Deeply Rooted Devotion To The Arts

Anne Hill is pictured with J. Thomas Kidd, chair of SIU’s theater department, and Carbondale Community Arts Executive Director Nancy Stemper. Photo is courtesy of Carbondale Community Arts

This lively lady has invited the Free Range Chix, a local trio, to sing at her 99th birthday party next month. She’s a regular supporter of music and the arts, having helped to establish the Southern Illinois Chamber Music Society, and funding the SIU School of Music’s first cash prize for student composers, named for her uncle, Carl Deis, a musician in his own right.

After Anne Hill retired from SIU in 1981, she continued her active membership in several local community organizations. Hill, a 1986 SIU English alumna, wrote and circulated newsletters for three separate organization over 12 years. She served on the WSIU Friends Board and was a contributor in converting WSIU-TV to a digital broadcast, and provided funding for essential purchases for Morris Library and Carbondale Public Library.

“My grandfather emigrated 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 says. “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‘s great to retire in a university town.”

Hill is making sure these programs enjoy longstanding support. When she sold her house recently, Hill put the majority of the proceeds in a charitable gift annuity through the SIU Foundation. Her gift will provide funds for WSIU Public Broadcasting, McLeod Theater Playhouse, SIU’s Chamber Music Society and Carl Deis Composer Prize in addition to student scholarships.

She envisions this option as a way to continue her major support of music and the arts in addition to receiving some additional income.

Her charitable gift annuity contract with the SIU Foundation provides Hill with a charitable income tax deduction as well as an income stream for life.

Hill, who now lives in a Carbondale retirement village, says she gathered home improvement concepts from “This Old House,” a popular program on WSIU-TV. She is also a loyal listener to classical music on WSIU radio and is mentioned on air as one of the Leadership Circle.

“For me, commitment to something goes beyond just being a member,” she says. “This Old House gave me so many ideas. I’m always intrigued by the process of making things work.”

Her residence features art she has collected over the years, and she is making plans to donate her art to the University Museum.

Greg Petrowich, executive director of WSIU Public Broadcasting, says: “Anne Hill has supported the University in an extraordinary fashion. She truly understands the importance of public broadcasting and cultural events and activities in our region.”

Hill’s family has been deeply rooted in music for generations.

“Music was a big part of my upbringing. I love the arts – especially music,” she says. “The arts – whether it’s music, theater or libraries – are essential in the development of young people.”
Hill enjoys her retirement home residence and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

“I can’t drive anymore due to macular degeneration. People who drive are still in the real world,” she says. “My real world is interacting with people of all ages and interests in diverse organizations in which I have been a member. I want to encourage everyone in the village to be active, too. I have plans to keep myself busy.

“We’re not here to just fold up.”

If you are interested in learning more about a charitable gift annuity, please call Director of Development Pat Moline at 618/453-4947 or visit our website at:

Paying It Forward

steven and judy spaner

A three-degree alumnus who enjoyed a 33-year career as an associate professor has never forgotten the impact that Southern Illinois University had on his life.

Steven Spaner earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology in 1966 and master of science in education and doctor of philosophy degrees in educational psychology in 1969 and 1970, respectively, all from SIU. He subsequently commenced a tenure spanning more than three decades as a faculty member at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, where his teaching focused on statistical methods, research design, and measurement and evaluation.

His research foci were varied as he teamed up with many colleagues and professionals throughout his career. Spaner’s work ranged from a longitudinal study of birth traumas on early childhood development, started while he was a doctoral student; to international comparisons of test anxiety in elementary school age children, longitudinal effects of pregnancy resolution choices among Danish women, and client understanding of chronic venous disease.

Spaner is grateful for his SIU experience and wanted to give something back.

“My three SIU degrees made me what I am today,” he says.

So Spaner has established a $10,000 charitable gift annuity through the SIU Foundation. A charitable gift annuity allows individuals to enter a contract with the Foundation. Through this agreement, the individual contributes cash or property to the Foundation, and in return, receives partial tax deduction and an annual income.

The SIU graduate chose to support the university through his IRA.

“People are living longer these days and upon reaching 70.5 years of age, you have to start withdrawing 4% out of your IRAs. So this option allows me to support SIU and receive an income,” he says.

Spaner’s contribution will support a fund started by longtime friend and classmate Patricia (Borgsmiller) Elmore, an associate dean in SIU’s College of Education and Human Services. Both have committed their careers to higher education, and were members of the American Education Research Association. They stayed connected through the AERA’s special interest groups.

Retired since 2002, his current location offers him similar surroundings to his days at SIU. Spaner and his wife, Judy, co-own Heaven on Earth Bed and Breakfast in Marthasville, MO. The couple, married since 2006, operate this relaxing getaway of two one-room cabins in the scenic Missouri Wine Country:

“When I retired, I didn’t have any expectations for a post-retirement career. I was looking for someone to partner with professionally and romantically,” he says. “When Judy and I started dating I visited her bed and breakfast that she built in 2000. It was in the woods among the Missouri River valley rolling hills and I knew this was the place I wanted to be. It reminded me of the Illinois Ozarks, Giant City State Park, and all my SIU days of learning and exploration.”

If you are interested in learning more about a charitable gift annuity, please call Director of Development Pat Moline at 618/453-4947 or visit our website at:

George Klenovich: A First-Generation Journey

George Klenovich

As George Klenovich prepared to graduate from George Washington High School in 1976, college didn’t appear to be in his future. A standout student, Klenovich was double promoted during elementary school. But Klenovich’s mother was concerned about him leaving home to attend college at such a young age.

“No one in my family had ever attended college, and my mother was strongly against me doing so,” Klenovich says. “She thought that some societal issues during that time could have a negative influence on me if I went away to college.”

Klenovich, 17 at the time, was too young for a job in the steel mills, the path for many young people growing up in southeast Chicago. His high school bookkeeping instructor, 1970 SIU management graduate Sam Panayotovich, saw potential for more in his understudy. So Panayotovich, who was also raised in the southeast side of Chicago, visited Klenovich’s family.

“George is very intelligent, and I saw a spark in him,” Panayotovich says. “George’s mother was concerned that he was too young for college. So I used myself as an example of someone from the neighborhood who flourished as a result of attending college. I convinced George’s mom that there were more opportunities out there for him.”

And Klenovich is forever grateful.

“Sam took an interest in his students. He is an exceptionally personable and charming guy who somehow persuaded my mom to reconsider,” Klenovich says. “Sam proceeded to contact SIU’s admissions office on my behalf.”

And now Panayotovich’s prized student, a CPA, is regional managing partner for CohnReznick, the 10th-largest accounting firm in the United States, with 28 offices and $575 million in revenue. Klenovich serves in this capacity for the firm’s South/Central Region, which includes offices in Chicago, Atlanta, Austin and Charlotte. He also serves on the firm’s 10-person executive board.

Klenovich has served public and private clients in multiple industries, often as the lead assurance and coordinator partner on large, privately held, private-equity-owned and public companies. Many of the companies are active on an international level.

Previously, Klenovich was Office Managing Partner and Director of the assurance practice for the St. Louis office of Ernst & Young. He focused on strategic growth for the Midwest region.

“CohnReznick fosters a culture of excellence and high performance. The key in professional service is attracting highly motivated, talented people. We strive to present them with challenges and opportunities for input,” Klenovich says. “Our firm is committed to fulfilling our strategy and value propositions. That goal can only be accomplished with the right people who are committed to the firm’s vision.”

Klenovich, who was inducted into the SIU College of Business Hall of Fame last spring, says the honor gave him an opportunity to reflect. In particular, he is appreciative of SIU accounting professors Phil Neal and Richard Rivers, who he says influenced him in their own distinctive ways. Klenovich says both challenged young people to be their best, and he, in turn, practices this method at CohnReznick.

Additionally, he says all professionals should seek opportunities to have an impact on the lives of others, like Panayotovich, Neal and Rivers did for him.

“Young people should always embrace mentorship as their careers are developing. And once you have a chance to return the favor, seize the moment because it’s one of the more rewarding elements in the circle of life,” he says. “Many of us are fortunate to have certain people take an interest in our lives and careers. It’s important to take time to reflect on those who made a positive impact in your life and, in turn, strive to make a favorable impact on others as they are in the development stage of their lives and careers.”

Klenovich and Panayotovich reconnected recently, and the latter admits to taking pride in his former student’s success.

“George was going to be successful no matter what. I’m happy that I was in a position to impact someone’s life,” Panayotovich says. “In addition, George is quite a family man. When we visited, he talked 15 minutes about his children. That says a lot about a man.”