Reeser to guide Saluki Athletics’ fundraising efforts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donor pays it forward with the Don and Edith Braden scholarship

Anna Miller, the recipient of the Braden scholarship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gift further strengthens alumna’s dedication to service, education

By Kathryn Sime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2023 Men of Color: Advancing Impact in Philanthropy Dinner

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

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

The following funds were created below from attendees.

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

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

Boston: Paying it forward is the Saluki way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheng looks toward CAM’s bright future

By Jeff Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is also dedicated to expanding professional development for faculty.

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

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

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

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

Saluki Ball bridges the gap for students

There’s a new premier fundraiser on the SIU calendar – the Saluki Ball.

Hosted by Chancellor Austin Lane and Mrs. Loren Lane, the inaugural Saluki Ball brought 615 SIU alumni and friends together in an effort to raise funds that bridge the financial gap for students.

“Our focus tonight is on our students, especially those who need your help the most,” said Chancellor Lane during the ball, which was held Saturday, April 22, at the Marriott Marquis Chicago. “Increasing our enrollment to 15,000 students by 2030 – as established by our strategic plan – requires not only efforts in recruitment but also retention. We must ensure the students that we bring to Carbondale or who enroll in online courses are able to stay enrolled and finish with their degree.”

The Saluki Ball was sponsored by the Honorable Glenn and Mrs. Jo Poshard and ULLICO, Inc., and Laborers’ Local 773. Each donated $100,000 in support of the fundraiser. The event was emceed by SIU alumnus and ESPN radio host Marc Silverman.

Many of SIU’s most resolute supporters bought tickets and sponsored tables in support of SIU students. The money raised will help enhance funding for students who require assistance with their bursar bills to stay enrolled.

Drs. Philip and Pamela Pfeffer were honored with the Saluki Lifetime Achievement Award. Pam Pfeffer began serving on the SIU Foundation Board in 1995 and has served two terms as board president. A Metropolis native, she earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from SIU Carbondale in 1967. She is also a mentor with the Women’s Leadership Council.

Phil Pfeffer is a two-degree SIU Carbondale graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry in 1965 and a master’s degree in economics in 1966. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1997, the SIU Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998, and Alumni Achievement Award in 1992.

The Pfeffers are life members of the SIU Alumni Association, the Paul and Virginia Society, and both have served on boards for the Alumni Association, SIU Foundation, and College of Liberal Arts. They have also been awarded the university’s Distinguished Service Award.

Two students, Luis Barrera and BriYanna Robinson, were recognized with Saluki Success Awards.

“Pam and Phil Pfeffer, BriYanna Robinson, and Luis Barrera are great examples of what a Saluki can and should be,” Silverman said.

The night was capped by a performance by R&B legend Brian McKnight and dancing.

McPheeters: Saluki Ball recognizes SIU’s excellence

Lynn McPheeters

By Jeff Wilson

Few SIU alumni have created a legacy as impactful as F. Lynn McPheeters.

His first major philanthropic act at SIU came in 2006 when he and his late wife, Susan, donated $585,000 to create the Susan F. and F. Lynn McPheeters College of Business Leadership Endowed Chair. In 2017, he donated $1 million to endow the McPheeters Family Scholarship, and in 2022, he announced a $1 million estate gift to supplement that fund and establish the F. Lynn McPheeters Chair of Finance Endowment Fund in the College of Business and Analytics.

Now, he is one of the major sponsors of the inaugural Saluki Ball. With a $25,000 donation, McPheeters is a Saluki Platinum sponsor.

The Saluki Ball, to be held Saturday, April 22, at the Marriott Marquis Chicago, will help students bridge the financial gap as they strive to reach their ultimate goals. The presenting sponsors of the ball are the Honorable Glenn and Jo Poshard and ULLICO, Inc., and Laborers’ Local 773.

“This event celebrates SIU’s reputation for providing a first-class education and will raise money for scholarships,” said McPheeters, 1964 graduate of the College of Business. “It pains me that so many people are coming out of school with mounds of debt. In recognition of this situation, the SIU Foundation has significantly increased its efforts to provide scholarship assistance, as so many other universities have done.”

Hosted by Chancellor Austin Lane and Mrs. Loren Lane, the ball is black-tie optional and will feature a performance by R&B legend Brian McKnight. It will be hosted by ESPN radio host and SIU alumnus Marc Silverman.

“Personally, I am very impressed with Chancellor Lane, what he’s doing, and his plan for the future,” McPheeters said.

McPheeters transferred to SIU from Canton College, now Spoon River College, a community college in his hometown of Canton, Illinois, and finished his accounting degree at SIU.

Soon after, he started at Caterpillar, Inc., and began a steady rise through the company. In 1973, he moved to Switzerland to serve in a financial management position with Caterpillar overseas. He also worked in Tokyo for Caterpillar Mitsubishi and in Hong Kong at Caterpillar Far East Limited. He retired in 2005 as chief financial officer for Caterpillar and vice president of the Corporate Services Division.

“SIU led me to an incredible career with Caterpillar that took our family around the world and gave us tremendous opportunities,” McPheeters said. “I was very fortunate to have a supportive family throughout my 40 years with the company.”

In the decades since his graduation, McPheeters has served SIU in multiple ways. He joined the SIU Foundation Board in 2002 and served as chair of the audit committee and board president. He was one of the first members of the College of Business and Analytics external advisory board and inducted into the college’s Hall of Fame in 1988. Among other honors, he earned the College of Business Alumni Achievement Award in 2004. In 2016, he received one of the university’s highest honors, the Distinguished Service Award.

He never anticipated the success that his SIU education would help provide.

“When I graduated, I was just happy to have an education and a job,” McPheeters said. “I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. I was very fortunate that SIU was there.”

For more information about the Saluki Ball, visit

Legence Bank donates $5K to the Saluki Food Pantry

Pictured left to right: Kent Epplin, Student Center director, Tena Bennett, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary enterprise and student affairs, Shane Bennett, senior director of corporate foundation relations, John Dorris, Legence Bank Carbondale branch manager, Kevin Beckemeyer, Legence Bank president and CEO, Tricia Overturf, Legence Bank vice president of marketing and communications, Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development & alumni relations and SIU Foundation CEO

By Jeff Wilson

The SIU Day of Giving offers individuals and businesses the opportunity to support the university in many ways. This year, Legence Bank donated $5,000 to the Saluki Food Pantry.

“This gift from Legence Bank makes an enormous impact – $5,000 provides food and items, such as toiletries, that allow our students to thrive on a daily basis,” said Tena Bennett, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary enterprise and student affairs. “As a result, our students can come here and focus on the most important things – their education, growth, and wellbeing – instead of worrying about where their next meal will come from.”

Legence Bank’s gift was set up as a match, so that they could inspire others to give to the food pantry. This provided thousands more dollars to the food pantry on the Day of Giving, which was March 28. In total, nearly $8,000 was raised.

“This food pantry covers so many people that deal with food insecurity,” said Tricia Overturf, vice president of marketing and communications for Legence Bank. “We’re excited to be a part of this and give back to the community.”

The gift represents Legence Bank’s continued support of local institutions.

Tricia Overturf, Legence Bank vice president of marketing and communications, John Dorris, Legence Bank Carbondale branch manager, Kevin Beckemeyer, Legence Bank president and CEO

“Legence Bank is always glad to help Saluki Nation and all the communities we serve,” said Kevin Beckemeyer, president and CEO of Legence Bank.

With support from Legence Bank and other donors, the food pantry will be able to keep its shelves stocked for students in need and their families.

“I’m so happy about the effort to help with food insecurity. It’s so important in today’s world,” said John Dorris, Legence Bank Carbondale branch manager.

The Saluki Food Pantry is located on the Lower Level of the Student Center, and it serves all SIU students. The food pantry carries non-perishable food items and toiletries. Every item is free, and students can receive enough food to feed every family member in their household for up to three days.

Even with the generosity of Legence Bank and Day of Giving donors, the need for donations never ceases. Beyond monetary donations, anyone can drop off donations of canned goods, instant potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and other non-perishable food items and toiletries. To learn more, email

ULLICO, Laborers’ Local 773 sponsoring Saluki Ball

Members of Laborers’ Local 773, seen here while working at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, have completed many projects on campus, donating their time and efforts.

By Jeff Wilson

The relationship between SIU and union labor goes back a long way.

Now, that relationship is getting even stronger as ULLICO, Inc., and Laborers’ Local 773 stepped up to become one of the presenting sponsors of the inaugural Saluki Ball.

“SIU is the crown jewel of Southern Illinois. It’s the economic engine of this region, and we are committed to SIU,” said Ed Smith, president and CEO of ULLICO. “SIU has one of the most diverse, unionized workforces in America.”

While dedicating $100,000 to become a presenting sponsor of the ball is a major investment, Laborers’ Local 773 has handed out scholarships to its members’ children since 1986.

“We have given out more than $336,000 in scholarships, and that number is about to go up,” said Jerry Womick, International Representative and Business Manager for Laborers’ Local 773. “We give students $500 extra if they choose to attend SIU.”

Many of those scholarship recipients are first-generation students. The union and its members understand the value of financial assistance. The union averages about 70 employees on campus at any moment.

“Union members feed their families through SIU,” Smith said. “They put their blood, sweat, and tears into the university. They do the dirty work.”

The union has been involved with most of SIU’s biggest projects, and much of the work is done with donated time and supplies. Union laborers have done many of the site improvements at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, installed the walking path around Campus Lake, and put in flower planters around the REC Center. ULLICO and Laborers’ Local 773 have also supported WSIU broadcasting and Saluki Athletics for many years.

“Our fingerprints are all over SIU,” Smith said. “We are joined at the hip, and we’re there through thick and thin.”

The Saluki Ball

Hosted by Chancellor Austin Lane and Mrs. Loren Lane, the inaugural Saluki Ball, to be held Saturday, April 22, at the Marriott Marquis Chicago, will help students bridge the financial gap as they strive to reach their ultimate goals.

“You have to have a vision, a positive attitude,” Smith said. “You also have to go where the students are. Chancellor Lane has done a great job of recruiting locally, but this is a competitive business. SIU has to recruit against the schools in and around Chicago.”

The ball is black-tie optional and will feature a performance by R&B legend Brian McKnight. It will be hosted by ESPN radio host and SIU alumnus Marc Silverman and NBC Chicago reporter Regina Waldroup. There will be special awards for outstanding alumni and students. The other presenting sponsors of the ball are Dr. Glenn and Jo Poshard. The event is nearly sold out.

“Southern Illinois rises and falls with the university,” Smith said. “Too many times we think we’re the underdog, but SIU is staging a comeback.”

To learn more about the Saluki Ball or get your tickets, visit

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