Category Archives: SIU

Salukis take over Chicago, tout enrollment success

By Jeff Wilson

In its third year, the Saluki Takeover Tour in Chicago brought excitement and SIU pride to the Windy City.

Earlier in the week, the university announced the first increase in overall student enrollment since 2014. On the heels of that incredible news, the Saluki Takeover Tour events were buzzing with energy.

Chancellor Austin Lane addresses enrollment news to attendees of the Saluki Takeover Tour Chicago Chancellor's Reception.“You need to hear directly from me how much I appreciate your support,” said Chancellor Austin Lane to a crowd of 250 Salukis on Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant. “When you look at these enrollment numbers, we’re not shocked. When you have this many people that passionate about their alma mater, incredible things are possible.”

SIU System President Dan Mahony echoed Chancellor Lane’s sentiment about building enrollment.

SIU System President Dan Mahony addresses the crowd at the Saluki Takeover Tour Chicago Chancellor's Reception.“The only way you get enrollment numbers like this is as a team,” Mahony said. “You’re talking about faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, donors, everybody playing their part. We could not be in a better place with the type of support we have had from everyone over the last few years.”

Building, rekindling connections

Things kicked off on Wednesday, Sept. 6, with visits to multiple community colleges and high schools, including agreement signings at College of DuPage and Elgin Community College. Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Wendell Williams, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Sheryl Tucker, Extended Campus Executive Director Susan Wegmann, and many others visited with leaders of many other schools around the region.

Group photo of attendees for the Saluki Takeover Tour Chicago MEDPREP Reception.

Later that evening, Dr. Randy Burnside, director of the MEDPREP, hosted an intimate reunion gathering for MEDPREP graduates at the Black Barrel Tavern. The Medical/Dental Education Preparatory Program prepares educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged students for medical, dental, and other health profession schools.

Photo of corporate representatives at the Saluki Takeover Tour Chicago Corporate Networking Breakfast.On the morning of Friday, Sept. 8, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Sherrica Hunt and Senior Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations hosted a Corporate Networking Breakfast at the Residence Inn.

Attendees including representatives from multiple corporations, including Enterprise, Caterpillar, Stryke Connect, and Ariel Instruments were welcomed by President Mahony.

“We’ve always had this really strong Chicago connection, and it’s getting even stronger now,” he said.

Group photo of attendees at Saluki Takeover Tour Chicago Multicultural Networking Reception

That evening, Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Paul Frazier hosted a Multicultural Networking Happy Hour at Highline Bar & Lounge.

“Beyond your dollars, we need your human capital,” Dr. Frazier told the crowd of over 30 people. “In order for our Cook County students to feel at home at SIU, we need you to be there for them and share your experiences.”

Group photo of attendees from the SIU Alumni Association Stumpy's Pub event.On Friday evening in Rockford, about 100 SIU alumni gathered at Stumpy’s Pub. Hosted by the SIU Alumni Association, alumni and friends enjoyed free pizza while sharing their favorite Saluki memories.

Salukis win again

On Saturday, Sept. 9, nearly 100 alumni joined the pregame tailgate before SIU’s 14-11 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies. It marks the second straight year the Saluki Takeover Tour in Chicago being capped by a Saluki Football win against an FBS opponent. Last year, the Salukis topped Northwestern.

“I’m just a small part in all of those wins,” said Saluki Football coach Nick Hill. “We’ve had really good players, and players win the games. It’s fun to be on teams that believe you can win (against FBS teams).”

Taking over

Hosted by the SIU Foundation, the Saluki Takeover Tour has made its way to Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, and Florida. Over the next year, there will be takeover tours in other parts of the country, including Southern Illinois from April 24 to May 4.

“When the chancellor got here, he said it was time to take SIU on the road. We’re going to go to Chicago. We’re going to put the flag in the ground, and we’re going to tell the Windy City that this is Saluki territory,” said Vice Chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations and SIU Foundation CEO Matt Kupec.



Compardo, Moneta leading the way in support of Saluki women

Headshot of Diane CompardoDiane Compardo, president of the SIU Foundation Board of Directors, plans to emphasize the value of consistent support during this year’s Saluki Women’s Weekend.

A 1991 alumna, she is a member of the College of Business and Analytics Hall of Fame and the SIU Women’s Leadership Council. The council connects Saluki alumnae to current female students and offers guidance and mentorship as they study and prepare for life beyond college.

Compardo, a CPA and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is the founding partner of Compardo, Wienstroer, Conrad & Janes at Moneta, which is a presenting sponsor of the second annual Saluki Women’s Weekend from Oct.  4-7 in the SIU Student Center. Compardo will speak during the Women in Philanthropy Luncheon, which begins at 11:45 a.m. Friday, Oct. 6.

“The SIU Foundation’s goal is to help drive the university forward, and the Saluki Women’s Weekend is a terrific example of how it does just that,” Compardo said. “I’m excited to meet new people and learn from their experiences at this inspiring event.”

In recent years, Moneta has put an increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Moneta’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council was founded to support the company’s mission to “empower people to navigate life’s path and protect what they cherish.” The council aims to achieve this by continually striving for an equitable, inclusive culture that encourages valuing, respecting, and celebrating the differences of Moneta’s employees, clients, and all whom it encounters.

“The goals of SIU’s Women’s Leadership Council and the Saluki Women’s Weekend align with what Moneta is doing internally,” Compardo said. “It takes organizations being intentional about values and empowerment to cultivate an inclusive and positive culture.”

As president of the SIU Foundation, Compardo is focused on sharing the philanthropic message with current alumni and future generations of Salukis.

“I’m passionate about philanthropic goals and giving back is an essential part of my life,” Compardo said. “Part of our job is to ensure the university continues to thrive. One way we do that is by emphasizing the importance of paying it forward after you graduate.”

For more information about the Saluki Women’s Weekend, visit

Flight connects SIU to Chicago alumni, students

Image of SIU dignitaries and Contour Airlines CEO standing in front of Contour Airlines plane.
The passengers for the inaugural flight include Jeff Harmon, SIU chief communications and marketing officer; Wendell Williams, associate chancellor of enrollment management; SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane; Sheryl A. Tucker, SIU provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, Illinois State Sen. Dale Fowler and Contour Airlines CEO Matt Chaifetz. Photo by University Communications.

Bright and early on the first day of August, the distance between Chicago and Southern Illinois got a little shorter.

That morning, Chancellor Austin Lane, state Sen. Dale Fowler, and others from SIU and the region boarded the first Contour Airlines flight from Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

“It’s an area we recruit. Our students that are from Southern Illinois are able now to get to Chicago,” Lane said before the flight on Aug. 1. “This is a game changer for the university as we continue to grow the enrollment.”

These daily flights can take up to 30 passengers from Marion to Chicago in about an hour, cutting travel time by about 80 percent compared to driving to the Windy City.

“There are around 45,000 SIU alumni around the Chicago area. This makes it much easier for us to engage with them, and it makes it more likely that they will come visit SIU,” said Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation.

In recent years, the SIU Foundation has hosted multiple outreach events in and around Chicago, including the Saluki Takeover Tour last fall and Saluki Ball, a fundraising event this spring.

This year’s Saluki Takeover Tour in Chicago takes place from Wednesday, Sept. 6, through Saturday, Sept. 9. The cornerstone event will be the Chancellor’s Reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant. The takeover will conclude with an alumni tailgate and Saluki Football game against Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. To register for these events and many others, visit

“SIU is making its presence felt in Chicago, and the response to these events has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kupec said. “These flights are a catalyst for more engagement with Salukis in Chicago and beyond.”

Beyond the Chicago-to-Southern Illinois route, O’Hare has connecting flights across the country and around the globe. With about 250,000 alumni located all over the world, it has never been easier for alumni abroad to visit their alma mater.

“If you get on one of these flights, you’re going to see Salukis,” Kupec said. “Between university representatives and general alumni, they’re going to be full of maroon shirts.”

Tickets start as low as $59 per flight and can be purchased at

SIU Foundation brings in record number of gifts, awards record number of scholarships

Southern Illinois University Saluki mascot Grey Dawg clapping with SIU Marching Band on SIU Day of Giving.

By Jeff Wilson

The SIU Foundation received a record-breaking number of gifts in FY23, leading to the organization’s second-best fundraising year.

Through 38,621 gifts, the Foundation raised over $31.2 million. It also awarded a record number of scholarships (1,645) and total scholarship dollars ($4,931,584) to students. Over 14 percent of all SIU students received an SIU Foundation scholarship in FY23.

In the last two years, the SIU Foundation has raised nearly $64 million, which is, by far, the most the organization has raised over a two-year period. Since the beginning of the Forever SIU campaign, the Foundation has raised more than $287 million on its way to its $500 million goal by June of 2028.

“We have received incredible support from our donors,” said Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and SIU Foundation CEO. “There has a been a wave of momentum leading us to these heights, and that momentum is continuing today.”

Championed by Chancellor Austin Lane and his leadership team, the Forever SIU campaign continues to align with the pillars of the Imagine 2030 strategic plan – student engagement and success, diversity, equity, and inclusion, branding and partnerships, research and innovation, and sustainability.

“As we continue to move forward with the campaign, we are going to see even greater synergy with the bold strategic plan set forth by Chancellor Lane,” Kupec said. “With continued support from our alumni and friends, we know the best days are still ahead.”

The SIU Foundation’s outreach efforts connect with alumni and donors in Southern Illinois and across the country. The SIU Day of Giving, which began in 2017, received support from more people than ever before. This year’s Day of Giving brought in more than $4 million from 3,702 gifts.

The Foundation hosted Saluki Takeover Tours in Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Tennessee, and the Florida Gulf Coast. During these events, alumni meet with university leaders, gather with friends, and rekindle connections. This year, Southern Illinois and Springfield will be added to the takeover tour schedule.

In April, the Foundation hosted the inaugural Saluki Ball at the Marriott Marquis in Chicago. The event was attended by 618 people and raised more than $600,000 in funds that bridge the gap for students who need a little extra assistance to complete their education at SIU.

“From the Day of Giving to the Takeover Tours to the Saluki Ball, we have seen the greatest groundswell of alumni support in the history of this university,” Kupec said. “Honestly, it’s been inspiring, and we’re excited to see what’s next.”

To learn more or make a gift, visit

Join us in Celebrating Pride Month

The Stonewall Inn demonstrations of 1969 marked a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ rights, leading to the establishment of Pride Month being celebrated in June.  Pride Month is a time when we recognize and celebrate our LGBTQ+ friends, colleagues, and family members who have fought through the years to be recognized and respected for the individuals they are.

Pride month is an excellent opportunity to show your support and learn more about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer (LGBTQ) Resource Center. The Center serves students, faculty, staff, families, friends, alumni, and the greater community of Southern Illinois by providing conscientious educational outreach, programming, referral information, and advocacy to affect the overall SIU culture of inclusion and systematic support surrounding LGBTQ+ community members, promote LGBTQ+ student and employee retention, develop LGBTQ+ leaders, strengthen relationships, as well as provide opportunities for intrapersonal development.

Your generous gift to the LGBTQ Center Programming Fund will support programs and activities such as:

  • Lavender Graduation
  • Queer Mentorship program
  • Safe Zone Trainings
  • Pride Floor life skills workshop

Your support significantly impacts and plays a vital role in supporting LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Make a gift online to support the LGBTQ Center Programming Fund.

Please contact Sherrica Hunt, assistant vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion, to learn more about opportunities to support the LGBTQ community.

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.


See the full photo gallery.

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.

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