by Christi Mathis
CARBONDALE, Ill. — As business and community leaders, Clint and Debra McDonnough know from experience the importance of a quality education in achieving success. That experience led the Texas couple with Southern Illinois roots to pledge funds for a scholarship endowment to help Southern Illinois University Carbondale students reach their educational goals.
The McDonnoughs are donating at least $30,000 to the Southern Illinois University Foundation to create the Clint and Debra McDonnough Scholarship Endowment. Interest income from the endowment is funding an annual scholarship award beginning in fall 2011.
The scholarship will go to a high school senior from one of the Connect SI counties: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White and Williamson. Admittance to the College of Business at SIUC is also a requirement and preference will go to students who participate in Lead SI, a regional youth networking and leadership initiative.
“Clint and Debra McDonnough are strongly committed to the greater Dallas community, but they continue to be very devoted to their native Southern Illinois and SIUC,” said Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation. “The McDonnoughs place great value on attaining a college degree and they are making quite a commitment to help Southern Illinois students in their educational quest. The McDonnoughs are doing their part to foster support of future business leaders. This is a wonderful gesture on their part.”
Clint McDonnough, a Pinckneyville native and 1977 accounting graduate of SIUC, is the Dallas office managing partner for Ernst and Young LLP. He oversees the daily operations for one of the firm’s largest markets and also serves as the company’s spokesman and representative in the area. Over his 34-year career with the firm, McDonnough initially worked in the St. Louis office, then at the global headquarters in Cleveland, before becoming the firm’s managing partner of assurance and advisory business services for the southwest area including northern Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
His previous roles also included serving as national director of real estate advisory services, working to create a unified national real estate consulting practice with focus on development and new services implementation. He also served as managing partner for the Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group as well as a stint as coordinating partner for many of the agency’s clients.
McDonnough is active in numerous community organizations, including the Dallas Education Foundation Board, the Dallas Citizens Council Board, the Dallas Regional Chamber Board and Education Committee, the University of Texas at Dallas Development Board. McDonnough served two years as the United Way’s general campaign chairman and is presently a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Committee.
The greater Dallas community has shown its appreciation for his efforts with a number of awards, including the 2008 Ebby Halliday Executive’s Excellence Award from Executive Women International, the 2009 Chairman’s Award from the Dallas Regional Chamber and the 2009 Flame of Honor Award for Distinguished Community Service from the Southwest Jewish Congress. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc., also named him a 2010 Dallas Local Hero.
Debra McDonnough, originally from Highland, earned an accounting degree at SIU Edwardsville. Dallas residents since 1986, the couple has three children.
“There are probably two main reasons that served as the impetus for us creating this endowment,” Clint McDonnough said. During the couple’s return trips to the region, they saw a struggling economy with high unemployment, and while greatly encouraged by the efforts of the region’s residents, the McDonnoughs wanted to help.
“We wanted to do something, to give something back to the community that was so instrumental in helping us during our formative years,” McDonnough said.
In addition, he said his good friend Ron Barger, a Dallas attorney and 1973 Murphysboro High School graduate, was a co-founder and continuing supporter of LEAD SI, an initiative to encourage talented high school students to maximize their leadership skills and further their education. In talking with Barger, McDonnough learned about LEAD SI and found it to be a needed program and an excellent vehicle to help the McDonnoughs with their goal of assisting Southern Illinois teens pursue business degrees.
He said that although he and Debra are deeply involved in their work and charitable efforts and live in the Dallas area, creating the scholarship is something definitive they can do to help.
“Clint and Debra McDonnough have made a significant investment in Southern Illinois with a scholarship enabling LEAD SI students to pursue a business degree at SIUC. It is our hope that the recipients of this scholarship will develop into future business leaders and, following the McDonnoughs’ example, will give back to their communities,” said Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business.
LEAD SI, begun in 2008, invites youths to participate in a training institute at SIUC where they develop their communication, problem solving, team building and decision making skills while networking with leaders in the region. The high school juniors and seniors then participate in events throughout the year focusing on their development as future leaders able to address regional problems with regional solutions. LEAD SI is the youth leadership component of Connect SI, a regional economic and community development initiative.
“I’m very grateful for the vision of the McDonnough family in connecting this scholarship to LEAD SI. What they have accomplished is the creation of a strong linkage between collaborative leadership and a degree in business taught in an academic environment of excellence. Both are essential elements for regional and national growth. Together they form a powerful catalyst for positive change,” said Rex Duncan, director of community development at SIUC and president of the Connect SI Foundation board of directors.
The scholarship is renewable for up to three additional years for recipients maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 2.8.
“We believe that a college degree is the gateway to help fulfill career goals. After growing up in Southern Illinois, we want to provide financial support and opportunities for Southern Illinois high school graduates to pursue a college degree in business and inspire them to contribute to the Southern Illinois economy in a leadership role,” said Clint McDonnough.