March 31, 2006

Lynn, Susan McPheeters give back to business college

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Lynn McPheeters, who, retired a year ago as vice president and chief financial officer, of Caterpillar Inc., continues to give back to his alma mater, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Thanks to the generosity of McPheeters and his wife, Susan, the University will benefit through the establishment of the F. Lynn and Susan F. McPheeters Charitable Remainder Trust. The couple donated $585,500 in appreciated Caterpillar stock to SIUC's College of Business and Administration, through the SIU Foundation.

The Foundation sold the stock, and then invested the proceeds. During the next 10 years, the Foundation will provide an income from the invested funds to the McPheeters' daughters. The money then is available to the University at the end of the 10-year period.

The donation will support the college's first endowed chair, the Susan F. and F. Lynn McPheeters College of Business and Administration Leadership Endowed Chair. The minimum amount required to create an endowed chair at SIUC is $1 million; the gift from the McPheeters brings the total committed for this chair to nearly $836,000.

The couple's gift, an endowment, applies specifically to the dean's position, which University and college officials believe will help attract world-class candidates. Currently, SIUC is in the process of finding a replacement for Dan Worrell, who served as business college dean for six years before leaving last year to become dean of the University of Arkansas' Sam Walton College of Business.

"After getting my degree at Southern and then going on to a long career with Caterpillar, I always felt like I wanted at some point to give back to the college," said McPheeters, a native of Canton. "I'm very interested in the leadership of the college and in the dean search."

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler thanked the McPheeters for their leadership and generosity. "We thank the McPheeters for their gift and their astute understanding of the competitive nature of executive leadership for business schools in this country," Wendler said. "This will make a positive difference for students and faculty for all future generations, and that is a very powerful gift to the Saluki family."

Gregory P. White, a 27-year veteran of the business college faculty and current interim dean, noted that the market for business college deans nationally is extremely competitive.

"There aren't that many highly qualified people looking for dean positions," White noted. "For us to grab one of those outstanding leaders takes an attractive package. An endowed chair will be significant in attracting a quality leader."

Tammy A. Cavarretta, associate director for institutional advancement, noted that McPheeters was among the first members of the business college's external advisory board, formed 24 years ago.

"He has watched the college's struggles to attract top-notch leadership," she said.

McPheeters, a member of the college's hall of fame and recipient in 2004 of the business college's alumni achievement award, represents the external advisory board on the search committee for the new college dean. He also is a member of the SIU Foundation Board.

He credited Worrell with doing "an excellent job" during his tenure as dean.

"It is very important that we continue the strong leadership in the college," McPheeters said.

"It is an excellent college, a leader for the University. It is necessary in the State of Illinois, if we are going to continue to produce the kind of graduates that companies like Caterpillar want to recruit, to maintain the leadership."

McPheeters noted that the external advisory board several years ago identified the need to enhance the dean's position to attract high-quality leadership.

"My hope was that by giving the gift at this point, it would serve as an impetus for others to increase their support for the college and the University and its capital campaign," he said.

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and CEO of the SIU Foundation, acknowledged the McPheeters' generosity.

"As a member of the SIU Foundation Board, Lynn has been a leader, serving currently as chair of the audit committee," McCurry said. "He certainly understands leadership and the importance of leadership. This gift will help to ensure our ability to attract and retain top leadership for the College of Business and Administration now and in perpetuity."

McPheeters also helped secure funding from Caterpillar for scholarships, a high-tech classroom, student support programs and faculty development in the SIUC business college. Through his efforts, Caterpillar continues to recruit SIUC graduates, and SIUC is one of the company's Strategic Partner Schools.

After earning a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1964 from Southern's College of Business and Administration, McPheeters joined Caterpillar Inc. as a college graduate trainee in accounting. He enjoyed a distinguished 40-year career with the Peoria-based manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

Cultivating relationships is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.