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Cover image from Illinois State summer 2021 issue of President Terri Goss Kinzy
A new era: Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy began her term as Illinois State’s president on July 1. The 20th president to serve the University, Kinzy is the first woman to hold the office.

Volume 22 • Number 1 • Summer 2021

President Kinzy

History made in Hovey: Scientist chosen as first female president

There are numerous ways to introduce Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy.

Veronica Chamberlain

A high note: Opera is alumna’s unique teaching tool

Oh the drama. A roomful of second graders are writing their own opera and are stuck on a script about alien cows. What do you do?

Collage of Daily Vidette front pages including the September 11 attacks, John F. Kennedy’s death, Barack Obama’s election.

Turning the page: The Vidette moves to digital delivery

Everything seemed to be trending in a certain direction leading up to November 8, 2016—election night in the United States.

Hannah Rademaker

Problems solved: Students become creative consultants

The challenge for every student is applying knowledge learned through lectures and gleaned from textbooks to the working world each will enter upon graduation.

President Terri Goss Kinzy

FirstWord: Summer 2021

Just over four decades ago this fall, I began my undergraduate degree at the University of Akron.

Illinois State University's homecoming parade in 1931.

Homecoming marks centennial year

Other than commencement, there is nothing on campus with as rich a tradition as Homecoming. This fall marks the 100th year since the celebration that brings alumni back to ISU each fall began.

Student reading a heart shaped message on a wall

Birds Give Back breaks single-day giving records for third consecutive year

Records were broken for the third consecutive year during Birds Give Back, a day where Redbirds come together to celebrate Illinois State.

Dr. George Rutherford (left) and Zach Mobille '19 working with their electronic circuit.

Students, faculty in cross-disciplinary group publish paper in prestigious physics journal

Last November, a cross-disciplinary group of undergraduate students and faculty became the first Illinois State research team in 25 years to publish a paper in the American Journal of Physics (AJP). The journal is one of the most selective physics publications in the country, with an acceptance rate for reviewed articles hovering around 35 percent.

From left to right: Diane (Efaw) Gunz, Keaton Gunz, Katya Efaw, Barbara Efaw, Caleb Gunz, David Efaw

College of Education’s new student success center named for visionary donor’s gift

A $500,000 gift from Barbara Efaw ’59 and family was honored with action by the Board of Trustees on Friday, May 7. In recognition of the family’s generosity, the College of Education’s new student success center will be named the Barbara and Larry Efaw Center for Educator Excellence. The center is scheduled to open spring semester 2022 and will be housed in Degarmo Hall.

Susan Almeida

Where are they now? Susan Almeida

Susan Almeida left her Chicago home in 1969 to study elementary education at Illinois State as an undergraduate.

Illinois State University walkway bridge

Illinois State University recognized as 2nd best online bachelor’s degree program in Illinois by U.S. News & World Report

Illinois State University has been recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs” as the second-best program in Illinois and the 14th-best program in the United States.

DeGarmo Hall

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn named Distinguished Professor 

The Office of the Provost announced Dr. Jeffrey Kahn has been named a Distinguished Professor at Illinois State University.

Man wearing a suit looking away from the camera

New alumni award to honor trailblazer Andrew Purnell Jr.

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.


Alumni Association welcomes new board members

Meet the newest elected members of the Alumni Association board of directors.

Shaw in AmeriCorps t-shirt

AmeriCorps declares Illinois State a School of National Service

Illinois State University’s commitment to AmeriCorps alumni through the Stevenson Center earned the institution a new honor: the university is now a School of National Service.

teacher signing to class

College Factual names Department of Special Education best in Illinois and the United States

The Department of Special Education was recognized by College Factual as the number one school on the lists of Best Colleges for Special Education in both Illinois and the United States.

Aisha Praught Leer and Jada Stinson.

Pair of Redbirds beat the Olympic odds

The odds of becoming an Olympian, according to past president and co-founder of the International Society of Olympic Historians Bill Mallon, is roughly 1 in 500,000.

Kate Del Fava

Where are they now? Kate Del Fava ’20

Former Bone Scholar Kate Del Fava ’20 may attend veterinary school someday, just as she intended to do after graduating in May 2020 as a pre-veterinarian medicine and animal sciences double major. But the new Kansas City team of the National Women’s Soccer League is glad those plans are on hold for now.

Kameesha Smith

Track and field, cross country programs shine

It was a banner year for Illinois State runners.

Angelica Labat

Labat makes history at gymnastics meet

On April 3, Illinois State gymnast Angelica Labat became the first person in program history to qualify for the NCAA national meet.

Morgan Day

Redbird Trivia: Summer 2021

On April 25, Illinois State softball pitcher Morgan Day struck out 11 batters in a 1-0 win at the University of Evansville.

2021 Volleyball MVC champions

Volleyball team wins Missouri Valley again

The Illinois State volleyball team punched its ticket to a third-straight NCAA tournament after securing the MVC tournament championship on April 3, when the Redbirds beat Loyola Chicago in four sets at Redbird Arena.

The Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University has achieved designation as a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

Perkins wraps up stellar golf career

Illinois State men’s golfer David Perkins ’21 earned his second consecutive Missouri Valley Conference golfer of the year honor.

Illinois State earned back to-back Missouri Valley

ISU again wins MVC All-Sports trophy

For the first time in more than three decades, Illinois State earned back to-back Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Championships.

Vidette Building

Then and Now: Vidette

Illinois State’s student newspaper has been housed in multiple locations since its start in 1888.

Major General Richard Neely

Pause for Applause: Summer 2021

Take a moment to applaud these outstanding Illinois State University alumni.

Dining Hall worker serving a customer

A Day in the Life: Dining experience delights Redbirds

Whether studying over breakfast, meeting classmates for lunch, or reconnecting with friends at dinner, the University’s dining centers are an integral part of daily ISU life.

Basheer Becerra stands in front of Harvard Medical School sign.

ISU prepares alum Basheer Becerra to star in Harvard graduate program

If Basheer Becerra had been told when he began his undergraduate career at Illinois State University’s School of Information Technology (IT) that one day he would attend Harvard University graduate school, he wouldn’t have believed it.

Woman painting using neutral colors

Dreams to reality: How an alum turned her business degree into art

Liz Flores ’12 has always had a creative heart and mind. Her passion for art has led her to become a successful young painter and muralist in Chicago—a dream come true.

State Farm Hall of Business

Class Notes: Summer 2021

Keep up with what fellow alumni are doing by reading our class notes for the summer 2021 alumni magazine issue.

Dr. Mary Ryder, M.A. ’81

Redbird legacy: Family’s ISU connection stretches back 110 years

Dr. Mary Ryder, M.A. ’81, has a unique bond to the University. Her family connection began 110 years ago and spans four generations.

Photo of Fell Hall's west side

In memory: Summer 2021

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

Tony Nicolalde

Scholarship student advocates for Deaf community

Tony Nicolalde has to pause a Zoom meeting to help his mom make an appointment. That’s because he is hearing and his parents, both immigrants from Ecuador, are Deaf. Nicolalde is a pro at straddling dual identities. He is hearing and Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA). A first-generation American of Latino heritage, he is fluent in Spanish, English, and American Sign Language (ASL).