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EIU Alumni Services

Alumni Awards

Nominations Sought For 2022 Alumni Awards

Nominations are currently being accepted for EIU's 2022 Alumni Awards. Information on each of the alumni award categories is available below. To nominate someone for a 2022 alumni award, please complete and submit the nomination form along with any required supplementary materials by June 13, 2022.

You may also scroll further down to read about our past Alumni Award recipients!

 

Distinguished Alumna/us Award

Established in 1973, the Distinguished Alumna/us Award is the most prestigious award which is bestowed by the Alumni Association. This award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves in either academic or literary fields, business, public service and/or service to the University and who, through their accomplishments and service, have brought prestige to their alma mater.

Alumni nominated for this award must have celebrated at least their sixth class reunion. In the case of an alumna/us who has not graduated, class year would be determined by the year he or she would have graduated.

Past recipients have included an Illinois Governor, Oscar-nominated actors, a nuclear physicist, educators at all levels, CEOs, athletes and many others.

 

Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service Award

First presented in 1988, the Alumni Service Award is presented to alumni who have repeatedly displayed outstanding voluntary service to the University. In 2007 the name was changed to the Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service Award in honor of Eastern's outgoing president. Lou Hencken served Eastern in a variety of administrative positions for over 40 years and was named University president on August 1, 2001. He retired from the presidency on June 30, 2007.

 

Outstanding Young Alumna/us

First presented in 1988, the Outstanding Young Alumna/us is presented to an alumna/us who is 35 years of age or younger and has excelled in a new career and/or public service.

 

Distinguished Educator Award

Established in 2004, the Distinguished Educator Award is presented to alumni who have distinguished themselves in the field of K-12 education.


2021 Award Recipients

Congratulations to EIU's 2021 Alumni Award recipients!
Those recognized included:

Outstanding Young Alumna/us Awards

Reginald Thedford Jr. 15

Reginald ThedfordReginald Thedford Jr. joined Stand Up America, an organization focused on increasing voter participation in the United States, as their deputy political director in 2020. Prior to this he served as vice president of content with Politiscope, an innovative technology company formed to provide unbiased political information to its users, where he was responsible for shaping political content for dissemination. A 2018 law school graduate from the University of Wisconsin, Reginald was also the CEO and founder of Law & Advocacy for Racial Justice in Madison, served as a legal intern for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta and volunteered as a law clerk for Community Justice, Inc. A current New York City resident, he was very active as a student while at EIU, including serving as student body president.

Samantha Sauer 11, 13

Samantha SauerSamantha Sauer ‘11, ‘13 is the curator of the Paul Findley Congressional Office Museum, the archivist for the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives, and an assistant professor of history at Illinois College. She serves as the first professional in institutional history to direct both the Archives and Museum, and also teaches courses as part of the public history program. Her background includes serving as a museum educator for the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, AR, where she planned and implemented programs and connected the museum’s natural and cultural history collections to hands-on STEM exhibits. Since graduating Eastern, Sauer’s interdisciplinary work and research have been recognized for innovation and best practices by organizations including the Illinois Association of Museums, the Interfaith Youth Core, and the American Alliance of Museums. While at EIU, she studied history, film, and historical administration.

Distinguished Educator Award

Todd J. Vilardo ’91,96,00

Todd VilardoWith service in all three Coles County school communities as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent, Todd J. Vilardo is currently responsible for leading Charleston CUSD #1 as its superintendent of schools. Proud EIU Panther and Charleston resident since 1986, his wife and both children also attended EIU. Influenced by the positive experiences he enjoyed while an EIU student, Todd continues to give back to EIU’s extended school community through serving others. His contributions include board membership for Coles Together, Coles County ClassE, Coles County CASA, Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education, EIU College of Education and Professional Studies Advisory, Business Solutions Center at EIU Advisory, Lambda Chi Alpha Alumni Advisory, and the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a past membership chair for the Illinois Principals Association, has served in officer roles for Lambda Chi Alpha and the Charleston Masonic Lodge, and is currently the vice president for the Charleston Rotary Club.

Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service Award

Krupal Swami ’95

Krupal SwamiAn active supporter of EIU, Krupal Swami has served the university in a variety of ways since earning her degrees in business education and administrative information systems. Having held numerous leadership positions on the School of Business Advisory Board, she has been a member of the group since 2014 and instrumental in several initiatives of benefit to EIU students. In addition to supporting the university from a philanthropic perspective, she has also utilized her influence in the technology industry to facilitate connections supporting the university’s programs, students and faculty. The Bloomington resident formerly served as a director in State Farms’ systems department before recently founding her own company, Team SWAMI, to provide technology consulting services. She is also active in a number of other organizations, including serving on the Leadership Illinois and Carle Center for Philanthropy boards. 

Distinguished Alumnus Awards

Cheryl Fraker ’85, 86 

Cheryl FrakerCheri Fraker is an internationally-recognized speech pathologist who leads the pediatric feeding team at the Center for Selective Eating and Pediatric Feeding Disorders at Memorial Medical Center and also a member of the SIU School of Medicine-Koke Mill Medical Center Pediatric Swallowing Clinic in Springfield. Her innovative translations of research to evidence-based clinical practice have substantially altered professional practice in the field of speech language pathology and feeding and swallowing therapy. She has also provided therapy services for Jasper County schools, Sangamon Area Special Education District and St. John’s Children’s Hospital. A sought-after expert in her field, she developed the techniques of pre-chaining and food chaining therapy and she has presented her treatment approach at numerous medical conferences including the UCLA MCH Nutrition Leadership Conference; the World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition: and The American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine. Cheri is a cancer survivor and has recently expanded her approach to treat eating and swallowing disorders seen in adult cancer patients. Her contributions to the field have led to better assessment and treatment approaches addressing swallowing disorders, nutritional deficiencies and underlying health issues experienced by children and adults around the world.

Dale Morrissey ’76, 77 

Dale MorrisseyDale Morrissey dedicated his career to improving the lives of children and adults with developmental delays/disabilities, mental health issues and physical disabilities enabling them to live rich and meaningful lives. He retired from Developmental Services Center (DSC) in January 2021 after 41 years of service and was the chief executive officer for 33 years. DSC employs 200 staff and has a $13 million operating budget. Under his leadership the organization grew from serving 300 people annually to more than 1,100 and he was regularly recognized by employees, the community, families, and those he served as a tireless and humble leader. In 2003-2004, Dale developed and implemented a plan for the creation of a developmental disabilities board in Champaign County. The voters overwhelmingly approved the plan resulting in increased funding of $4.5 million annually and expanded services to more than 800 individuals/families. He also served on the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities board of directors for 25 years and was chair in 2018-2019.

Jeff Rice ’86 

Jeff RiceJeff Rice currently serves as chief financial officer for ABBM/Align Risk Solutions, a Nashville-based group utilizing their experience in law, insurance and accounting to assist clients with risk management needs. A certified public accountant with more than 30 years of experience in senior management positions, he has worked in a broad range of industries, including two startup tech companies, and was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force/Illinois Air National Guard where he served 39 years until his retirement in 2020. During his military career, he deployed several times assisting the citizens of Illinois and our nation during natural disasters including floods and hurricanes. Jeff also served overseas during three wartime deployments – Operations Northern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He spent most of his career with the 183d Wing in Springfield and has led at all levels of command including Joint Force Headquarters, Wing, Group and Squadron.  A member of Delta Chi fraternity, he began his accounting career with KPMG.

Tony Romo ex ’03 

Tony RomoOne of the most decorated student-athletes in school history and the first EIU football player to have his number retired, Tony Romo was a record-setting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys for 14 years before retiring from the sport following the 2016 season. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, his records for the Cowboys include passing yards, passing touchdowns, most games with 300 passing yards and games with three-plus touchdown passes. He also led his team to six playoff appearances while his 97.1 passer rating remains the fourth-highest all-time among retired quarterbacks. Tony has enjoyed significant success as a color commentator for CBS Sports, as well, including teaming with Jim Nantz to call Super Bowls in 2019 and 2021. Since beginning his career in the broadcast booth in 2017, he has received numerous accolades for his work, including multiple Emmy nominations and being named Media Person of the Year by Sports Illustrated.
 


 

Past Award Recipients

 

Distinguished
Alumni
Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service Award Outstanding Young Alumni Distinguished Educator

2020

Randy Bailey '78
Melissa Conyears-Ervin '97
Steve Ferguson '90
Judy Ethell '82
Cam Simpson '06

2020

Mike Finkle '72

2020

Kraig Koch '08
Lauren Adewole '13

2020

Eric Combs '05, '18

 

2019

James Bailey '84
Jeff Ludwig '93
Dave McKinney '86
Herbert Russell '64

 

 

2019

Elmer Pullen '70, '73

 

2019

Mike McKenna '10

 

2019

Monica Genta '09
Erin Reichert '00

2018

Mary Kay Armour '70
Robert Genetski '64
Mark Geninatti '75
Paul Hoffman '79
Bill Skeens '77

2018

Madeleine Doubek '85

2018

Rahul Wahi '08
Anthony Zipparro '08,'09

2018

Nate Anderson '73,'77
Angela McQueen '99, '08, '14

2017

Roscoe "Dan" Cougill '63
John Craft '69 '74
Major Charles B. Hall ex '42
Larry Morton '82
Alan Nielsen '87
Jennifer Wyss '94

2017

 

2017

Timothy Martin '06

2017

Kevin Settle '76

2016

Kathy Bollinger '77, '78
Steve Corbin '13
Joe Fatheree '89, '05
Nancie King Mertz '77
Lawrence Tucker '89, '91
Randy Wright '70

2016
Matt Davidson '82, '84

2016
Maurice Cheeks '07

2016
PJ Caposey '04
Harry Cavanaugh '69

2015
Dr. Robert Collier '69, '73
Habeeb Habeeb ’97, ‘99
Kent Johnson ‘81
Dr. Alvin M. Maurice ‘76
Ross McCullough ’87
Judge Robert L. Schatz '56

2015
Dr. Larry Ankenbrand '59

2015
Aaron Grobengieser '05, '06

2015
Dr. Kenneth Spells '01, '03

2014
Dr. Suzanne Barchers ‘67
Chuck Bell ’67, ‘69
Dr. Nancy Elwess ‘76
Dr. Michelle Hanlon ‘93
Dr. Mary Anne Hanner ’72, ‘74

2014
Jerry Zachary '61, '88

2014
Kristofer Howard '00

2014
Eric Bright ’12

2013
Barbara Baurer '75, '76
Harry Frost '60
Jonathan Gosse '74
Dennis Muchmore '68
Robert Sinkler '83

2013
R. Scott Smith '88, '93

2013
David Cesar '08

2013
Corey Duzan '03

2012
Jack Dadam '65
Christopher Desmond '94, '96
Jaime Martinez '86
William McNulty '96
Jill Nilsen '74, '75
Julie Nimmons '77
Kevin Seitzer '85

2012
Carl Mito '72

2012
Richard Keaton '99

2012
Tim McCollum '73, '77

2011
Larry Closson '74
Will Keiper '72
Gregg Kirkland '83
Keith Kohanzo '69, '71
Ron Woods '86

2011
Tim '71, '72 and Vickie Burke '72, '75

2011
Jake Byrne ‘07, ‘09

2011
Craig Lindvahl ‘79

2010
Michael Cunningham '70
Roseann Drew '70
Julie Lupien '81
Sean Payton '87
Bob Provost '70
Chuck Witters '68

2010
Carl Dolson '76

2010
Jennifer Ketchmark Brehm '06

2010
Roy Fenton '65, '66

2009
James Allen '79
Robert Corn-Revere '77
Ed Escalante '74
Lou Hencken '66, '67
Tim Manning '93

2009
Tom McDaniel '69

2009
Ryan Bailey '99
Ellen Eardley '99

2009
Cheryl Crates '70

2008
Roger Claar '67, '68
Kenneth Damann '66
Daryll D. Fletcher '75, '76
Ted Gregory '81
Barbara Hundley '65, '69
Robert C. Manion '66

2008
Jim Erdmann '59

2008
Anthony Pleasant '06

2008
John Marsaglia '76
Dorothy Bennett '74, '80

2007
Joni Comstock '79
Don Gher '73
Marty Hickman '80
Kevin Savoree '81
Jim Schnorf '76

2007
Betty Smithson '63

2007
Tony Romo ex '03

2007
Joe Fatheree '89, '05

2006
Gregg Altobella '88
Brigadier General Joseph Balskus '76, '77
John Currey '62
Gordon Grado, M.D. '74
Jerry Van Dyke ex '55
Paul Ward '71, '74

2006
Ivan “Ike” Kennard ex '44

2006
Captain Gary Kelly '01

2006
Linda Kirby '74, '82, '89

2005
Rita Bleser '77
Robert Glover '82
Mark Grier '74, '75
Barbara Hill '58, '63, '70
Craig Titley '89
Bill Weir '69
Therese Supple Kinkade '80

2005
Therese Supple Kinkade '80

2005
Luke Ryan '01

2005
Cathy Ruwe Anderson '74, '83

2004
Rudy Hlavek '64
Jimmy Liautaud ex '88
Carlos Ogden ex '40
Sue Payton '72
Matthew Polenzani '91
Gail Richard '77

2004
John Schmitt '76, '78

2004
Karla Porch '99

2004
Barbara McLaughlin '71

2003
Joseph Dively '81
Stephen Gosselin '79
Col. Joseph Kelly '38
William Robinson '76
Sen. Dale Righter '88

2003
Mike Lester '66

2003
Erin Weed '99

2003
William Thiel '50

2002
James Evans '68
Dr. H. Ray Hoops '62
Captain Howard Skidmore, USN (ret) ex '42
Larry Smith ex '91

2002
Judy Ethell '82

2002
Sarah Livesay '98

 

2001
Frank Blum '76 '77
Brent Manning '75 '76
Pat Sullivan '75

2001
Joe Strohm '86 '87

2001
Cheryl Warner '96 '00

 

2000
Bob Jachino '59
Dr. Lyle Jensen '70
Rep. Joe Knollenberg '55
Karen Meyer '76

2000
Dennis Spice '78

2000
Susan Gerling '95

 

1999
Dr. Sharon LeDuc '65
Dr. Gail Richardson '60 '63
Dr. Stephen Wilson '68 '74

1999
Greg Gardner '78 '80
Ken Hesler '51

1999
Amelia Heape '94

 

1998
Joan Allen ex '78
Vicki Freimuth '66
Allen Grosboll '73
Mike Shanahan '74 '75

 

1998
Michelle Koehler '93

 

1997
Jerry Gilomen, '66
Robert Knollenberg '61
Stephen K. Woodland '70, '81

1997
Louis V. Hencken '66, '67

1997
Michael R. Gagliardo

 

1996
Janet M. Treichel, '64, '71

1996
Dick Cain '64

1996
Thomas P. Wiesenmayer '92

 

1995
Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy '65,'67
Craig Peyton Gaumer '84,'85
Emma Chenault Kelly '25
Jeffrey G. Scott '68

 

1995
Gregory A. Curl, '92

 

1994
J. Allen Brent '43
Glen Owens Gabbard '72
Roger Roberson '64

1994
Nancy W. Owen '72

1994
Thomas M. Faulkner, '90, '91
Sherry L. McCoy, '90

 

1993
Stephen B. Schnorf '66,'73

1993
Jill Fulton Nilsen '74, '75

1993
Craig Titley, '89

 

1992
Jan Spivey Gilchrist '73
John Malkovich ex '75

1992
Eulalee Anderson '63,'84

1992
Robert Haycock, '87

 

1991
Juan F. Rojas '58
Randall Arney '78

1991
Roger Roberson '64

1991
Cathy Berns Rund, '86

 

1990
Michael W. Conlin '70
Robert A. Ingram '65
John G. Wargo, Jr. '50

1990
Gary Rogers '61,'65
Roger Dettro '53

 

 

1989
Margaret "Peggy" Allan '71
Robert A. Bain '54
John A. Dively '54
Marvin E. Edwards '67
Joan Embery-Pillsbury '86
Violet Podesta Meyer '39

1989
Mike Weaver '73,'74,'82

1989
Jennifer Schulze, '80

 

1988
Arthur L. Aikman '50
Theodore P. Cavins '26
James F. Giffin '46

1988
Margaret Campbell Hollowell '68
Eli Sidwell '58
J. W. Oglesby '58

1988
Rex Rund, '84

 

1987
Burl Ives, ex'31
Carolyn A. Fischer '55
Rex D. Cooley '59
James L. Hanks '47
Raymond L. Fischer '54
K. Wayne Ratts '54

 

 

 

1986
James L. Breen '48
Charles O. Austin '36
Donald L. Calvin '54
Norm Endsley '53
Margaret D. Podesta '58
William L. Podesta '76

 

 

 

1985
Gerald D. Fines '65
Joe P. Meyer '58
C. John Tolch '49

 

 

 

1984
Eugene Aikman '54
Alden Cutshall '32
Ronald W. Davis '64
John L. Heath '58
Elizabeth Podesta Hickman '43

 

 

 

1983
John W. Voigt '42
Robert L. Hill '44
Jack Payan '52
George Woodyard '54

 

 

 

1982
Jim Edgar '68
Roger F. Hibbs '43

 

 

 

1981
H Ogden Brainard '25
Hal Middlesworth '31
John H. Keiser '58

 

 

 

1980
Tressa Bennett '58
James R. Galloway '58
Donald L. Shawver '47
Philip W. Smith '44

 

 

 

1979
Helen F. Daringer '14
Dario A. Covi '43
Claibourne I. Dungy '62
Robert Millis '63

 

 

 

1978
Leallyn B. Clapp '35
C. Nelson Grote
James H. Roberts '46
Roy K. Wilson '36

 

 

 

1977
John S. Redden '26
Allyn A. Cook '48
Donald K. Neal '40
L. Lou Stanek '54

 

 

 

1976
Don Grantham '37
R. Gene Gresham '51
Author Hughes '51
Darrell Judge '56
James Phipps '42

 

 

 

1975
Gladys Campbell '14
D. F. Fleming '12
Stella Craft Tremble '22
E. Errett Warner '25
Stanley Elam '38

 

 

 

1974
Harry Fitzhugh '34
James Gindler '50
Dorothy Leggitt '23
Carlos Talbott '40
Ralph Wickiser '34

 

 

 

1973
Arthur Glen Hesler '25
Frederick Earl Newman '59
M. Alice Phillips '33
Newton E. Tarble '08
Aubert North '33

 

 

 

Related Pages

Contact Information

By Mail:

EIU Alumni Services
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
1-800-ALUM-EIU
217-581-6616
Fax: 217-581-7206

In Person/Physical Address:

Brainard House
1548 4th St. Charleston, IL


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