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Welcome to the January issue of Eastern Illinois University’s electronic Alumni Newsletter. Each month, we hope to bring you a taste of what’s happening at your alma mater. Our alumni are important to us. It doesn't matter if you graduated five years ago, 25 years ago or 50 years ago ... you are still EIU. Let us know what you think about the newsletter, including the types of items you’d like to see in it. We'll do our best to accommodate you.
Former Panther Payton Named NFL Coach of the Year
Sean Payton '87 might have had the toughest coaching job in football this season, making his selection Saturday as The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year that much more impressive. Payton received a landslide of 44 votes during a season when there were a half-dozen other outstanding coaching performances. With New Orleans ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005, the Saints became nomads that year, winding up 3-13 under Jim Haslett. Payton, then an assistant coach in Dallas, was hired to revive one of the NFL’s historically unsuccessful franchises. During his first year as head coach, the former Eastern Illinois quarterback didn't just lead the New Orleans Saints to a 10-6 record, the NFC South championship and a first-round playoff bye. He helped revitalize a battered city’s spirit and hopes for the Saints’ first Super Bowl appearance. Payton is the third
Saints coach to be honored, joining Haslett (2000) and Jim Mora (1987). Read more here.
It’s the Pro Bowl for Tony Romo
On Saturday, Feb. 10, the best players from the AFC will face their counterparts from the NFC in the 2007 Pro Bowl.
After serving as the backup quarterback to Drew Bledsoe through five games and then taking over in the second half of game six, Romo has been one of the league’s best and will join the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees and St. Louis Rams’ Marc Bulger as the NFC’s Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Romo is the first Eastern Illinois product chosen for the Pro Bowl since Charleston’s Jeff Gossett, punting for the Oakland Raiders, landed a spot in the 1991 season. The Pro Bowl will air on CBS at 5 pm Central time.
Read more here.
Be Like Lou
Commencement speaker Randy Bailey offered the class of 2006 three suggestions for life after college, including emulating University President Lou Hencken '66, '67. Bailey, a 1978 alumnus and successful businessman, brought buttons with a "BE LIKE LOU!" logo for the graduates to wear and illustrated for them how President Hencken leads as a role model. "You don’t have to go any farther than this man sitting right here," Bailey told the graduates in Lantz Arena. "If you do what Lou Hencken would do, you are going to have character, integrity and passion." President Hencken thanked Bailey for the tribute before offering tributes of his own to highly accomplished EIU alumni and students.
The successes cited included Tony Romo’s role as a starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and the acclaim student Cameron Schilling of Mattoon received for his memorial sketches of Illinois soldiers who died in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, Hencken commended other distinguished alumni, including three NFL head coaches, an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic, a retired vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar.
Read more here.
EIU Graduate Has Come a Long Way from Begging on the Streets in Jamaica
Hopeton Dias '06 has come a long way from begging as a child on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. Dias said as a child he decided to seek an education because it would provide a way out of the Kingston ghetto and the daily struggles for survival there. After graduating from high school, Dias took his SAT examinations and applied to Eastern, after seeing a photo of Old Main on the collegeboard.com web site. Eastern accepted Dias as a student, and he made his first trip outside of Jamaica to move to Charleston. As a new December graduate, Dias said he has received an “unparalleled and elite education” from a great team of advisers and instructors. He has hopes to be successful in life and to someday establish a scholarship in his name at Eastern, where he said he will always feel a strong connection. “I love Charleston. I love Eastern,” Dias said.
Read more here.
Former PR Director Read Remembers Ford’s 1974 Visit to EIU
Charleston was set to be the center of national news for one day in 1974 when local police and University officials prepared to protect the man who would make headlines all over the world.
Then-Vice President Gerald Ford was on his way to the University on May 9, 1974, to speak to the public for the Diamond Jubilee Celebration, which celebrated EIU’s service to the community. Harry Read of Charleston, the director of information and publications for Eastern at the time, has shared his copy of the 10-page security report including historical details of the itinerary schedule, the invitation from University President Gilbert Fite, a written confirmation from Ford to speak at EIU and details of security meetings and procedures that followed during President Ford’s visit to campus.
Read more here.
Blair Hall Project Honored With Second Award
Just weeks after winning top honors from PM Engineer trade magazine, the reconstruction of Blair Hall has earned another award, Renovation/Restoration Project of the Year by the Midwest Construction Association. A jury of nine distinguished construction and design professionals critiqued submissions from Illinois, Indiana, eastern Missouri and Wisconsin. “They saved a beautiful building even though it was almost totally gutted by fire. That they did it in two years is a feat in itself,” read the jury comments. “The decision to save the building after the fire, rather than demolish it, showed forward thinking. The redone building is beautiful.” To read more on the jury’s comments and read the Blair Hall cover story, please visit:
Read more here.
Reid Awarded 2006 Luis Clay Mendez Distinguished Service Award
Debra Reid, an associate professor of history, was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Luis Clay Mendez Distinguished Service Award. The award, presented annually since 2004, honors the memory of Clay Mendez, an EIU Spanish professor who passed away in 2003. Recipients of the award must exemplify dedication and service to the University, their profession and the community.
Dr. Reid has been part of the EIU community for the past seven years and is actively involved with several local and national professional organizations and serves on numerous community service committees. She has also served on various academic councils and committees at the University, including presiding over the Council on Academic Affairs.
Read more here.
EIU Athletes Combine for 3.04 GPA
With the close of the fall semester, student-athletes have once again excelled both in their sports and in the classroom. Student-athletes had a combined 3.04 grade point average for the semester. Women’s soccer had the highest overall GPA for an EIU sport, with the team posting a 3.4 team GPA. Women’s basketball and women’s golf were just behind with a 3.39 average. Men’s tennis was the highest men’s team sport with a 3.34 average. All 13 team sports maintained a 3.0 or higher team GPA. During the course of the semester, several individual student-athletes were also honored for their academic successes at national and regional levels.
For a complete list of student athletes honored for their academic successes, click here.
$60,000 Grant Allows Purchase of Two EIU Peace Meal Delivery Vans
Senior citizens in Oakland, Rantoul and beyond are now benefiting from a $60,000 grant awarded to EIU’s Peace Meal Senior Nutrition Program for the purchase of two food delivery vehicles. The new Hot Shot Delivery Vans help local volunteers deliver meals to approximately 400 individuals per day. Each van is fully equipped with refrigeration and heated compartments and includes in-cab monitors to control the thermostats, thus ensuring the safe transport of food. The grant was presented by the Retirement Research Foundation, based out of Chicago, which is the nation's largest private foundation devoted solely to aging and retirement issues.
Read more here.
Join the Alumni Association Today
Please consider joining the EIU Alumni Association. Your membership will allow us to continue to expand our programming and offerings to the university community.
The association has been able to steadily increase its financial support to the university over the past several years in the form of student scholarships and grants because of the support of members like you.
In addition, you don't want to miss receiving Old Main Line, the alumni magazine which is for members only. It's a great way to stay on top of what's happening on campus for only $30 annually. Join online by visiting our Web site or by calling us at 800-ALUM-EIU. We appreciate your continuing support!
Show Your Panther Pride! Order EIU Merchandise Online
Purchase your EIU merchandise online by visiting the alumni Web site and clicking on the "Merchandise" link in the left column.
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