenn Poshard.

Glenn and Jo Poshard’s philanthropic spirit has touched countless people around the region. With their recent donation to Morris Library, the Poshards decided to honor four people who touched their lives.

Their $100,000 donation will name four rooms in the library’s Special Collection Research Center. They will be named after Dr. Paul Sarvela, Dr. John Haller, Dr. Duane Stucky, and Paula Keith. Each left a lasting impression on the Poshards.

“When we sat down to determine our planned giving, we began to think of the people in our lives that made a powerful impact,” Glenn Poshard said. “Jo and I served 8 ½ years as the president of the SIU system, and during that time, we worked with wonderful people. We determined we want to give back to this great university and honor the people with whom we worked.”

Dr. Sarvela was a tenured professor at SIU and served in many different roles within the SIU system. He worked as acting and interim chancellor of the Carbondale campus for four months until his untimely death in November of 2014.

“I will always remember Dr. Sarvela’s booming laugh,” Glenn Poshard said. “He would come through the back door of the Stone Center, bellowing out loud with laughter. He was always so happy.”

Dr. Haller is an emeritus professor and served for 20 years as vice president of academic affairs for the SIU system.

“I talked him into delaying retirement,” Glenn Poshard said. “He is such an accomplished man. He has published over 40 books and is still the most prolific researcher I know.”

Dr. Stucky is the senior vice president for financial and administrative affairs and worked closely with Poshard.

“In some of the most difficult financial times higher education has faced, Bain Corporation ranked SIU in the top 15 percent of the best financially managed public universities in America,” Glenn Poshard said. “That was due to Dr. Stucky’s leadership.”

Keith was a part of the SIU System Office during Poshard’s tenure and continues in that role today.

“As administrative assistant, Paula Keith not only handled the day-to-day affairs of the President’s office, she was an integral part of our leadership team and participated in every important decision we had to make,” he said.

The lasting impacts these individuals left on SIU and the Poshards made them clear choices for this honor.

“When Glenn was president, there were many hours of focusing on projects and goals to move SIU forward,” Jo Poshard said. “These four people and their staffs cared deeply about each other and SIU.”

A lifelong connection

Glenn Poshard first came to SIU in 1966 as a student. It was then that he first fell in love with Morris Library.

“Fifth-five years ago, I was a 21-year-old starting at SIU on the GI Bill, and I opened the doors to this library, and I was floored. It was so beautiful,” he said. “It was one of the greatest buildings I’d entered in my young life.”

Years later, as president of the SIU system, worked to expand and renovate the library.

“I’m so proud of what all the people who worked with us have done to make this one of the greatest libraires in the state of Illinois” he said.

By naming rooms in the library, the Poshards have ensured that their legacies and the legacies of those who helped them, and SIU will be properly honored.

“This is a wonderful day for the library and for special collections,” said John Pollitz, dean of Library Affairs. “I am so impressed with Dr. and Jo Poshard and how they have always supported the community and the library. What is so honorable is that the Poshards are thinking of others instead of naming themselves. That is the mark of true humility”

Giving back is at the heart of the Poshards’ mission, and they hope their gift will inspire others.

“I would encourage others to give back to SIU,” Glenn Poshard said. “There are multiple naming opportunities in this library. How inspiring to make way for your future generations to see your generosity and commitment.”

Quotes from honorees

Dr. Duane Stuckey:

Dr. Poshard is an extraordinarily special man. He is a talented leader but he always remembers the ordinary people and each one of the people who work with him.

Paula Keith:

It has been an honor to work with and be a part of an administration under Glenn and Jo’s leadership.

Dr. John Haller, Jr.:

It is humbling that Dr. Poshard would pick other people to recognize when he and Jo have done so much. They are the ones who should really be recognized. I worked with six SIU Presidents and Dr. Poshard is the finest of them all.

Debra Sarvela and daughter Kristin Sarvela:

I was so touched when Dr. Poshard called and asked if it would be okay to honor my late husband, Paul Sarvela. It touched us deeply.

To learn more about how to give to Morris Library and the university, visit

People Helping People – SIU Credit Union Kicks Off 5th SIU Day of Giving

Pictured left to right: Lori Stettler, Mark Dynis, Kim Babington, Chancellor Austin A. Lane, Mike Lantrip, Emily Spann, and Sara Dailey.

By Rebecca Renshaw

SIU Credit Union’s “people helping people” philosophy is never more apparent than during the annual SIU Day of Giving – a 24-hour fundraising effort where supporters are encouraged to visit on Wednesday, March 3, and make a gift of any size. This year, SIU Credit Union kicked off the special day with two gifts. The first donation of $20,000 will benefit SIU’s New Student Programs and the second donation of $15,000 will go to Touch of Nature’s Dawg Days program.

The SIU Credit Union was represented by Mike Lantrip, CEO, Mark Dynis, Marketing Director and Kim Babington, Vice President of Community Outreach.

Carefully adhering to proper social distancing practices, Chancellor Austin Lane received the donations from the group and said he appreciates the continued support SIU Credit Union has demonstrated throughout the years.

“SIU Credit Union has been an incredible partner with SIU. We appreciate the help they give to our students to discover pathways to success. They are a true pillar in our community,” he said.

Lori Stettler, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs says the support of the SIU Credit Union is impactful.

“We appreciate SIU Credit Union’s continued support of our students and their willingness to be leaders in our community. We love how they continue to show up and support our students,” she said.

“We are thrilled to play a part in the SIU Day of Giving,” said Babington.

“It is just the right thing to do and SIU Credit Union has always supported SIU. We hope to continue this tradition for a long time to come,” she said.

Pictured left to right: Lori Stettler, Mark Dynis, Kim Babington, Chancellor Austin A. Lane, Mike Lantrip, J.D. Tanner, and Sara Dailey.

Babington said that three years ago she did not know much about SIU’s Touch of Nature, but a colleague took her out to their facilities and introduced her to the many programs Touch of Nature offers. She knew then that SIU Credit Union had to play a part in their efforts.

J.D. Tanner, Touch of Nature’s Director, appreciates the ongoing support from SIU Credit Union.

“This generous cash donation is definitely an enhancement for SIU and we appreciate SIU Credit Union’s support. More importantly, we are honored the community is recognizing the value of the work we do here at Touch of Nature,” Tanner said.

To see updates to the giving page, visit

The last act of a giving heart: Hill, longtime SIU supporter, passes away at 104

Anne Hill, 104, long-time donor, alumna, and former SIU staff member, passed away Monday, Feb. 15. One of her last acts was to endow a scholarship award through the School of Music honoring her uncle – the Carl Deis Music Composition Award Endowment.

She believed in the importance of the arts, and she had been involved in the local art scene since 1979.

Recently, she made her greatest impact with a $25,000 donation to the SIU College of Liberal Arts. The Carl Deis Music Composition Award Endowment, named after Hill’s uncle, who was a well-known composer, will benefit students in the School of Music.

“I have no idea what kind of music will develop in the next 25 years, so I leave that up to the students to set the pace,” Hill said in the weeks before her death.  “That makes an opportunity for them to advance the state of music in a way that will be directed by their prize-winning compositions.”

Hill came to SIU as an employee in 1979, retiring in 1981. It was then that she set out to obtain her master’s degree in English. She graduated in 1986.

During her time in Carbondale, she was active in many university and community organizations, including the American Association of University Women and the John Thomas Strings Program. She has also been a donor to the McLeod Summer Playhouse and WSIU. She also helped establish the Southern Illinois Chamber Music Society.

“My grandfather immigrated here – he played trombone in the New York Symphony – because America needed music and musicians. This is still the case. We need to build audiences, too,” she said in a 2015 SIU Alumni magazine article. “I continue to enrich my own life in this community because I have made wonderful friends through the programs we have been able to serve in and support.”

It isn’t the first time Hill has given to the university and its students, but by endowing a fund, those gifts are made sustainable and will be given each year.

To read her full obituary, click here.

Aspiring physician a perfect fit for new scholarship

Maryam Makhdoom receives first Thanu and Nongyao Kulachol Library Scholarship

Pictured left to right: Maryam Makhdoom, Jared and Maryann Dorn.

By Rebecca Renshaw

Maryam Makhdoom hadn’t heard of the Thanu and Nongyao Kulachol Library Scholarship. It’s a new scholarship with a specific focus, and that made Makhdoom its ideal first recipient.

Established in 2019, the scholarship supports students who want to work with populations in Southeast Asia doing public health projects, which aligns with her desire to go to Singapore for a semester to learn more about international public health.

Dean of Library Affairs John Pollitz contacted Makhdoom, a senior majoring in public health, to share the good news.

“I was thrilled to discover I was awarded this scholarship because it fits in so well with my desires to further my knowledge about public health in southeast Asia,” said Makhdoom, who is also the university’s 2020 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate.

Makhdoom plans to devote her life to helping improve the health and lives of people however she can. She is particularly interested in the emerging interdisciplinary fields of global health diplomacy.

Her goal is to become a physician, focusing on health disparities and inequalities. She said she will likely specialize in the care of women and children.

She is also seeking a Fulbright scholarship for 2021-22 to expand her research into how cultural values affect health outcomes.

“Should I be awarded the Fulbright, I will use the Thanu and Nongyao Kulachol Library Scholarship I have received to travel to Singapore,” Makhdoom said. “I have been so blessed that this scholarship fits so well with my dreams.”

The creation of the scholarship was a collaborative effort between the SIU Foundation and Library Affairs, along with donors Jared and Maryann Dorn.

“Sometimes many students are not aware of scholarships that are available to them that align with their future plans,” Makhdoom said. “Donors really open up career paths for students and broaden their horizons. Such opportunities open their eyes and allows them to focus more clearly on their hopes and plans. I would encourage other donors to give so more students could benefit from opportunities such as the ones I have received here at SIU. I am so thankful for donors like Jared and Maryann Dorn, and I am excited about the future before me.”

Inspired, driven, thankful: Alumnus finds success, helps others achieve

james and joan hood

James and Joan Hood

By Rebecca Renshaw

What can someone do with a degree in English literature? Plenty, and SIU alumnus Jim Hood is the perfect example.

Hood’s degree propelled him into a successful career in the news and information industry.

“When you study and research literature, you learn how to condense a whole lot of information down to the essence,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s impossible to go wrong studying English literature. If you get a real base studying and researching literature, you can go out and do anything.”

Hood ’69 and his wife recently established the James R. and Joan Lisante Hood Fund for New Media Technology with a $30,000 gift. In 2020, the James R. and Joan Lisante Hood Endowed Scholarship for Creative Nonfiction will be created with an additional $40,000 contribution.

SIU offers inspiration, experience

John Gardner was Hood’s favorite professor. Gardner had built a reputation as a rebel in the field of medieval studies, specifically in the study of Geoffrey Chaucer.

“I remember Gardner reading ‘Canterbury Tales’ to my class. He would read it line by line and explain it in middle English,” Hood said. “It was as much anthropology as English literature. Gardner transformed it from a study of old bones into a study of beautiful poetry and fiction.”

While a student at SIU, Hood gravitated toward local news and spent most of his time as a radio reporter and freelance correspondent covering the social upheavals of the 1960s. He served as the news director of WSIU radio, covering civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activities. Hood also worked at WINI in Murphysboro and WJPF in Herrin.

“I remember finishing up the 2 p.m. news at WJPF when the phone rang,” he said. “A guy asked if I was the one who just delivered the news, and when I said that I had, he offered me a job at a radio station in Phoenix. After graduation, I packed my bags and went to Phoenix.”

Hood also regularly sat in on classes taught by Buckminster Fuller. He credits Fuller, in part, for his entrepreneurial spirit.

“I never forgot what I learned at SIU,” he said. “Fuller taught me about design, how to look at problems, and then how to think outside the box to solve those problems.”

Bridging the gap

Hood worked for 14 years as an editor and executive for Associated Press outlets across the country. His knack for solving problems coupled with his technical skills pushed him to start several startup companies, such as Zap News and Consumer Affairs.

“I’m the guy you can blame for consumers who won’t buy anything until they read the reviews,” Hood said.

Hood, now semi-retired, lives in Fairfax, Virginia, and runs Fairfax News.

“Basically, it’s my personal hobby. We cover Washington, D.C., and do stories on cops and robbers – that kind of thing.”

By giving to SIU’s creative writing program, he hopes to help bridge the gap between creative writing and technology.

“Sometimes people with a technical bent don’t know how to express themselves, and literary types are hopeless when it comes to technical stuff,” Hood said. “It’s my hope that by implementing new media projects using technology, it will help one or two starving English majors.”

Hood credits SIU with introducing him to some of the brightest people he ever met.

“I’ve always felt obligated to give back to SIU. It helps diverse students and attracts students from other countries. It also helps to lift up students from inner cities like East St. Louis and Chicago,” he said. “I think big universities like SIU need the benefits of philanthropy much more than private institutions.”

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Alumna Honors Parents Through Gift to the Saluki Alumni Plaza

By Rebecca Renshaw

Whenever Karen Bedwell Herhahn receives marketing material for SIU Carbondale, the photo of the iconic Pulliam Hall is most often prominently featured. However, Bedwell Herhahn does not see just the clock tower of the building—instead she sees University School where she went to junior high and high school. Fond memories of her formative years spent in that building always spring to her mind.

So last year when reviewing the plans for the new Saluki Alumni Plaza statue featured prominently in front of Pulliam Hall, she felt moved to donate $2,000 to the Plaza.

“I spent a lot of time in U-School looking out over SIU campus and it carries a special significance to me. My Father, R. Ralph Bedwell, was recruited by President Delyte Morris to serve as the Director of the newly developed Small Business Institute. Knowing the importance of a good education, my parents sent all of their children to University School. We had opportunities that did not exist in typical small-town schools.”

The primary purpose of University School was a place to do special research and observation. In 1951, the school building was completed. Lower classes, nursery, pre-school, etc., featured two-way glass for student teachers training. Juniors and seniors were able to enroll in university classes. Many of the instructors had their Ph.D.’s. An Olympic size pool, a large art and industrial arts wing with classrooms, an exceptional music program along with top academic programs were available to students. The last high school class to graduate was 1968. Grades nursery through 6th grade were closed in 1971.

Bedwell Herhahn currently sits on the College of Business and Analytics Dean’s External Advisory Board. Members of the Board address and make recommendations on strategic planning, the curriculum, development, and other critical issues.

In the early 2000’s, Bedwell Herhahn made a deferred gift of nearly $150,000 in honor of her parents and established the R. Ralph and Elnora J. Bedwell Endowment for Small Business Development. The purpose of the endowment is to support seminars for the small business community in Southern Illinois.

“Even though I completed all three of my college degrees at other universities, no other university has ever held my loyalty and fond memories like SIU Carbondale,” said Bedwell Herhahn.


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Library Establishes New Endowment to Honor Carus Family

By Rebecca Renshaw

Morris Library has worked with the SIU Foundation to transfer $1 million from the Carus Mineral Trust to create the new Alwin C. Carus Endowment.

John Pollitz, dean of library affairs says the relationship the library has with the benevolent Carus family has been long standing.

“The Carus family has been a valued supporter of the Morris Library and the Special Collections Research Center for over forty years. They have entrusted SIUC with the preservation and promotion of the complete papers of the Open Court Publishing Company. By creating this endowed chair, they have moved our relationship to the next level.”

To read the full press release and learn more about the Carus family and their commitment to science, religion and philosophy, click here. To support SIU’s Morris Library, click here.