The Illinois State University Alumni Association is honored to announce the newly established Andrew Purnell Jr. Trailblazer Alumni Award as a part of the Alumni Award program.

Andrew Purnell Jr. exemplified what it means to be a trailblazer through years as a servant leader. As a 1957 graduate of Illinois State Normal University, Purnell spent his life advocating for equity, particularly for Black students. Along with his peers, he formed the University’s first National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter to help diminish discrimination on campus and in the Bloomington-Normal community. His advocacy work for the University continued as an alumnus where Purnell served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. In November 1984, with 40 other Black alumni, the Alumni Association formally chartered the affinity group the Illinois State Black Colleagues Association (ISUBCA).

The Trailblazer Award category will join five other award categories that recognize the accomplishments of alumni at different stages of their careers. This award recognizes alumni trailblazers, groundbreakers, innovators and pioneers who have devoted their time and effort in servant leadership to courageously make a positive change. The recipient of this award demonstrates a heart of great compassion to give and to serve; to significantly improve or enrich the lives of others and the welfare of humanity. Selection is based upon the demonstrated contributions and impact, including inspiration and encouragements, for principled leadership in civic, cultural, or charitable involvement within their communities, Illinois State University, or humanity.

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The inaugural Andrew Purnell Jr. Trailblazer Alumni Award will be presented at the 2022 Alumni Awards program. Nominations are being sought until July 31, 2021.