- Can you provide us with some information about your background? Your education and career?
I am Illinois born and raised and have two degrees from the University of Illinois: a Bachelor of Science from the Gies College of Business and MBA as well. I have had a variety of job experiences over my career, but if I had to distill it, I would say that I have spent the majority of my career leading large, global, multi-location, branded, franchise businesses, from Pizza Hut to McDonald’s to Midas. I have been married for 33 years and have three daughters, one of whom graduated from the University of Illinois, too.
- Tell us how you have kept connected to the University of Illinois since your time as a student?
Early on, my continued connection consisted mostly of athletic events. Then, before the Brilliant Futures Campaign, I was asked by the College of Business to join the Dean’s Council for the effort. That was really my introduction into connecting through philanthropy, and now, most of my continued connection to the University of Illinois is through my work with the Foundation.
- As Chair of the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors, what do you hope to accomplish over the next two years in the role? Are there any issues that currently give you pause?
First, I want us to get the three campaigns off to a great start. I want to see the campaigns ahead in terms of fund raising goals, objectives, and timelines both in receiving new gifts and in the growth of the endowment. Second, I want to help to raise the visibility and stature of the University of Illinois and the Foundation. We need to take the lampshade off the lamp and let our light shine! Finally, I would like to shape the University of Illinois Foundation Board into a highly desirable and preeminent opportunity for volunteer service to the University.
If there is anything that gives me pause in this leadership role, it is the condition of state support of higher education. That being said, I firmly believe that we can take more matters into our own hands and impact the success of the University of Illinois by exceeding the philanthropic goals we have set for ourselves.
- What advice can you share about how to make a lasting impact at the University of Illinois?
I don’t think you should worry about the lasting impact on the University. Rather –start by making an impact on yourself by giving back or getting engaged. Find a way to serve, I think you will find it makes you feel better about yourself. That will be rewarding, and once you see how rewarding it is, you will want to continue. You will feel better about who you are, and the lasting impact will grow from that.
- What is your favorite University of Illinois memory?
Well, maybe not favorite, but the most vivid in my mind is my first day on campus, meeting my roommate, going to the dining hall. Then, to bookend that memory, graduation is also clear in my mind, sitting in the Assembly Hall with some of my best friends and family.
More recently, memories of the football team beating Ohio State and the men’s basketball team’s comeback against Arizona are some of my favorites. (Ok, these are not so recent anymore.)
Finally, one memory in particular sticks out for me and that is the day I went to work for a faculty member as a junior. It truly changed my life, and set me on the path that led to the place I am today.
/// Return to the winter 2017 newsletter