$6M gift commitment from the Chez Family Foundation Toward Creating a Center for Wounded Veterans

Feb 09, 2012 10:27 AM

Champaign–The University of Illinois announced plans to build a Center that will provide educationally integrated services to student veterans of recent conflicts who have sustained severe and multiple injuries. Tanya Gallagher, the dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences, announced that a $6-million gift commitment toward the establishment of the Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education had been received from the Chez Family Foundation. The announcement was part of a press conference in the Khan Annex of Huff Hall by Governor Pat Quinn, who shared details about the Hiring Veterans Tax Credit.

In making his lead gift, Ron Chez said, “It is our privilege to help the men and women who have so proudly served our country with courage and honor.” Chez’s $6-million gift will fund half of the total $12-million construction cost. Fundraising efforts are currently underway to raise the additional capital for the building.

Mr. Chez, a resident of Chicago, received a Bachelor’s degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1962 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Chez, who has been an investor in private and public companies, has been a generous philanthropist. He co-founded the Chicago Youth Success Foundation and has funded the Chez Family Scholars Program and the Chez Family Scholarships for Students with Disabilities at Illinois. Mr. Chez and his children, Eric and Elizabeth, through the Chez Family Foundation have made a significant commitment through this gift to helping wounded veterans access higher education.

The Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education will use a multidisciplinary, family-centric team approach and provide residential and non-residential services that include health and life skills management; academic coaching; tutoring and adaptive learning strategies; training in the use of assistive technology, psychological counseling, rehabilitative services; counseling and outreach to family members; and career counseling, preparation and employment services.

The Center builds upon the historic leadership that the University of Illinois has provided in disability accommodations. Pioneering innovations at the University include the first curb-cuts for persons with disabilities; research that led to the development of architectural standards that were later adopted nationally; the first competitive sports teams for persons with disabilities, and the first and still the only campus to provide a transitional student dormitory for students with severe and multiple disabilities, the Beckwith Program at Nugent Hall.

“The Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education will be a place that welcomes and supports veterans who have sustained severe and complex injuries,” said Gallagher. “It will function as a locus of activity, identity, and affiliation for veterans and their families as they adjust to the complexities that disabilities can present. We are proud that our Center will help make it possible for wounded veterans to attain a world-class education that will enable them to graduate prepared to contribute their full talents to the state of Illinois and the nation.”

Read the News-Gazette article about the Center.