February 12, 2009

SIUC to honor Barbara Lesar for service

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor longtime supporter Barbara Lesar with a Distinguished Service Award during the SIU School of Law commencement ceremony in May.

The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees approved the honor today (Feb. 12) during its meeting in Carbondale. Spring 2009 commencement for the School of Law is May 7 in Shryock Auditorium.

The University’s Honorary Degree and Distinguished Service Award Committee recommended Lesar for the award, in consultation with other University leaders. The committee is comprised of faculty and constituency members.

Law school faculty nominated Lesar, who turns 90 in March, Dean Peter C. Alexander said.

“She is a delight; she is energetic,” Alexander said. “She is our No. 1 supporter at the School of Law, and I suspect that other campus units can say the same thing about her. She has been a tireless servant for so many departments on campus that I’m very pleased we will be able to honor her contributions at our commencement.”

The resolution recognizing Lesar notes her tireless contributions to the University for many years. She participated in many University events when her first husband, the late Dr. Richard Thomas, was a faculty member. After he passed away, Lesar later married the School of Law’s founding dean, Hiram H. Lesar, where her University involvement continued to grow.

“Mrs. Lesar has been a true champion for the School of Law,” Alexander wrote in his nomination letter. “As Hiram Lesar’s widow, Mrs. Lesar has considered it her responsibility to make sure that Dr. Lesar’s vision is supported every way possible. To that end she serves as an active member of our Board of Visitors and she attends every law school event that we hold.”

Alexander’s letter also states that while age “does not seem to slow her down a bit, the School of Law community would like to recognize her remarkable energy and dedication on the occasion of her upcoming milestone birthday.”

The board’s resolution notes that Lesar is a co-chair of one of the law school’s fund-raising committees working to endow a professorship in her late husband’s honor. She has also served as an advocate for the law school by meeting with the chancellor and president “in an effort to improve the Law School’s reporting relationship with the central administration.”

The resolution notes Lesar “has been a tireless contributor to the University for many years.”

The resolution points to Lesar’s faithful donations to many units on campus, including Intercollegiate Athletics, the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, the College of Education and Human Services, the SIU Foundation, the SIU School of Law, the College of Liberal Arts, the Dorothy Morris Garden, Morris Library, University Museum, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Student Affairs, and WSIU Public Broadcasting.

Lesar serves on the Friends of WSIU Advisory Board, and also served as its president, and has lobbied Congress on behalf of the station, the resolution states. According to Jak Tichenor, a producer with SIU Public Broadcasting, Lesar has been a “tireless supporter” of WSIU, the resolution states.

“You can always count on Barbara to lend her time, her treasure and her goodwill to everything we do,” Tichenor said in the resolution.

The resolution also notes Lesar’s involvement with Morris Library. She served on the Morris Library Board of Visitors from September 1997 until January 2006, and she continues to support the library’s activities.