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The closing remarks of the 2019 EAF on the Red Carpet Gala were delivered by emcee Andrew Wise ’95, Ph.D. ’08. The Olympia School District superintendent shared an undeniable truth in P-20 education to an audience of over 200 educators.

“The challenges and pressures on our educators today are far greater than we have ever seen. Evenings like tonight are important because educators deserve to be recognized for their achievements,” he said. “By shining a spotlight on our colleagues, it reminds them that their work is seen, appreciated and that it is inspiring others.”

The annual gala event is hosted by Illinois State’s Department of Educational Administration and Foundations (EAF) at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. It highlights the accomplishments of educators across PreK-12 and higher education, including policy efforts. It also celebrates student scholarship winners.

The gala’s ambiance includes a red-carpet runway and an impressive display of lights and sounds not often found in education ceremonies.

“We created the gala to showcase the individuals behind the outstanding work that is being done in the field, and we do it with the flash and glamour we believe educators deserve,” said Lenford Sutton, professor and EAF department chair.

A total of 21 individuals received awards. A full list of winners is listed below and on the EAF’s gala website.

LeRoy School District Superintendent Gary Tipsord ’90, M.S. ’01, took home the Ben C. Hubbard Leadership and Distinguished Service Award. He was recognized for heading a collaborative effort that established Illinois’ first evidence-based school funding model.

“A lesson learned through this work, in a time where our natural inclination seems to gravitate toward either demonizing the group at one end or marginalizing the group at the other end, when people can come together around the pragmatic center, great things can be accomplished in the best interest of everyone,” Tipsord said. “The work on Evidence-Based Funding required such an effort, and we are fortunate that our school leaders and legislators worked toward that pragmatic center for the children of Illinois.”

Marcia Hickrod ’58, M.S. ’64, Ph.D. ’80, who serves as the academic advisor for students in the College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program, earned the EAF Fellows award. Though she has over 50 years of experience serving the University, retirement is not on her mind.

“It means everything to me to be able to make a difference in the lives of CSPA students; they are going out and improving the state of student affairs for colleges and universities around the world,” Hickrod said.

The gala also celebrates individuals who too-often go unheralded in their day-to-day work, including Tim Jackson, who serves as a route driver for Central Receiving at Illinois State University.

“Another very important purpose for this event is to bring together the EAF community,” Sutton said. “To us, community includes students, faculty, staff, alumni, their families, and the countless individuals who have partnered with our department over the years.”

While primarily a celebration, the gala also serves as a reminder of how important this work is to every learner, including those who aspire to become the next leaders in the field of education.

“We must tell our story of success and encourage people to pursue the field of Education as a career,” said Wise, addressing the audience.

“I encourage each of you to find someone worthy of recognition and praise them for their work. Continue to publicly lift-up those in your schools and organizations for their efforts and accomplishments. A small act of appreciation can make a world of difference in the life of an educator.”

Planning for the 2020 gala has already started, and it is slated for February 15, 2020, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. All supporters of EAF and educator preparation at Illinois State are invited to attend.

Ben C. Hubbard Leadership & Distinguished Service Award
Gary Tipsord, superintendent, LeRoy Schools

Manahan Family Teaching Award
Dianne Renn, associate professor and associate department chair in the Department of EAF

Higher Education Leadership Award
Gigi Fansler, vice president for accreditation relations at The Higher Learning Commission

CSPA Alumni of the Year Award
Carol Sumner, vice president of the division for diversity, equity, and inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at Texas Tech University

EAF Spirit Award
Tim Jackson, route driver for Central Receiving, Illinois State University
Crystal Nourie, assistant registrar, Illinois State University
Lynn Litwiller, accountant, EAF department, Illinois State University
Herschel Hannah, assistant superintendent of Human Resources, Bloomington Public Schools District 87
Lenford Sutton, department chair, EAF department, Illinois State University

Barbara Sizemore Research Award
John Metoyer, professor of English and interim department chair, Department Art and Architecture, Harold Washington College, City Colleges of Chicago

Paul Vogt Higher Education Dissertation of the Year
Katy Strzepek, director of women’s studies at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa

NTT of the Year
David Braun, attorney at Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk and Miller, LTD. in Champaign

CPED Dissertation of the Year Award
Christina Hild, MAX teaching consultant, Mattoon
Matthew Seaton, superintendent, Streator High School, Streator

Scholarship Productivity Award
Lydia Kyei-Blankson, associate professor, Department of EAF, Illinois State University

Principal of the Year
Stacie France, principal, Kinsley Junior High in Unit 5 Schools

Superintendent of the Year
Andrew Wise, superintendent, Olympia Schools

EAF Fellows
Marcia Hickrod, academic advisor, College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program at Illinois State University

Cohort Service Awards
Tiffani Robertson, associate director of admissions at Governors State University, Chicago
Lauren Gray, Planning, Research and Policy Analysis at Illinois State University
Brenda Weddington, chief enrollment management officer and university registrar, Rush University, Chicago