16 Gifts Totaling More than $18 Million to Benefit Urbana-Champaign Campus of University of Illinois

Sep 23, 2011 10:31 AM

Sixteen private gifts totaling more than $18 million earmarked for University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign programs were announced today (Friday, Sept. 23, 2011) at the U of I Foundation’s 76th Annual Meeting.

The gift announcements were part of the three-day meeting conducted by the Foundation, an independent, nonprofit corporation that secures and administers private gifts for the University of Illinois. More than 500 alumni and friends of the University are attending the event held on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

The gifts from alumni and friends, which will be included in the University’s ongoing Brilliant Futures fundraising campaign that has eclipsed its $2.25 billion goal, were highlighted at the U of I Foundation’s Business Meeting Friday morning. Featured gifts include:

  • outright and deferred gifts totaling seven figures from Alan and Joy Baltz of Port Orange, Fla., will support the College of Business, the School of Music, and the Illinois Promise scholarship program. Alan Baltz, a Chatsworth, Ill., native, earned a bachelor’s degree in accountancy at the U of I in 1957. He had a long and successful career in the insurance and financial services industries. Joy Baltz spent her early years in Elmhurst, Ill., and attended Cornell College in Iowa and Illinois Wesleyan University.
  • a major gift from the estate of Ruby Kanfer of Champaign will create a professorship and clinical psychology fellowship in the Department of Psychology. The gift honors the memory of the late Professor Frederick H. Kanfer, an internationally influential clinical psychologist who served on the U of I faculty for many years. The late Ruby Kanfer was an active partner in her husband’s career. Representing the Kanfer family were the children of Fred and Ruby Kanfer u2015 Ruth Kanfer, a psychology professor at Georgia Institute of Technology who did post-doctoral work at Illinois, and her husband Phillip Ackerman, a U of I alumnus and psychology professor at Georgia Tech; and, Larry Kanfer, a U of I graduate and photographic artist, and his wife Alaina, who did post-doctoral work at Illinois and is actively involved in Kanfer Photography.
  • a $1 million gift from Peixin He (Pay-shin Hee) and Xiaoming (Shaw-ming) Chen of Austin, Texas, will provide unrestricted support to the Department of Chemistry. Their gift honors Larry Faulkner, a former U of I chemistry faculty member and administrator who later served as president of the University of Texas. Natives of Shanghai, China, they received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Fudan University in China and He earned his Ph.D. at the U of I in 1985. They conducted research and taught at the university level in China and the U.S. before founding CH Instruments in 1994.
  • nearly $1 million from Roscoe Jackson II of Eureka, Kan., will support research and other educational activities, including awards for graduate students, in the Department of Geology. A 1970 University of Kansas graduate, he earned a Ph.D. in geology at Illinois and was on the geology faculty at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan before returning to Kansas to work in the family oil-production business, Jackson Brothers, L.L.C.
  • a gift of $1 million from Ron Marcuson (Mark-uh-son) of Chicago, Ill., will fund scholarships for fifth-year accounting students in the College of Business who plan a career in taxation. A graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Marcuson earned master’s degrees in mathematics and accountancy at the U of I. After retiring as a partner at Ernst & Young, he continued teaching for DePaul University’s master’s degree taxation program and now directs it.
  • a bequest of between $1 million and $1.5 million from Horace and Kate King Wu of Omaha, Neb., will create funding for counseling, emergency loans and scholarships for international students on the Urbana-Champaign campus. Horace Wu earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and an M.B.A. from the U of I and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University. He is an attorney, specializing in immigration law, international business development and new business start-ups. Kate Wu holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in banking and finance from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Illinois State University. An accounting instructor, she has served on the Nebraska at Omaha faculty since 1994 and serves on the Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy.
  • a seven-figure gift of farmland from Barbara Jean Benway of Springfield, Mo., will provide equal support to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, the College of Education, and the University Library. The gift honors the memory of her husband, Russel Benway, who earned a master’s degree in educational administration at Illinois. During his career, Mr. Benway worked for GMAC, taught in Illinois schools at Pontiac, Elmhurst and Bensenville, and was a sales representative for an educational book company. Like her husband, Barbara Benway is an Illinois State University graduate. She was an art coordinator at Elmhurst schools for 37 years and taught art at Elmhurst College for 12 years.
  • ongoing support from Science Olympiad, a Chicago-based science education not-for-profit organization that operates the nation’s largest K-12 team science competition, will help fund the goals and activities of the long-term partnership between Science Olympiad and the U of I. During a three-year merger transition period, the U of I , through its Illinois Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (I-STEM) Education Initiative, will work closely with Science Olympiad to increase staffing and programs while transferring Science Olympiad’s national operations to the Urbana-Champaign campus. Almost 200,000 students in 6,200 middle school and high school science teams in all 50 states compete in 320 Science Olympiad tournaments annually. The U of I has hosted the Illinois state Science Olympiad tournament for 20 years and held the national tournament in 2005 and 2010. In 2014, the U of I will host the 30th anniversary of the Science Olympiad National Tournament. The Science Olympiad was represented today by co-founders and executive board members Gerard Putz (Puts), Sharon Putz, and Jack Cairns (Care-nz).
  • more than $500,000 from Frederic Nearing of Barrington, Ill., will provide funding for the new Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering building. A 1943 electrical engineering graduate of the U of I, Nearing had a long and successful career in electrical engineering. He worked for Western Electric’s Field Engineer Force during World War II, Bell Laboratories, Allen B. Dumont Labs, Graybar Electric Company, Crossley Associates, Hewlett-Packard, and his own company, Electronic Instrument Associates. A longtime and generous donor, he and his late wife, Elizabeth, created the Frederic G. and Elizabeth H. Nearing Endowed Professorship of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • a gift of $1 million from Roger and Stephany Joslin of Bloomington, Ill., will create the Roger and Stephany Joslin Professorship in Law. The Joslins are graduates of Miami University of Ohio, and Roger Joslin earned his law degree at Illinois in 1961. He had a successful law career with State Farm Insurance, rising to vice chairman of the board and Chief Financial Officer. The Joslins are active in many organizations in the Bloomington-Normal area.
  • a bequest from Gene and Judy Neigoff (Ni-goff) of Surprise, Ariz., will provide generous support to the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. The Neigoff Fund will support endowed faculty positions, promote academic excellence, and increase educational opportunities for students, especially those with financial need. Gene Neigoff earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the U of I and an M.B.A. at Loyola University in Chicago. He had a long and successful career in manufacturing, serving as vice president for General Manufacturing Corp. and chief operating officer for Hommer Tool & Manufacturing, both in the Chicago area. He later was a computer systems consultant. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Judy Neigoff worked with disabled students in Chicago area public schools.
  • a six-figure gift from Betty Chan Po-King of Hong Kong, China, through the Yew Chung Education Foundation, a Hong Kong-based education enterprise dedicated to early childhood development, will support the Yew Chung-Bernard Spodek Chair in Early Childhood Education, a faculty position in the College of Education. Betty Chan, the director of Yew Chung International Schools, began her doctoral work at Illinois under the mentorship of Professor Spodek, an internationally recognized educator specializing in early childhood development who has been extensively involved in the development and advancement of the national Head Start program, the open education movement, and the Pacific Early Education Childhood Education Research Association.
  • a $1 million gift from Alice and Rex Martin of Lakeside, Mich., through the Rex and Alice A. Martin Foundation, has provided funding for the U of I Division of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Martin Softball Complex. A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Alice Martin earned an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois. She is co-founder and president of the Rex and Alice A. Martin Foundation. Rex Martin is a graduate of Indiana University and holds an M.B.A. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is chairman and C.E.O. of NIBCO, a family-owned and operated plumbing parts manufacturer established in Elkhart, Ind., in 1904 that now has 11 plants in the U.S. as well as in Mexico and Poland.
  • a $4 million gift from Geoffrey Yeh (Yay) of Hong Kong, China, has funded construction of the M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Student Center in Newmark Laboratory in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The 20,500-square-foot, energy efficient addition to Newmark Lab includes new classrooms, a conference room, meeting rooms for student groups, and an atrium for informal gatherings. Yeh earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the U of I and a master’s degree at Harvard. His company, Hsin Chong Construction, built much of Hong Kong’s post-World War II infrastructure, pioneering cost- and time-saving construction innovations that are now standard in Asia. Geoffrey Yeh previously established an endowed chair and graduate research fellowship in the U of I Department of CEE.
  • a significant gift from Jon and Bobbi Khachaturian (Catch-ah-ter-ian) of New Orleans, La., establishes Khachaturian Hall in the Yeh Center in Newmark Laboratory. The technologically-advanced, environmentally-friendly Khachaturian Hall can seat 138 students, making it the largest classroom in Yeh Center. Jon Khachaturian received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the U of I in 1978. He is the founder and president of Versabar, Inc., which specializes in the design and manufacture of heavy-lifting equipment for oil and gas operations in deep waters. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of CEE. Bobbi Khachaturian graduated from Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans. She has taught in local public schools for 15 years. The couple also has supported the Narbey Khachaturian Faculty Scholar program in honor of Jon’s late father, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering at Illinois and served on the CEE faculty for almost 40 years.
  • gifts valued at $500,000 from Robert Kern of Palm Harbor, Fla., will provide support for the College of Veterinary Medicine’s equine programs. After earning a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Illinois, he established a veterinary practice in southern Illinois. He was the first president of the Belleville Area Humane Society, the first St. Clair County animal control administrator, and a chief veterinarian at racetracks in two Illinois cities until his retirement in 1985.

The U of I Foundation’s annual meeting also included seminars held in conjunction with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a series of seminars presented by Illinois faculty and administrators, and the dedication of the M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Student Center in Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory.

Additionally, the University dedicated the Khan Annex, a 24,000-square-foot addition to Huff Hall that includes laboratory, instructional and professional collaboration facilities. U of I alumni and Champaign philanthropists Shahid and Ann Carlson Khan have committed $10 million to fund the addition. Longtime and generous supporters of Illinois, they previously established five Khan Professorships in the College of Applied Health Sciences, funded the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex, and have provided significant support to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and other programs and activities on the Urbana-Champaign.

The 16 gifts, plus the Kahns’ pledge, will be included in Brilliant Futures, the University of Illinois’ $2.25 billion capital campaign to support the campuses at Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield, has surpassed its goal. As of Aug. 31, 2011, more than $2.267 billion has been committed to Brilliant Futures. Gifts directed to the Urbana-Champaign campus have totaled $1.597 billion, eclipsing the flagship campus’ goal of $1.5 billion. Outright gifts, grants, and pledges to Brilliant Futures will support students, faculty, academic programs, and other activities on the three campuses. The fundraising effort, which began on July 1, 2003, will conclude on Dec. 31, 2011.

For additional Information, contact:

John Fundator
Senior Communications Specialist
University of Illinois Foundation