SIU Foundation smashes fundraising records

flowering trees on SIU campus

The SIU Foundation had the best fiscal year in its history, raising more than $32 million and awarding more scholarships than ever before.

“What we witnessed in FY22 was support for the university, its students and faculty at an unprecedented level,” said Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation. “To everyone who has supported the university through the SIU Foundation, we are sincerely grateful. This kind of historic support is humbling.”

The numbers speak for themselves, each representing a new record:

  • $32,137,715 total dollars raised, a 25.5 percent increase over last year;
  • $3,464,499.85 in scholarship money awarded, a 22.8 percent increase over last year;
  • 1,445 unique scholarships awarded, which means 12.8 percent of SIU students received a Foundation scholarship.

This unparalleled success is taking place amid the Forever SIU fundraising campaign. Near the end of the 2022 SIU Day of Giving in March, Chancellor Austin Lane announced the expansion of the campaign, raising the goal from $200 million to $500 million by 2028.

“This will reshape the way we imagine the future of SIU,” Chancellor Lane said during his announcement in March. “This is about supporting our students and faculty and strengthening the university. Our alumni and donors understand the importance of this mission, and their generosity is what has set us on this path to half a billion dollars.”

The Forever SIU campaign aligns with the Imagine 2030 strategic plan, which sets forth a bold vision for the future of the university.

“We are seeing the incomparable Saluki spirit on display,” Kupec said. “That pride, that passion is what is going to continue to elevate us to new heights as we look toward a bright future.”

The money raised through the campaign has funded scholarships, campus improvements, faculty support, and enhanced alumni engagement.

“This has been an exhilarating ride, and we are excited to keep going,” Kupec said. “With every dollar, we are able to help students and faculty, enhance experiences, and further strengthen this great university.”

For more information about the campaign or make a gift, visit


To schedule an interview with Matt Kupec, CEO of the SIU Foundation, contact

SIBA donates $25K to enhance learning experience

COECTM will use funds to purchase 3D laser scanner

Pictured right to left: Sara Bond, Dr. Jale Tezcan, Donna Richter, Dr. Xiaoqing “Frank” Liu, Jason Fairfield

By Jeff Wilson

With a single donation, the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program of the Southern Illinois Builders Association improved the educational opportunities for SIU students and strengthened its partnership with the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics.

The $25,000 gift will be used to add a 3D laser scanner, which will help train the next generation of Salukis in the School of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering.

“This gift from the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program (SICAP) of the Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) was made to improve the talent pool for the construction industry in the region,” said Donna Richter, CEO of SIBA/SICAP. “SIBA/SICAP believes it is imperative that SIUC has the resources to teach and train future generations. We want these students to have state-of-the-art equipment to train with and hopefully remain in the Southern Illinois area working for SIBA member companies.”

On its website, SIBA/SICAP states that its purpose is to advance the construction industry through strengthening its members and offering a full range of services and programs to its members. There are around 150 SIBA/SICAP member companies in Southern Illinois.

“Our college appreciates the generosity of SIBA/SICAP and looks forward to building and strengthening a long-term partnership with it,” said Dr. Xiaoqing “Frank” Liu, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics. “SIU has produced many outstanding engineering talents for builders in Southern Illinois and beyond for a long time and will continue to do so in the future.”

The 3D laser scanner allows for high-definition surveying technology for mapping an area or large object with a high level of accuracy.

“This donation provides students in our college an opportunity of learning this modern technology and its applications in constructions and other related domains in a hands-on education and training environment,” Dean Liu said.

With a focus on increasing enrollment, ensuring that the college has the most up-to-date technology is imperative.

“As digital technology continues to evolve, many traditional processes in the engineering sector are being replaced by their quicker, safer, and more accurate counterparts,” said Dr. Jale Tezcan, interim director of the School of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering. “3D laser scanning technology has already revolutionized the surveying industry and is becoming increasingly prevalent in the construction industry.”

Expanding its partnership with SIBA/SICAP, has effects that stretch well beyond the classroom as well.

“Coupled with the internship and networking opportunities through our partnership with SIBA/SICAP, this gift will make our students better equipped to secure employment upon graduation,” Dr. Tezcan said. “We are very fortunate to have such a committed partner as SIBA/SICAP on our side, sharing our vision and goals.”

To learn more about how to make a similar gift, visit

Family honors alumnus’ wishes, memory

Youchoff fund will help students finish

By Jeff Wilson

Seventy years after Johnny Youchoff’s graduation from SIU, his family is honoring his memory by establishing the Johnny Youchoff and Mary Agnes Youchoff Finish Line Endowed Scholarship.

His cousin, John Savio, and John’s wife, Anita, donated $250,000 to create this endowed scholarship honoring Youchoff and his wife, Mary Agnes. The term “finish line” refers to the goal of the fund, which aims to help students complete their degrees.

The scholarship is designed for SIU juniors and seniors who are graduates of his former high school in West Frankfort or his mother’s high school in Christopher and have experienced a major life event that may prevent them from graduating.

“Johnny had every sticker the SIU Alumni Association had sent him on his garage wall,” said John Savio. “He hoped to be a member of the Alumni Association for at least 50 years, and was proud to exceed that goal.”

Youchoff, a West Frankfort native worked at his family business, Heights Bakery, as a youth and graduated from Frankfort Community High School. At SIU, he majored in geography and graduated in 1952. In May of 2021 he passed away at age 91 and was buried with his SIU 150th anniversary pin.

“Education was very important to Johnny, and he was particularly eager to help students from his and his mother’s hometowns,” Anita Savio said. “He would love that his legacy will be supporting these students on the brink of completing their degrees.”

Family memories

John Savio never lived in Southern Illinois, but as a youth he and his parents often visited his grandmother, and aunt and uncle there.

“That was a vacation our family took every summer for at least a week, sometimes 10 days. I had so much fun with Johnny and his brother Louis,” said John Savio, a longtime Michigan resident. “We would go fishing, boating and hiking, and travel all around the area … to Crab Orchard, Cave-in-Rock, Shawnee National Forest.”

After earning his degree, Youchoff joined the Army and served proudly during the Korean War. Upon his return he went to work at General Motors in Atlanta, and, before meeting his wife-to-be, spent his evenings studying law at John Marshall Law School.

“That was the kind of guy Johnny was,” John Savio said. “He had no interest in practicing law and never mentioned his degree. I didn’t even know he went to law school until I saw the diploma on his wall about 10 years ago. Even at SIU, he studied Russian for the fun of it. He just loved learning.”

Always a Saluki

Through the years, Youchoff never lost his Saluki spirit. Although he lived in Georgia and Tennessee, he followed Saluki Athletics closely, particularly Saluki Men’s Basketball. For years, until Mary Agnes became ill, they would travel to Carbondale for the SIU Homecoming games. Later, it was a 2014 trip to campus that reignited his plan to help students.

“After so many years, Johnny wanted to visit his alma mater,” Anita Savio said. “So, he and John went on a road trip to SIU, where they ran into the associate athletic director of marketing. Their conversation brought back many great memories, reminding him of how much he loved the school.”

Youchoff then began working with the SIU Foundation on making a large-scale gift, but, due to life-changing events, it was never finalized. The Savios knew it was important to make this dream a reality.

“He had talked often about doing this,” John Savio said. “I reached out to the SIU Foundation and had lengthy discussions about what this fund would be. Of course, Johnny passed away before it came to fruition.”

Now, with the establishment of his fund, John and Anita Savio are confident that Youchoff would be pleased with the outcome.

“He really wanted to make sure that other young people could benefit from an education like he received at SIU,” Anita Savio said. “We are thrilled that we are able to fulfill this wish in his honor.”

To learn more about making a gift, visit