Jerry, M.S. ’73, and Alberta (Roellig) Newman, M.S. ’69, both graduated almost 30 years ago, but are still involved with Illinois State University today. Over the years they have stayed close to Illinois State—not only with their residence, just a few blocks from campus—but also with their involvement in campus activities. They participate in Senior Professionals, Friends of the Arts, and alumni events, as well as theater classes and productions, and basketball games.
The Newmans still get so much pleasure out of the University that they are happy to make contributions to improve the programs and events they like to attend. Most of their monetary contributions go to the College of Fine Arts, the College of Business, the Endowment Fund and Senior Professionals.
“Senior Professionals is one of our favorite organizations because we are able to take classes on topics we enjoy with other people who have already finished school,” Jerry said. “We have had the joy of getting to know people we may not have come in contact with, and feel we have gained so much from all of them.”
Jerry and Alberta are currently enjoying their retirement, but both worked very hard to get to this point in their lives. During the early part of her professional career, Alberta worked as one of four speech pathologists in Normal’s Unit 5 school district. There are now more than 25 speech pathologists working for the district.
While at Illinois State she worked with Dorothy Echlemann, who was chair of what was then the Speech Pathology Department. “I was very fortunate to get to work with her near the end of her career. She had a passion for the field and passed it along to me,” Alberta said. “I felt confident to begin the speech pathology program in the El Paso school system the year I started practicing, due to the support and confidence I had gained from the professors at Fairchild Hall.”
Jerry was a full-time employee at State Farm Insurance Companies before, during, and after his time at Illinois State. Jerry took most of his classes at night and on the weekends to accommodate his full-time job. His education served him well in his career, giving him maturity and self-confidence. “The educational experience was really more an internal desire for self achievement than for career enhancement,” he said.
The Newmans now start every day at the campus rec center, and then enjoy a cup of coffee at the Garlic Press or the Coffee Hound as they watch the construction that is transforming Uptown Normal. Beyond attending Illinois State events, they like to travel, and spend a significant amount of time in their multiple gardens.
“We are lucky to have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters we love to spend time with and vacation with,” Alberta said. “We leave the cold and seek some place warm for a couple months each winter, and then add a few shorter vacations throughout the year.”