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Passion for Paw-lice Work: Susan Cameron’s gift gives back to ISUPD and Community Engagement Unit

Susan Cameron standing alongside Illinois State University Police Chief Aaron Woodruff and the Community Engagement Unit.

Susan Cameron '79 and the ISUPD Community Engagement Unit.

People often ask, “What are you passionate about?” Sometimes it takes a whole lifetime to answer that question. Susan Cameron ’79 had an inkling as a child that she acted on as an adult, combining her passion for dogs and supporting law enforcement with a gift during the Redbirds Rising campaign.

Ever since her youth, Cameron has been drawn to law enforcement and criminal justice, constantly watching police television shows such as Police Woman and Cagney and Lacey. She admired and wanted to emulate the strong female characters.

When it came time for college, Cameron chose Illinois State. She considered enrolling in the criminal justice program but decided to study office administration so that she could continue to help her family’s business. After graduating, Cameron got a job at the University and continued with the family business during her off-hours. She worked in the Office of the Comptroller prior to her retirement in 2011.

“We are so grateful that Susan has taken such an interest in supporting our work. Her gift is the largest ISUPD has received, and it’s allowing us to consider opportunities we never thought would be possible,” – Chief Woodruff

Despite being an alumna and employee, she did not feel a real connection with the University. “I felt like I missed out on the connection I always wanted. My husband was involved in the Athletics side of the University, but that never spoke to me,” said Cameron.

One day while visiting the ISU website, Cameron stumbled upon news of the “Pawfficer” program initiated through the University Police Department (ISUPD). The department launched a successful crowdfunding project to further enhance its community outreach efforts, raising the money needed to purchase a community engagement dog. Sage is a black Labrador retriever that greets individuals, attends university events, supports victims of crimes, and has helped increase recognition of the department’s services.

Cameron recognized an opportunity that combined her interests and wanted to become more involved with Sage. She worked with ISUPD and University Advancement to determine how she could support Sage and the police department.

Pawfficer Sage, black lab wearing badge looking at camera

ISUPD Community Engagement dog, Pawfficer Sage.

She decided to make an additional gift that provides for Sage’s personal care, entertainment, and attire. Her donation covers food and veterinarian care, toys and treats, and uniforms. Cameron’s gift supports Sage’s Community Engagement Unit and the ISUPD broadly.

“We are so grateful that Susan has taken such an interest in supporting our work. Her gift is the largest ISUPD has received, and it’s allowing us to consider opportunities we never thought would be possible,” said ISUPD’s Chief Aaron Woodruff.

The connection that Cameron was missing was finally forged.

“My love for law enforcement and wanting to contribute to their work has been fulfilled by helping Sage and the Community Engagement Program reach their goals,” said Cameron. She feels honored and blessed to have this opportunity to help the entire campus.

“The ISUPD officers make campus function. They are on the frontlines. We don’t hesitate calling them when we need help, but like any other department, they have to work through their own budget constraints and obtain resources. You hear about donations going to scholarships and education, but not to departments like ISUPD,” said Cameron.

Cameron’s gift allowed her to get involved in law enforcement in a way she never anticipated. She hopes to make additional gifts for several more years, advancing the efforts of Sage and the ISUPD.

You can be “paw”some too by supporting the Community Engagement Unit and ISUPD, like Susan.