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Joe Galvin ’80 gives back to next generation of student-athletes

Redbird Hall of Famer Joe Galvin '80 during his playing days.

Illinois State basketball Hall of Famer and Bloomington-Normal native Joe Galvin ’80 has been an enthusiastic Redbird fan throughout his life. Now, he is supporting the next generation of Redbird student-athletes through the Joe and Jeanne Galvin “32” Scholarship Fund.

The scholarship will be awarded to a Redbird student-athlete in the Professional Sales Institute in the College of Business. Special consideration will be given to students who are from Bloomington-Normal.

“My wife and I saw this as an opportunity to connect not just our Illinois State roots but my roots in Bloomington-Normal as well,” he said.

Interested in helping Redbirds achieve the most from their education? Visit RedbirdsRising.IllinoisState.edu to learn how you can help students rise to new levels of excellence through Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State.

Galvin is excited to give back to the University and help student-athletes at Illinois State rise not just in sports, but also in their careers.

“To be a Division I athlete, student-athletes understand goals, they understand commitment, they know how to work hard every day,” he said. “They’ve won and they’ve lost. Learning to deal with both is an important skill to have. And they’ve worked with a variety of bosses. A Division I athlete can be a great employee in any business field.”

Galvin was destined to be a Redbird. He had multiple offers to play basketball at other top colleges as a prospect in 1976 but chose Illinois State due to the early connections he formed here.

“I met coach Will Robinson in 1970, attended ISU’s basketball camps, and watched ISU greats like Doug Collins, Ron Devries, and Rick Whitlow play,” Galvin said. “Not only that, but I had a good relationship with then-coach Gene Smithson, and Illinois State was surging at that time. I wanted to be a part of what the program was and what it could become.”

Following the graduation of Jeff Wilkins, another redbird hall of Famer, Galvin was named starting center for the Redbirds and remained in that position for the next three years. He was part of a core group with Del Yarborough and Ron Jones on teams that won more than 20 games a season and were consistently in the mix for the postseason. Galvin scored over 1,000 points for the Redbirds and graduated with the school record for career blocks with 132. He still holds Illinois State’s record for most blocks in a game with nine.

He was drafted by the Indiana Pacers after graduating and played three years professionally in Spain including winning an International championship in 1981. He returned to the United States in 1983 for a tryout with the Seattle Supersonics. Galvin didn’t make the team and decided to transition into the next phase of his career. Galvin was inducted into the Illinois State Athletics Percy Hall of Fame in 2004. He is also in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“It was quite humbling when you look at some of the people who are in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “To be a part of that and to be connected to Illinois State in that way is really cool.”

Beyond his extensive accomplishments on the basketball court, Galvin has had a distinguished career in business. Galvin started out selling copiers door to door for New York Business Products in Lower Manhattan. He quickly transitioned into positions with Xerox, Gartner, Sirius Decisions, and the MHI Research Institute. Today, Galvin is the chief research officer for Vistage Worldwide Inc. Vistage provides peer-to-peer advisory boards designed to help the leaders of small to medium-size businesses make better decisions and become better leaders

“My best teachers were my coaches,” Galvin said. “It wasn’t just the skills of basketball they taught me; it was the concepts of mental toughness and extra effort. It is about learning where your limits are and finding ways to push past them.”

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