When asked for advice about philanthropic giving to Illinois State, alumnus Bill Hallinan ’66 laughed and said, “Give until it hurts,” before smiling and saying, “Give until it makes you feel good.” He and his wife, Sue ’68, are doing just that with a $500,000 gift to Illinois State University’s Redbird Career Portfolio through the Redbirds Rising campaign.
What is the Redbird Career Portfolio (RCP)?
The RCP, available since 2016, is a certificate program offered through the College of Business that helps students build professional skills to supplement their classroom education in written and verbal communication, interviewing, professional involvement, personal financial literacy, and business etiquette, to name a few.
RCP is organized within an online management and badging system called Suitable. As students complete activities and sections of their portfolio, they receive badges of completion and work toward earning a certificate.
MentorCloud, an online mentor management program, is also integrated into the Suitable/RCP tool. This allows freshmen to connect with senior classmates and is in the pilot phase of connecting junior level College of Business students with professional mentors.
Bill and Sue Hallinan: Alumni, leaders, donors
As long-time business leaders, Bill and Sue Hallinan are passionate about professional development. In the past, they talked with Illinois State leadership about starting a professional development program for students. When the College of Business came to them with plans for the portfolio program, the Hallinans readily agreed to help fund the program with a $500,000 investment.
“We are very blessed in our lives, particularly in Bill’s career and want to give back,” Sue said. “We see this as providing an opportunity for students to learn, improve, and impact others.”
Larry Dietz, president of Illinois State University, noted the importance of this gift. “One of the pillars of our Redbirds Rising fundraising campaign is raising levels of leadership across the University,” Dietz said. “Thanks to the Hallinans’ tremendous support, more students will have access to the tools and lessons within the Redbird Career Portfolio, empowering them to become skilled successful business leaders.”
Bill earned his law degree from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and practiced corporate law for nearly 30 years. He then was chief executive officer of a public corporate finance company. Today he is the president and chief operating officer of Cryogenic Industries, which provides equipment to the industrial gas industry.
Bill often hires new college graduates and has personally witnessed the need for new grads to build social and business skills. Sue, who worked in an office environment, agreed, sharing how important she feels it is for students to build these skills in a kind, encouraging environment.
As Illinois State students themselves, the Hallinans learned communication and business skills in a variety of ways. Sue was an honor resident on her residence hall floor and was responsible for enforcing curfew. In this role, the women on her floor often confided in her, and she learned important lessons about listening and helping others work through problems.
Bill, who was terrified of public speaking, became president of the Phi Beta Lambda business fraternity and was later elected its state president. He credits these experiences with giving him a platform to hone his public speaking skills and develop self-confidence. Additionally, he worked throughout his college years at a golf course and as a gas station attendant and mechanic—positions where he learned valuable communication and relationship-building skills.
The Hallinans look forward to the ways RCP will enhance students’ communication and professionalism and help build self-confidence.
RCP in action
Through RCP, students have the opportunity to build a variety of skill sets outside of the classroom during their time at Illinois State.
Emily Krinninger, a junior marketing major from Arlington Heights, has earned the most points for RCP activities completed.
She has no doubt it is giving her an edge to compete in the business world when she graduates. One activity she found particularly beneficial was the Professional Reputation Assignment, where she learned how to write professional emails for a variety of scenarios.
Krinninger also credits RCP for helping her achieve work-life balance. “The reading and video about balancing work and life provided tips to help me balance being a full-time student, involvement in student organizations, work, and my social life.”
Ajay Samant, dean of the College of Business, is thankful for the Hallinans’ support and pleased with how RCP is impacting students. “It is important to prepare our students for future success in every way we can,” Samant said. “Thanks to the generosity of Bill and Sue Hallinan, we are providing students with robust learning opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Ryan Alsot, a sophomore business information systems major from Oak Lawn, is in second place for the number of activities completed. Alsot is appreciative that he was connected with a senior during his freshman year. “I had several questions about my future after I get my degree and it was nice being paired with a successful student who had their future plans laid out,” Alsot said. “I got a lot of great advice from my mentor and it eased some of the anxiety I had as a new student.”
Alsot shared that RCP helped him learn more about Illinois State’s Career Center and all the resources it offers students, such as Hire-A-Redbird, the interactive job vacancy tool for ISU students, alumni, and employers. The most important skill Alsot feels he’s gained from RCP is interviewing skills. “I wouldn’t have thought of many of the tips and tricks to interviewing that I’ve learned through the RCP,” he said.
The College of Business launched RCP in 2016, opening the program to freshmen. During the first year, 557 students participated in the program, completing 1,699 activities. Today, 1,585 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are active in RCP and the amount of activities completed has risen to 10,783. In fall 2018, it will be open to seniors as well.
Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State
The Hallinans’ 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 44,000 donors have already contributed more than $117 million in outright gifts and commitments since the beginning of the campaign. To make a gift or find out how to be part of the campaign, visit RedbirdsRising.IllinoisState.edu.