Category Archives: Higher Education

Dr. Kelly Higgins: SIU Foundation Board Member and Loyal Supporter of SIU

Dr. Kelly Higgins HeadshotIt has been over 20 years since Dr. Kelly Higgins graduated from SIU School of Medicine, but her loyalty and commitment to the university are what brought her to the SIU Foundation Board of Directors.

“SIU gives students so many opportunities to change the course of their life. I just want to support it in any way I can,” Higgins said. “I got my undergraduate degree here, and I went on to get my medical degree from the SIU School of Medicine. You could say that my blood runs maroon.”

She graduated from SIU in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in physiology and a minor in chemistry. During her time as an undergraduate at the Carbondale campus, she was a member of the Saluki Softball team from 1992 to 1994 and a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

After graduating from SIU School of Medicine in 2001, she completed her residency training in internal medicine at the University of Tennessee in Memphis and served as chief resident for the Department of Internal Medicine from 2003 to 2004. She then practiced medicine in Memphis and Springfield, Illinois, before relocating to Carbondale in 2012. Dr. Higgins practiced medicine at Shawnee Healthcare for seven years before leaving clinical practice in 2020. During her time as an internist with Shawnee Healthcare, Dr. Higgins served as the assistant dean of students for the SIU School of Medicine on the Carbondale campus from January 2016 until June 2017. She also served as a clinical mentor to SIU School of Medicine first-year medical students and was voted Mentor of the Year for 2017-18.

Dr. Higgins is working as an adjunct assistant instructor in the Office of Education and Curriculum at SIU School of Medicine.

Dr. Higgins resides in Carbondale with her husband, Dr. Jeff Lehman, who is also a graduate of SIU School of Medicine Class of 2001, and two children, Lauren and Will. She is a lifetime member of the SIU Alumni Association. Dr. Higgins and her family enjoy attending SIU sporting events, and she enjoys coaching her daughter’s softball teams. Dr. Higgins is also a member of the Women’s Leadership Council and the Women’s Leadership Council Board of Directors, and will start mentoring students when this year’s program launches.

“We’ve been season ticket holders for SIU football and basketball for over 10 years, and we love watching our Salukis compete with some of the strongest teams in the nation,” she said. “The football team’s recent success has energized the university and the community, especially the win against Northwestern. We’re looking forward to a strong finish.”

Dr. Higgins is always encouraging others to give back to SIU and helping students. In July 2021, she was asked to become a board member for the SIU Foundation.

“I received a fantastic education from SIU, and the SIU Medical School is nationally recognized for its many achievements,” she said. “I encourage everyone to continue to support the university’s vision. Getting involved with the university and the SIU Foundation is a great way to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

People, Purpose & Passion: The Pathway to Success

SIU Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jeffery Burgin headshot

By SIU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jeffery Burgin

“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.” Warren Bennis

During the spring semester 2022, Southern Illinois University launched its strategic plan IMAGINE 2030. Which describes five main pillars as the guiding initiatives for the next seven years. As the foundation of this plan is student success and engagement. Upon conversation with students and having experienced leadership development at other institutions it was decided that a week of celebration and leadership development would be integral in fostering the very best Salukis moving forward. We are excited to re-establish a week of leadership development activities culminating in a weeks end leadership conference themed People, Purpose & Passion: The Pathway to Success.

Students who actively participate in these leadership development activities will experience the following:

  • Hear from renown speakers and experts in the field of leadership
  • Gain personal competencies
  • Learn to foster an SIU community that focuses on improving programs, services, and the overall experiences of SIU students.
  • Strengthen those leadership skills inherent in all of us (i.e. conflict and risk management, communication, teamwork, and time management).
  • Better understand their ability to work with others and how their personal leadership identity shapes their leadership style and growth.
    • Reflect on one’s own identities through sessions, active engagement, and interactions with others
    • Cultivate further ideas that continue to build community on and off campus

In higher education we recognize that an engaged student is a retained student. As we had record breaking numbers of first year students in 2022, our focus currently is to retain those and all students through academics and overall engagement. This leadership development opportunity will enhance them as individuals and our Saluki community.

Register for the Student Leadership Conference.

Salukis take over Chicago with series of events, college partnership agreements and celebrations

SIU touts many successes including a 46% increase in freshman class enrollment over the past five years

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane addresses the crowd at the Saluki Takeover Tour Chicago Chancellor’s Reception.

By Jeff Wilson

For the second straight year, the Saluki Takeover Tour brought SIU alumni, friends, faculty, and staff together all over the Windy City.

Hosted by Chancellor Austin A. Lane and the SIU Foundation, the takeover tour featured 16 school visits, seven receptions, a posthumous degree presentation, and the Alumni Association tailgate and Saluki Football game at Northwestern.

The kickoff event was the Chancellor’s Reception on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant. Chancellor Lane touted the impact of the Imagine 2030 strategic plan and encouraging enrollment trends.

“There’s a lot of history of Salukis in Chicago,” said Chancellor Lane. “Our goal is to have 15,000 students by 2030, and Chicago is going to play a major role in that plan.”

President Dan Mahony echoed the chancellor’s message about enrollment.

“I’m here to tell you our freshmen enrollment is up 46 percent over the past five years, which is one of the best numbers in the country,” he said.

Marc Silverman
Marc Silverman

Marc Silverman, an SIU alumnus and host of “Waddle & Silvy” on ESPN Chicago 1000 AM, opened the night by telling the hundreds of alumni and guests to let their Saluki spirit shine.

“Embrace our students. Embrace the region. Embrace it all,” he said. “Tell your friends about SIU. Let’s make sure it’s not the best-kept secret.”

Honoring a Saluki

Ronald Regan Jr’s daughter, Qianna, is pictured with (from left) SIU College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan, SIU System President Dan Mahony, Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, and Lindsay Laycoax, lead site coordinator for SIU’s Public Safety Management program.

Chicago Fire Department Capt. Ronald Regan Jr. was honored with a posthumous bachelor’s degree in public safety management during a ceremony Friday, Sept. 16, at the Chicago Fire Academy.

Regan passed away Dec. 19, 2021, at the age of 58 after a bout with COVID-19. He was just one semester away from earning his degree.

“Ron was not just a firefighter or captain, he was a friend,” Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said. “He did so much for everybody else. He never thought about himself.”

Chancellor Lane, President Mahony, and College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan presented the diploma.

“Faculty members who knew Ron say he was very outgoing and full of life,” Chancellor Lane said. “We hope this diploma will provide his family and friends with a measure of comfort.”

Recognizing diversity

On Friday afternoon, a sold-out crowd filled the dining room at the Residence Inn in downtown Chicago for the Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion luncheon.

Dr. Paul Frazier, the vice chancellor for anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, honored 10 SIU alumni with Ascension Awards, which recognize alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership and service at SIU.

“We’re honoring these incredible Salukis for their contributions to SIU and society,” he said.

Each award winner made brief remarks:

  • Eric Alvarez – “After serving in the military, SIU welcomed me with wide open arms. I plan to give back in a big way.”
  • Robert Beverly – “I felt like SIU took a chance on me. I’m encouraged to recommit to the university.”
  • Andrea Brookins – “Family is everything. You all bring out the best in me. We look forward to the future.”
  • Juana Duran Charicata – “I thank SIU for opening the doors for immigrants, including those who are undocumented. I am thankful for the warmth and care that SIU gives.”
  • Pervis Conway – “I can honestly say my support structure from SIU is still touching me today.”
  • Carlos Hernandez – “We must ensure people of color and those from poor backgrounds have access to higher learning.”
  • Beth Mueller – “Me and my employer, Deloitte, are passionate about DEI initiatives. The numbers in accounting don’t reflect society. That’s what has spurred this call to action.”
  • Freddie Taylor, Jr. – “Thanks to SIU for believing in a little Black boy from the ghetto. I’m a Saluki through and through.”
  • Brothers Everett and Timothy Rand were also honored but were unable to attend.

Enhancing opportunity

Agreement signing with College of DuPage.

Chancellor Lane, President Mahony, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Wendell Williams, and other SIU Admissions representatives visited multiple high schools and community colleges.

The university signed agreements with Prairie State College and the College of DuPage, making it easier for students from those schools to enroll at SIU.

Agreement signing with Prairie State College.

There were also visits to multiple high schools, which included three schools involved in the Hope Chicago program, which provides opportunities for students from underserved communities.

Tiny Tapp Takeover

The SIU Alumni Association and members of the Carbondale in the ‘80s and ‘90s Facebook group hosted an event on the Chicago Riverwalk at Tiny Tapp & Café. The beer of choice, Salukitoberfest, was brewed by students in SIU’s Fermentation Science Institute (FSI) through its partnership with Ravinia Brewing Co.

“This is really exciting,” Matt McCarroll, director of the FSI, said. “This beer is just the first of many we’ll be producing with Ravinia.”

Dunbar Leadership Society

Alumnus Darius Robinson was honored during the Dunbar Leadership Society event.

Later Friday evening, dozens of alumni and friends gathered at the Promontory Fieldhouse for the Dunbar Leadership Society reception. The society is hoping to reinvigorate SIU’s diverse alumni and create opportunities for current and future Salukis. Its plan is to raise scholarship funds and host events that resonate with members of a multicultural campus.

“With our improved freshmen enrollment, the No. 1 category to see an increase was African-American students, and they are largely from Chicago,” Chancellor Lane said.

Kennard Tucker, chair of the Dunbar Leadership Society, and Sherrica Hunt, director of development at the SIU Foundation, spoke about the importance of philanthropy as it pertains to supporting diversity initiatives.

Alumnus Darius Robinson was honored during the event. The East St. Louis native is the operations manager at Menzies Aviation. He received a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and manufacturing systems in 1995.

Alumni Tailgate & Saluki Football at Northwestern

Hundreds of Salukis made the trip even further upstate to Evanston to take part in the Alumni Association tailgate before SIU’s football game against Northwestern.

“We had such a great crowd. It was a great weekend in Chicago for the takeover tour,” said Jeff Gleim, executive director of the Alumni Association. “We couldn’t be any happier with the turnout for all of the events.”

Little did the high-spirited crowd know what was in store when the game began.

The Saluki Takeover Tour was capped with a historic, 31-24, win for SIU Football against Northwestern. The Dawgs earned their first win of the 2022 season with their second-ever win against a Big Ten opponent.

“We had a daunting task, staring 0-3 in the face if we don’t beat a Big Ten school,” said head coach Nick Hill. “Man, they battled. It was fun to watch the competitiveness, the competitive spirit.”

It was the perfect exclamation point to an exciting, engaging weekend for hundreds of Salukis and friends.

More to come

The Saluki Takeover Tour may soon come to a city or area near you, including Southern Illinois. Follow the SIU Foundation on social media and visit to stay up to date as things are announced.

See the full photo albums on the SIU Foundation Facebook page.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Chicago firefighter honored with posthumous degree from SIU Carbondale

Ronald Regan Jr’s daughter, Qianna, is pictured with (from left) SIU College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan, SIU System President Dan Mahony, Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, and Lindsay Laycoax, lead site coordinator for SIU’s Public Safety Management program.

SIU Foundation Media Services

CHICAGO – Chicago Fire Department Capt. Ronald Regan Jr. was honored Friday morning with a posthumous degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Regan passed away Dec. 19, 2021, at the age of 58 after a bout with COVID-19. He was just one semester away from earning his bachelor’s degree in public safety management.

During a ceremony in front of the Chicago Fire Academy, Regan was remembered by his fellow firefighters, family members, friends, and SIU representatives.

“Ron was not just a firefighter or captain, he was a friend,” Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said. “He did so much for everybody else. He never thought about himself.”

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, SIU System President Dan Mahony, and College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Robert Morgan presented the diploma.

“Faculty members who knew Ron say he was very outgoing and full of life,” Chancellor Lane said. “We hope this diploma will provide his family and friends with a measure of comfort.”

A dedicated family man and respected firefighter, Regan made a positive impression on everyone he met.

“Ron embodied both the spirit of a firefighter and the spirit of a Saluki,” Chancellor Lane said. “His commitment to bravery, along with the vision, tenacity, curiosity, and compassion of Saluki, form a remarkable combination worthy of celebration and remembrance.”

Regan’s wife, Cheryl, was unable to attend the ceremony, so his daughter, Qianna, accepted his diploma and spoke on the family’s behalf.

“My dad inspired me, and it’s amazing to see how he inspired others,” she said.

Regan started his career in the Chicago Park District, where he built successful swim teams. He later moved on to the Chicago Fire Department Academy, from which he graduated in 1996. He began his career at Truck 40. Over the years, he rose through the ranks of firefighter, engineer, lieutenant, and captain.

“Ron is definitely gone too soon,” Nance-Holt said. “He was so very special. He wanted this degree so much. I know he’s watching us today with a smile.”

Saluki Women’s Weekend engages, inspires

Image of crowd of women at the Saluki Women's Weekend.

The inaugural Saluki Women’s Weekend celebrated the empowerment and continued advancement of women in education, athletics, and philanthropy.

Hosted by the SIU Foundation Women’s Leadership Council and Saluki Athletics, the two-day affair featured multiple events and many of SIU’s most inspiring women.

Starting on Friday, Sept. 9, with the Women in Philanthropy Luncheon at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, nearly 100 women gathered for an afternoon of engaging events.

The Women’s Leadership Council is a network of alumnae, parents, and friends who are committed to creating a culture of women-driven philanthropy at SIU and mentoring future generations of Salukis.

“Our mission is to build a powerful and diverse network of female philanthropists to support mentorships, scholarships, and gender-focused grants campuswide,” said Loren Lane, wife of Chancellor Austin Lane, in a video address at the beginning of the luncheon.

Diane Compardo speaks to the crowd at the inaugural Saluki Women's Weekend.Among the opening speakers was Diane Compardo, whose employer Moneta Group, presented the luncheon.

“We have underestimated the power of our philanthropic capital,” said Compardo, who is a member of the WLC board. “It’s not just about money. We must share our voices, talents, time, and wisdom.”

The power of Title IX

The weekend’s events partially centered around the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other educational program that receives federal funding.

Dr. Linda Baker gives her keynote speech at the Saluki Women's Weekend.The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Dr. Linda Baker, who held key managerial positions under three Illinois governors, including secretary of the Department of Human Services, before coming to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in 2003. Dr. Baker now focuses on expanding access to high-quality health care and helping minorities and people with disabilities realize their full potential.

“The impact of Title IX is all around us,” she said. “From the classroom to the boardroom to the halls of Congress, we can see it. I believe in the power of women. We have a responsibility to make a difference.”

Southern Illinois Healthcare hosted the Saluki Women’s Reception on Friday evening, during which Dr. Charlotte West was named the Saluki Woman of the Year. Dr. West retired as SIU’s associate athletics director in 1998 after serving 42 years as a faculty member, coach, and administrator. The Saluki Hall of Famer is considered a pioneer of Title IX, which she exemplified during her time with Saluki Athletics.

Marsha Ryan, MD/JD, and Lolita Mack were also honored. Ryan was honored with the Saluki Women’s Trailblazer Award, and Mack received the Saluki Women’s Emerging Leader Award.

Engaging with Saluki women

Yoga on the Lawn on Saturday morning for the Saluki Women's Weekend.Over a dozen women brought their mats to the lawn of Davies Gym on Saturday morning to participate in Yoga on the Lawn. Melissa Hahn, a WLC board member, led participants in the hour-long session.

“It was a great workout and a nice way to meet new people,” said Dr. Kelly Higgins, who is also a WLC board member, said after the session.

Later Saturday morning, Dawn Korte kicked off the Mentorship Brunch at Dunn-Richmond Center. The Mentorship Program was established by the WLC as a priority to facilitate the connection of students with successful women mentors. Its priorities include aligning classroom learning with real-life experiences, developing leadership skills, providing networking, and creating lifelong ties to each other and SIU.

Korte, who serves on the WLC board and hosted the event along with fellow board members Dr. Ryan and Julie Staley, said the initial goal was to have eight mentees for the year, but they are mentoring 17 young Saluki women.

“Every time I talk to one of my mentees, I learn something new,” said Korte. “I also get a deeper appreciation for the value they have to offer. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on progress we have made in our careers, polish our leadership skills, and create authentic relationships that we would not otherwise have.”

Tammera L. Holmes, CEO of Aerostar Aviation attended the Saluki Women's Weekend.Tammera L. Holmes, CEO of Aerostar Aviation attended the event. A 2000 graduate of SIU’s School of Aviation, Holmes said the Saluki Women’s Weekend provides a refreshing way to look at the progress SIU has made in gender equity.

“Seeing so many accomplished women come together is inspiring,” she said. “One of my professional goals is to create resources for my aviation program, and this weekend I have connected to so many people and have come away with valuable information and ideas.”

Other hosts for various events were SIU Credit Union, HireLevel, First Mid Bank & Trust, Walker’s Bluff, Walmart Marion Supercenter #216, Rendleman Orchards, Marion Sam’s Club No. 8180, and Panera Bread in Carbondale.

SIH, SIU partner for Saluki Women’s Weekend

Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) Logo

By Jeff Wilson

Excitement is building for the upcoming Saluki Women’s Weekend, which will be hosted by the SIU Women’s Leadership Council on September 9 and 10.

The two-day event will feature many events, open to the public, honoring the 50th anniversary of Title IX and celebrating women in education and philanthropy.

Southern Illinois Healthcare is one of the major supporters of the event and is sponsoring the Saluki Women’s Reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center.

“SIH is proud to support the Saluki Women’s Weekend,” said Sarah Gray, system director of business and economic development at SIH. “SIU’s efforts to connect with female students to develop leadership skills, professional skills, and exploring career paths post-graduation is beneficial for SIH as well. We are also invested in developing well-qualified candidates for job opportunities within our organization upon graduation.”

The SIU Women’s Leadership Council is a group focused on creating a pipeline of mentors for future and current female SIU students. Female Saluki alumni mentor female students as they experience college and prepare for the future.

“At SIH, just as important as the academic journey to discovering your career path as a young woman, is the importance of developing those professional relationships that can help you in reaching those goals,” Gray said. “Many of us have achieved our career aspirations by learning from other women who have paved the way before us. Having a professional network of female mentors to whom you can turn to for advice, to collaborate on some amazing projects, or even talk to in a safe space about possible career goals you may have, is a great way to realize those goals.”

Passed in 1972, Title IX prohibited sex-based discrimination in any school or educational program that receives funding from the government.

“Gender equality in leadership positions is a critical aspect of progressing the global economy,” Gray said. “Promoting women into leadership positions is crucial to ensuring that women are treated equally and assessed not on the basis of gender, but on the basis of their knowledge, skills, and abilities.”

The partnership during the Saluki Women’s Weekend is another step in the relationship between SIU and SIH. Recently, SIH announced the creation of a scholarship program for SIU’s accelerated Bachelor Science in Nursing program.

“As two of the region’s largest employers, it’s beneficial for SIH and SIU to work together to address needs in the region, including supporting students in their professional growth and connecting them with employment opportunities,” Gray said. “Our recent partnership with SIU on the nursing scholarship program is another notable example of meaningful collaboration between SIH and SIU to address the region’s workforce needs.”

To learn more about the Saluki Women’s Weekend, visit

Mueller, Deloitte Foundation make $100K investment in diversity

Pledge creates School of Accountancy fund to benefit students

Southern Illinois University Carbondale, like many institutions, has made diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority.

Beth Mueller, an SIU alumna and SIU Foundation board member, and the Deloitte Foundation, have made a financial commitment that reflects that mission.

Mueller, a Carterville native, recently made a pledge of $50,000 to the School of Accountancy, which the Deloitte Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar. Together, that $100,000 will establish the Deloitte Foundation Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Fund at the School of Accountancy.

“It’s something the Deloitte Foundation and I are enthusiastic about,” Mueller said.

The goal is to bring more diversity into the accounting profession, particularly by making it easier for students to meet the requirements to achieve CPA certification. As a tax partner at Deloitte Tax LLP, Mueller knows firsthand the importance of representation.

“Incorporating DEI into an organization’s strategy is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense,” Mueller said. “Teams made up of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and points of view perform better.”

Strengthening the university’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion is one of the five pillars of Chancellor Austin Lane’s Imagine 2030 strategic plan. The College of Business and Analytics has been a leader in this area, and this pledge embodies the necessary dedication to that goal.

“Through this fund, we want to amplify SIU’s programs,” Mueller said. “SIU is positioned to serve a diverse population of students. It’s a place that has historically given all people a chance.”

The contribution by Deloitte Foundation reflects Deloitte’s ongoing dedication to driving greater diversity in accounting. Through its $75 million MADE (Making Accounting Diverse and Equitable) commitment, Deloitte is working to fuel greater racial and ethnic diversity in accounting through a comprehensive strategy that aims to attract more diverse individuals into the field and support them as they chart their pathway from high school to business professional to leadership in the profession.

While becoming a CPA requires proven professional qualifications, such as rigorous educational, exam, and experience requirements, this fund can help students aspire to a CPA career and cultivate inclusive pipelines of CPA talent.

“Many major organizations are seeking more diversity as a way to better reflect society as a whole,” Mueller said. “The underlying challenge the profession is facing is the ability to both drive awareness and attract diverse candidates to the tax and accounting field.”

Mueller sees this fund as part of a full-circle tool that can boost existing programs, increase awareness among younger students who are interested in accountancy, and help bridge the gap for those who plan to become CPAs.

“We want to advance students of diverse backgrounds and increase their visibility across the profession,” she said. “Many groups are underrepresented in the world of accountancy, and we feel very passionately about changing that trajectory.”

For more information about the SIU Foundation and how to give, visit

2022 Saluki Women Awards

The Saluki Women Awards celebrate and honor SIU alumnae who contribute to the advancement of female leaders, demonstrate exemplary leadership, and make significant contributions to our university.

Dr. Charlotte West headshotSaluki Woman of the Year: Dr. Charlotte West

Dr. West retired as SIUC’s Associate Athletics Director in 1998 after serving the university for 42 years as a faculty member, coach, and administrator. From 1957 to 1975, she coached five women’s sports: basketball, golf, softball, volleyball, and badminton. In 1969, West led the women’s golf team to a first-place national championship and the women’s basketball team to a fifth-place finish in the national championship. West’s women’s basketball teams went 113-51 in 12 seasons. She served as director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women from 1960 to 1986. Under her leadership at SIU, women’s athletics became a nationally recognized program with a budget of more than $1 million for 11 varsity sports. After the merger of SIU’s men’s and women’s athletics in 1986, she served as associate athletics director and senior woman administrator for one-year, interim director for one year, and returned to the role of associate athletic director and senior woman administrator until her retirement in 1998.

Dr. West is a pioneer for Title IX for her contributions as an advocate for Women’s sports.

Marsha Ryan headshotSaluki Women’s Trailblazer Award: Marsha Ryan, MD/JD

SIU Law Alumni, Assistant Professor, SIU School of Medicine, Adjunct Professor at SIU School of Law,  and Co-Chair of SIUF Women’s Leadership Council

Dr. Marsha Ryan earned her MD from the University of Oklahoma and finished her residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She practiced general and breast surgery in Carbondale until her retirement in 2017. Dr. Ryan received her JD from the SIU School of Law in 1987. Dr. Ryan has held several medical staff appointments at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, serving as chairman of the department of surgery and chief of staff. She was the medical director of SIH’s Breast Center.

In addition, Dr. Ryan served as president of the SIU Foundation Board and was the campaign chair for the Foundation’s $100 million-dollar Opportunity Through Excellence campaign. She is also a former member of the SIU Board of Trustees, serving from 2017 until 2019. Dr. Ryan serves as director of her family’s philanthropic 501 (c)(3) Garwin Family Foundation and has been very involved in the Carbondale Arts Community and has been the recipient of a variety of community and university awards.

Coach Lolita Mack headshotSaluki Women’s Emerging Leader Award: Lolita Mack

Ms. Mack is a two-time graduate of SIUC. She holds a B.F.A. degree in Graphic Design with a minor in Art History. In 2006, she received her M.S.Ed in Workforce Education and Development with a specialization in Program Leadership. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the W.E.D. program at SIUC. She has approximately 20 years of experience within the higher education field. Lolita currently serves as the President of the SIUC Black Alumni Group and the Past President of the Illinois TRIO Association. She gives back to her church (Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church), campuses (Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Southeastern Illinois College), and the entire southern Illinois community.

Lolita’s Favorite Quote: “Life is not about how much we get, it’s about how much we share and the impact we have in the life of others.”

Learn more about the Saluki Women’s Weekend on September 9 and 10, 2022, and support Saluki women trailblazers:

Saluki Women’s Weekend 2022

The SIU Foundation Women’s Leadership Council is hosting the inaugural Saluki Women’s Weekend in partnership with Saluki Women’s Athletics. The weekend will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX and celebrate the accomplishments of all generations of Saluki women. In addition, the weekend will honor the first Saluki Woman of the Year, Saluki Woman Trailblazer, and the Saluki Woman Emerging Leader Awards.

The weekend will serve as a catalyst to celebrate, empower, engage, and stimulate thoughts on ways Saluki women can continue to stand on the shoulders of giants of excellence such as Dr. Charlotte West, a Title IX pioneer and women’s sports advocate.

Weekend Activities:

  • Women in Philanthropy Luncheon
  • Women Empowerment Mini-Conference
  • Keynote Address by Dr. Linda Baker, SIU Professor of the Paul Simon Public Policy. Dr. Baker is the former secretary for the State of Illinois Department of Human Services and is the first African American legislative liaison for an Illinois governor.
  • Saluki Women’s Reception
  • Yoga on the Lawn
  • Mentorship Brunch
  • Women In Athletics Luncheon
  • Fireside Chat
  • Ultimate Women Saluki Tailgating Experience

“The importance of celebrating and continuing to build equitable access to education for our female students is a high priority,” said Sherrica Hunt, director of development for diversity, equity, and inclusion, said. “The role of philanthropy in this space is beyond raising funds to support students and programs. It is also about creating paths to advocate for equitable representation to close the gender gaps and provide opportunities that allow all Saluki Women to thrive beyond any social or economic conditions. We look forward to our female alumni flooding the SIU campus. Go Dawgs!”

The weekend will support the Women’s Leadership Council mentorship program and campus micro-grants to support women’s initiative and the women in athletics initiative fund. To register for the weekend or sponsor the event, please visit or contact Sherrica Hunt at if you have any questions.

“We are excited to host the inaugural Saluki Women’s Weekend this September to bring back SIU alumnae to campus,” said Steph Taylor, director of development. “This weekend will celebrate the impact of the generations before us had on equitable access to education and sports, but also continue to help close those gender gaps and barriers women continue to face. You can help us make an impact on the future of women’s initiatives on campus through philanthropic support, mentoring our students, and inviting your fellow Saluki women to attend the event with you. We will see you in September!”

About the Women’s Leadership Council

Established in 2020, the SIU Women’s Leadership Council is a network of alumnae, parents, and friends who are committed to creating a culture of women-driven philanthropy at SIU and mentoring future generations of Salukis. Council members contribute their time, energy, resources, and expertise by serving on university boards and championing SIU in their home regions. Embodying a legacy of leadership, the council collectively funds women’s initiatives and scholarships on campus.

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