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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.

Dr. Jill Nilsen

DR. JILL NILSEN, PRESIDENT

Message from the EIU Foundation President

I am honored to serve as a board member on the Eastern Illinois University Foundation Board. This Board works tirelessly to fulfill its mission of supporting our EIU students. We strive to enhance the educational and cultural experiences for our students through generous philanthropic gifts.

During fiscal year 2020, the Foundation provided $1,362,816 in scholarship to EIU students and $2,543,107 in grants to EIU. Total assets of the Foundation now exceed $98 million and the investment of those dollars generates the revenue to fund the scholarships and grants, helping many of our over 8,000 students to realize their dreams. Students were able to fulfill their career goals of becoming teachers, accountants, nurses, artists, musicians, dieticians, and other professions. These dollars support their ability to attend conferences, study abroad, or conduct research. Scholarships enable students to join an athletic team, play in the orchestra, and participate in internships. The generosity of our many donors and alumni facilitate our students to experience a quality educational experience.

The Foundation Board is committed to working collaboratively with the University faculty, staff, and administration. We recognize that our role in overseeing the endowment and wisely investing those resources enhances the academic environment of the entire community. The Foundation and the University have a strong partnership and working relationship.

It is a privilege to serve on the board of the Eastern Illinois University Foundation. My fellow board members and I are truly committed to Eastern Illinois University and are passionate about the Foundation’s role in making a difference in the lives of our students. Your philanthropic gifts are important in helping us continue our work. We are very appreciative of your generous support.

Jill Nilsen, President, 2021-22
Board of Directors
Eastern Illinois University Foundation

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.

MEET THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
2021-2022

Dr. Jill Nilsen

Dr. Jill Nilsen, 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 Grado

Dr. Gordon Grado, Vice President

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, Treasurer

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.

Dr. Kevin Lane

Dr. Kelvin Lane, Secretary

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.

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.

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. Judith James

Dr. Judith James

Charleston, Illinois

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. Her greatest passion was the major support she provided to autistic students and funds for graduate assistants and diagnostic tests for children. After a fulfilling career, including so many memorable and crucial contributions to EIU, she retired from the university in 2001.

Mr. Charles Maris

Dr. Charles Maris

Charleston, Illinois

Chuck earned his BS in Zoology with a Chemistry minor from EIU in 1971 and an MD from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1975. After medical school, he completed full residencies in General Surgery and Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. Chuck entered private practice in 1982 as a Sarah Bush Lincoln Medical Staff Member. During his tenure at Sarah Bush, he served in multiple medical staff positions which included service as Chief of Surgery and three terms as Medical Staff President. In 1996 Chuck became an associate of the Carle Clinic Association based in Urbana, IL. Chuck progressed through multiple medical administrative assignments. He retired from medical administration as Chief of Surgery and Medical Director of Surgical Services in 2014. During his career, he has served on the volunteer medical faculty of the UIUC College of Medicine and most recently with the Carle Illinois College of Medicine as a Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Maris is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. He is a past member of the IL ACS Committee on Trauma and a State Faculty member for the ACS Advanced Trauma Life Support Course for Physicians. He was instrumental in bringing the ATLS Course to downstate IL acting as course director for the first ATLS courses at the Carle Level 1 Trauma Center. He served as a member of the Sarah Bush Lincoln Foundation and served as a physician member of the Carle Foundation Board of Directors.

Dr. Maris and his wife Karen are EIU Alumni Association Members and recently endowed a Scholarship for students enrolled in the new EIU Electrical Engineering Program.

While an EIU undergraduate, Chuck was a founding member of the EIU Eta Mu Chapter of Sigma Chi. In July of this year, he was honored as a Significant Sig at the fraternity’s Grand Chapter meeting in Scottsdale, AZ.

Chuck retired as a Colonel from the US Army Reserve in 2011 after 34 years of combined reserve and active-duty service. His most memorable assignments include mobilization to the Persian Gulf in 1990-91 as Assistant Chief of Surgery for the 159th MASH, four years as Command Surgeon of the 3rd COSCOM in Des Moines, IA, and four years of duty as the Command Surgeon for the 89th Regional Readiness Command in Wichita, KS.

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.

Mr. Randall Wright

Mr. Randall Wright

Houston, Texas

Randy graduated from EIU in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics. After completing a master’s in business administration degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Randy began a career in healthcare administration on the staff of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. In 1979 he moved to Houston to work for The Methodist Hospital. Over a 20-year period at Methodist he held various leadership roles including Administrator for the Institute of Otorhinolaryngology, Vice President over the for-profit programs of the hospital and then Senior Vice President responsible for the Hospital’s Diagnostic and Therapeutic programs. In 2000, Randy moved to Texas Children’s Hospital, the nation’s largest children’s hospital. He served in many different executive roles at TCH including Chief Information Officer, Acting Chief Financial Officer, President of the Texas Children’s Health Plan, and interim Administrator of the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. His major responsibility was as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and he retired from TCH in 2016.

Randy and his wife Brenda (Bachelor of Science in Education 1970) have strong ties to EIU particularly the Physics Department. They created endowed scholarships honoring Dr. Glenn Q. Lefler who was Department Chairman from 1950-1970 and for Dr. Bill Butler who was Department Chairman from 1970-1087. Brenda and Randy, along with Dr. P Scott Smith, a long serving faculty member, provided a significant part of the funding for the development of an Observatory to support the Astronomy program.

In 2004 Randy was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service for his support of EIU. In 2016 he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by the EIU Alumni Association. In 2017, Randy and his wife Brenda were honored by the EIU Foundation as Distinguished Philanthropist. Randy currently serves on the Board of the Children's Hospital of San Antonio Foundation and is a member of the M D Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors.

Ms. Susan Young

Ms. Susan Young

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.

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

BURNHAM AND NANCY NEAL PHILANTHROPY AWARDS

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

MEET THE TEAM

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

217-581-5129

kawetstein@eiu.edu


Steve Rich

Assistant Vice President for Advancement

Alumni Services

217-581-7053

swrich@eiu.edu


Jonathan McKenzie

Foundation COO and Planned Giving Director

Neal Welcome Center

217-581-3017

jrmckenzie@eiu.edu


Brian Silotto

Director of Development

Neal Welcome Center

217-581-5045

bksilotto@eiu.edu


Michael Murray

Director of Development Athletics

Neal Welcome Center

217-246-5991

mkmurray3@eiu.edu


Danielle Wilberg

Director of Development

Neal Welcome Center

217-581-5190

dmwilberg@eiu.edu


Olivia Koester

Director of Development and External Relations

College of Education

217-581-7823

okkoester@eiu.edu


Nancy Murray

Director of Donor Relations

Neal Welcome Center

217-581-7388

nrmurray@eiu.edu

https://www.eiu.edu/found


April Marchuk

Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Advancement

Neal Welcome Center

217-581-7380

amarchuk@eiu.edu


Penny Walk

Office Administrator

Neal Welcome Center

217-581-5011

pswalk@eiu.edu


Amber May

Assistant Director

Alumni Services

217-581-6425

ammay@eiu.edu


Matt Williams

Director of Annual Fund and Alumni Communications

Alumni Services

mmwilliams@eiu.edu


Alisa Wohltman

Alumni Services

Program Assistant

217-581-6616

ajwohltman@eiu.edu


Spencer Sharp

Alumni Services

Report Writer

217-581-3622

swsharp@eiu.edu


Wanda Kay Robinson

WEIU

Development Officer

217-581-9348

wkrobinson@eiu.edu


Ke’an Armstrong

WEIU

Publicity Promotion Associate

217-581-7193

ksarmstrong@eiu.edu