Barbara Efaw ’59, who passed away this spring, and her husband, Larry ’56, M.S.’59, supported Redbird educators for many years. In 2021, Barbara and her family generously gifted the College of Education $500,000 to establish the Barbara and Larry Efaw Center for Educator Excellence. The Efaw Center will support all teacher education students as they work towards their dreams of becoming educators and education leaders.

Barbara and Larry were both active students while on campus and went on to be educators in Central Illinois. The Efaws credit their experiences at Illinois State for their success in education.

Dr. Becky Beucher, assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning, was named the director of the Barbara and Larry Efaw Center for Educator Excellence in spring 2022.

“I envision the Efaw Center as a space to support and encourage academic excellence, empathy, relationship building, and conflict resolution skills which will all help prepare educators who are navigating an education landscape with many challenges.”

Dr. Becky Beucher
Dr. Becky Beucher

Lifelong Learner and Teacher

Beucher always had a passion for addressing education inequities and began teaching English in California. She witnessed how socio-economic inequities impact educational experiences, and she learned the power of cultural community connectedness. Through her research and teaching of secondary literacy and literacy theory courses, she is constantly working towards understanding and addressing these inequities in partnership with communities.

“I’m looking forward to creating a space that understands the whole experience that one has within academic spaces,” said Beucher. “We will think about academic excellence in relation to the social, emotional and mental health components that are imperative for preparing great educators across all grade levels and content areas, as well as how we leverage the power of the community.”

Supporting Redbird Educators

As Beucher establishes the new center, she will involve current students, alumni, community members, faculty, and staff to create, evaluate, and develop support services and build community across the teacher and leader lifespan.

The Efaw Center will provide individualized attention for all education students across campus. Student support will focus on academic assistance, peer-to-peer tutoring and mentoring, enhanced connections to existing campus resources, and assistance with teacher and leader education licensure requirements. In addition, the Efaw Center will develop learning communities that increase opportunities for undergraduate and graduate academic success, faculty mentored research, and civic engagement initiatives.

“Our deepest thanks to Barbara Efaw and her family for believing in the College of Education and our mission to prepare the best educators,” said James Wolfinger, former dean of the College of Education. “In the ever-changing education landscape these support programs are so important in preparing teachers who can meet the challenges, affect change, and create the best learning environment for all students.”

Efaw Center Fund

To make a gift to the Larry and Barbara Efaw Center for Educator Excellence in support of Barbara’s legacy, visit or call (309) 438-2294. For more information about supporting the College of Education, please contact Wilma Bates at (309) 438-4304.