POSTPONED: The Order of Lincoln ceremony has been postponed until fall 2020 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Six individuals, including two distinguished Illinois State University alumni, will receive Illinois’ highest honor for professional achievement and public service from Gov. JB Pritzker.

Scott Altman, Doug Collins, Robert Fraley, Donald McHenry, Joanne Smith, and Mavis Staples will be invested with the Order of Lincoln during a convocation for the Lincoln Academy of Illinois at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Braden Auditorium in the Bone Student Center at Illinois State University. Tickets are $150 or $1,200 for a table of eight.

“With their achievements in science, medicine, public service, the arts, agriculture, and athletics, these distinguished Illinoisans have made our state proud,” said Gov. Pritzker. “They have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the people of Illinois and I’m so proud to award them with our state’s highest honor.”

At the convocation, members of the Academy will welcome the six new Lincoln Laureates during a formal ceremony and gala reception. These Laureates will join a cohort of 354 distinguished Illinois citizens honored over the past 56 years.

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz and Marlene Dietz are the co-chairs of the 2020 Convocation Civic Committee for the Lincoln Academy. “Not only is it an honor to be able to help recognize these distinguished individuals, we also have the pleasure of honoring two of our Illinois State alumni—Doug Collins and Donald McHenry,” said Larry Dietz. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the excellence of our alumni, and all of the incredible Laureates.”

The 2020 Lincoln Laureates will include:
Scott Altman, a former NASA astronaut, is a veteran of four space shuttle missions, spending more than 51 days in space. Originally from Pekin, Illinois, Altman is a United States Navy captain, engineer, and test pilot. Commissioned as a Navy ensign, he earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the United States Naval postgraduate school. After a distinguished career as a naval pilot and test pilot, he was selected for the NASA astronaut program. Logging more than 7,000 flight hours in more than 40 types of aircraft during his career, he retired from NASA in 2010 and joined ASRC Federal Engineering, Aerospace and Mission Systems (EAMS) and is currently the senior vice president for civil programs. Altman was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2018.

Paul (Doug) Collins is an American basketball executive, former player, coach, and television analyst, originally from Benton, Illinois. Collins was a stand-out Illinois State basketball player from 1970-1973. He was the first overall pick of the 1973 NBA draft and a four-time NBA All-Star. He represented the United States at the 1972 Summer Olympics. He coached the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, and Philadelphia 76ers. Both the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and NBA Hall of Fame have inducted Collins. He has served as an analyst for various NBA-related broadcast shows on CBS, NBC, TNT, and TBS. The basketball court at Illinois State University bears his name.

Dr. Robert (Robb) Fraley is the former executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto Company. A World Food Prize Laureate, he is recognized as the father of agricultural biotechnology for developing the first genetically modified crops as a solution for farmers battling damaging pests and weeds. Raised on a farm outside Hoopeston, Illinois., Fraley decided early on that he wanted to use science to develop better technology for farmers. He earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and biochemistry from the University of Illinois and authored more than 100 ag-related publications and patent applications throughout his career. He has become a leading voice for innovation in agriculture, passionately working to reset the public conversation about science.

Donald F. McHenry grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, and served as ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations from 1979 to 1981. He was also a Cabinet member for President Jimmy Carter. Prior to these roles, he was the United States deputy representative to the United Nations Security Council. McHenry was distinguished professor in the practice of diplomacy at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University from 1981 to 2014.  He also taught at Southern Illinois University, Howard University, American University, and Georgetown University.

Joanne C. Smith, MD, is the president and chief executive officer of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago or RIC). The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the global leader in physical medicine and rehabilitation for adults and children with the most severe, complex conditions. She has led the organization in its mission to provide the best patient outcomes through the highest-quality clinical care, translational research, scientific discovery, and education. Today she is leading the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab into its novel vision for the future: to be the global source of science-driven breakthroughs in human ability.

Mavis Staples is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist. For more than 60 years, the Chicago native has found success recording as a solo artist and member of her family’s band, The Staple Singers. Close friends of Martin Luther King Jr., The Staple Singers were the spiritual and musical voices of the civil rights movement. Staples was recognized as a 2016 Kennedy Center Honoree and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

“The Lincoln Academy is honored to award the Order of Lincoln to these six remarkable individuals,” said Frank Clark, chancellor of the Academy. “Abraham Lincoln exemplified what is great about our state, and the achievements and contributions of these honorees continues to illustrate the vibrancy and richness of Illinois.”

For attendance and further information, contact Executive Director Julie Kellner at 217-785-5030 or visit Connect with The Lincoln Academy of Illinois on Facebook and LinkedIn.