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Illinois State alumni magazine cover image of illustrated Brett Gillan
Songs for the soul: Veterans often endure pain beyond the physical. Alum Brett Gillan’s talent helps heal their wounds buried deep within.

Volume 21 • Number 2 • Fall 2020

Artist's representation of Brett Gillan in front of Nashville skyline.

Healing on a high note

Brett Gillan ’02, MBA ’08 talks about his experience at Illinois State and how it formed a unique path for his future.

News reporter microphone illustration

Fulfilling a dream

When Sandra Torres ’06 was 13 and spoke no English, her family packed up their life in their native Colombia and immigrated to the Chicago area for new opportunities.

Pelletier and Chicago office window.

Prescribed intervention

Mark Pelletier anticipated a rewarding career helping others in health care when he left Mennonite College of Nursing as one of few male graduates in 1981.

Former provost Jan Murphy and provost Aondover Tarhule.

Power of the provost

The academic component of the University experience is the most essential as it leads to graduation, yet it is rarely contemplated beyond the micro level.

President Dr. Larry H. Dietz


We are entering the holiday season, which is a time for gatherings and reflection as the year ends.

Watterson Towers as seen from the Quad

Illinois State announces strong fall 2020 enrollment

Illinois State University welcomed 3,353 freshmen to its student body for the 2020-2021 academic year. Total enrollment stands at 20,720.

summer flowers on Quad in front of Founders Debll

Board of Trustees approves COVID-19 testing contract

The Board of Trustees of Illinois State University approved a contract with Reditus Laboratories for COVID-19 testing.

Image of the Illinois State University seal with the words Gladly we learn and teach.

Former University President Gene A. Budig passes away

Gene A. Budig, the 12th president of Illinois State University, died September 8.

Two students putting together motherboards

$2.9 million NSF grant to increase STEM teachers’ culturally relevant practices 

Illinois State University’s Willy Hunter is leading a multi-state team that received a $2.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to assist mathematics and science teachers in high-needs schools.

headshot of Aondover Tarhule

Planning advances for engineering program

Open forums held during the fall semester provided campus input about the addition of engineering programs.

headshot of Dallas Long, in front of shelves of books

Dallas Long named dean of Milner Library

Provost Jan Murphy announced Dallas Long has been named dean of the University’s Milner Library. Long has served as an associate dean at the library since 2014.

Ron Beales Thumbnail image

$1.4 million estate gift to support Alumni Engagement

A $1.4 million gift from the estate of James Ronald Beales ’54, M.S. ’59, will support the programs, services, and initiatives of Illinois State University’s Alumni Engagement department. In recognition of Ron and Mary Beales’ generosity, the Alumni Engagement offices in the Alumni Center have been renamed the Ron and Mary Kathleen Beales Alumni Engagement Suite.

people posing for the camera

Federal grant will help TRIO students succeed

ISU’s TRIO/Student Support Services (SSS) program will receive a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help more first-generation students graduate.

headshot of Dr. Miltonette Craig

Miltonette Craig honored as 2020 Emerging Scholar in Diverse

Miltonette Craig has been nationally recognized as a 2020 Emerging Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

New Master of Athletic Training program continuing history of success

For nearly two decades, Illinois State University has graduated athletic trainers from the undergraduate and Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredited athletic training program.

Elizabeth (Betty) Chapman

Where are they now? Elizabeth (Betty) Chapman

Elizabeth (Betty) Chapman came to ISU in 1983 as dean of the College of Applied Science.

$1.23 million Department of Education grant to assist future teachers of infants and toddlers who are deaf or blind

Under the direction of Maribeth Lartz and Mindy Ely, the funds will help develop the LIMITLESS program, leading cohorts in integrating special education and speech language pathology coursework into their training.

An empty Redbird Arena.

Dealing with a lost season

For a college basketball player, there’s no better month than March. It’s when all the hard work culminates, and tickets to the hallowed NCAA championships are punched.

Neal Cotts

Where are they now? Neal Cotts

Neal Cotts was on track to graduate when Major League Baseball came calling during the 2001 draft, where the Oakland Athletics selected him the second round with the 69th overall pick.

Larry Lyons speaking at a podium

Illinois State Director of Athletics Larry Lyons announces retirement

Illinois State Director of Athletics Larry Lyons announced that he plans to retire near the end of the calendar year, closing the book on a distinguished 33-year run as an athletics administrator at ISU.

Two players with Jaguars

Two former Redbirds crack top of Jaguars’ depth chart

James O’Shaughnessy and James Robinson will both start for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1.

Horton Field House in early August.

Redbird Trivia

Kierston Farley-Sepe was the 2020 Missouri Valley Conference swimmer of the year, the first Redbird student-athlete to earn the award since 2004.

Jim and Carole Mounier Golf Training Center

Men’s golf team earns many high accolades

The Redbird men’s golf team earned the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Presidents Special Recognition honor, which goes to a team finishing its season with a GPA of 3.5 and above. Illinois State was one of 56 schools to reach that prestigious level.

football players running out on the field

Illini football game set for fall of 2028

The in-state football showdown between ISU and the University of Illinois has been pushed back from 2020 to 2028. The contest slated for September 4 of this year was canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bone Student Center

Then and Now

The Bone Student Center opened in October 1973 and quickly became a hub of campus activity.

Artist Dr. Lorenzo Pace laughing in front of his work Triumph of the Human Spirit

Pause for Applause

Please join us in applauding these Illinois State University alumni.

Members of Greek Life pose for a photo.

A Day in the Life: Students contribute through Greek life

Those who founded ISU’s sorority and fraternity community more than 50 years ago would be proud of the 2,500 affiliated students today.

Campus shot

Redbirds Rising campaign reaches record-breaking conclusion

Illinois State University concluded its largest fundraising campaign on June 30, raising $180.9 million during Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State. The historic campaign was supported by 56,143 donors.

Alison Alcazar ’18

Fighting COVID-19: Nursing alumna shares experience caring for pandemic patients

Mennonite College of Nursing prepares students to deal with the unexpected, as has been proven by graduates in hospitals across the country.

Illinois State University campus from above

Class Notes

Keep up with what fellow alumni are doing by reading our class notes for the fall 2020 alumni magazine issue.

Graduates from the Freeman family include, from left, Tracy, Danielle, Matt, Natalie, Dave, Vickie, and Greg.

Redbird Legacy: Three generations of Redbirds

hose who founded ISU’s sorority and fraternity community more than 50 years ago would be proud of the 2,500 affiliated students today, as they find meaningful ways to live their organization’s values.

Large bell surrounded by flowers and set in stone landscaping, with academic buildings in the background

In memory

In memory of Illinois State University alumni, faculty, and staff who have passed away.

Illinois State University Alumni Center

Virtual events strengthen Redbird connections

A shift in the way Redbirds can engage with Illinois State University has occurred over the past several months as a result of the coronavirus.

Marla Lowenthal

Thanks to you: Marla Lowenthal ’73

Marla Lowenthal ’73 has traveled the world, taught U.S. military members living abroad in Europe, and holds four advanced degrees.