Recent Searches

Loading Search Results...
Loading Directory Results...



Recent Pages

Recent Searches

EIU University Advancement



Richard and Sharon LeDuc

We’re proud to see so many Eastern Illinois University alumni share a lifelong bond and a deep connection to their alma mater. But when that genuine love is shared by equally EIU-enthusiastic spouses, the magic and magnetism is all the more special.

Sharon and Richard LeDuc have shared their connection with EIU—and with each other—for more than 50 years. Both EIU students in the mid ’60s, their affinity for the University—like their relationship—has only blossomed with time.

Richard (’64) and Sharon (’65) both earned degrees from Eastern. Like so many others, their time at EIU prepared them for a life ripe with of opportunity, rewarded by success, and resonant with compassion.

“We loved our time at Eastern,” Sharon shared. “Basketball games were huge when we were there,” she said. At the time, women’s sports were limited to non-competitive travel teams, which Sharon participated in. Still, her passion for sport also led her to become student leader of a synchronized swimming team.

“Of course, concerts and other campus events were extremely exciting, too. At that time, EIU only had about 4,000 students, and the smaller campus made everything extremely accessible.”

Following their time at EIU, the duo took up residence in Missouri, where they attended the state’s flagship university. Sharon, who had earned her EIU degree in math/math education with a double minor in physics and chemistry, ultimately earned a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Missouri, where she also later served as a research associate. Her research focused on climate impacts on crop production and agricultural health. Eventually her team was able to start a federal research center which was part of NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Later, she joined the Atmospheric Research and Exposure Assessment Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, working for the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2001, Sharon, who also taught as an adjunct at various universities in North Carolina, joined the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville as its deputy director. At NCDC, the world’s largest repository of atmospheric data, she managed the operations, worked with world class scientists in developing climate assessments, and implemented the latest techniques for storing, retrieving, and securing all types of meteorological data. After a long and fulfilling career, she retired in 2011.

Today, Sharon and husband Richard have leveraged their success into creating opportunities for others. Their generosity has paved the way for other young learners who, without assistance, may never have had a chance to experience the same joy and excitement the LeDucs felt as students on EIU’s inviting campus.

Sharon, herself a 1962 recipient of the Livingston C. Lord Scholarship—the highest honor bestowed upon undergraduates at Eastern—knows the importance of financial support. Her father started at EIU but lacked the finances to finish.

“We wouldn’t have made it through without financial help along the way,” Sharon said. “We were fortunate to receive scholarships, and we know that today a quality education isn’t always affordable. We want the next generation to have the opportunity and ability to contribute to society at the highest level possible. Education is absolutely essential!”

The LeDucs, whose successes allowed them to save money for sending their own three sons to college, knew full-well that not everyone shared their fortunate position. That’s why they decided to make a commitment to—as Sharon described—“give a leg up to the people who really need it the most.”

When asked what they would share with other donors about the importance of leaving a legacy and giving back, they offer some profoundly pragmatic advice:

“We’ve never been exceptionally wealthy, but even small or infrequent gifts add up over time and can be very substantial for those starting with nothing.”

“It’s not the amount, it’s the fact that you’re giving that makes the biggest difference,” Sharon revealed. “It may seem cliché, but giving allows us all to become better people, including those we’re committed to helping. For us, giving is in our hearts, and gives us a feeling of being part of the greater good. We want others to experience that feeling, and to be able to enjoy it like we have.”