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 honored philanthropists in recognition of their gifts and dedication to EIU. This year was no exception.
Harold Marker, Wesley Whiteside and Patrick and Genie Lenihan, all of Charleston, have been named the EIU Foundation's Outstanding Philanthropists of the Year.
Harold Marker, who attended Eastern from first grade through college, earning a degree in physics in 1937, became one of the nine founding members of the EIU Foundation in 1953. He has maintained a continuous membership since that time and, therefore, is the longest serving member in the foundation's history.
Marker also served as board president from 1959 to 1961, and is an honorary lifetime member in the foundation. He recently established the Dorothy and Harold Marker Fund to enhance educational opportunities for EIU students.
Wesley Whiteside retired from Eastern after more than 27 years as a professor of botany. He is known for his botanical gardens that are showcased in the Garden Ramble each Memorial Day weekend.
Through a planned gift, Whiteside created a living trust which will someday transfer his farmland, house and more than five acres of arboretum and botanical gardens to the foundation. He has also established the Wesley Whiteside Botanical Gardens Fund, which he has funded via an endowment that will provide sufficient funds to allow the university to nurture and maintain the gardens.
Patrick and Genie Lenihan retired from Eastern after a total of 54 years of combined service. Patrick Lenihan served as a professor of economics, while Genie Lenihan supervised the psychology department's master's program. The couple's gifts represent a first in graduate education at Eastern -- the creation of the very first two graduate fellowships. The Genie Lenihan Graduate Fellowship in Clinical Psychology and the Patrick Lenihan Graduate Fellowship in Economics were funded with endowments and will be given to master's degree-seeking candidates with a preference to students who plan to pursue careers in those selected fields.
In addition to its more traditional awards, the EIU Foundation also honored a fifth individual -- Charleston resident Ivan "Ike" Kennard -- by naming him to the Honorary Lifetime Member Class. Past inductees into this prestigious class, which recognizes exceptional and significant support for the university, include Harold Marker, Lou Hencken and Jan Tarble.
The Little Campus restaurant, affectionately known as Ike's, was a popular destination for generations of students. But owner Ike Kennard's impact on the university and its students extended far beyond the walls of his restaurant. In friendship and support, Kennard went out of his way to assist EIU students, serving lunches to those who couldn't pay, lending an ear to those who wanted to talk and giving jobs to those who needed work.
For decades, Kennard remained not only a friend, but a standard institution in Charleston and at Eastern, becoming the best source of information on the "who" and "where" of other alumni who, to this day, consistently ask about "Ike." Kennard continues to be a steadfast supporter of EIU, the Panther Club and student athletes.