Category Archives: Higher Education

SIU & SNP: Planting the seeds of success

John Deere dealership partners with CALPS to provide equipment

By Jeff Wilson

In the past few years, SIU’s University Farms have gotten even greener, John Deere green.

The farms are a living laboratory that connect man and machine to cultivate land and immerse students in a unique experiential learning environment. Most of the machines used on the farms are provided through a lease agreement with Sydenstricker Nobbe Partners (SNP) John Deere dealership.

Photos of the Chancellor and Faculty visiting the SIU Farms on October 10th, 2023.

Students in SIU’s College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences (CALPS) spend hours working the hundreds of acres, and many of those hours are spent working with tractors, combines, sprayers, etc. provided by SNP.

“This partnership has been huge for us, both when recruiting and retaining students, and it fuels our push toward becoming an R1 research institution,” said CALPS Dean Eric Brevik.

Photos of the Chancellor and Faculty visiting the SIU Farms on October 10th, 2023.

Each year, SNP provides state-of-the-art equipment that enhances the learning experiences of CALPS students and puts the college at the forefront of agricultural education. Recently, Chancellor Austin Lane was able to get behind the wheel of a combine provided through the partnership. After a quick tutorial from a CALPS student, Chancellor Lane harvested a row of corn.

“This is truly a gamechanger,” Chancellor Lane said. “This is where these students need to be. These fields are their classroom.”

The equipment provided by SNP is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that records valuable data about farming in Southern Illinois.

Photos of the SIU Farms on October 10th, 2023.

“Having this localized data showcases this partnership, and that’s important for us,” said Jared Nobbe, vice president of centralized services at SNP.

SIU also displays the equipment when it brings thousands of prospective students to campus for numerous ag-related events on campus.

“I was in FFA throughout high school, and I can tell you this is huge for those students,” said USG President Phillip Hartke.

To support students in CALPs, visit

Saluki Women’s Weekend: Empowering Today, Inspiring Tomorrow

By Jeff Wilson

The second annual Saluki Women’s Weekend provided a forum for women to celebrate sisterhood and find empowerment through philanthropy. More than 100 women took part of the events hosted between Wednesday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 7.

“Your resources, time, and talent – all of those things really come together to make an impact at SIU,” said Sherrica Hunt, assistant vice chancellor for anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, to dozens of women on Friday, Oct. 6, at Student Center Ballrooms.

Chancellor Austin Lane started the event by touting SIU’s enrollment numbers, pointing out a rare twist.

“Fifty-two percent of our students are female. I have never worked at an institution with more female students than male students,” he said. “When people tell you that women are running things, they’re right.”

The Saluki Women’s Weekend was presented by Compardo, Wienstroer, Conrad & Janes at Moneta Group and the SIU Credit Union. It featured breakouts sessions, sponsored by SIH; a networking breakfast, sponsored by Legence Bank; and a mentorship brunch, sponsored by Dawn Korte, Ph.D. There was also a Saluki Women Vendors Fair, featuring 20 local artisans and female entrepreneurs.

Three women were honored during Friday’s event:

  • Woman of the Year – Shari Rhode, who was a member of the SIU School of Law’s inaugural class and has more than 50 years of experience as an attorney.
  • Trailblazer Award – Lynn Lindberg, who was honored for her efforts as executive director of the SIU Research Park, forging pathways for women at the university and in the community.
  • Emerging Leader – Lauren Lurkins, who operates Lurkins Strategies, LLC, which affects environmental policy and supports academic research projects.

“I’m sure there was someone more deserving, but I appreciate the fact that you found that I was,” Rhode said. “Pay it forward.”

Friday was filled with educational and inspirational presentations from women who have led the way, as leaders in higher education, philanthropy, and service.

“Today is about shaping our future,” said Diane Compardo, president of the SIU Foundation Board of Directors. “Women in leadership isn’t a trend, but a transformative force.”

Compardo shared many of the initiatives the SIU Foundation has been involved with recently, including raising funds for Saluki Cares during the COVID-19 pandemic; a $1 million grant to accelerate the fermentation science program at McLafferty Annex; support for the Dr. Seymour Bryson Future Scholars program; faculty grants for podcasting, robotics, and more; the new entrance sign at Touch of Nature Environmental Center; and the planned Welcome Center to be built on campus.

“Southern embraced me and allowed me to grow at a pivotal moment in my life,” she said. “I invite everyone to make a lasting impact on the university.”

Dr. Sheryl Tucker, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, gave the keynote address. Tucker, who has three sisters, expressed how the bond of sisterhood stretches beyond family.

“Anyone who has ever been a mentor knows you get more out of it than the mentee,” she said. “It’s women empowering women. You should want your inspiration to lead to impact.”

Tucker established the mantra, “Link, learn, lead to leave a legacy,” as a way to empower female students.

“I wanted my legacy to be about the people. I want other young girls to understand what a college education can look like,” she said.

She also pointed out that events such as the Saluki Women’s Weekend are the model for engaging with young women to ensure they can clearly see their potential.

“The only way to effect change is to have a seat at the table. You have a seat at the table here today,” she said. “Be part of the conversation. Have input. You have to be willing to participate.”

It was a sentiment that was echoed throughout the weekend, including during a video message from Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.

“Learn, inspire, and encourage one another,” she said. “Our potential is limitless as long as we keep working together.”

Tami Kupec, who has more than 15 years of fundraising experience, spoke during the Women’s Philanthropy Luncheon, focusing on the value and impact of women in philanthropy. Most recently, Kupec was executive director of development with Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. During her trips to the African nation, Watoto worked to build an educational building and mentor the women and children in the village.

“I wanted to experience a deeper level of contribution,” she said. “I fell in love with the women and children of the village and the holistic work that Watoto was doing to raise the future leaders of Uganda.”

Kupec was introduced by Stellah Nakiranda, a young lady whom she met and mentored through her work in Uganda and who recently enrolled at SIU.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be in the U.S. on this stage speaking in front of you wonderful women,” Nakiranda said. “I have known Tami for 10 years. She’s challenged me to have my own dreams.”

Kupec defined the six Ts of philanthropy – time, talent, treasures, ties, testimony, and trust – explaining that giving in any way makes a major impact on the lives of others.

“Right here at SIU, there’s an incredible opportunity with the Women’s Leadership Council,” she said. “We are encouraging women to reach their full potential and walking alongside young women, giving them a hand up. It is a circle of women passionately focused on the needs of young women.”

An inspiring event

The Saluki Women’s Weekend began Wednesday, Oct. 4, with Jill Wine-Banks presenting the Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture at the SIU School of Law. During her presentation, “Breaking Barriers for Equality, But Still Dancing Backwards in High Heels: How Women’s Success Benefits All,” she discussed her pioneering career, which included working as the only female prosecutor during the Watergate trial, and the issues still facing women today.

On the evening of Thursday, Oct. 5, the Women’s Leadership Council Board of Directors hosted a wine and cheese reception at the McLafferty Annex, which included a presentation by Susan Lighty and Marta Albiol Tapia detailing diversity initiatives in the Fermentation Science Institute.

Mentors and mentees gathered on Saturday, Oct. 7, for a Mentorship Brunch, and the Women’s Leadership Council Board held an official meeting later that day.

“The future is in our hands,” said Dr. Dawn Korte, co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Council and member of SIU Foundation Board of Directors. “It’s that empowerment that we can all share that resides deep within us.”

Supporting sponsors of the event were Walmart Carbondale Supercenter #196, Walmart Anna Supercenter #233, Holiday Inn Carbondale, First-Mid Bank, and Dr. Kelly Higgins.

For more information about the Women’s Leadership Council, visit

University breaks ground on SIU Credit Union Event Center

Photo Caption: Brian Croft, director of Touch of Nature (from left); William Lo, executive director, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce; Darin Fager, president, Fager-McGee Construction; Chancellor Austin Lane; Sara Bond, director of development, SIU Foundation; state Sen. Dale Fowler; Kim Babington, vice president of community outreach, SIU Credit Union; Nicole Gray, program assistant for hospitality service, Touch of Nature; Mike Lantrip, president, SIU Credit Union; Chris Sievers, chairman, SIU Credit Union Board of Directors; and Tom Brummer, associated director of facilities and operations, Touch of Nature break ground on the SIU Credit Union Event Center on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center.
Photo Caption: Brian Croft, director of Touch of Nature (from left); William Lo, executive director, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce; Darin Fager, president, Fager-McGee Construction; Chancellor Austin Lane; Sara Bond, director of development, SIU Foundation; state Sen. Dale Fowler; Kim Babington, vice president of community outreach, SIU Credit Union; Nicole Gray, program assistant for hospitality service, Touch of Nature; Mike Lantrip, president, SIU Credit Union; Chris Sievers, chairman, SIU Credit Union Board of Directors; and Tom Brummer, associated director of facilities and operations, Touch of Nature break ground on the SIU Credit Union Event Center on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center.
Facility funded by $500K donation

MAKANDA – With shovels in the ground, progress is officially under way on the SIU Credit Union Event Center at Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center. The project is being funded by a $500,000 donation from the credit union.

Chancellor Austin Lane was joined by state Sen. Dale Fowler and representatives from SIU Credit Union, Touch of Nature, Fager-McGee Construction, the SIU Foundation, and the university for a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 27, near the entrance of Touch of Nature.

“SIU students get their start right here at Touch of Nature,” Chancellor Lane said. “We are fully behind this project, and we want to thank the SIU Credit Union for all they do.”

At the beginning of each fall semester, Touch of Nature hosts Dawg Days for incoming students, providing them with an opportunity to have fun, make friends, and learn more about SIU.

In August 2021, the SIU Credit Union presented a $500,000 check to fund the construction project. The hope is to have the event center completed in the spring of 2024.

“Touch of Nature is a pride and joy of SIU,” Chancellor Lane said at the time. “This partnership with SIU Credit Union is magnificent. This gift will provide the credit union with great visibility among our students and the community.”

SIU Credit Union has a long history of supporting the university, including major donations during the annual SIU Day of Giving. In recent years, the credit union has supported SIU’s New Student Programs, Saluki Food Pantry, and Morris Library, along with Touch of Nature.

“We knew that we needed to do something for SIU and the region,” said Mike Lantrip, CEO of SIU Credit Union. “We think it’s going to be something that helps put Southern Illinois on the map even more.”

Touch of Nature is a full-service outdoor education center that serves SIU, the region, and the nation. It provides opportunities for team building, environmental education, zip lining, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, overnight camps, and more. Nationally recognized for its therapeutic recreation camp, Camp Little Giant, Touch of Nature has provided camps and programs for people with disabilities since 1952. Touch of Nature is an ACA-accredited facility, a National Environmental Education Landmark, and soon to be home to an IMBA-designed Mountain Bike Park.

“This is an incredible partnership with SIU Credit Union,” said Brian Croft, director of Touch Nature. “We expect this to be a spot for community members to come and enjoy the outdoors. It’s amazing to see what facilities like this can do for SIU.”

Croft also introduced state Sen. Fowler and praised his continued support for Touch of Nature and the university. Fowler said he appreciates the impact the event center will have on tourism in the region.

“This facility will be an amazing complement to Touch of Nature,” Fowler said.

For more information about Touch of Nature, visit

Professor James Franklin Sharp donates $1 million, honored with museum naming

Professor James Franklin Sharp headshotWith a $1 million gift, Professor James Franklin Sharp has chiseled his name into SIU’s legacy. Now, the university will honor his generosity by renaming the University Museum as Sharp Museum.

At 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, the university will host a ceremony in front of the museum to unveil the name and honor Professor Sharp, who will be in attendance along with friends and family. Chancellor Austin Lane will give remarks at 4 p.m.

“Professor Sharp’s incredible giving spirit inspires us all,” said John Pollitz, dean of Library Affairs, which oversees the museum. “This gift will make a profound impact on both educational and cultural opportunities for our students, faculty, and the region.”

Professor Sharp attended SIU from 1954 to 1956, but the university didn’t offer a four-year degree in engineering at that time. Still, he said he always felt a strong connection to the university.

While an SIU student, he played seven intramural sports, including football, corkball, basketball, volleyball, softball, badminton, and horseshoes. He was a member of the Theta Xi fraternity.

“I lived in Doyle Dorm with three roommates, whom I have stayed in touch with over all these years,” Professor Sharp said. “Corkball was my favorite sport, and the Theta Xi Variety Show was a big deal in those days. At the time, I could have never imagined I’d even have $1 million, period.”

He transferred to the University of Illinois from SIU and completed his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering. He later earned a master’s and Ph.D. from Purdue University.

“I guess I would say I enjoyed my time at SIU more than the other colleges I attended,” Professor Sharp said. “At SIU, the classes were small and taught by senior professors. I enjoyed watching SIU football and basketball games. They were always very crowded.”

Professor Sharp taught at three universities: Rutgers University, New York University Stern Graduate School of Business, and Pace University Lubin Graduate School of Business. He also held management positions at AT&T and founded Sharp Seminars in New York, which became a leading provider of training for Wall Street investment analysts and investment portfolio managers.

He has also written 36 books and had many articles published. He has achieved the following professional designations: CFA, CIPM, CMA, CFM, and Mensa.

A Chester High School graduate, Professor Sharp has made supporting education a lifelong endeavor. He has made multiple donations to Chester schools, adding up to more than $600,000.

“After making gifts to other institutions, I realized the kind of impact I was able to make. During one of my trips back to SIU, I visited the museum and thought it could use some funding,” Professor Sharp said. “So, I thought why not go big and make it $1 million.”

SIU Credit Union sponsoring Saluki Women’s Weekend

Kim Babington stands in front of SIU Credit Union logo on an interior wall.

SIU Credit Union is a presenting sponsor of the second annual Saluki Women’s Weekend from Oct.  4-7 in the SIU Student Center.

“This conference will bring women together,” said Kim Babington, the credit union’s vice president of community outreach. “It is so nice to finally have a conference that focuses on the needs of a woman.”

The SIU Credit Union has a long history of supporting the university, including major donations during the annual SIU Day of Giving. In recent years, the credit union has supported SIU’s New Student Programs, Saluki Food Pantry, and Morris Library, along with Touch of Nature.

“SIU Credit Union is all about giving back to its community,” Babington said.

This year’s Saluki Women’s Weekend will be jampacked with events.

On Oct. 4, the SIU School of Law will host speaker Jill Wine-Banks as part of its Hiram H. Lesar Lecture Series. Wine-Bank served as a prosecutor in the Watergate scandal and was the first woman to be the General Counsel of the Army and the first woman to be the American Bar Association executive director.

On Oct. 6, there will be a Networking Breakfast from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.; Saluki Sisterhood Empowering Today, Inspiring Tomorrow from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.; Empowerment Conference Session I from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. (3 sessions); Women in Philanthropy Luncheon from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Empowerment Conference Session II from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. (3 sessions); Women’s Vendor Fair open from 1 to 3 p.m.; and Saluki Women’s Awards Reception from 3 to 4 p.m. These events will be hosted at the SIU Student Center.

On Oct. 7, there will be a Mentorship Brunch at 9:30 a.m., and the Women’s Leadership Council Board Meeting from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

All public events are free. Some events will be invitation-only, and others may yet be added to the schedule. Visit for more information or contact Sherrica Hunt, assistant vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion, at

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.