October 05, 2006

SIUC to honor Don Magee during Homecoming

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor a longtime volunteer and alumnus during the Salukis' Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 7.

Don Magee, who attended SIUC during the early 1960s, will receive an award for his 26 years of work on behalf of the University at the Illinois State Fairs. Magee will receive the award following the first quarter of play during the Salukis' game against the Western Illinois University Leathernecks, which starts at 1:30 p.m. at McAndrew Stadium.

Susan L. Davis, executive director of SIUC's Media & Communication Resources, which coordinates the University's promotional efforts at the state fairs, said Magee is instrumental in the department's efforts.

"This is an honor that is long overdue," Davis said. "Don really makes our efforts in Springfield possible; it's that simple. We put a lot of effort into promoting both the Edwardsville and Carbondale campuses at the fairs and it takes lots of volunteers, but it's really Don who makes it all work together.

"He's there every morning, he works every day. He is extremely valuable and we want to honor his commitment of more than 25 years," Davis said.

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said Magee's dedication to the University is a wonderful example of alumni support.

"Don shows his Saluki pride wherever he goes and we greatly admire his commitment and appreciate his strong support of SIUC," Wendler said.

A native of LaSalle-Peru, Magee attended SIUC from 1961 to 1963 and studied animal science and nutrition in the College of Agriculture. He met his wife, Karen, a mathematics major, during his three years in Carbondale. The couple lives in Springfield.
Magee, who almost always wears at least one piece of Saluki apparel at any given time, said he was humbled by the recognition.

"I was totally surprised and I really feel there are many, many other people who are equally deserving of it," said Magee, 65, of Springfield. "For both Karen and I, this is a way we can give back to the University that gave us our start."

Karen said SIUC is dear to both of them.

"We both bleed maroon," she said. "We met there and have just always had a soft spot in our hearts for SIUC."

Following high school, Magee attended community college in his hometown, where he met a college official who was from Carbondale. When it came time to transfer, the man encouraged Magee to check out SIUC.

"I was so impressed with the faculty, the friendliness and the atmosphere of the area," Magee said. "That's how I became a Saluki."

As a student, Magee joined service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, where one of his activities included caring for the University-owned Saluki dogs, Ornah Farouk and Burydown Datis. Years later, Karen and he would begin raising Salukis themselves. The couple will be among those bringing their Salukis — 6-year-old Fabian and 3-year-old Khalila —to Homecoming festivities this weekend.

After their marriage in 1963, the Magees lived in several locations around the state including Southern Illinois, where Don worked for Hardee's, setting up franchise locations throughout the area. They later moved to Springfield where Don now owns Magee Consulting, which specializes in setting up communication networks for physicians. Karen works in traffic safety for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

After moving to Springfield, Magee joined the Prairie Capital Chapter of the SIU Alumni Association, where he began volunteering his time as a University representative at the state fair. He later served eight years on SIU Alumni Association board, including two terms as its president from 2001 to 2003. He also served on various University groups including the University Image Committee, athletics committee and in 1995 on a Springfield group that brought the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament to the city.

The Magees often visit SIUC to attend sporting and other events, usually bringing their Salukis in tow. They intend to support the University for a long time to come.

"It takes commitment from the alumni to make the University known and grow," Magee said.

Conducting more aggressive and effective outreach to University alumni 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.