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EIU University Advancement

About the Foundation
  • About the Foundation
  • Message from the EIU Foundation President
  • Meet the Board of Directors
  • Donor Recognition
  • Message from VP for University Advancement
  • Meet the Team

About the Foundation

Founded in 1953 under the leadership and direction of H Ogden Brainard, the Eastern Illinois University Foundation has, since its inception, been dependent upon the generosity of its members to encourage and provide private support to the University, and to promote the ideals of volunteerism and philanthropy among alumni, friends and employees of the University.

Ms. Susan Young


Message from the EIU Foundation President

2020 will be recorded in history as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has not only impacted the physical health of our communities but has also tested our adaptability and ingenuity. The importance of higher education to promote critical thinking is more important than ever. The dedicated faculty and staff at Eastern Illinois University worked collaboratively and diligently to create a platform to allow our faculty and staff to continue providing educational instruction and experiences to the students of EIU through on-line interactive technology. Eastern Illinois University transforms lives every day through education and opportunities to prepare its students for successful and rewarding careers while building character and instilling a sense of responsibility for our greater communities and world.

The Eastern Illinois University Foundation's mission is to assist, support, and enhance the university's educational and cultural programs through the encouragement and management of philanthropic gifts. The annual financial support for current students through scholarships and enhanced university programing creates future professionals with endless ability to be impactful in their careers and service to their communities. The EIU education that we all value and support will maximize their professional abilities and enrich the lives of themselves, family members and community members forever.

As we navigate through this pandemic, the ability to provide a quality college experience may be more challenging but its value is more important than ever. A better understanding of fiscal resources, personnel support, and sacrifices required to make the college experience available is essential. The EIUF Board of Directors is committed to working collaboratively with faculty and staff in the most effective utilization of donor resources within our campus community. The Board also engages in strategic discussions and planning that maximizes the impact of the Foundation resources in perpetuity.

In fiscal year 2019, the Foundation provided 775 scholarships totaling $1.2 million and grants of $2.6 million in support of the university's academic programs, student development experiences, and other initiatives. Total foundation assets of $95 million (as of 7/1/19) generated the financial return to support the enriching educational experiences. These generous donor-inspired and funded scholarships and programs, along with enrollment growth, expanded university programming, and the spirit of continuous educational quality enhancement at EIU is a source of pride and inspiration for everyone in our university community.

As a first-generation college graduate, my education from EIU prepared me well for a successful and challenging career. I have been honored to provide service back to Eastern Illinois University as a member of the Eastern Illinois University Foundation Board of Directors. On behalf of my fellow board members, I encourage you to support EIU so that it may continue its long-standing tradition as a premier comprehensive university where personal connections with faculty and staff support and promote EIU students’ academic success.

Susan Young, President
Eastern Illinois University Foundation
Board of Directors

Meet the Board of Directors

The EIU Foundation is the receiver and repository of gifts to Eastern Illinois University. The Foundation manages the endowment for the University through oversite by the EIU Foundation CEO and governance of the EIU Foundation Board of Directors. The Foundation Board represents a diverse group of volunteer professional and business leaders who have devoted their time and resources in service to the Foundation for the benefit of Eastern Illinois University.


Ms. Susan Young

Ms. Susan Young, President

Mahomet, Illinois

Susan graduated from EIU in 1984 with a BS in Accounting and MSin Taxation in 1990 from DePaul University. In her current role, Susan serves as Executive Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Chief Financial Officer, University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, Champaign, IL. Susan has been with theU of I Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) for more than ten years. As CFO, she oversees the annual financial operations, capital project funding, and human resources for DIA.

Additional areas under Susan’s supervision include the State Farm Center, Atkins Golf Club, DIA’s Orange and Blue Golf Course, Atkins Tennis Center, and Sports Technology services. Before Susan’s tenure with U of I, she spent nearly six years as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of First Mid-Illinois Bank& Trust Wealth Management Division in Mattoon, Illinois. She is an accomplished executive with over 30 years of tax, financial planning, and investment advisory experience for several firms, including Ernst & Young, Fel-Pro Incorporated, and KKP Group. Susan represented Illinois at the Big Ten Conference as Senior Woman Administrator for DIA from 2007 –2012 and has served on several campus committees at Illinois. Susan has been very involved in the Eastern Illinois University Alumni Association, serving as president in 2004-05 and as a board member from 2001 to 2010.

Dr. Jill Nilsen

Dr. Jill Nilsen, Vice President

Charleston, Illinois

Jill graduated from EIU in 1974 with BS in Speech Pathology and Audiology and an MS in 1975. Jill was an EIU faculty member, department chair, Associate Dean of the Graduate School and Vice President of External Relations before her retirement several years ago. Her contributions to EIU have been and continue to be extensive. During her time as Vice-President, Jill restructured the EIU Development function so that every college was an integral partner in the EIU Development effort and she ensured that every academic area had a part/full-time development director. Jill created an endowment in the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences that provides funding for graduate student research presentations.

Jill is an EIU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna, as well as a recipient of the Louis V. Hencken Service Award. She also serves as a member of the College of Education and Professional Studies Philanthropy Board. Jill was the President of the CASA of East Central Illinois Board of Directors where her development vision and experience have made a difference to this organization’s fund-raising abilities. Her prior service in other local agencies includes boards of the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Systems, Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV), CCAR and the Charleston Zoning Board. She served as a member of the EIU Presidential Search Committee as well as President of the EIU Annuitant Association and President of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce. Jill was the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Philanthropist award.

Dr. Gordon Gardo

Dr. Gordon Grado, Treasurer

Scottsdale, Arizona

Gordon graduated from EIU in 1974 with a BS in Zoology. In 2006, hewas named the Distinguished Alumnus by the EIU Alumni Association and in 2013, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Eastern Illinois University. Gordon is the founder and Medical Director of Southwest Oncology Centers based in Scottsdale, Arizona with four other oncology centers throughout Arizona and with two affiliated centers in Mexico and two in Latin America. Before his private practice, he established and chaired the Radiation Therapy program at Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale and was the Wurtele Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology at the University of Minnesota where he developed the prostate brachytherapy program.

He has given hundreds of presentation worldwide and authored numerous peer-reviewed articles on the subject of oncology and prostate cancer. In June 2000, Governor Jane Hull of Arizona named him to serve on the Arizona Prostate Cancer Task Force. Gordon has worked with EIU lecturing health science students and developed a mentoring program for pre-medical students who fly to his Arizona Southwest Oncology Centers (and Mexico) where they work as interns for at least two weeks and have also worked on research projects. Most recently, Gordon served on the board of Adelante Healthcare which began as a program to provide health care to farm workers and now offers affordable healthcare throughout Maricopa County. He also provides support to St. Vincent DePaul and their clinics in Arizona.

Ms. Dawn Johnson

Ms. Dawn Johnson, Secretary

Ballwin, Missouri

Dawn graduated from EIU in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. She is a litigation lawyer at Greensfelder, Hemker, and Gale, PC. – St. Louis, Missouri. As head of the firm’s Franchising and Distribution Industry Group, Dawn leads a team of transactional and litigation attorneys who represent clients nationally and internationally. Her practice focuses on all aspects of the dealer, distributor, and franchisee relationship, including termination and non-renewal, claims under state and federal relationship laws, and claims such as breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference, antitrust pricing, and trademark infringement.

Dawn has significant appellate experience and is co-leader of the appellate practice within the firm. She handles appeals and works closely with other trial lawyers in the firm to ensure that issues are properly preserved for appeal. Dawn has argued before the Missouri Supreme Court and the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern and Western Districts, the Illinois Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Before attending law school, she was an award-winning reporter for the Herald & Review daily newspaper in Decatur, Illinois. After graduating from Washington University School of Law, she continued her writing experience as a law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge David D. Noce in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, from 1993 to 1997. She is active within her community, having served on the Board of Directors for Safe Connections from 2015 to the present; College Summit Missouri Site Advisory Board, 2012-present, Chair, 2015-present; Gateway Legal Services, Inc., Board of Directors, 2008 to the present; and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, Board of Governors, 2002-2004.

Mr. Dennis Grannan

Mr. Dennis Grannan

Chicago, Illinois

Dennis received a BSB degree from EIU with a double major in accounting and philosophy. His continued involvement with the University includes membership on the EIU Alumni Board and serving as secretary of the Lambda Chi Alpha Alumni Board. In 2016, he received the Lambda Chi Alpha Order of Merit award for his ongoing support of the chapter. After college, he worked as an accountant for Aon Insurance Company in the Reinsurance and Financial Statements Department.

In 1989, he left Aon Insurance to pursue a career as a trader on the Chicago Board of Trade. Dennis received his brokerage license and proceeded to trade on his account. He sold his seat in 1993 to manage and operate two family businesses in Chicago, Villari Florist, and J&P Delivery until they sold in 2000 and 2009. Dennis is a commercial investor and owns and manages both commercial and private real estate properties.

Dr. William Hill

Dr. William Hill

Charleston, Illinois

Bill began his education with a B.A. in Education from Kentucky Wesleyan College. He went on to earn his M.S. in School Administration fromIndiana State University and his Ph.D. in Education from Southern Illinois University. His professional career in School administration spans over 40 years. In his capacity, Bill served 27 years as a School District Superintendent, 18 of which were withthe Charleston School District. He dedicated 31 years to school administration within the public schools of Illinois, 13 years as Adjunct Professor at Eastern and four years as a State of Illinois Regional Vocational Director.

Bill was twice appointed to the Illinois State Board of Education by Governor Edgar. He served six years on the State Board of Education. He was a member of the Illinois Association of School Administrators Board of Directors and served as board president. Additional professional memberships include the Retired Teachers Association of Illinois and the State Universities Annuitants Association. He served as a President of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He also received an appointment with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children, was a member of the Wesley Foundation Board for five years and three years served as Board of Director for the Lake Land Community College Foundation. Bill currently serves on the Sarah Busch Lincoln Foundation Board, as a director of Distance Learning Grant for Illinois Telephone Association and theRegional Board of School Trustees who serves seven counties

Rick Ingram

Mr. Rick Ingram

Chicago, Illinois

Rick graduated with honors from Eastern in 1978 with a BA in Political Science. He went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tennessee in 1981. Rick is General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer for Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, and AMI Group, LLC, in Chicago. He formerly was a partner at Shefsky & Froelich Ltd. He has experience in a broad range of real estate, corporate, and infrastructure matters, including acquisition and disposition of significant commercial properties, negotiation of governmental incentives, and facilitation of multi-level public/private initiatives and partnerships. Also, Rick has extensive experience counseling clients on issues relating to the management of significant commercial properties. He also has considerable experience working with diverse community groups and stakeholders.

His numerous charitable, public service, and community activities have included President of the Lakeview Action Coalition, Member of the Coles County Board, Member of the Coles County Regional Planning Commission, Member of the Hawthorne Academy Local School Council, and mentored with the Gay and Lesbian Bar Association of Chicago. Rick also was named a Leading Lawyer, which consists of the top 5% of Illinois Lawyers, as selected by his peers. Rick has given numerous seminars and presentations on office leasing and other real estate-related topics. He has extensive experience speaking before community groups.

Dr. Kevin Lane

Dr. Kelvin Lane

Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Kelvin graduated from EIU in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in technology education. He was initiated into Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated while at EIU in the Spring of 1977. In 1988 he obtained a Master of Arts in computer teacher education from Governor State University. He graduated from Roosevelt University in 1993 with a Master of Arts in administration and supervision. He obtained his Doctorate from Loyola University in curriculum and instruction.

He started his career in Education teaching industrial arts and then later computer technology in Wheeling, Illinois until 1993. Much of his career was dedicated to high school administration. His most recent role was the Coordinator of Student Discipline for the second-largest School District in Illinois, Elgin U46, in 2009 until retirement in 2014. Lane has dedicated his career to helping students reach their full potential regardless of their learning style in a safe and nurturing environment. He continues to consult with school districts, focusing on student life and discipline.

Elmer Pullen

Mr. Elmer Pullen

Brookport, Illinois

Elmer is a 1970 graduate of EIU with a Bachelor of Science in sociology and a Master of Science in education in 1973. He served as a financial aid counselor at EIU for more than 30 years. Elmer has volunteered on numerous non-profit and university committees. Selected in 1978 as “Big Brother of the Year” by the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Coles County Organization, he also served on the Big Brother organization’s Board of Directors. Pullen was chosen as “Boss of the Year” by Eastern’s Office Staff Support Group in 1989. He was a member of the Charleston Rotary Club and served on the Board of Directors of the Central East Alcohol and Drug Council. Since retiring to Brookport, IL, Elmer has continued to serve the local and regional community on several committees and boards. He is a veteran of the US Army.

Ms. Cindra Stiff

Ms. Cindra Stiff

Philpot, Kentucky

Cindra earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business with an accounting emphasis from EIU in 1979. She went on to earn a Master of Business Administration from Murray State University (KY) in 1988. She recently retired from the position of Vice President of Finance at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, KY. She also served as an adjunct instructor in the Introduction to Business & Women Leadership courses. She began her career as an accountant for EIU and then went on to hold the position of controller at the Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC.

Cindra’s professional appointments include serving as past chair of the Small College Committee of Southern Association of Colleges and University Business Officers and the Board and Finance Committee for Hospice of Western Kentucky. She also was a member of the boards for the Daviess County Kentucky Library and Boulware Homeless Center.

Donor Recognition

Burnham and Nancy Neal Philanthropy Awards - The Burnham and Nancy Neal Philanthropy Awards are our most prestigious awards. They honor transformational philanthropy to Eastern Illinois University. This special award, named for Burnham and Nancy Neal in recognition of their leadership, gifts and steadfast dedication to Eastern Illinois University. Signifies the vital role that our alumni, friends, and corporate partners play in ensuring EIU’s growth and success. This award bestowed upon individuals and organizations has demonstrated dedication and commitment to the academic and cultural well-being of Eastern Illinois University. They have provided sustaining financial support through lifetime contributions and pledges or planned gifts as well as service to the University and the community.

view award history


Founded in 1953 under the leadership and direction of H Ogden Brainard, the Eastern Illinois University Foundation has, since its inception, been dependent upon the generosity of volunteers to fulfill its mission of support to the University. Beginning in 1993, the Foundation has recognized and honored philanthropists whose spirit and overwhelming generosity will serve Eastern Illinois University and its students in untold ways far into the future. In 1997, the Philanthropy Awards were named after Burnham and Nancy Neal in recognition of their leadership, gifts and steadfast dedication to Eastern Illinois University.

This award is bestowed upon individuals and organizations who have demonstrated dedication and commitment to the academic and cultural well-being of Eastern Illinois Unviersity by providing sustaining financial suport through lifetime contributions, and pledges or planned gifts as well as service to the University and the community.

  • 2018: To be announced
  • 2017: Dr. Harry and Gladys Frost
    Paul L. Snyder
  • 2016:Stephen A. Gosselin
    Randy and Brenda Wright
  • 2015: Robert F. DeBolt
    Dr. Jill Nilsen
    Charles W. Witters
  • 2014: Dr. William L. Perry
  • 2013: David and Phyllis Sardella

2019 Recipient, Dr. Judith M. James

Dr. Judith James, an accomplished EIU retiree professor, began her journey teaching in the Zoology Department on a temporary basis, prior to completing her doctorate in 1987. After earning her Ph. D. in Genetics from Illinois State University, she taught a variety of genetics courses, ranging from “Heredity and Society” through the required genetics courses for majors and an honors and graduate course in Human Genetics. She served as Pre-Medical Studies Chair and University Personnel Committee Chair, as well as on the Faculty Senate, Intercollegiate Athletic Board, Student Health Advisory Board, and Library Advisory Board. Academically, she published various professional articles on developmental genetics, presenting her research at myriad national and professional meetings. In addition, Judith also served on the Board of Directors of the Central Association of Advisors for Health Professions for six years. Judith’s invaluable dedication to the EIU earned her two Faculty Excellence Awards. After a fulfilling career, including so many memorable and crucial contributions to EIU, she retired from the university in 2011.

Message from VPUA

Greetings Friends, Alumni, and Donors,

“Loyal and True.” I often close my professional email messages with this phrase that I have borrowed from the EIU Fight Song. The first line in the lyrics of the fight song declares that “We are loyal EIU, we’re loyal and true.” If you’ve ever been within 20 feet of me when the Panther Marching band plays the fight song, you’d definitely hear that line loud and clear!

I can’t think of a better phrase than “Loyal and True” to describe the wonderful individuals and organizations who have contributed to the success of this great University over the past year.

This annual report from the EIU Foundation highlights some of the wonderful philanthropy and generosity of EIU’s alumni, donors, and friends during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. It has been a very special year. Despite the challenges that a global pandemic sent our way in the Spring and Summer, I am happy to share that this has been one of the best years in the University’s history for gifts. I attribute that success to the hard work of the University Advancement team (past and present), the visionary generosity of our donors, and the University’s fantastic trajectory of growth and momentum.

As I stated to everyone who would listen when I “re-joined” the EIU family a little more than a year ago: it’s a great time to be at EIU! Enrollment continues to grow. The academic profile of the freshmen class continues to climb. For three consecutive years the size and the academic profile of the entering freshmen class has risen. Membership in our Alumni Association is growing. Institutional momentum attracts investment. Success breeds success.

I cannot fully express the gratitude we feel to each of you who are investing in EIU and its students. I am humbled by your generosity and I hope to share my sincere thanks with you in person at a time in the future when the conditions of our world permit. Until that time, I remain…

Loyal & True,

Ken Wetstein
Vice President for University Advancement and
Executive Officer of the EIU Foundation


The Office of University Advancement is excited to be the place passionate alumni, friends and donors can contact to facilitate charitable gifts to Eastern Illinois University. In University Development, we "Bleed Blue" and can't wait to share the enthusiasm we have for EIU with you! Through the generosity of our donors, we are changing the lives of EIU students, faculty and the entire campus community!

Dr. Kenneth Wetstein

Vice President for University Advancement & Executive Officer

Neal Welcome Center


Jonathan McKenzie

Foundation COO and Planned Giving Director

Neal Welcome Center


Brian Silotto

Director of Development

Neal Welcome Center


Michael Murray

Director of Development Athletics

Neal Welcome Center


Danielle Wilberg

Director of Development

Neal Welcome Center


Nancy Murray

Director of Donor Relations

Neal Welcome Center


April Marchuk

Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Advancement

Neal Welcome Center


Penny Walk

Office Administrator

Neal Welcome Center


Steve Rich

Assistant Vice President for Advancement

Alumni Services


Amber May

Assistant Director

Alumni Services


Matt Williams

Director of Annual Fund and Alumni Communications

Alumni Services

Alisa Wohltman

Alumni Services

Program Assistant


Spencer Sharp

Alumni Services

Report Writer


Wanda Kay Robinson


Development Officer


Ke’an Armstrong


Publicity Promotion Associate