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EIU Alumni Services

Alumni Awards

Nominations Sought For 2020 Alumni Awards

Nominations are currently being accepted for EIU's 2020 Alumni Awards. Information on each of the alumni award categories is available below. To nominate someone for a 2020 alumni award, please complete and submit the nomination form along with any required supplementary materials by April 30, 2020.

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.

2019 Award Recipients

Congratulations to EIU's 2019 Alumni Award recipients!
Those recognized included:

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Mike McKenna '10

McKennaMike McKenna is the founder and president of Diamond Assets, an Apple hardware trade-up company based in Milton, Wis. The company, named after its chief operating officer and his wife, Diamond, was rated by Inc. magazine as the seventh-fastest growing privately-owned business in the country in 2018. With $43 million in revenue in 2017, the company’s three-year growth rate was an incredible 19,718 percent. The idea for the company was born from McKenna’s job as a salesman for Apple after graduating from the university. He saw a need and found a way for school districts to be able to replace aging technology with affordable upgrades. It now has more than 120 employees during its peak season and has gone from a 3,000 square-foot facility to a 50,000 square-foot space it opened in April 2018. It serves all 50 states and has plans to expand its service offerings and capabilities moving forward. McKenna, who served as president of Sigma Pi fraternity while an undergraduate, has also made a point of staying active with EIU, including serving as the featured speaker for the School of Business’ Entrepreneurship Week

Distinguished Educator Awards

Monica Genta ’09

GentaMonica Genta’s philosophy on education during her 10 years as a teacher is focused not on what kids are taught, but how they are reached. Genta, a Windsor Junior High and High School science teacher, is a national education consultant, motivational speaker and the author of three books, the latest being The Rooted Classroom. Her excellence in teaching has resulted in her being recognized by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as a National Board Certified Teacher and she has also served as a professional development provider for the Golden Apple Summer Institute on EIU’s campus. Not only a motivator and advocate for students in her classroom, she’s also a recognized leader in her field, as her Ted Talk has been viewed by educators from all over the world. Her speaking topics include strategies to engage students; building relationships with students and staff; and creating engaging science labs and lessons. Genta’s goal is to transform teachers, leaders and schools from seeing education as an ordinary job into an extraordinary adventure.

Erin Reichert ’00


A social studies teacher at Bluffton High School in South Carolina, Erin Reichert was one of only 44 teachers in the United States honored with a prestigious 2017-2018 Milken Educator Award. For the past 30 years, the awards have been presented to teachers and other education professionals for outstanding accomplishments as well as their future promise. The only teacher in her state to receive the award last year, she was recognized for her commitment to students through a teaching style which exposes them to opportunities they might not otherwise experience. She encourages her senior students to take part in a community service project while also involving all of her classes in activities to help them better understand elections, government and the responsibilities of good citizenship. While teaching history, government and geography courses among others in her career, Reichert has also been recognized as both a school-level and district teacher of the year. She resides in Bluffton with her husband and three children.

Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service Award

Elmer Pullen ’70, '73 

PullenElmer Pullen, who served as a financial aid counselor at his alma mater for more than 30 years, is being recognized for his outstanding voluntary service to the university and its students during his tenure as an employee and in retirement. As a mentor to an untold number of students, faculty, staff and alumni over the years, he contributed immensely to making EIU the welcoming, diverse community it is today. Pullen has served as a volunteer on numerous non-profit and university committees, typically in support of students and youth groups. He was also especially active with Panther Athletics, where he assisted with recruiting and was a long-time official for indoor and outdoor track and field competitions. His efforts and always-positive attitude have been recognized many times over the years, including being selected as EIU’s “Boss of the Year” while on staff and named Big Brother of the Year for his commitment and service to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. In retirement, he is also an active volunteer in his hometown of Brookport, where he resides with his wife, Fran.

Distinguished Alumnus Awards

James Bailey ’84 

James Bailey

Dr. James Bailey is long-time educator and expert in leadership development, spending the past 15 years as a professor in the School of Business at George Washington University. Named one of the world’s top 10 executive educators by the International Council for Executive Leadership Development, he has published more than 50 academic papers and case studies and is the author of five books, including the award-winning Organizational and Managerial Wisdom and founded and edits online magazine Lessons on Leadership, which has 40,000 subscribers. He has designed and delivered hundreds of executive programs for companies including Nestle, UBS, Conoco-Phillips and Goldman Sachs, as well as several major law firms and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Annual Conference, where he reported directly to the Speaker of the House. Bailey is a frequent keynote speaker who has appeared on broadcast programs for the BBC, NPR CBS and Fox News, and whose work has been cited in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Forbes. He is also a frequent contributor to The Hill, The Washington Post, Washington Business Journal and Harvard Business Review. During his successful career, Bailey has also taught at the University of Michigan, New York University and the Helsinki School of Economics.

Jeff Ludwig ’93 


The president and chief executive officer of Midland States Bancorp, over the past 10 years Jeff Ludwig has helped grow the financial institution from $400 million to almost $6 billion in assets. He joined the bank in 2006 as chief financial officer and later served as CFO and president of both it and its holding company, including representing them on Wall Street when they became a publicly traded company. In overseeing their growth, he has been an advocate for hiring employees from the region – including many EIU graduates – while also playing an instrumental role in ensuring all staff have opportunities for professional advancement. Ludwig was recruited to KPMG in St. Louis following his graduation from the university before advancing to a senior manager-audit and advisory services position in their Mountain View, Calif., office.  He later served as director of corporate accounting with Novellus Systems, a NASDAQ 100 company, and associate director of corporate reporting with Zimmer Holdings, a national leader in orthopedic implant manufacturing. A member of Lambda Chi Alpha as an undergraduate, he resides in Effingham with his wife, Jami ’96, and their family

Dave McKinney ’86 

McKinney_DaveDave McKinney has had a long and successful career as a journalist in print and on the radio, taking great pride and responsibility in adhering to The Daily Eastern News’ motto of “Tell the truth and don’t be afraid.” Currently at Chicago’s WBEZ and considered one of Illinois’ top reporters on state politics, he previously spent 19 years with the Chicago Sun-Times as the Springfield bureau chief with additional stops at Reuters and the Daily Herald. During his tenure, McKinney has covered stories on scandals of two former Illinois governors and most recently helped uncover a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy. For his work, he has received multiple professional recognitions including being named one of the nation’s best statehouse reportersby The Washington Post in 2014; receiving the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Best-in-Business award; and being selected EIU’s 2016 Journalism Alumnus of the Year. A long-time supporter of the university and his department, McKinney often returns to campus to assist with journalism workshops or speak to classes.

Herbert Russell ’64  


With a distinguished and active career as a literary scholar, Dr. Herbert Russell has long been considered the leading expert on one of Illinois’ most important poets, Spoon River Anthology author Edgar Lee Masters. As part of the research making his work so unique, he was granted access to all of Masters’ previously unavailable diaries, letters and unpublished chapters of his 1936 autobiography. The Association of Writers and Writing Programs – the biggest convention of writers in the United States – along with the Poetry Foundation and National Public Radio, have featured Russell’s work on Masters. He has also provided editorial expertise for two editions of classics written by early Illinois writers W. S. Blackman and Mary Tracy Earle. Additionally, he edited a series of works on Southern Illinois regional history which have played an important role in preserving the state’s cultural heritage for future generations. Beyond his work as a noted author and historian, he has served as a university faculty member, the director of college relations for John A. Logan College and a writer and editor for Illinois’ Coal Research Center.


Past Award Recipients


Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service AwardOutstanding Young AlumniDistinguished Educator


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


Madeleine Doubek '85


Rahul Wahi '08
Anthony Zipparro '08,'09


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


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




Timothy Martin '06


Kevin Settle '76


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

Matt Davidson '82, '84

Maurice Cheeks '07

PJ Caposey '04
Harry Cavanaugh '69

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

Dr. Larry Ankenbrand '59

Aaron Grobengieser '05, '06

Dr. Kenneth Spells '01, '03

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

Jerry Zachary '61, '88

Kristofer Howard '00

Eric Bright ’12

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

R. Scott Smith '88, '93

David Cesar '08

Corey Duzan '03

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

Carl Mito '72

Richard Keaton '99

Tim McCollum '73, '77

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

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

Jake Byrne ‘07, ‘09

Craig Lindvahl ‘79

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

Carl Dolson '76

Jennifer Ketchmark Brehm '06

Roy Fenton '65, '66

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

Tom McDaniel '69

Ryan Bailey '99
Ellen Eardley '99

Cheryl Crates '70

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

Jim Erdmann '59

Anthony Pleasant '06

John Marsaglia '76
Dorothy Bennett '74, '80

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

Betty Smithson '63

Tony Romo ex '03

Joe Fatheree '89, '05

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

Ivan “Ike” Kennard ex '44

Captain Gary Kelly '01

Linda Kirby '74, '82, '89

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

Therese Supple Kinkade '80

Luke Ryan '01

Cathy Ruwe Anderson '74, '83

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

John Schmitt '76, '78

Karla Porch '99

Barbara McLaughlin '71

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

Mike Lester '66

Erin Weed '99

William Thiel '50

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

Judy Ethell '82

Sarah Livesay '98


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

Joe Strohm '86 '87

Cheryl Warner '96 '00


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

Dennis Spice '78

Susan Gerling '95


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

Greg Gardner '78 '80
Ken Hesler '51

Amelia Heape '94


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


Michelle Koehler '93


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

Louis V. Hencken '66, '67

Michael R. Gagliardo


Janet M. Treichel, '64, '71

Dick Cain '64

Thomas P. Wiesenmayer '92


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


Gregory A. Curl, '92


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

Nancy W. Owen '72

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


Stephen B. Schnorf '66,'73

Jill Fulton Nilsen '74, '75

Craig Titley, '89


Jan Spivey Gilchrist '73
John Malkovich ex '75

Eulalee Anderson '63,'84

Robert Haycock, '87


Juan F. Rojas '58
Randall Arney '78

Roger Roberson '64

Cathy Berns Rund, '86


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

Gary Rogers '61,'65
Roger Dettro '53



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

Mike Weaver '73,'74,'82

Jennifer Schulze, '80


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

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

Rex Rund, '84


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




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




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




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




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




Jim Edgar '68
Roger F. Hibbs '43




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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




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Contact Information

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

In Person/Physical Address:

Brainard House
1548 4th St. Charleston, IL

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