In Recognition and Appreciation
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 countless ways far into the future.
Meet the Recipients
Christopher and Nancy Desmond (Outstanding Foundation Members)
Stephen A. Gosselin (Outstanding Philanthropist)
Dr. Mary Anne Hanner (Honorary Lifetime Member)
Randy and Brenda Wright (Outstanding Philanthropists)
Since its inception in 1953, the Eastern Illinois University Foundation has been dependent upon the generosity of its members and volunteers to fulfill its mission of support to the university. And, since 1993, the foundation has formally presented the Outstanding Philanthropist Award. In 1997, this award renamed the Burnham and Nancy Neal Philanthropy Award in appreciation of the Neals' leadership, support and dedication to Eastern and the foundation.
The award is given to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated a sincere dedication and commitment to the financial, academic and cultural well-being of EIU. The critical support and sustaining financial commitments provided by these distinguished philanthropists are essential to the future of the university and the students it serves.
Steve, a native of Aurora, Illinois, graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He also completed the Northwestern University Kellogg Advanced Executive Program. He retired in February 2015 as the Vice President of the Customer Services Support Division at Caterpillar, Inc., after 36 years of service. During his long career, he held numerous positions in product support, machine, and engine businesses. In 1994, he was named area manager, based in London, responsible for the machinery business in the Northwest quadrant of Europe. In 2002, he was named a vice president with responsibility for NACD and accountability for the company's North American dealer development and machine marketing. From 2006 to 2010, he served as President of Solar Turbines Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. In June 2010, he assumed his most recent position within Caterpillar’s Customer and Dealer Support Division.
Over the years, Steve has served his alma mater, his profession and his community in a variety of ways. He has served as a board member for The United States Energy Association, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the United Way of San Diego County, and the San Diego Center for Children. He and his wife Bonnie served as 2012 Campaign Chairs for the Heart of Illinois United Way and were named 2014 Philanthropists of the Year by the HOIUW. They both served on the HOIUW Board of Directors until their post-retirement move back to the San Diego area. He is currently vice chair for A Step Beyond, a start-up non-profit in San Diego providing development support to poverty level children.
Specific to EIU, he completed two terms as a board member of Eastern Illinois University’s Alumni Association, was the EIU School of Business 2010 Executive-in-Residence, and currently serves as the Chair of the Advisory Board for the School of Business. He has also provided financial support to programs and scholarships in the School of Business, the Alumni Quad and the Louis V. Hencken Housing Scholarship.
He was named an EIU Distinguished Alumni in 2003, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service by EIU in 2011. The EIU chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Business Honor Society, also recognized him as its 2011 Chapter Honoree.
Steve has achieved a record of distinction in business at the national and international levels and continues to demonstrate a commitment to EIU by giving back his time, talent, and financial support. Steve is a true reflection of honor and integrity in both his personal and professional life.
Brenda and Randy Wright’s lives have revolved around helping others and EIU has been a significant part of that commitment. Both graduated from EIU in 1970, Brenda with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Randy with a Bachelor of Science in Physics.
Following graduation, Brenda taught third grade in Mount Olive, Illinois and then fifth grade in Riverton, Illinois. She was active in the start of a community food bank named Braes Interfaith Ministries, was a docent for Houston Heritage Society and on the Board of Westbury Little League. These days she splits her volunteer time between St Paul’s United Methodist Church, the Emergency Aid Coalition (an interfaith program to provide emergency food and clothing to low income families) and SEARCH (an interfaith program to support the homeless).
After graduation, Randy completed a Masters of Business Administration degree at SIU Edwardsville and then began working at the new SIU Medical School in Springfield Illinois. In 1979, Brenda, Randy and Matthew moved to Houston Texas where Randy joined the executive team at The Methodist Hospital. In 2000, Randy moved to Texas Children’s Hospital, the largest children’s hospital in the nation. He served in many 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 Office and he retired from TCH in 2016.
Brenda and Randy have strong ties to EIU and particularly to the Physics Department. In 1985 Randy and Brenda became charter members of the EIU President’s Club for their generous support of EIU. They went on to create an endowed scholarship honoring Dr. Glenn Q. Lefler, the Department Chairman from 1950-1970 and later an endowed scholarship honoring Dr. Bill Butler who was Department Chairman from 1970-1987. 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 2013 and 2014 Randy and Brenda went on to develop a new scholarship in honor of Dr. P. Scott Smith. That scholarship will promote undergraduate research at EIU by honoring the research activity of an undergraduate student. Randall and Brenda are a true testament of EIU and have served with a dedication and commitment that will leave a lasting impact for future students to come!
A lifetime membership in the Foundation is bestowed upon individuals who have brought significant recognition and attention to the University, have provided substantial lifetime contributions, or who have attained national or international prominence and prestige in their careers and lifetime endeavors.
Mary Anne, an EIU alumna, spent most of her career as an EIU faculty member. She served as department chair in the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences and as the Dean of the College of Sciences until her retirement in 2011. Among her many accomplishments during her time at EIU was the creation of Women in Sciences and Math (WiSM). The mission of WiSM was to bring together successful women in math and science to mentor current EIU women studying math and science. She has provided countless hours of advocacy on behalf of EIU. She and her husband, Dale, a 1974 EIU graduate, are committed to “giving back” to EIU and have supported many different projects over the years. Dale and Mary Anne endowed the Hanner Teaching Excellence Award, which is given annually to an outstanding faculty member in the College of Scienc
Mary Anne was named an EIU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna in 2014. She is engaged in the community and has served on several area boards including the Oakland Hindsboro Community Foundation and Catholic Charities of Coles, Douglas, and Edgar Counties. She served as president of the Oakland Community Unit #5 School Board and CASA of East Central Illinois. She is currently president of the EIU Annuitant Association. Mary Anne is the managing partner of the consulting company, Academy Solutions. Her dedication to EIU continues with the work she does as a member of the College of Education and Professional Studies Philanthropy Board and as a new member of the EIU Alumni Association. Mary Anne has been and continues to be an excellent role model for numerous female faculty members and administrators. Her optimistic attitude inspires everyone to become a consummate professional and support worthy causes with their time, talents, and financial support.
This award is bestowed upon individuals who demonstrate the ideals of membership in the Foundation through their volunteer service to the Foundation and to the University's academic and athletic programs, providing the leadership, expertise, and knowledge essential for the work of its advisory and governing boards, administrative councils and committees, and its executives-in-residence programs.
Christopher graduated from EIU with a BSB in Management, minors in Theater and Law and then went on to earn his MS in International Business from EIU. Nancy graduated from EIU in 1992 with a degree in English. Christopher is a Managing Director at Duff & Phelps for their Transfer Pricing team. Christopher was named a “World’s Leading Transfer Pricing Advisor” as one of the world’s leading transfer pricing professionals by Legal Media Group. Christopher was previously with Ceteris, where he helped build the company into a world-class organization by serving as Managing Director and Chief Sales Officer. Prior to joining Ceteris, Christopher was a transfer pricing economist with both PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Ernst & Young LLP.
Nancy has led a successful marketing career. She has worked for leading firms within the technology industry which include Forsyth Technology and ktMINE. Through their love of capturing memories of their young family with digital photography, they created a photo app for archiving and storing their many digital memories and have made it available to others through their company, MemoryWeb, LLC. Nancy serves as Chief Memory Officer for the new business. Christopher has remained a vital part of Eastern, having served as President of the EIU Delta Chi Alumni Association. Christopher has been named a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient by the EIU Alumni Association. Together Christopher and Nancy established an endowment called “All the World’s a Stage” as well as one called the “Lori James Memorial Scholarship.” They have made a generous pledge to name the Globe Studio at the Doudna Fine Arts Center.