The Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment mourns the passing of our friend and colleague William “Bill” Shields. 

Bill knew ISU as a student, staff member, and supportive alum. Bill lived most of his life in Oglesby, Illinois. Before beginning College at IVCC in 1996 at the age of 36, Bill worked as a chef and as a lineman for the city of Oglesby. He completed his B.S. in Geology at Illinois State in 1999, and after a brief stint at the Illinois Department of Transportation, he returned to Illinois State to complete his M.S. in Hydrogeology in 2001. After completing his MS, Bill joined our staff as an instructional support specialist and general education coordinator. 

Most notably, Bill managed and taught Principles of Geology, a beginning natural science course in our then-new general education program.  Bill’s impact on this course was immediate and significant. Over the years Bill served more than 20,000 students, mostly freshmen, in Principles of Geology. Bill was dedicated to his students and supported them in any capacity that he could. Their regard and admiration for him were returned 100-fold. There was rarely a day that his office wasn’t full of students. 

Bill was a principal recruiter of geology majors; these now graduates still sing his praises and are appreciative of the opportunities that he presented.  During the summers, Bill was a fixture in the instruction of our capstone Field Geology course, which runs annually in Wyoming, which during his time here impacted nearly 500 budding geologists from dozens of colleges and universities. 

Bill retired in 2016 and remained a regular visitor to the Department helping our geology majors and graduate students in research. Bill was impossible not to like. His stories are legendary, his laugh infectious, his kindness loved, and his enthusiasm unsurpassed. We are deeply saddened that the Illinois State community has lost a true rock star. Our prayers and condolences to his wife Laurie, son Ben, and stepdaughter Elena.