Many who invest their time and treasure in Illinois State say they do so to answer a call. Lynda Lane ’66 just answered an ad.
While reading an issue of the alumni magazine in 1976, Lane noticed a small ad calling for alumni to apply for membership on the alumni board. She filled out and mailed the form. Before long she received a call letting her know that she was the newest member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
“My first meeting was at Ewing Manor,” Lane recalled. “In the early days it was very different from the board as we know it today. There were no committees and no assignments. The board really didn’t have any influence.”
That reality changed over time, as Lane can attest from having served on the board the past 37 years. She served terms as board president, Awards Committee chair, and ambassador to student groups such as the Student Alumni Council.
She witnessed the board’s evolving role as ISU’s leadership increasingly recognized the value and significance of relying on members to connect with alumni. Eventually the board created its own constitution, standing committees, and took on a greater role in Homecoming.
Lane served as chair of the Homecoming Committee for many years during which time new events were added to the festivities including the campus decorating contest, an alumni tailgate, an Alumni Association presence in the parade, and participating on the campus-wide Homecoming Committee. The Alumni Association also actively promoted Homecoming at community events such as the Bloomington Farmers Market, Sugar Creek Arts Festival, Normal Corn Days, and Festival ISU. The enhanced presence drew alumni to join the Homecoming Committee, reconnecting and engaging them with the University.
The opportunity to serve was appreciated by Lane.
“Illinois State has become my second home,” she said. “It has been such a great honor and pleasure, and it has been so much fun. I have met a lot of amazing people. Everybody is so friendly and warm. It makes you want to be a part of it.”
Passion for foreign languages
Lane’s campus relationship began in 1962 when she enrolled because of the University’s reputation for training teachers. She received an Illinois Teaching Scholarship and pursued her passion for foreign languages.
“I have always loved language,” Lane said. “In high school I took six years of Latin and two of French.” She studied French and Russian at Illinois State, graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 1966.
She immediately found a teaching opening in Palatine, which she held for two years before accepting a position in Olympia. Throughout her career she returned to Illinois State several times, enhancing her credentials with certifications in elementary education and English. Lane eventually became chairperson of the English and Foreign Language Department at Olympia High School—a position she held until she retired in 2005.
All the while Lane remained highly involved with Illinois State, volunteering and speaking at commencement, serving as a Ewing Manor docent, and heading the Alumni Association’s Awards Committee—a role that reminds her of the value of an Illinois State degree.
“As I read the files of people who are eligible, I am astounded by the accomplishments of ISU alums,” Lane said. “These fabulous men and women show what an ISU education can do for one.”
She is especially pleased to be on the board as the Alumni Association celebrates its 150ths anniversary this year, which also marks her last year as a board member. She looks forward to continuing to support the University and the Alumni Association through volunteering, serving on committees, and most importantly, sharing the Illinois State story.
“The Alumni Association is really about outreach for the University and a way to stay connected and draw alums back,” Lane said. “The 150th anniversary marks the importance of the Alumni Association, what it does, and how it contributes.”
Lane probably would not have guessed that the small ad in her alumni magazine would lead her to a lifetime of experiences with her alma mater. But that small square of paper changed the course of her life—and ultimately put Lane on a course to impact the lives of many fellow Redbirds.