June 13, 2007
Dietz wins 2007 Sturgis public service awardCARBONDALE, Ill. — Larry H. Dietz fondly recalls holiday dinners in his childhood home in De Soto.
"We had a small house, but it was always full of people at the holidays," Dietz, Southern Illinois University Carbondale's vice chancellor for student affairs, said. "I was raised that you extend a hand to the less fortunate, which is what my family always did, and I am much richer for it."
Today (June 13), Dietz received the 2007 Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award in recognition of his long-standing commitment to community service. Roger Tedrick, chair of the SIU Board of Trustees, presented Dietz with the award during a luncheon at the Student Center.
The 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.
Dietz was born in Murphysboro, grew up in De Soto and graduated from Carbondale Community High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from SIUC in 1970, his master's in higher education and personnel in 1974 from Iowa State University, and his doctorate in professional studies in 1985, also from Iowa State.
Dietz returned to SIUC to assume the vice chancellor position in 2000, after holding several positions over a 15-year period at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He served as assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, associate chancellor, and finally vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management prior to moving back to his native Jackson County.
SIUC's Student Affairs division includes Career Services, Counseling Center, Disability Support Services, International Programs and Services, Rainbow's End Child Development Center, Recreational Sports and Services, Student Center, Student Development, Student Health Center, Student Judicial Affairs, Students' Legal Assistance, Supplemental Instruction and University Housing.
Despite workweeks that can extend beyond 70 hours, Dietz demonstrates his "unselfishness and compassion" by continually taking the time to volunteer, according to the trio of Student Affairs' employees who nominated him. Vicki A. Nelson, an administrative assistant II, Tracee A. Norris, annual fund director, and graduate assistant Tiffany Heil submitted the nomination.
"As a native of the area, Dr. Dietz has had impressed upon him the values of the region and knows how important it is to remember where you come from and to always help where you can," they said in their cover letter.
Nelson, Norris and Heil also wrote: "This University and the people of this region have benefited from his devotion to making it a better place to live and to work. He serves not only as a role model for the students, but also for his fellow faculty and staff members; he is an inspiration and that is why we feel he deserves this award."
Dietz has an extensive public service record, including: Four years on the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; three years on the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale; four-year member of the Carbondale Convention and Tourism Bureau; Rotary International member for seven years; and steering committee member, Leadership Carbondale.
In her nominating letter, Heil noted, "As a student volunteer coordinator of the Beautify Southern Illinois Campaign, I remember one event when Dr. Dietz volunteered to pick up litter with the 100 SIUC student volunteers. The student volunteers were highly impressed that a vice chancellor, a head administrator, had volunteered his Saturday morning to help collect litter from the campus and Carbondale community."
She said that when the cleanup was over, "the students were beaming about their interaction with this key administrator; they were able to have a real, inspirational conversation with their vice chancellor and it undoubtedly increased the pride of these students in this University."
Dietz said he is "very humbled" by the award and "appreciative of the folks who nominated me."
"My family is honored also, and I share this with them, my staff and my students," he said. "I want this to reflect on all of those who have helped me."
While his job is demanding, Dietz said he draws inspiration from his wife, Marlene, and his brother, Cliff.
"My wife travels a lot, but she also finds time to volunteer a great deal," Dietz said. "My brother is disabled after suffering from polio when he was 9 years old. But he is always volunteering in the community. Any time I feel tired, I call him. He does more than I do, and I don't have the physical limitations."
He also noted that he is "just one of literally thousands at this University who do this day in and day out."
"I've always been enriched in the process of volunteering," Dietz said. "You learn about the challenges that others face, and you learn about yourself."
Nor does he mind spending a Saturday morning working alongside students.
"That gives me the opportunity to talk about the benefits I have received because of my education," Dietz said. "Education is a life-changer, it gives you more options. The question is, what are you going to do with those options?
"I talk to students all the time about stepping up and stepping out. That's what leadership is about. That's the only way things will get better in our region, in the state or in the nation."
Public servant – Roger Tedrick, left, chair of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, presents Larry H. Dietz with the 2007 Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award during a luncheon today in Carbondale. The award recognizes the long-standing commitment to community service displayed by Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs at SIUC. The 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.
Photo by Steve Buhman