Sunblade wins inaugural Rendleman scholarship

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For Southern Illinois University Carbondale photojournalism student Emily Sunblade, the news that she is the first scholarship recipient of an award in memory of a friend is bittersweet.

Sunblade is the inaugural recipient of the Ryan Rendleman Photojournalism Scholarship. The 22-year-old senior from Bolingbrook, who has a double major in photojournalism and history, will be awarded the $1,000 scholarship during the School of Journalism’s annual awards banquet Thursday, April 23, at 6 p.m., at Blue Sky Vineyards in Makanda.

More than 30 scholarships worth more $23,000, along with several recognition awards, will be presented. Members of Rendleman’s family will be present at the awards banquet.

“For me it’s very personal. I was friends with Ryan,” Sunblade said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s great to get the award but in hindsight, I wish the award didn’t exist.”

The endowed scholarship honors Rendleman, a 22-year-old senior from Batavia, who died a year ago in a traffic accident while en route to an assignment for The Daily Egyptian student newspaper. Family, friends and faculty members within the journalism school then set up the endowed scholarship through donations and fundraising efforts.

“We are honored by the scholarship endowed in Ryan’s name, and it’s things like these that have comforted us,” said Nick Rendleman, Ryan’s older brother. “We are looking forward to a new student every year being introduced to his legacy.”

The scholarship “will be a reminder every spring of Ryan and how much he meant to all of us,” said William H. Freivogel, director of the School of Journalism.

Sunblade is one of the most promising among a group of promising photojournalists within the school, Freivogel said.

“In a lot of ways she embodies what a lot of us saw in Ryan. She is active in multi-media and new media styles of reporting,” he said.

“Ryan touched the lives of many during his life, I am delighted that his influence on photojournalism students will continue through this scholarship,” said William Recktenwald, a senior lecturer and journalist-in-residence, and one of Rendleman’s instructors.

“Emily Sunblade is a talented photographer and excellent student, she was also a close friend of Ryan,” Recktenwald said. “I know that she will find a special significance in being the first recipient of this award.”

Sunblade, the daughter of Richard and Dianna Sunblade, graduates in December. With her background in history and photography, Sunblade has done some past work with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. She will intern this summer with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, working in the visitor’s center, where she will create programs and brochures. The 1.92-million acre refuge is on the southwestern side of Alaska, about one hour south of Anchorage.

Sunblade has worked at The Daily Egyptian since the spring 2008 semester, where she and Rendleman became friends. She gives him credit for helping her think of a photo as more than just a picture, and recalls his ever-present optimism prior to going out on assignment.

She said she often asks herself how Rendleman would have likely approached an assignment before she leaves on a photo shoot.

“Ryan was very much about making the photo a story and not just something to fill space,” she said.

The crash occurred less than two weeks before Rendleman was to earn his bachelor’s degree. Family members accepted Rendleman’s diploma posthumously during commencement ceremonies. The family has set up a Web site in Rendleman’s memory at that will be active May 24.

Last month, Rendleman was enshrined in the Newseum’s Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. He is among 1,913 reporters, photographers and broadcasters who have died while reporting the news dating back to 1837, and is the first collegiate journalist from the United States on the memorial.

Automotive students benefit from Nissan gift

by Pete Rosenbery

SIU Students benefit from Nissan Gift

Another significant donation — Christopher Reynolds, left, an assistant instructor with Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized automotive technology program, checks out one of the latest donations to the program, a 2006 Nissan 350Z with students Kelsey Pugh, center, and Vincent Tiberio, right. The car is one of six vehicles and equipment totaling more than $151,000 the program received from Nissan North America, Inc. Pugh and Tiberio are juniors in the automotive technology program; Pugh is from Cleveland, Ohio; Tiberio from Yorkville. (Photo by Pete Rosenbery)

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Nissan North America Inc. is assisting students in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Automotive Technology with a sizeable gift of automobiles and equipment. The company recently donated six vehicles, several engines, transmissions, transaxles and other equipment to the nationally recognized program. The donations, which total $151,610, will help prepare students for careers with major automotive manufacturers, said Jack S. Greer, who chairs the automotive technology department. “This is vitally important,” Greer said, noting the gift is Nissan’s largest to the program. “It’s important to the program to keep it up-to-date as far as technology opportunities for the students. This also demonstrates the dedication the manufacturers have for this program.” Geoff Lonberger, fixed operations manager for Nissan North America, Inc., and a 2005 SIUC automotive technology program graduate, coordinated the sizeable donation.

“It is important for manufacturers to support educational programs, particularly ones with an automotive-specific curriculum because a lot of the upcoming graduates from these programs could be the future of the industry,” he said. “Without vehicle and parts donations the students would not have current technology to learn from.” The donation is another validation of the automotive technology program’s standing within the industry, Greer said. “Nissan doesn’t give $150,000 to a school they do not think a lot of,” he said. “They appreciate our graduates and the way they are prepared for the industry. Our students hit the ground running.” Kelsey Pugh, a junior in automotive technology from Cleveland, Ohio, said adapting to the ever-changing automotive industry is important. “It’s always constantly changing,” Pugh said. “With what we have to work on right now, just getting these new technologies in and seeing different manufacturers and how they do different things is vital.” Vincent Tiberio, a junior in automotive technology from Yorkville, agreed. “This is the newest and greatest technology on the market. It keeps us up-to-date,” he said. “We are able to see what is out there.” As with other donations, students use the vehicles to hone their diagnostic sills. This enables students to train on some of the latest technology, vehicles, and equipment, in the automotive industry, Greer said. “This institution embraces any opportunity to enhance the educational experience for our students,” said Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation. “SIU Carbondale’s automotive technology program takes great pride in preparing students for jobs in the industry. Nissan’s gift clearly demonstrates a similar commitment to higher education. The University is grateful for Nissan’s generosity.” It is Nissan’s pleasure to donate the vehicles and equipment, said Lonberger. Four of the six vehicles — a 2004 Nissan Titan, a 2006 Nissan 350Z, a 2007 Nissan Maxima, and 2007 Nissan Sentra — will be at the automotive technology campus in Carterville, which has 200 students. A 2000 Nissan Maxima and 2002 Nissan Altima are in use in the off-campus program at Harry S. Truman College in Chicago.

That program began in fall 2007, enabling Chicago-area students the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology. Students complete an associate of applied science degree from Kennedy-King or Truman College, and then transfer into the automotive technology program, where SIUC faculty teaches upper-level automotive technical and automotive management courses at Truman College. Lonberger started his career with Nissan as a dealer parts and service specialist in 2006. Two years later he transitioned to the sales side of the business as a regional market representative specialist — involved with the franchise agreement as well as market development. His current position, which began April 1, also has an emphasis on customer retention, he said. The University’s automotive technology program “is like no other,” Lonberger emphasized. “The balance between the technical and business sides of the automotive industry makes the education relevant and desirable to manufacturers in any automotive-related field,” he said. “I would highly recommend the program to anybody who wishes to pursue a career in the automotive field. Not only will you receive a great education but after graduation you will have a rich fraternity of Salukis to help you get your foot in the door at some of the top companies in the industry.” Christopher Reynolds, an assistant instructor in the automotive technology program, said it is important for students to be able to see and work on what they will see at dealerships and independent shops. The donations enhance the available base curriculum so that students are more prepared to serve a diverse market of vehicles, Reynolds said. In 2005, the automotive technology program earned the Automotive Industry Planning Council’s Award of Excellence — its third time as the nation’s top program. The program also earned top honors in 1991 and 1999; national winners cannot compete again for the award for five years.

American Suzuki Motor Corp. donates cars to SIU

by Pete Rosenbery

American Suzuki Motor Corp. donates cars to SIU

Generous automotive gift — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized automotive technology program received its single largest vehicle donation at one time Thursday, April 2, when American Suzuki Motor Corp. announced it is donating 10 Suzuki Veronas to the program. On hand at the announcement and ceremonial key exchange were (from left): Jim Sweitzer, dealer principal; Jack S. Greer, automotive technology department chair; Lee Raines, regional services and parts manager, Southern Region, American Suzuki Motor Corp.; and Terry A. Owens, associate dean, SIUC College of Applied Sciences and Arts. More than 25 current automotive technology students also attended the announcement. (Photo by Andrea Hahn)

CARBONDALE, Ill. — To prepare students for a career with the major automotive manufacturers, American Suzuki Motor Corp. will donate 10 vehicles to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized Department of Automotive Technology. Lee Raines, regional services and parts manager, Southern Region, American Suzuki Motor Corp., announced the gift of 10 Suzuki Veronas to SIU Carbondale on April 2 at a ceremony at Foley-Sweitzer Suzuki in Marion.

Manufacturer support is a vital component in keeping the automotive technology program among the nation’s elite, said Raines, who earned his bachelor’s degree in advanced technical studies-automotive technology management from SIUC in 1986.

“The students win. The University wins and the manufacturer wins by creating future professionals who know and want to work on and with the products donated,” he said. “It creates an environment of cooperation, development and future business relations and awareness that may never have occurred otherwise.

“It’s important for all of our futures to work together to advance our education system as well as our industry,” he said. Raines and department chair Jack S. Greer participated in a ceremonial key exchange for the mid-sized sedans at today’s announcement.

Suzuki’s gift is the single largest donation of vehicles at one time the program has ever received, Greer said. Raines is the catalyst for the donation from Suzuki, Greer said, noting that the automaker has hired several program graduates. Raines is a member of the department’s automotive technology advisory board.

“They support the program very strongly,” Greer said. “Because of the current economic conditions, this donation is even more important for keeping our program up-to-date.”

Students will use the vehicles to hone their diagnostic skills, Greer said. In addition, students benefit by studying the vehicle’s operating systems and latest technological advances.

“Our automotive technology program is nationally respected in large part due to the hands-on experience it offers our students,” says Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation. “American Suzuki’s generous gift further enhances the opportunities available to students through this outstanding program. SIU Carbondale is grateful for this wonderful display of support.”

Donations of vehicles, tools, equipment and financial gifts enabled the program “to become the No. 1 automotive program in the country,” Raines said.

“My own commitment to SIUC and the automotive program stems from the fantastic education as well as life lessons learned while attending the University myself,” he said. “I must say that the manufacturers who donated not only their vehicles, tools, and equipment, but also their time have had a great impact on me personally. That fact that I was able to learn on live vehicles while using modern equipment enabled me to earn and pay for my education in my chosen field while attending SIUC.

“The manufacturers took time to speak with students, answer questions, and provide insight as well as give the students a shot of reality every so often through internships and externships,” Raines said. “This real-life exposure in many cases led to employment with manufacturers, vendors and ancillary businesses. The university’s automotive program allowed me and other students to leave the academic system with real life and work skills that in many other cases would take several years to learn after graduation.”

Jim Sweitzer, dealer principal, and Tim Deaton, Suzuki sales manager at Foley-Sweitzer Suzuki, both said the “substantial donation” greatly benefits the local community.

“It will assist today’s SIUC automotive students to work with current vehicles and to be prepared for the automotive technology of tomorrow,” Sweitzer said. “In a tough global economic time when other automobile manufacturers struggle, we are proud to be part of a forward-thinking manufacturer like Suzuki working with the forward-thinking group at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to promote vehicle technology and the education of our SIUC students.”

There are more than 200 students enrolled in the automotive technology program. Facilities on SIUC’s campus in Carterville have housed the program’s technical courses since its inception in 1952. In addition to its program at SUIC, since fall 2007, Chicago-area students can obtain a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology through off-campus programs at Harry S. Truman College. Students complete an associate of applied science degree from Kennedy-King College or Truman College, and then transfer into SIUC’s automotive technology program, where SIUC faculty teach upper-level automotive technical and automotive management courses at Truman College.

In 2005, the automotive technology program earned the Automotive Industry Planning Council’s Award of Excellence — its third time as the nation’s top program. The program also earned top honors in 1991 and 1999; national winners cannot compete again for the award for five years. The Brea, Calif.-based Automotive Operations of American Suzuki Motor Corp. was founded in 1963 byparent company Suzuki Motor Corp. (SMC) and markets its vehicles in the United States through a network of approximately 400 automotive dealerships and numerous other motorcycle, ATV and marine distributors in 49 states, according to the company. With global headquarters in Hamamatsu, Japan,SMC is a diversified worldwide automobile, motorcycle and outboard motor manufacturer. In 2008, SMC sold more than two million new cars and trucks and more than three million motorcycles and ATVs. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has operations in 193 countries and regions.