Skip to main content

Alumni reminisce at Phoenix Alumni Chapter event

Two Illinois State University alumni attending the February Phoenix Alumni Chapter event took the time to reminisce and share their interests with others at the event.

Jim Manley

Jim Manley ’92 attended his first alumni event and said he sincerely enjoyed it.  Manley, a 26-time Emmy award-winning television news photographer, two-time NPPA Regional Photographer of the Year and recipient of two New York Film Festival Awards, credited his experience at TV-10 News in the School of Communication with launching his career.  “My senior year, TV-10’s studio and equipment were vastly upgraded, and that’s when the fun really started,” Manley said. “The TV-10 staff really made my time at Illinois State memorable, especially Jay Groves who took me under his wing. Jay made sure that everyone at TV-10 got to try every job. One week I was a photographer, the next week I was a technical editor, and the following week I directed a newscast. The experience proved invaluable to me when I left the University for the real world to find a job.”

As part of that job, Manley said he has stood in the operating room when conjoined twins were separated, spent weeks in a juvenile detention facility where 8-year olds were behind bars, hovered over a woman giving birth to quintuplets and journeyed to Mexico to watch American doctors and nurses help a little girl walk for the first time. He also sat and talked with Mohammed Ali and Michael Jordan and was “run over by Tiger Woods.”

Manley covered Hurricane Katrina for ABC, and said it was a life-changing experience. He returned to Phoenix and formed his own production company, making informative and inspirational videos for mostly nonprofit organizations. “I write, shoot, edit and produce the videos using the skills I first learned at Illinois State,” he said. “I’ve told countless people about the kickstart I received at Illinois State. After meeting Dr. Bowman, it’s obvious that Illinois State will continue to climb mountains, conquer peaks and try to bring plenty of people with it along the way.”

Ron Parkin

Another alum, Ron Parkin ’76, shared his passion for collecting Illinois State University memorabilia. “As a history teacher, I became interested in the history of Illinois State and of college students in general, especially during the Great Depression,” said Parkin.“I felt these primary sources, especially if they contain student and faculty autographs and written notes, would be a great window into the past for my high school students. From that beginning, I have been collecting Illinois State memorabilia, including old Indexes beginning with one in 1896.”

Parkin says he is waiting for an 1860 Illinois Teacher to arrive which shows Illinois State Normal University’s first graduating class, faculty and courses offered. He has an 1882 twenty-five year Alumni Directory which lists all graduates of the University and what they were doing as of 1882. It also lists those faculty and students who left to go fight in the Civil War, who they served with and what became of them.

“My greatest find so far was a 1931 yearbook from a dealer in Missouri,” Parkin said, noting that two weeks later he found another 1931 yearbook which included the name of the owner, who just happened to be the girlfriend of the young man whose yearbook Parkin had just purchased.

“I looked both up on the alumni on-line directory, and they are both alive and have been married since the 1930s!” said Parkin.

Parkin noted that it was “great to reconnect with old friends and faculty and to make new friends, all who share a common bond of our experiences at Illinois State.”

The chapter event was held at the Phoenix Zoo in an indoor pavilion, with daytime temperatures reaching 75 degrees.  Approximately 80 people attended the event at which President Al Bowman gave a University update along with a PowerPoint slide show, featuring many snowy, winter photos for the snowbirds’ edification.  Class years of the participants ranged from 1935 to 2004.

Participants who had not been on the Illinois State campus in some time were amazed by the photos of the College of Business building and the Schroeder Hall renovation.

Some annuitants were also on hand at the meeting, including Bill Semlak from the School of Communication and Pat Grogg from the College of Business.