September 30, 2008

Association to honor three Distinguished Alumni

by Kathy Dillard

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Alumni Association will honor three prominent graduates as Distinguished Alumni during the University’s homecoming activities Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10 and 11.

The SIU Alumni Association will honor the alumni at 2:30 p.m., Oct. 10, at a public reception and wall unveiling in the Student Recreation Center’s Alumni Lounge. Their framed photos will become part of the University’s Distinguished Alumni wall in the Student Recreation Center.

Individuals were selected for the honor they bring to the University through outstanding performance in their career field or profession, or, for their exemplary history of service to SIUC, which has benefited the University, and enhanced educational opportunities for current students.

The 2008 SIU Distinguished Alumni are: Thomas Baker, a former lieutenant general in the United States Air Force, whose recognitions include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, and a one oak leaf cluster Air Medal representing second and subsequent entitlements of awards. Baker was also the first director of the Texas State Jail System. Beth Boggs, managing and founding partner of Boggs, Avellino, Lach and Boggs, L.L.C., is an adjunct professor at Webster University and frequent speaker and author on insurance and legal/medical topics. Boggs is also the founder of Step It Up, a charitable organization in the St. Louis area devoted to providing free shoes and socks to underprivileged children. Keith Sanders, a member of the SIU Board of Trustees, has also served SIUC as a faculty member, dean of the College of Mass Communications and Fine Arts and chief governmental relations officer.

Here is a closer look at this year’s honorees:

Lt. General Thomas A. Baker of Williamsburg, Va., was born in the small rural river town of Golconda, Ill., in 1935. He was the first of his family to attend college.

He graduated from SIUC in 1957 with a bachelor of science in business administration, later earning an MBA from Arizona State University (‘68). He was also a graduate of the Royal Air Force Staff College (‘70) and the National War College (‘75).

Following graduation from SIUC, Baker was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and upon the completion of undergraduate pilot training began a career as a fighter pilot. He had a series of assignments in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including a combat tour in Vietnam in 1966. Upon promotion to general officer in 1982, Baker began a series of assignments to key command and staff positions across the Air Force, culminating in his final assignment in 1993 as Commander 12th Air Force.

In his more than 35 years of service, Baker accumulated more than 5,000 flying hours in a variety of tactical aircraft. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, and an Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster.

Upon his return to civilian life, Baker was chosen as the first director of the new Texas State Jail System. In this capacity, he directed the incarceration and rehabilitation efforts in 26 facilities across Texas with an inmate population of 30,000.

Baker is married to the former Beverly Rudy of LaCenter, Ky. They have two children and four grandchildren. He currently lives in retirement in Williamsburg, Va., where he is involved in a variety of community activities.

General and Mrs. Baker are lifetime members of the SIU Alumni Association.

Beth Boggs of St. Louis, Mo., is the managing and founding partner of Boggs, Avellino, Lach and Boggs, L.L.C. She received her Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1991, where she was a member of the Law Journal staff. She received a bachelor of arts from Governors State University in University Park, Ill. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Boggs is admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts of Missouri and Illinois. She served for many years as an adjunct professor at Webster University teaching in the area of healthcare law. She is a frequent speaker and author on insurance and legal/medical topics. She has published extensively, including in the SIU Law Journal, the Illinois Bar Journal, The Journal of the Missouri Bar, and the American Bar Association Magazine: Coverage. She also speaks in the area of cultural diversity for local employers. She has published chapters for two Missouri continuing Legal Education Desk Books: Rights and Remedies, and Litigation Settlements.

Her professional affiliations include the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, the American Bar Association, the Missouri Bar, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Lawyers Association of St. Louis, the Women Lawyers Association, the St. Clair County Bar Association, The National Association of Insurance Women, Risk and Insurance Management Society, and Defense Research Institute.

She is also the founder of Step It Up, a charitable organization in the St. Louis area devoted to providing free shoes and socks to underprivileged children. Step It Up has partnered with Head Start in the St. Louis area and through this partnership, visits centers each month to provide distributions of free shoes and socks to various needy children. Boggs serves as president of the organization.

Boggs also runs an organization, , dedicated to promoting the purchase of American-made goods by American companies. As part of that goal, the organization encourages American retailers to set aside portions of their stores designated solely for goods made in America.

She met her husband, Darin (’90), during law school. The couple competed in various competitions at the Student Recreation Center, including mixed doubles ping pong. They have endowed a scholarship to the School of Law for the winner of the annual Boggs, Avellino, Lach & Boggs Law School Ping Pong Tournament.

Boggs and her husband are lifetime members of the SIU Alumni Association.

Keith Sanders, a native of Benton, Ill., entered SIUC on a scholarship in 1957 and soon became a prominent member of SIUC’s championship debate team. He won the Illinois State Intercollegiate Debating Championship, the Illinois State Oratorical Championship, and was designated one of the “top 10” debaters in the United States at the National Debate Tournament.

Sanders earned a bachelor of science from SIUC in 1961 and a master of science in 1962. Both degrees were in speech communication. He was granted a research fellowship to attend the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a doctorate in communication in 1968. Early next year, he will receive a master of liberal arts from the University of Chicago.

His commitment to education has been exemplary, holding posts of assistant professor of speech at George Washington University, serving SIUC as an instructor, assistant professor, and associate professor of speech before becoming a professor of speech communication, and also serving the University as the governmental relations officer in the Office of the Chancellor (now the Office of the President) and as dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. Sanders also held the post of chancellor at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and was later promoted to senior vice president and chief operating officer of the entire University of Wisconsin system. He was elected president of the prestigious Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.

The commitment continued when he returned to Illinois in 1998 to become executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, a post he held until his retirement in 2002. During his tenure, Illinois was cited by the National Commission on Public Policy and Higher Education as having the best system of higher education in the nation.

Sanders has co-authored and edited numerous books, chapters and papers and presented at more than 30 conferences worldwide. Some of his publications are among the founding documents of a new academic specialty. He was a guest lecturer at such universities as the University of Illinois, the Universitè of Paris IV (the Sorbonne), and the University of Vienna. He has been honored by the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives, the IBHE, the Illinois Community College Board, and by public and private colleges across the state. May 19, 2002, was declared by proclamation of the governor as Keith R. Sanders Day in Illinois.

In October 2006, he and his wife, Carol, endowed a scholarship to support high-achieving, low-income students from Benton Community High School or Rend Lake College in Ina.

Sanders was a member of the national board of directors for the SIU Alumni Association, and served as its president from 1977 to 1978. In 1996, he proudly received the Alumni Achievement Award for Service. Currently, he is a member of the SIU Board of Trustees.

Keith and Carol Sanders (B.S. ’61) are lifetime members of the SIU Alumni Association.

thomas bakerbeth boggsketih sanders