Donors get inside look at automotive, aviation programs

About 20 individuals are standing in an automotive lab and listening to the tour guide at the Glenn Poshard Transportation Education Center.

By Jeff Wilson

Members of the Paul & Virginia Society gathered Wednesday, May 24, for a tour of the Glenn Poshard Transportation Education Center.

The Paul & Virginia Society, which is named for the Paul & Virginia statue that stands in front of the Stone Center, recognizes individuals who have included the SIU Foundation in their will or have made a planned gift to the institution.

Dr. Glenn Poshard greets about 20 guests with a brief history of how the TEC came to be. Dr. Poshard greeted about 20 guests with a brief history of how the TEC came to be.

“So many people were involved in bringing this building to fruition,” he said. “It’s the grandest building we have on campus today, and our students receive marvelous training here.”

The first part of the tour was led by Andrew Croxell, interim director of the School of Automotive Technology. He led the group through multiple working labs filled with vehicles, including cars, trucks, and semis.

“Many of the cars our students work on are donated,” Croxell said. “This gives them the hands-on experience that is unmatched. We have a 90 percent job placement rate in our program.”

After viewing the automotive technology facilities, the tour continued through the School of Aviation section of the TEC, led by students Luca Giaveri and Brycen Pedrick.

“Let’s start over here at the trophy case,” Pedrick said. “We think this is really impressive. It displays trophies won within the program, particularly those brought home by the Flying Salukis.”

The Flying Salukis have won the National Intercollegiate Flying Association championship nine times. This year, they brought home third place.

The members of the Paul & Virginia Society were able to view the flight simulators and aircraft that students have the opportunity to work with as part of the program.

The tour ended with a trip to St. Nicholas Brewing Co. MDH, which is located at the Southern Illinois Airport, adjacent to the TEC.

Considering a planned gift?

Planned gifts can be specified for a college, department, or program. There are multiple ways to give, including bequests, gifts of retirement assets, and charitable gift annuities. Some planned gifts can help the donor secure a tax advantage.

A planned gift commitment to benefit SIU is an impactful way to leave a legacy and support the students and communities the university serves.

To learn more, contact Kathryn Sime, senior director of gift planning, at or 618-453-4268.


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Michaels lifts university through giving

Headshot of Harvey MichaelsBy Jeff Wilson

When visiting SIU as a prospective student, Harvey Michaels knew that it was the perfect place for him to attend. Nowadays, he has decided it’s the perfect place to leave a legacy.

“Southern Illinois was the best place for me,” he said. “The size of the classroom is conducive to being a part of the class and not feeling lost in the crowd. It’s why I was interested in naming a classroom.”

With a $25,000 gift to the College of Business and Analytics Technology Improvement Fund, Michaels did just that. His generosity will be honored with his name on a classroom in Rehn Hall.

Raised by his Ukrainian immigrant grandparents in Chicago, Michaels was a first-generation college student. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accountancy in 1980 and his MBA in 1981, both from SIU.

“That’s why I continue to support the school,” he said. “It’s in a unique position to attract and support first-generation college students.”

It’s not the first time he’s made an impact on his alma mater. In 2008, he donated $25,000 to establish the Harvey N. Michaels Scholarship Endowment Fund, which is awarded to College of Business and Analytics students. Each year, he adds to the fund, and those gifts are matched by his employer, Deloitte.

“Deloitte continues to match my scholarship,” Michaels said. “My goal is to provide other people with the opportunity I had. Everybody has choices to make, and for me, it was an easy decision to give the maximum that could be matched by Deloitte. We have a lot of SIU alumni in great places, and I encourage them to see what’s available.”

During his graduate years at SIU, Michaels worked for AC Nielsen, but he saw his future in consulting. During his senior year, he had applied to the Big Eight professional services firms (now Big Four) in Dallas, Texas, he accepted an offer in management consulting with Touche Ross, which later merged with Deloitte.

“I spent my entire working career – 38 years – with them,” he said. “I was lucky enough to make partner, holding many leadership positions and working with major companies around the world. I had an incredible career at a great firm.”

Michaels is passionate about spreading the word about SIU, the College of Business and Analytics, and the School of Accountancy. He has been on the college’s board of advisors for many years, and in 2018, he was inducted into the COBA Hall of Fame.

“I want to scream how great this school is. Getting a degree from SIU prepares you incredibly well,” he said. “The School of Accountancy brings in the best recruiters for the best positions. The best companies come to SIU to get the best-qualified people.”

He is also supportive of the vision set forth by Chancellor Austin Lane and COBA’s interim dean, Marc Morris.

“They have come up with creative solutions,” he said. “Through the technology fund, Dean Morris plans to increase distance learning opportunities for students.”

The idea of having such a legacy never crossed Michaels’ mind during his days as a student.

“I was basically living on macaroni and cheese in those days,” he said. “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish, and I have been lucky enough to be able to give back. This is part of an ongoing legacy. It’s a great way to pay it forward.”

To learn more about matching gifts, visit

Reeser to guide Saluki Athletics’ fundraising efforts

Headshot of Todd ReeserThe SIU Foundation and Saluki Athletics are looking toward a bright future with the hiring of Todd Reeser as assistant vice chancellor for athletic fundraising and executive deputy director of athletics.

Beginning June 1, Reeser will spearhead fundraising and alumni engagement initiatives for Saluki Athletics. He will leverage his nearly 35 years of professional experience in athletics fundraising to help guide Saluki Athletics into an exciting, new era.

Reeser comes to SIU after nearly a decade as the director of athletics at Columbus State University in Georgia. Previously, he served in athletics leadership and fundraising roles at Georgia State University, the University of Central Florida, Illinois State University, and Drake University.

“Todd Reeser has been successful across the landscape of collegiate athletics, and his expertise is going to give Saluki Athletics a leg up on the competition,” said Matt Kupec, SIU’s vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation.

During his tenure at CSU, the Cougars won 51 Peach Belt Conference championships and 10 NCAA Southeast Regional titles; CSU student-athletes maintained a 3.0-grade point average; and the university earned two Peach Belt Conference Presidents Academic Awards.

He has also overseen the opening of the world-class John W. Walden Tennis Facility, Burger King Stadium at Ragsdale Field (baseball), and the Key Golf Studio. He founded and developed the Girls in the Game fundraising initiative, which highlights CSU’s female student-athletes and has brought icons such as Brandi Chastain, Annika Sorenstam, Jennie Finch, and Tamika Catchings to the CSU campus.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Todd in the past, and he is one of the most forward-thinking and experienced fundraisers in the business,” said Tim Leonard, SIU’s director of intercollegiate athletics. “I know he’s excited to return home to Illinois and looks forward to engaging with our alumni, donors, and the community.”

Reeser has been a member of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics and the National Association of Athletic Development Directors throughout his career. A graduate of Leadership Columbus, Reeser has also served previously on the Columbus Sports Council. He also served as the vice chair of the Peach Belt Conference Athletics Director Council.

“I look forward to joining the team at SIU and helping to advance and build upon the rich history of success for which the Salukis are widely known,” Reeser said.

A Chenoa, Illinois, native, he played baseball at Illinois State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in general finance. He earned a master’s in sports administration from St. Thomas University in Miami.

He and his wife, Janet, have three adult children.

Donor pays it forward with the Don and Edith Braden scholarship

Anna Miller, the recipient of the Braden scholarship.

Last year, Wayne Braden established a scholarship and made a generous planned gift commitment to honor his parents, Don and Edith Braden, who were from rural southeastern Illinois. The scholarship is awarded to a student who graduated from Thompsonville High School or Hamilton County High School in Illinois.

This year, Anna Miller from McLeansboro was the recipient of the Braden scholarship. She and Wayne recently had a telephone conversation about the scholarship. It was then that Braden learned about the connection between Miller’s great grandmother and Braden’s grandmother.

“My grandmother, Ellen Lager, was very good friends with Anna Miller’s great grandmother, Susie McFarland. My grandmother was a widow and she and her children lived on a farm three miles from Thompsonville, Illinois,” said Braden. “Whenever Susie McFarland had to go into town, she would pick my grandmother up in her car to go shopping with her. They were very close to one another during those hard years. Learning that Anna Miller’s family and mine were connected made this scholarship award even more touching for me and my family,” said Braden.

Upon graduation from high school, Miller found herself in a similar situation as Wayne Braden’s father.

“Like my father, she did not have the funds to go to college. It is extremely rewarding to lend a hand to a young person like her to help her achieve her dreams. Her great grandmother showed great kindness to my grandmother and this scholarship is helping to pay it forward for me,” said Braden.

Miller is appreciative of the financial help she received from Braden.

“I am very thankful for the Braden scholarship because it has helped stabilize my finances over the course of the semester. By creating scholarships, donors make a tremendous impact on the lives of students like me. Scholarships and financial aid have allowed me to attend college without any student loans. Therefore, I will have a fresh start when I graduate,” said Miller.

Wayne said he has donated to charitable organizations much of his adult life and has been involved with the Salvation Army for several years.

“Charitable gifts are wonderful, and everyone should give back,” he said. “This scholarship in honor of my parents means so much more than just giving to an organization. Realizing I was helping a young woman accomplish a very important goal feels deeply satisfying.”

Wayne Braden currently lives in Portland, Oregon, and his sister, Judy Braden Armstrong who also helped establish the scholarship, resides in Maryville, Michigan.

Gift further strengthens alumna’s dedication to service, education

By Kathryn Sime

Teacher, counselor, scholar, pilot, philanthropist. Ruth-Marie Frances Chambers has excelled in a diverse range of careers and avocations. A common theme running through all these life experiences is a commitment to open doors of access and opportunity by fostering educational opportunities.

A lifelong learner, Chambers’ commitment to education was demonstrated recently when she established the Ruth-Marie Frances Chambers Endowed Scholarship through a $100,000 planned gift, naming the SIU Foundation as partial beneficiary of her retirement accounts.

Chambers received her SIU bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1974 and subsequently began graduate studies in 1974-75 in the SIU Rehabilitation Department. In 1975, her interest in education and prevailing health and humanitarian concerns in developing nations led her to travel throughout the global community as a goodwill ambassador. She subsequently accepted an invitation to the United States Peace Corps as lecturer at the National School of Administration in Niger, West Africa. Chambers returned to SIU to complete her Master of Science in rehabilitation administration and services in 1982. After graduation, Chambers relocated to California to work at several educational institutions, including the University of California at Berkeley and Los Rios Community College.

When asked why she chose the SIU Foundation for her retirement account beneficiary designations, Chambers listed the qualities of an SIU education that she continues to value, including “leadership, integrity, a respected research university, and faculty committed to student achievement.”

At SIU, Chambers was particularly impacted by her graduate school advisors and mentors, Dr. Irene Hawley and Dr. Jerome Lorenz.

“The diversification of prospective students within the campus community who require affordable access to educational and financial support to enhance their collegiate experience is a challenge for many educational institutions,” she said.

At SIU, she valued the “invaluable leadership skills, shared humanity, and scholarly pursuits” that helped her to “confidently navigate the global and campus community with purpose.”

The Ruth-Marie Frances Chambers Endowed Scholarship will support a graduate student studying behavior analysis and therapy, communication disorders and sciences, or rehabilitation counseling.

2023 Men of Color: Advancing Impact in Philanthropy Dinner

On April 14, the SIU Foundation hosted a Men of Color: Advancing Impact in Philanthropy Dinner. Wendell Williams, SIU’s Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Enrollment, led the intimate event and offered the following information to attendees: A brief overview of SIU’s current enrollment, a projection of SIU’s growth over the next 5 years, and an estimation of scholarship and support funds needed to support African American male students at SIU.

SIU alums and corporate partners shared stories of accomplishment, each recounting the part that SIU played in their journey to success. They also discussed how they may continue to support student success by giving back.

The following funds were created below from attendees.

  • Darius Robinson (’95) endowed the Darius Robinson Scholarship Fund to assist students who graduated from East St. Louis Senior High School in East St. Louis.
  • Chad Pendleton (’97) endowed the Pendleton Family Bridging the Gap Fund to assist underrepresented students with need-based funding.
  • Wendell Williams endowed the Wendell and Gloria Family Scholarship to assist underrepresented students in financial need.

If you would like to inquire about ways to give back to SIU, please contact Sherrica Hunt, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the SIU Foundation, at

Boston: Paying it forward is the Saluki way

Sean Boston came to SIU with a plan: Play basketball and finish his business degree. While he accomplished those goals, his path wasn’t as straightforward as he originally planned.

“I feel like I have a pretty good story to tell,” he said. “I transferred to SIU to play for Coach (Rich) Herrin. It was an exciting time. I didn’t know how monumental that new beginning would be.”

Playing on a highly successful 1991-92 Saluki Men’s Basketball team, Boston was surrounded by talent. Multiple players from that team went on to play professionally, either in the NBA or overseas. A torn knee ligament cut Boston’s season short and put his focus on life after basketball.

“I developed huge camaraderie, both in Athletics and the College of Business, and was able to forge relationships and opportunities that lasted a lifetime,” he said.

During his senior year, the dean of the College of Business and Assistant Basketball Coach Rodney Watson strongly encouraged Boston to interview with Chrysler Corporation, as it visited SIU to recruit for open roles. Little did he know the greatest assist came from an SIU College of Business Hall of Fame alumnus, Ted Cunningham. Ted, the third highest ranking official at Chrysler, challenged his corporate staff to hire SIU graduates when recruiting new candidates to join the auto manufacturer. The interview was for a field sales position with Chrysler’s Mopar Parts division.

“Since it was a month from graduation, I had already packed my interview suit and shipped it back home to Chicago. Although I was mentally prepared for the in-person interview, my casual under-dressed attire wasn’t the impression I was trying to establish. Thank goodness for the amazing chemistry I was able to share with Harry G. Mathis (Mopar – Southeast Team Leader) as he hired me and another College of Business alumnus Tim Richardson,” Boston said. “At that time, I hadn’t realized how important that one verbal assist Ted Cunningham made would launch my professional career. I accepted the field sales position with Chrysler in Columbia, South Carolina, and I give all credit for that opportunity to SIU, as it paved the way for my career.”

In 1998, Boston earned an MBA from the University of Detroit. Nowadays, he is the director of marketing & sales effectiveness for Ace Hardware Corporation’s Wholesale Division – Emery Jensen.

Boston has also stayed involved with his alma mater. In 2012, he established an endowed scholarship that supports students in the College of Business. He’s also a member of the college’s Hall of Fame and was honored with its Distinguished Service Award. More recently, he joined the SIU Foundation Board of Directors.

“Everyone has to take their own path, and SIU gives everyone a fighting chance to fulfill their ambition,” he said. “We must make sure we’re making an impact in the community, both locally and in areas such as St. Louis and Chicago. Through philanthropy, we are planting the seeds of success with our students and catapulting them to bright futures.”

Boston also sees the value of expanding scholarship opportunities for all students.

“Scholarships are going to play a more pivotal role than ever before, with economic headwinds arriving in the near future,” he said. “We should aim to widen the scope of our scholarships. They should be accessible and attainable for more students. We can nurture our high-achieving students, but we must not alienate the middle-of-the-road students. They, too, will become the leaders of tomorrow.”

The SIU Foundation has more outreach events than ever before – the annual Day of Giving, Takeover Tours across the country, and the inaugural Saluki Ball in Chicago – and Boston is ready to help at every turn possible.

“I really appreciate the ability to be a proud Saluki,” he said. “I’m ready to do all I can to put the organization on the map and provide the next assist where possible.”

Cheng looks toward CAM’s bright future

By Jeff Wilson

When Dean Hong Cheng looks at the College of Arts and Media (CAM), he sees opportunities and great potential.

“We are going to make our college a premier destination for prospective students,” he said. “We want to be a leader, both nationally and internationally, in the field of arts and media.”

To make these aspirations a reality, Cheng outlined how the college must embrace technology, value teaching, research, and creative activity, engage itself in communities, and remain mission driven.

“In CAM, we have a unique blend of artists, designers, performers, scholars, and writers,” he said. “We must grow our visibility, integrate holistically, and provide a meaningful contribution.”

Always the forward thinker, Cheng noted the impact that artificial intelligence will have not only on the world, but his college specifically.

“AI is not just for STEM programs,” he said. “It will impact everyone, and we in CAM are no exception. While more work is done by machines, creativity is much harder to replace.”

We are in the beginning of a Feeling Economy, one in which the most valuable skills are things such as empathy, communication, establishing and maintaining relationships, and spreading influence. With six unique schools – Architecture, Art and Design, Journalism and Advertising, Media Arts, Music, and Theater and Dance – Cheng said the college will be at the center of this revolution.

“All six of the schools within CAM are distinctive,” Cheng said. “We have a glorious past and an even brighter future. What we do is going to be more important than ever before.”

Cheng knows what it will take to ensure CAM is a leader in all its fields. A much-anticipated, state-funded upgrade to the Communications Building, one of the college’s major facilities, is just one step.

“We must elevate our facility,” he said. “We must be able to upgrade our technology now, and once this building renovation is completed, we will need to fill those rooms with state-of-the-art equipment and space for interdisciplinary collaboration.”

He is also dedicated to expanding professional development for faculty.

“To recruit and retain the best students, we must be able to recruit and retain world-class faculty,” Cheng said. “Doing that means funding travel and conference attendance. To increase enrollment, we must ensure we have the best people.”

While he may be new to campus, Cheng is grateful for CAM’s illustrious history and dedicated alumni base.

“I’m so impressed by the achievements our schools and programs have made over the years,” he said. “There are so many opportunities for our alumni to make a difference. We have naming opportunities all around us – from single rooms to the entire building to the college and its six schools. With the support of anyone who is passionate about arts and media, we can make great things happen.”

To learn more about CAM, contact Lisa Knight, Director of Development, at 618-453-4719. To make a gift online, visit