A Redbird Legacy is a current Illinois State University student or alumni with a guardian, parent, grandparent, or sibling who attended or attends Illinois State.

When Allen ’73 and Pam (Doty) Alsup ’73 first stepped on campus in the fall of 1969, they were completely unaware of the Redbird Legacy that their future family would continue for years to come. Allen, an agriculture major, and Pam, an elementary education major, first met during their junior year after mutual friends introduced them. Though they would both graduate with their respective degrees a year later, their time at Illinois State was nowhere near its end.

A man and a woman in graduation gowns.
Allen ’73 and Pam (Doty) Alsup ’73 pose on commencement day at Illinois State University in 1973.

Years later, as the three Alsup children, Mandy Phillips ’00, Matt Alsup ’03 and Emily Bailey ’06, sat in the back seat of their family car on the drive to their grandparents’ house, they would pass through Bloomington-Normal. Allen and Pam would point out buildings they had lived in, where they had taken classes, and tell stories of their time together at Illinois State and how it made them the people they are today.

“Coming to ISU opened me up to new ideas,” Allen said. “It showed me that there are other things out there than the way I knew how to do them.”

These stories of learning and endless opportunities, such as milking cows at the University Farm at 4:30 a.m. every morning to working as an usher at musical productions, would inspire the Alsup children to attend Illinois State.

“My parents frequently talked about the great time they had and all that they learned. I wanted to have that type of experience,” daughter Mandy Phillips said. “If I opened myself up to it, I knew I could find the opportunities that my parents found at ISU.”

Mandy would continue her family’s legacy at Illinois State in more ways than one, as she too got involved on campus and met her future spouse, the late Jason Phillips ’00. Joining the Big Red Marching Machine not only connected Mandy to Jason, but it also connected the Alsup family to campus and to each other.

“I could look up in the stands during games and see my dad mouthing the words to Alma Mater,” Mandy said. “I could see this bringing back memories for my parents, and I could see that my family is actually a part of this experience.”

people walking in marching band outfits
Mandy Phillips ’00 (center) in the Big Red Marching Machine.

Mandy’s younger brother, Matt, joined the Big Red Marching Machine as a freshman during her senior year. With both Matt and Mandy in the marching band, Allen, Pam and Emily often visited campus for Redbird football games.

“I just know that 52 years, since I first stepped on campus as a freshman, has gone by so quickly,” Pam said. “When we go back, we continue to dig up additional memories that come rushing back.”

Mandy, Matt, and Emily have all graduated and gone on to pursue their careers, but the family tradition of staying connected to Illinois State lives on. From volunteering on campus to attending Homecoming games to even just wearing Redbird gear on as many occasions as possible, the Alsup family continues to share its dedication to Illinois State.

“We go on vacations with our ISU sweatshirts and hats on, and people approach us to say they went there,” Allen said. “It shows us that not only are we proud to be Redbirds, but other people are proud of it too.”

The Alsups even share their Redbird pride with younger generations, such as Jason and Mandy’s daughter, Anna.

A little girl in a red shirt cheering with her arms up.
A young Anna Phillips cheering for the Redbirds outside of Hancock Stadium.

“Most kids her age have a hard time deciding what college to go to, but for Anna, she already knows it’s going to be ISU,” Mandy said. “I think for her, it’s going to be harder for her to narrow down what she wants to do rather than what college to go to.”

Though she is only a sophomore in high school, Anna has been attending events on campus since she was 2 years old, making it easier to continue the Redbird legacy for her family when she graduates in 2024.

While the traditional Redbird only stays on campus for four years, Redbird legacies keep families connected to Illinois State University for years to come.


Illinois State wants to recognize all legacy families for their continued generational support with a special brunch on Sunday, October 3. The brunch will spotlight Redbird families and help legacies stay connected to the University. The event will include brunch, a program featuring President Terri Goss Kinzy, and a legacy pinning ceremony exclusive for current families. Register for the event by September 28.