University of Illinois Alumna Leaves $12 Million for two colleges on Urbana-Champaign campus

Mar 23, 2009 08:00 AM

Education always mattered to Arlys Streitmatter Conrad.

The daughter of an Illinois farmer and teacher, Arlys Streitmatter Conrad graduated from the University of Illinois in 1944, had a successful career in the corporate world, and, after a longtime and fulfilling relationship with her Alma Mater, has honored the University with a $12 million endowed gift to be shared equally by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS). Her estate gift—Mrs. Conrad died on Sept. 6, 2007—allows the two colleges to address their most pressing priorities.

“One of the most significant pressures we face in LAS is retaining our top talent, particularly the scholars reaching the most highly productive and promising period of their careers,” said College of LAS Dean Ruth Watkins. “The generous gift to LAS from Arlys Conrad will be used, in part, to create a fund to recognize, reward and advance these most promising mid-career faculty, with a particular focus on scholars in humanities fields.

“The Conrad Professorial Scholars program will be launched this spring and will provide both visibility and recognition to high-achieving faculty in humanities fields, and will foster continued trajectories of excellence and productivity in these scholars’ careers through funding to support scholarship. Through this program, we will commemorate Arlys’ love of the humanities, as well as celebrate the accomplishments of faculty members whose influence on undergraduate students will also honor Arlys’ memory,” said Watkins.

Robert A. Easter, dean of the College of ACES, said, “Arlys’ commitment to higher education and production agriculture was and will continue to be strong ? into perpetuity. The College of ACES is privileged to administer undergraduate scholarships in the name of her father, Louis Streitmatter, and herself.”

The gift, Easter continued, provides flexibility that is invaluable to the College. “As ACES balances the vision to be locally relevant, yet globally prominent, Arlys’ gift assists in achieving this vision.”

Mrs. Conrad previously created and generously funded the Louis H. Streitmatter and Arlys Streitmatter Conrad Scholarship for upperclassmen undergraduates in the College of ACES who plan to pursue a career in farming. At the same time, the fund established the E. Veda Streitmatter and Arlys Streitmatter Conrad Scholarship in English for students pursuing degrees in the teaching of English and who plan to become high school English teachers. Those scholarships, established through a $1 million endowed gift in honor of Mrs. Conrad’s parents, have supported many students and will continue to do so well into the future.

Mrs. Conrad’s $12 million estate gift, which will be included in the University’s $2.25 billion Brilliant Futures fund-raising campaign, brought her total giving to the University of Illinois to more than $13.1 million and fits her lifelong commitment to the study and teaching of English as well as agriculture.

Arlys Streitmatter Conrad’s relationship with the University of Illinois, which she always aspired to attend, began as a child. Mrs. Conrad’s parents, especially her mother, a 38-year career teacher, strongly encouraged her pursuit of higher education. She received a four-year scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in education.

During her career, Mrs. Conrad worked for the U of I Airport, the U of I Alumni Association and Booz, Allen & Hamilton prior to joining S&C Electric Company in Chicago in 1955. There she met her husband, John Conrad, and held a number of corporate positions. She worked at S&C for 38 years, 23 of them as the corporate secretary. Mrs. Conrad also managed her family’s centennial farm, which dates to 1852, at Speer, near Peoria, Ill.

“She was proud of her Alma Mater, and greatly enjoyed meeting students who benefited from the scholarships she established,” said Lynette Marshall, president and CEO of the University of Iowa Foundation, former fundraiser for the University of Illinois and a longtime friend of Arlys Conrad.

“Arlys,” said Marshall, “believed deeply in the value of education.” Her strong belief of education, especially at her Alma Mater, coupled with her heartfelt generosity will benefit many students for generations to come.

Mrs. Conrad’s gift will build upon the success of Brilliant Futures, the ongoing fundraising effort in support of the University of Illinois’ campuses at Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. As of January 31, outright gifts, grants, pledges and deferred gifts totaled $1.572 billion, 70 percent of the $2.25 billion campaign goal. The fundraising campaign, which supports students, faculty, academic programs and other activities, began on July 1, 2003, and is expected to conclude on Dec. 31, 2011.

Donald Kojich
Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications
University of Illinois Foundation