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Alumni gift to support fraternity and sorority life leadership

Photo of fraternity and sorority members

Illinois State alumni and Bloomington residents Eric and Karin (Struck) Burwell have made a multi-year major gift commitment to support enhancement of the University’s fraternity and sorority leadership initiatives. A new fund—Greek Areté, meaning “excellence” in Greek, will be created to highlight the excellence of Illinois State’s Greek community as a result of their gift.

“The Burwells strongly believe in the skills and experiences gained through fraternity and sorority membership,” President Larry Dietz said. “This gift will help current and future generations of Redbirds enjoy the incredible experiences Eric and Karin had as students, and continue to have as alumni.”

Eric completed undergraduate degrees in business administration and general finance in 1990. Karin completed her bachelor’s degree that same year in special education, and earned a master’s in the field in 1994. Both were active members of Alpha Tau Omega and Alpha Gamma Delta as students, and maintain leadership roles at Illinois State today. Eric is chairman of the University’s Foundation Board of Directors and Karin serves as the sorority advisor to Alpha Gamma Delta.

The Division of Student Affairs’ Greek Life Task Force concluded its work in spring of 2018 and provided recommendations to enhance Four Pillars for Life, a program previously developed in Fraternity and Sorority Life that incorporates the pillars of academics and scholarship, brotherhood and sisterhood, leadership, and service and philanthropy. This model and the work done on the task force piqued the Burwells’ interest, and ultimately led to the creation of the Greek Areté fund.

The fund will provide resources to increase educational programming, leadership development, and alumni engagement within the Greek community. It will also create opportunities for students to engage in Greek leadership training during the summer, and participate in leadership development opportunities such as retreats and conferences throughout the academic year.

“With this investment, we hope to see a long-term successful Greek campus that embraces each chapter’s potential, as well as individual members who exemplify what brotherhood and sisterhood means now and as lifelong Redbird alumni,” Karin said.

Illinois State’s Greek community consists of 39 fraternities and sororities. Student members comprise approximately 14 percent of the total undergraduate population. The Burwells’ gift and others that come through Greek Areté will strengthen the Greek experience for thousands of students and alumni.

“ISU is a nationally recognized institution. It is only fitting that we have a strong and robust Greek system which helps fulfill the college experience for existing students, and helps ISU attract future students in this ultra-competitive environment,” Eric said. “We would like to see this program motivate our alumni to engage with both their chapter and the University.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson is appreciative for the financial support.

“This is an exciting time for the Greek community at Illinois State,” Johnson said. “We are incredibly fortunate and appreciative to have this support from committed, engaged alumni. Their gift, along with the existing foundation of our Greek community, prepares us to take our Greek system to the next level.”

The Burwells’ gift is part of the University’s $150 million comprehensive campaign, Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State. The most ambitious campaign in the University’s history, Redbirds Rising supports scholarship, leadership, and innovation. More than 40,000 donors have already contributed in excess of $115 million in outright gifts and commitments since the beginning of the campaign. The Burwells’ gift contributes to the goal of raising $500,000 in support of Fraternity and Sorority Life through Greek Areté. The creation of this fund is the beginning of the potential impact on the Greek community through the support of generous alumni. To make a gift or find out how to be part of this exciting transformation, visit the Redbirds Rising website.