October 13, 2004

Netsch to receive public service award at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - The Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next week will honor a trailblazer in Illinois government and politics.

Dawn Clark Netsch, the first woman elected to statewide office in Illinois, will receive the 2004 Ralph A. Dunn Public Service Award and deliver the annual Ralph Dunn Lecture on State Government, at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 18, in the law school auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

"Dawn Netsch has been an outstanding public servant," said Public Policy Institute Director Mike Lawrence. "She has had a great career and has been a trailblazer for women."An attorney and expert on government finance issues, Netsch served 18 years in the state senate before serving as comptroller from 1991 to 1995. In 1994 Netsch was the Democratic nominee for Illinois governor -- the first woman to run for the job.

"Her intellect, her integrity and her concern for good public policy ... have made her a real standout on the Illinois political scene," said Lawrence.

The Ralph A. Dunn Fellowship, created in the spring of 2003, honors the former Du Quoin businessman and state legislator. Dunn, who received the first award in 2003, served 22 years in the Illinois General Assembly ­ first as state representative and later as state senator before retiring in 1995. Dunn died May 3 at 90.

The Institute wanted to choose a person who captures the essence of public service and has provided quality public service to Illinois, said development director Matt Baughman. Netsch was selected prior to Dunn's death.

"We wanted it to be someone Ralph Dunn had known, worked with and felt good about being the next recipient," Baughman said. "Ralph was very enthusiastic about Dawn Netsch being the recipient this year."

In spite of belonging to different political parties and working on separate sides of the legislative aisle, Dunn and Netsch admired each other, said Baughman. The two became friends while serving as delegates to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention and later served together in the Illinois General Assembly.

"They worked together across party lines on several matters," said Lawrence. "Dawn is a strong Democrat; Ralph was a strong Republican. I think both recognized the value of working in a bi-partisan way to address the needs of the people in this state."

Netsch, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University, graduated first in her class from Northwestern University School of Law in 1952. She practiced as an attorney in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and served the state in various capacities, including as a legal aide to former Gov. Otto Kerner in the 1960s.

Netsch, who lives in Chicago, is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University School of Law.

In addition to the lecture, Netsch will speak to students in Lawrence's "Critical and Persuasive Writing" journalism class, and a class on Constitutional Law at the SIUC law school.

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information, contact the Public Policy Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit http://www.siu.edu/~ppi.