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Can you provide us with some information about your background? Your education and career?
I was born in Chicago and grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois. I began college at Illinois State University where I was on the varsity debate team. We were very active on the national debate circuit. As a junior, I transferred to the University of Illinois in Champaign. At Illinois I also continued participating in debate. Following graduation, I had an assistantship at the University of Illinois Chicago which was then at Navy Pier, the Circle Campus, and worked on my Master’s degree at Northwestern. After receiving my M.A., I taught public speaking and argumentation at UICC, eventually going back to Northwestern for my doctorate. After finishing my doctorate, I taught at Baylor University for a year and came back to UICC in 1976 as Executive Assistant to the Chancellor. In 1990, I went to the University System of Maryland as an assistant to the chancellor and later as Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance. I retired in Illinois, moving to the Champaign-Urbana area.
Can you tell us more about how you have kept connected to the University of Illinois since your time as a student and faculty member?
When I was in the Chancellor’s office at UICC, I often attended Board of Trustees meetings and committee meetings, and systemwide committee meetings, so I knew a few people who worked on the UIUC campus and in the System office. In Maryland, I didn’t have much connection to the University of Illinois other than those professional friendships that I maintained. In my job at Maryland, I monitored U of I’s statistics for peer analysis purposes. So, I was informed through my data analysis. I had a few visits from people at the Foundation, and eventually I would return for the Foundation Meeting and Weekend where I made friends. My heart has always been in Chicago, so I always planned to retire there, but at one of the Foundation Weekend dinners someone suggested that Champaign-Urbana would make a great retirement home. After a particularly rough winter in Maryland, and a February with 32 inches in one snowfall, I decided the time had come to move back to Illinois. I chose Champaign-Urbana, built a house here and I have been here since 2011.
Being retired and so close to a University of Illinois campus I have been able to reap the benefits of being near a great university with so many opportunities. I volunteer at the John Philip Sousa Archive, one of gems of the UIUC campus. The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is a gem, too. The School of Music has a good jazz program, and a good student symphony orchestra. There are many opportunities for enrichment and enjoyment in Champaign-Urbana.
Giving to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is clearly important to you. Can you explain what compelled you to give and keep giving? What you hope your philanthropy accomplishes for the University?
When my father passed away in 1992, my mother and I began discussing our wills. We had given money to a variety of national charities throughout our lives, but a bequest gift to one of those felt impersonal. We considered the University of Illinois. Both my brother and I had connections to the University and I firmly believe in public higher education. Initially, my bequest was designated entirely for the University of Illinois Library. As I’ve become more involved with the University I have given to a number of philanthropic projects, including scholarships. Most recently I have gifted two Steinway pianos to the School of Music, one for the Smith Hall Memorial Room and one for Smith’s main Recital Hall.
What advice can you share about how to make a lasting impact at the University of Illinois?
There are so many ways to do that. Think about what’s important to you. How have you benefited from a University of Illinois connection – education or research or enjoyment? How has the University enriched your life? What is it doing to benefit us, our community, our state and our world? Think about what it has done in medicine, in research, in agriculture, in art and music. Think about giving back to a place that has benefited you and your family. Then give back to a university that has contributed so much to our world. I guess if I have a motto, it would be “Pass it on.”
What is your favorite University of Illinois memory?
That’s easy: when my debate partner and I qualified for the National Debate Tournament at West Point. We earned a place at the National Tournament through a year of hard work at nationally competitive debate tournaments. We were among only 36 teams to qualify for the National Tournament. Five teams from our region qualified through our district’s qualifying tournament. We were one of those teams and my brother’s team from the U of I at Navy Pier also qualified. That made it a special occasion. And I achieved a personal goal that I had worked for since my freshman year.