May 09, 2006

Suarez, Tichenor are Sturgis award recipients

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two long-time Southern Illinois University Carbondale employees are winners of the 2006 Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Award.

Carmen Suarez, coordinator for diversity and equity, is the recipient of the Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award and Jak Tichenor, WSIU-TV host/producer, is recipient of the Sturgis Memorial Professional Achievement Award.

SIU President Glenn W. Poshard and SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler will present the awards during a luncheon at noon on Wednesday, May 10, in Ballroom C of the Student Center

The Sturgis Award, given annually by the SIU Board of Trustees since 1980, recognizes SIUC employees for public service unrelated to their jobs. It carries a $750 cash prize and is named after a Metropolis native who served on the SIU Board for more than 30 years. Sturgis chaired the board from 1969 until his retirement in 1971. He died in 1972.

"I feel very honored and it was just wonderful to even be considered," said Suarez. "I've grown up here at SIU. It's been a place that's allowed me to grow and mature as a person. My own definition of public service has grown from my experiences here."

Suarez holds two degrees from SIUC, a bachelor's degree in history (1980) and a master's degree in medieval history (1983). She is working on a doctoral degree in higher education administration.

Suarez served as assistant dean for career services at SIUC's School of Law before taking the position as coordinator for diversity and equity in 2004.

Her commitment to public service is extensive. She was SIUC's Hispanic community liaison from 1994 to 1997 and an affirmative action officer for the University from 1990 to 1994. She served two separate terms on the Women's Center of Carbondale Board and is a founding member of Carbondale's Human Relations Commission.

In addition, Suarez donates her time as a volunteer Spanish translator for legal clients through the law school's Domestic Violence Clinic.

"I know of no one who has committed her time and energies to the Carbondale community more than Carmen. Her areas of service are too numerous to list in their entirety," Jill Adams, associate law professor, wrote in a letter nominating Suarez for the honor.

Tichenor began his career at SIUC in 1981. He started as a producer/announcer at WSIU-FM and transitioned from radio to television in 1989. Today, he hosts several television series on WSIU-TV including "Illinois Lawmakers," a show produced in Springfield when the Illinois Legislature is in session. He also produces documentaries for the station.

As a pilot, Tichenor worked with the aviation management and flight department in developing videos to help recruit students into the program. He is vice chair of the Carbondale Cable Commission and also serves as moderator for debates organized by the American Association of Retired Persons.

Over the years, Tichenor has also taught, mentored and tutored hundreds of radio-television students.

"Jak Tichenor is highly respected by not only his peers, but by students and anyone who has ever interacted with him. His honesty and fairness in his reporting and interviews, as well as in his daily activities, are indicators of his high moral standards," writes William R. Norwood, a retied pilot and former member of the SIU Board of Trustees, in a nominating letter.

Tichenor holds two degrees from SIUC, a bachelor's degree in radio-television (1979) and a master's degree in public visual communications (1989).

"I'm very surprised and humbled. It's really quite an honor to be recognized by your alma mater, the place that in so many ways made you who are you. Doing the kind of work you love at a place that is special to you – it doesn't get any better than that," said Tichenor.

Serving others 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

Jak Tichenor

Jak Tichenor
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Carmen Suarez

Carmen Suarez
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