A $1.5 million estate gift from William Hill, a 1942 SIU graduate, will establish two scholarships each year to junior or senior zoology majors with grade point averages of at least 3.0 in all zoology courses.
“Scholarships are essential to attract the most talented students to SIU, especially in this highly competitive science field,” said Lori Achenbach, recently retired dean of the College of Science. “These students, whom we expect to serve as leaders in the College of Science, are vitally important to the program’s future success.”
Hill died Feb. 19 in Decatur, Illinois, at the age of 98. After graduating from SIU, he spent his career with the United States Food and Drug Administration, holding several prominent positions with the agency, ranging from inspector to director.
In retirement, Hill became even more appreciative of his SIU years. When he returned to campus in 2002 to mark the 60th anniversary of his graduation, he presented the university with a $100,000 gift to establish the William C. Hill Zoology Scholarship Endowment.
In a 2015 interview, Hill reflected on his initial gift, saying: “We had extra money and thought supporting SIU would be the best way to invest it. The education I received at SIU truly prepared me for success in the FDA. It provided me with knowledge that allowed me to be a great fit for what the organization required.
“This is my way of paying SIU back.”
Jim Salmo, chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation, said the gift marks a positive development at a time when scholarships are needed to help minimize students’ debt burdens.
“William Hill knew what an education could mean for people, and he was committed to helping them go to school,” Salmo said. “His gift to the zoology department is going to be meaningful, and we hope it will inspire others to follow in his footsteps.”