Category Archives: Higher Education

Students benefit from Bridgestone donation

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Bloomingdale-based Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, recently presented Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Automotive Technology a financial gift to assist the nationally recognized program. The department received a $6,000 grant from the Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund, the philanthropic arm of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. The gift will go toward equipment purchases and establishing a $2,000 scholarship this fall, said Jack S. Greer, who chairs the automotive technology department.

“A donation of this kind, especially in today’s economy, shows the company’s support for our program and the interest it has in hiring our graduates,” Greer said. He noted the company is continuing to expand its retail establishments.

The company has been recruiting managers to open and operate retail stores through SIUC’s program for the last five or six years, he said.

“Bridgestone’s donation demonstrates a clear commitment to our students and their futures in the industry,” said Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and CEO of the SIU Foundation. “Our automotive technology program has been a source of pride for the University and has garnered nationwide respect. We greatly appreciate Bridgestone’s continued support of our young people pursuing careers in this field.”

According to the company, Bridgestone Retail Operations presented the donation on behalf of the Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund. Bridgestone Retail Operations runs the largest network of company-owned automotive service centers in the world — more than 2,000 tire and vehicle service centers across the United States — including “Firestone Complete Auto Care,” “Tires Plus,” “ExpertTire” and “Wheel Works” stores. Credit First National Association and “Firestone Complete Fleet Care” are also part of Bridgestone Retail Operations, which is a member of the Bridgestone Americas family of companies.

In late January, the company opened its 1,500th Firestone Complete Auto Care location, and there are plans to continue to open more. Forty-two new automotive service locations opened in 2008; each new store creates about 12 jobs. Twelve SIUC automotive technology and automotive service management graduates now work for Bridgestone Retail Operations.

“It’s important for Bridgestone Retail Operations to contribute to schools and universities that educate tomorrow’s leaders, today,” said Matt Metzelaars, Midwest zone recruiting and retention manager with Bridgestone Retail Operations. “We look to schools with programs like Southern Illinois University Carbondale to prepare students to easily transition into their future careers. We currently have SIUC graduates working for our company in various roles ranging from store manager to intern.”

In 2005, the automotive technology program earned the Automotive Industry Planning Council’s Award of Excellence — its third time as the nation’s top program. The program also earned top honors in 1991 and 1999; national winners cannot compete again for the award for five years.

The program also operates an off-campus program at Harry S. Truman College in Chicago that began in fall 2007. The off-campus program provides Chicago-area students the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology. Students complete an associate of applied science degree from Kennedy-King or Truman College, and then transfer into the automotive technology program, where SIUC faculty teach upper-level automotive technical and automotive management courses at Truman College.

Annual Fund Student Caller Wins Scholarship

by Emily Britton

Annual Fund Student Caller, Philip Sanders, Wins Scholarship

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For the second time in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s history, a student supervisor is the recipient of a scholarship to attend the RuffaloCody Users Group Conference.

Philip Sanders, a junior from Kankakee majoring in economics, was one of two students nationwide to receive the scholarship. According to AJ Pennington, senior manager of recruiting and training operations at RuffaloCody, the recipients were chosen based on their dedication to a call center and their interest in pursuing a career in fundraising.

The funding provided by RuffaloCody will help Sanders take a step toward his career goal. RuffaloCody is a consulting firm that offers strategic fundraising and enrollment management services. The conference, scheduled for July 26-28 in Minneapolis, will allow Sanders to make connections with others in the field of institutional advancement. During the three-day event, Sanders will attend roundtable discussions and lectures focusing on issues facing fundraising institutions today.

Sanders is one of 80 students who solicit support for the SIU Foundation’s Annual Fund. As a student caller, he has raised $26,000 for the fund, which is designed to generate revenue to support various scholarship opportunities, academic departments, programs, and facility upgrades at the University. Students are assigned records based on specific segments of the alumni database. They perform their duties year-round with the exception of the University’s public holiday breaks.

“Our telefunders are vital to the Foundation’s success. It is important to have high-caliber students reaching out to our alums in order to advance our institution,” said Jeff Lorber, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement. “This award demonstrates how dedicated Philip and his fellow student callers are to improving their University.”

Sanders says his time as a telefunder has also prepared him for a career in fundraising.

“This position has taught me how to work under someone with expectations and certain goals for me, and I think that will be important in my chosen career field,” Sanders says. “I am also given enough freedom to be able to make mistakes and learn from them. When I see the same situations in the future, I will know how to handle them.”

Nanditha Balasubramanian, director of annual giving for the SIU Foundation, said that Sanders’ award speaks highly of the Foundation’s recruiting and training.

“The mentoring he received both as a caller and student supervisor, especially the training with the CampusCall system, helped him tremendously in gaining an edge over candidates from other institutions,” Balasubramanian says. “Last fall, Philip assisted me with supervision of student callers during the calling sessions. This gave him the confidence not only to learn the calling system better, but it also provided a chance for him to demonstrate his skills supervising students,motivating the student callers, responding to questions from the students and ensuring that they do their best in communicating with our alumni and friends. Since the annual giving program is the foundation of our development operations, it is vital that we uphold the highest standards inrecruiting, training and evaluation of our student callers.”

Balasubramanian said she recognized Sanders’ exceptional work as a student caller and supervisor and encouraged him to apply for the scholarship. For that, Sanders is grateful.

“Throughout the last few semesters I have learned about responsibility and leadership from the mentoring I’ve received as a student caller. Nanditha Balasubramanian and (Assistant Director) Amber Kinkelaar have helped me become a better caller and supervisor as well as a better student through the principles of fundraising that they have taught me,” Sanders says. “Above all, this position has given me a sense of purpose, in that I am helping SIU become the best university it can be.”

Students learn while assisting SIU Foundation

by Emily Britton

student callers

Student callers — Helping the SIU Foundation solicit support for its Annual Fund are, from left, Patrick Conway, Blake Frank and Joshua Fielder. (Photo provided)

CARBONDALE, Ill. — According to several student callers for the Southern Illinois University Foundation, the lessons learned at this part-time job have been nearly as valuable as those learned in the classroom.

“This position requires persistence and patience, both of which will help me tremendously when I start full-time employment,” Blake Frank, who raised $35,000 for the Foundation, said. “The training that was provided to me has helped me gain valuable skills that will serve me well in my professional career.”

Frank, a senior from Rockwell City, Iowa, majoring in aviation management, is one of 80 SIUC students who solicit support for the Foundation’s Annual Fund. The fund is designed to generate revenue to support various scholarship opportunities, academic departments, programs, and facility upgrades at the University. Students are assigned records based on specific segments of the alumni database. They perform their duties year-round with the exception of the University’s Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday breaks and all other public holidays.

“As a radio-television major, this job has helped me improve my communication skills,” says Jonathan Iaccino, a junior from DeKalb. “I realize that my communication and interaction with alums has a tremendous impact on the advancement of Southern.”

Joshua Fielder, a senior from Carbondale majoring in music, also knows his success as a student caller will help him in future endeavors. Iaccino raised $28,000 during his time as a student caller. Fielder, who raised $25,000, supervised calling sessions during the summer.

“The life skills that I have gained from my work at the Foundation will surely carry through and stay with me,” Fielder says. “Supervising the calling sessions was a great learning experience for me because it allowed me to realize my strengths and recognize the skills I need in order to be successful.”

According to Philip Sanders, a junior from Kankakee majoring in economics, the job also strengthens the student callers’ connections with Southern’s alumni.

“As a student caller, I reach out to our alumni,” says Sanders, who raised $26,000. “Not only do I keep them abreast of all the current issues on campus, but I also tell them why their support is critical to individual colleges and scholarship programs.”

Establishing a connection with alumni is important to the program’s success, says Nanditha Balasubramanian, director of annual giving, who, along with Amber Kinkelaar, the assistant director, trains and mentors the student callers.

“The Annual Fund allows students to make a personal connection with our alumni,” Balasubramanian said. “These conversations help the students become educated about the University’s history, and give the alumni an opportunity to learn more about current activities at Southern.”

The student callers are essential to SIUC’s fundraising efforts, says Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation.

“The Annual Fund is crucial in moving Southern forward, and the efforts of the student telefunders are vital to our success,” McCurry said. “Not only do the students assist in obtaining support for their University, but they also learn the importance of giving back once they have graduated.”

Patrick Conway, a senior from Normal majoring in information systems technologies, said his experience as a student caller has helped him see how important private support is to Southern’s future. Conway collected $81,000 during his time as a telefunder.

“I truly understand the impact that donor support can have in making a difference in the lives of current students,” Conway says. “When I graduate, I hope to give back to this institution and would encourage others to do the same.”

Pictured are Jonathan Iaccino (left) and Philip Sanders (right)

Photo caption: Pictured are Jonathan Iaccino (left) and Philip Sanders (right)

Students reach fundraising milestone

by Emily Hunsaker

SIU Foundation Student Callers

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Three Southern Illinois University Foundation telefunders have surpassed a fundraising milestone by raising more than $25,000 for the Foundation’s Annual Fund.

James Taylor Ashford, a senior majoring in political science and speech communication from Goreville; Patrick Thies, a senior majoring in cinema and photography from DeKalb; and Eric Caldwell, a sophomore majoring in psychology from Pawnee, each reached this fundraising goal. Both Ashford and Thies have raised more than $25,000, while Caldwell has raised more than $45,000.

The Foundation employs 75 student callers who solicit support for the annual fund. The program helps raise money for scholarships, academic departments, and facility upgrades at the University. Students employed by the program perform their duties year-round with the exception of the University’s scheduled holiday breaks.

“These outstanding student callers demonstrate the skills needed to be true ambassadors of this University. With funding cuts to education, the need for private support has never been greater,” says Nanditha Balasubramanian, director of annual giving for the SIU Foundation. “These students really are the foundation for the success of our annual fund efforts. They understand the significance of fundraising and the impact private support has on student lives.”

SIU Foundation Student CallersStudent callers work tirelessly to raise money for the University and to keep alumni informed of recent campus activities. Ashford says his job as a telefunder will help him in his future career.

“I am majoring in speech communication with a specialization in persuasion,” Ashford says. “The phone calls that I make every night give me the opportunity to practice and refine my communication skills to a larger degree than many other jobs would allow.”

While Thies agrees his experience as a student caller will be beneficial to him in the future, he says his favorite part of the job is speaking with SIU alumni.

“My job allows me the opportunity to communicate with alumni, some of whom offer advice based on real-life experiences,” Thies says. “It has also helped me appreciate how much our alumni care about their alma mater and the gratitude they have for their professors and mentors.”

Whether the student callers are using their position to prepare for their future careers or just chatting with alumni, Caldwell says raising money for their University is always the telefunders’ number one priority.

“It is no secret that the economic downturn and lack of funding from the state has made private support essential at SIU,” Caldwell says. “Being able to help the school I love when it needs it most is definitely the most enjoyable part of this job.”

For more information or to donate to the annual fund, contact Nanditha Balasubramanian at 618/453-4929 or

Sunblade wins inaugural Rendleman scholarship

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For Southern Illinois University Carbondale photojournalism student Emily Sunblade, the news that she is the first scholarship recipient of an award in memory of a friend is bittersweet.

Sunblade is the inaugural recipient of the Ryan Rendleman Photojournalism Scholarship. The 22-year-old senior from Bolingbrook, who has a double major in photojournalism and history, will be awarded the $1,000 scholarship during the School of Journalism’s annual awards banquet Thursday, April 23, at 6 p.m., at Blue Sky Vineyards in Makanda.

More than 30 scholarships worth more $23,000, along with several recognition awards, will be presented. Members of Rendleman’s family will be present at the awards banquet.

“For me it’s very personal. I was friends with Ryan,” Sunblade said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s great to get the award but in hindsight, I wish the award didn’t exist.”

The endowed scholarship honors Rendleman, a 22-year-old senior from Batavia, who died a year ago in a traffic accident while en route to an assignment for The Daily Egyptian student newspaper. Family, friends and faculty members within the journalism school then set up the endowed scholarship through donations and fundraising efforts.

“We are honored by the scholarship endowed in Ryan’s name, and it’s things like these that have comforted us,” said Nick Rendleman, Ryan’s older brother. “We are looking forward to a new student every year being introduced to his legacy.”

The scholarship “will be a reminder every spring of Ryan and how much he meant to all of us,” said William H. Freivogel, director of the School of Journalism.

Sunblade is one of the most promising among a group of promising photojournalists within the school, Freivogel said.

“In a lot of ways she embodies what a lot of us saw in Ryan. She is active in multi-media and new media styles of reporting,” he said.

“Ryan touched the lives of many during his life, I am delighted that his influence on photojournalism students will continue through this scholarship,” said William Recktenwald, a senior lecturer and journalist-in-residence, and one of Rendleman’s instructors.

“Emily Sunblade is a talented photographer and excellent student, she was also a close friend of Ryan,” Recktenwald said. “I know that she will find a special significance in being the first recipient of this award.”

Sunblade, the daughter of Richard and Dianna Sunblade, graduates in December. With her background in history and photography, Sunblade has done some past work with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service. She will intern this summer with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, working in the visitor’s center, where she will create programs and brochures. The 1.92-million acre refuge is on the southwestern side of Alaska, about one hour south of Anchorage.

Sunblade has worked at The Daily Egyptian since the spring 2008 semester, where she and Rendleman became friends. She gives him credit for helping her think of a photo as more than just a picture, and recalls his ever-present optimism prior to going out on assignment.

She said she often asks herself how Rendleman would have likely approached an assignment before she leaves on a photo shoot.

“Ryan was very much about making the photo a story and not just something to fill space,” she said.

The crash occurred less than two weeks before Rendleman was to earn his bachelor’s degree. Family members accepted Rendleman’s diploma posthumously during commencement ceremonies. The family has set up a Web site in Rendleman’s memory at that will be active May 24.

Last month, Rendleman was enshrined in the Newseum’s Freedom Forum Journalists Memorial in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. He is among 1,913 reporters, photographers and broadcasters who have died while reporting the news dating back to 1837, and is the first collegiate journalist from the United States on the memorial.

Automotive students benefit from Nissan gift

by Pete Rosenbery

SIU Students benefit from Nissan Gift

Another significant donation — Christopher Reynolds, left, an assistant instructor with Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized automotive technology program, checks out one of the latest donations to the program, a 2006 Nissan 350Z with students Kelsey Pugh, center, and Vincent Tiberio, right. The car is one of six vehicles and equipment totaling more than $151,000 the program received from Nissan North America, Inc. Pugh and Tiberio are juniors in the automotive technology program; Pugh is from Cleveland, Ohio; Tiberio from Yorkville. (Photo by Pete Rosenbery)

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Nissan North America Inc. is assisting students in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Automotive Technology with a sizeable gift of automobiles and equipment. The company recently donated six vehicles, several engines, transmissions, transaxles and other equipment to the nationally recognized program. The donations, which total $151,610, will help prepare students for careers with major automotive manufacturers, said Jack S. Greer, who chairs the automotive technology department. “This is vitally important,” Greer said, noting the gift is Nissan’s largest to the program. “It’s important to the program to keep it up-to-date as far as technology opportunities for the students. This also demonstrates the dedication the manufacturers have for this program.” Geoff Lonberger, fixed operations manager for Nissan North America, Inc., and a 2005 SIUC automotive technology program graduate, coordinated the sizeable donation.

“It is important for manufacturers to support educational programs, particularly ones with an automotive-specific curriculum because a lot of the upcoming graduates from these programs could be the future of the industry,” he said. “Without vehicle and parts donations the students would not have current technology to learn from.” The donation is another validation of the automotive technology program’s standing within the industry, Greer said. “Nissan doesn’t give $150,000 to a school they do not think a lot of,” he said. “They appreciate our graduates and the way they are prepared for the industry. Our students hit the ground running.” Kelsey Pugh, a junior in automotive technology from Cleveland, Ohio, said adapting to the ever-changing automotive industry is important. “It’s always constantly changing,” Pugh said. “With what we have to work on right now, just getting these new technologies in and seeing different manufacturers and how they do different things is vital.” Vincent Tiberio, a junior in automotive technology from Yorkville, agreed. “This is the newest and greatest technology on the market. It keeps us up-to-date,” he said. “We are able to see what is out there.” As with other donations, students use the vehicles to hone their diagnostic sills. This enables students to train on some of the latest technology, vehicles, and equipment, in the automotive industry, Greer said. “This institution embraces any opportunity to enhance the educational experience for our students,” said Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation. “SIU Carbondale’s automotive technology program takes great pride in preparing students for jobs in the industry. Nissan’s gift clearly demonstrates a similar commitment to higher education. The University is grateful for Nissan’s generosity.” It is Nissan’s pleasure to donate the vehicles and equipment, said Lonberger. Four of the six vehicles — a 2004 Nissan Titan, a 2006 Nissan 350Z, a 2007 Nissan Maxima, and 2007 Nissan Sentra — will be at the automotive technology campus in Carterville, which has 200 students. A 2000 Nissan Maxima and 2002 Nissan Altima are in use in the off-campus program at Harry S. Truman College in Chicago.

That program began in fall 2007, enabling Chicago-area students the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology. Students complete an associate of applied science degree from Kennedy-King or Truman College, and then transfer into the automotive technology program, where SIUC faculty teaches upper-level automotive technical and automotive management courses at Truman College. Lonberger started his career with Nissan as a dealer parts and service specialist in 2006. Two years later he transitioned to the sales side of the business as a regional market representative specialist — involved with the franchise agreement as well as market development. His current position, which began April 1, also has an emphasis on customer retention, he said. The University’s automotive technology program “is like no other,” Lonberger emphasized. “The balance between the technical and business sides of the automotive industry makes the education relevant and desirable to manufacturers in any automotive-related field,” he said. “I would highly recommend the program to anybody who wishes to pursue a career in the automotive field. Not only will you receive a great education but after graduation you will have a rich fraternity of Salukis to help you get your foot in the door at some of the top companies in the industry.” Christopher Reynolds, an assistant instructor in the automotive technology program, said it is important for students to be able to see and work on what they will see at dealerships and independent shops. The donations enhance the available base curriculum so that students are more prepared to serve a diverse market of vehicles, Reynolds said. In 2005, the automotive technology program earned the Automotive Industry Planning Council’s Award of Excellence — its third time as the nation’s top program. The program also earned top honors in 1991 and 1999; national winners cannot compete again for the award for five years.

American Suzuki Motor Corp. donates cars to SIU

by Pete Rosenbery

American Suzuki Motor Corp. donates cars to SIU

Generous automotive gift — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized automotive technology program received its single largest vehicle donation at one time Thursday, April 2, when American Suzuki Motor Corp. announced it is donating 10 Suzuki Veronas to the program. On hand at the announcement and ceremonial key exchange were (from left): Jim Sweitzer, dealer principal; Jack S. Greer, automotive technology department chair; Lee Raines, regional services and parts manager, Southern Region, American Suzuki Motor Corp.; and Terry A. Owens, associate dean, SIUC College of Applied Sciences and Arts. More than 25 current automotive technology students also attended the announcement. (Photo by Andrea Hahn)

CARBONDALE, Ill. — To prepare students for a career with the major automotive manufacturers, American Suzuki Motor Corp. will donate 10 vehicles to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized Department of Automotive Technology. Lee Raines, regional services and parts manager, Southern Region, American Suzuki Motor Corp., announced the gift of 10 Suzuki Veronas to SIU Carbondale on April 2 at a ceremony at Foley-Sweitzer Suzuki in Marion.

Manufacturer support is a vital component in keeping the automotive technology program among the nation’s elite, said Raines, who earned his bachelor’s degree in advanced technical studies-automotive technology management from SIUC in 1986.

“The students win. The University wins and the manufacturer wins by creating future professionals who know and want to work on and with the products donated,” he said. “It creates an environment of cooperation, development and future business relations and awareness that may never have occurred otherwise.

“It’s important for all of our futures to work together to advance our education system as well as our industry,” he said. Raines and department chair Jack S. Greer participated in a ceremonial key exchange for the mid-sized sedans at today’s announcement.

Suzuki’s gift is the single largest donation of vehicles at one time the program has ever received, Greer said. Raines is the catalyst for the donation from Suzuki, Greer said, noting that the automaker has hired several program graduates. Raines is a member of the department’s automotive technology advisory board.

“They support the program very strongly,” Greer said. “Because of the current economic conditions, this donation is even more important for keeping our program up-to-date.”

Students will use the vehicles to hone their diagnostic skills, Greer said. In addition, students benefit by studying the vehicle’s operating systems and latest technological advances.

“Our automotive technology program is nationally respected in large part due to the hands-on experience it offers our students,” says Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation. “American Suzuki’s generous gift further enhances the opportunities available to students through this outstanding program. SIU Carbondale is grateful for this wonderful display of support.”

Donations of vehicles, tools, equipment and financial gifts enabled the program “to become the No. 1 automotive program in the country,” Raines said.

“My own commitment to SIUC and the automotive program stems from the fantastic education as well as life lessons learned while attending the University myself,” he said. “I must say that the manufacturers who donated not only their vehicles, tools, and equipment, but also their time have had a great impact on me personally. That fact that I was able to learn on live vehicles while using modern equipment enabled me to earn and pay for my education in my chosen field while attending SIUC.

“The manufacturers took time to speak with students, answer questions, and provide insight as well as give the students a shot of reality every so often through internships and externships,” Raines said. “This real-life exposure in many cases led to employment with manufacturers, vendors and ancillary businesses. The university’s automotive program allowed me and other students to leave the academic system with real life and work skills that in many other cases would take several years to learn after graduation.”

Jim Sweitzer, dealer principal, and Tim Deaton, Suzuki sales manager at Foley-Sweitzer Suzuki, both said the “substantial donation” greatly benefits the local community.

“It will assist today’s SIUC automotive students to work with current vehicles and to be prepared for the automotive technology of tomorrow,” Sweitzer said. “In a tough global economic time when other automobile manufacturers struggle, we are proud to be part of a forward-thinking manufacturer like Suzuki working with the forward-thinking group at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to promote vehicle technology and the education of our SIUC students.”

There are more than 200 students enrolled in the automotive technology program. Facilities on SIUC’s campus in Carterville have housed the program’s technical courses since its inception in 1952. In addition to its program at SUIC, since fall 2007, Chicago-area students can obtain a bachelor’s degree in automotive technology through off-campus programs at Harry S. Truman College. Students complete an associate of applied science degree from Kennedy-King College or Truman College, and then transfer into SIUC’s automotive technology program, where SIUC faculty teach upper-level automotive technical and automotive management courses at Truman College.

In 2005, the automotive technology program earned the Automotive Industry Planning Council’s Award of Excellence — its third time as the nation’s top program. The program also earned top honors in 1991 and 1999; national winners cannot compete again for the award for five years. The Brea, Calif.-based Automotive Operations of American Suzuki Motor Corp. was founded in 1963 byparent company Suzuki Motor Corp. (SMC) and markets its vehicles in the United States through a network of approximately 400 automotive dealerships and numerous other motorcycle, ATV and marine distributors in 49 states, according to the company. With global headquarters in Hamamatsu, Japan,SMC is a diversified worldwide automobile, motorcycle and outboard motor manufacturer. In 2008, SMC sold more than two million new cars and trucks and more than three million motorcycles and ATVs. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has operations in 193 countries and regions.

McCurry honored as educational foundation leader

by Greg Scott

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s chief fundraiser is a recipient of the CASE Commonfund Institutionally Related Foundation award. Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation, is one of two educational foundation leaders receiving the honor. McCurry and Elizabeth King, president and chief executive officer of the Wichita State University Foundation, were both cited for their extraordinary contributions and longtime support of their foundations and the overall profession.

McCurry and King will be honored March 25 during ceremonies at the 17th Annual Conference for Institutionally Related Foundations in Rancho Mirage, Calif. “While my name may be on the award, this honor is a testament to the leadership of the Foundation Board, the hard work of our staff and the generous support of our friends and donors,” McCurry says. “I am honored to have the opportunity to accept this award on behalf of all of those individuals and Southern Illinois University. McCurry has served as vice chancellor for institutional advancement and Foundation CEO at SIU Carbondale since 2000. Under his leadership, Southern’s endowment has grown from $42 million to $85 million, and, the University completed its first comprehensive campaign in June 2008, surpassing its $100 million goal by $6 million. McCurry is credited with building a strong relationship between the University and its foundation, which has created stronger teamwork between departments and a broader understanding of fundraising. He has also worked closely with the university’s board and encouraged members to interact with foundation directors to identify best practices.

The Humboldt, Tenn., native oversees the activities of the SIU Foundation, the SIU Alumni Association, Constituent Relations and Special Events, and Advancement Services. Prior to joining Southern Illinois University, McCurry served as associate vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs, and campaign director at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has been in the advancement profession for 25 years. The awards are underwritten by Commonfund, a nonprofit corporation with more than 1,800 members and more than $40 billion in assets under management. Commonfund provides fund management services and investment advice to educational institutions, hospitals, foundations and other nonprofits. McCurry received another prestigious honor in December. The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), formed in 1887, appointed McCurry to the executive committee of its Council on Strategic Communications and Advancement. McCurry is serving a three-year term with the council, which provides a forum for examining concerns of campus professionals in communications and public affairs, development and fundraising, and alumni relations. NASULGC is the nation’s oldest higher education association.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is one of the largest international associations of education institutions, serving more than 3,400 universities, colleges, and independent primary and secondary schools in 61 countries. CASE is the leading resource for professional development, information and standards in the fields of educational fundraising, communications and marketing, and alumni relations.

Event will honor Lesars, raise scholarship funds

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The SIU School of Law is preparing for a birthday celebration that honors the vision of the law school’s founding dean, while also raising scholarship funds for students. A party celebrating Barbara Lesar’s 90th birthday is set for 1:30 p.m., Sunday, March 29, in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building.

The cost to attend the party is $90 per person, with proceeds going to the Hiram H. Lesar Professorship Fund. Mrs. Lesar turns 90 years old on March 30. “We’re pleased to celebrate Mrs. Lesar’s milestone birthday with her. We are even more excited that she is allowing us to use this opportunity to highlight Dr. Lesar’s life and legacy,” Dean Peter C. Alexander said. Barbara Lesar’s late husband, Hiram, organized and developed the law school with its charter class in August 1973. Prior to that, the only law schools in the state were at the University of Illinois and in Chicago.

The ongoing goal is to raise $250,000 for the Lesar Professorship Fund. The incumbent law school dean will be designated “Dean and Hiram H. Lesar Professor of Law.” The fellowship fund began in 2006. The endowment also generates a scholarship for a law school student in good academic standing who demonstrates high achievement or the potential for high academic achievement. Because of meal considerations, the pre-registration deadline is March 26. To register by e-mail go to and click on the RSVP link to “Celebrating Barbara Lesar’s 90th Birthday.” Registration is also available by e-mail to development officer Judi Ray at or calling 618/453-8135.

Ray said it is Mrs. Lesar’s wish to raise funds for the fellowship in lieu of birthday gifts. The University will honor Barbara Lesar with a Distinguished Service Award during the law school’s commencement ceremony on May 7 in Shryock Auditorium. In February, Alexander noted Barbara Lesar considers it her responsibility to make sure her late husband’s vision is supported in every way possible, actively serving on the law school’s Board of Visitors, and attending every law school event. Barbara Lesar is also co-chair of the committee working to endow the professorship in Dean Lesar’s honor.

ShawneeLink equipment donation aids students

by Christi Mathis

ShawneeLink equipment donation aids SIU students

New equipment — David Johnson (left) and Bryan Pumphrey, both Southern Illinois University Carbondale students from Chicago, work with computer routers and related equipment that ShawneeLink Corp. recently donated to the School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. (Photo by Christi Mathis)

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The world at your fingertips — accessible with a few taps on a computer keyboard. But, it doesn’t happen without connectivity. Thanks to an equipment donation from ShawneeLink, some students in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Applied Sciences and Arts are getting enhanced personal experience in making that connectivity happen.

The Internet service provider and communications company donated technology equipment valued at more than $37,000 to the School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies for use by network security and wide area network installation and administration classes. In addition, the SIUC Cyber Defense Team, also known as the “Security Dawgs,” is utilizing it as well.

“Given that ShawneeLink believes today’s IT (information technologies) graduates need not only a strong theoretical foundation, but also practical, hands-on experience they can apply in industry from the first day on the job, we are donating these four ImageStream Gateway routers to SIUC’s Information Systems and Applied Technologies program to enable students to get that experience,” said David M. St. Pierre, Internet operations manager for ShawneeLink.

ShawneeLink, a regional Internet service provider, donated Linux-based equipment that complements the Microsoft operating system and Cisco hardware already in place at SIUC. Company officials said ShawneeLink simply outgrew the capabilities of these four routers, but they are still very current, available for purchase new and still carry six to 18 months of warranty.

“The support of industry is extremely important to my school,” said Will Devenport, director of the School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies. “ShawneeLink’s very generous donation gives a great boost to our networking and security curriculum. No other program on campus provides students with the ‘hands-on’ experience now available with this wide area networking equipment. I truly appreciate the support of this Southern Illinois regional partner. Thank you, ShawneeLink!”

Essentially, the donated equipment gives students the chance to work in the classroom on a different connectivity system than they previously experienced. “Really what this gift means is that we can stop being vendor-specific,” said Belle S. Woodward, ISAT assistant professor and Cyber Defense Team faculty adviser. She said students can now train using both Gateway and Cisco systems, giving them a well-rounded education that improves their range and employability.

“Any time you have more equipment to do hands-on work with, it promotes and improves our preparedness,” Woodward said.

During a recent wide area network installation and administration class, Bryan Pumphrey and David Johnson, both ISAT majors from Chicago, were attempting to “ping” the nearby computer Michael Woodside and Afton James were working on, thereby establishing communication between the computers. “We’re trying to find out if these computers are connected over the gateway,” said Johnson, a senior. A big smile spread on Pumphrey’s face as the junior found the correct IP address and established a network connection. “It gives us more variety, more experience and connectivity speed,” Woodside said of the equipment donation. Woodside is a senior ISAT major from Pinckneyville. “The more devices we have to work with, the more diverse experience we have that we can apply someday in the workplace,” added James, also a senior ISAT major from Pinckneyville. “They’re able to use this equipment to demonstrate its functionality rather than just read about it,” said Tom Imboden, assistant ISAT professor. “They can implement it and create the functionality in our classroom. It allows our students to have hands-on experience that few institutions have the ability to duplicate. This is very sophisticated.” St. Pierre is an SIUC alumnus, earning a bachelor of science in computer science in December 2006. With a previous career in healthcare, IT represents a mid-life career change for him. He began working at ShawneeLink two months before graduating from SIUC. Headquartered in Equality, ShawneeLink Corp., along with its sister company Shawnee Telephone, are wholly owned subsidiaries of Shawnee Communications. When created in 1996, ShawneeLink Corp. initially offered long-distance telephone service. The following year, the company added dial-up Internet service for its service area and by 2003 ShawneeLink offered high-speed DSL.