January 12, 2011

University mourns death of Trustee Keith Sanders

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Keith R. Sanders, Ph.D., former executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and a member of the SIU Board of Trustees (BOT) since 2004, died this morning (Jan. 12) from complications related to pulmonary fibrosis. Sanders, who resided in Spring Grove, is survived by his wife Carol and his son Mark. He was 71 years old.

“It is with great sadness that the board has learned of Dr. Sanders’ death,” BOT Chair Roger Tedrick said. “Keith was a passionate and eloquent advocate for Southern Illinois University, a man held in deep respect by his fellow board members for his unwavering commitment to this institution.”

A Benton native, Sanders was a two-degree SIUC graduate, holding both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in speech/psychology. He earned his Ph.D. in communications from the University of Pittsburgh. Sanders was currently working on an additional graduate degree at the University of Chicago.

“Southern Illinois University was blessed with the opportunity to have Dr. Sanders serve his alma mater and the state of Illinois,” Tedrick said. “The exceptional stewardship he provided to the university he so dearly loved was instrumental in allowing SIU to make progress in the face of some of the most difficult times public higher education has ever seen.”

Sanders’ distinguished career in higher education spanned five decades, including serving as the executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education from 1998 until his retirement in 2002, various appointments in the University of Wisconsin system from 1989 to 1997, including Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the University of Wisconsin System and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Sanders’ academic service at SIUC included stints as dean of the former College of Communication and Fine Arts from 1983 to 1989 and professor in communications from 1967 to 1989.

Sanders’ tenure on the BOT will be most remembered for his work in promoting affordable access to a public higher education degree. Sanders, who served as chair of the BOT’s Finance Committee, was a strong voice on the board in support of last year’s enactment of a tuition rate freeze. In 2006, he and his wife Carol endowed an alumni scholarship at SIUC to support the academic goals of high-achieving, low-income students from Franklin County, Ill. At last month’s SIU Board of Trustees meeting, Sanders pledged the first financial contribution to the newly proposed student success center at SIUC.

“The thoughts and prayers of our entire university community go out to today to Carol and her family for their loss,” SIU President Glenn Poshard stated. “Dr. Sanders’ contributions to this University over the last 50 years have been many; but in my view, his greatest gift was the constant vigil he kept for those least able to afford a college education. No one was truer to the mission of this University and its role of lifting students of modest means into this country’s great middle class than Dr. Sanders.”

A memorial service at Southern Illinois University will be held at a future date.

Keith R. Sanders’ service to Southern Illinois

and Southern Illinois University

Native of Benton, Ill.

Graduate of Benton Consolidated High School, 1957

Earned B.S. degree from SIUC, 1961

Married Carol Dial, SIUC graduate, 1961

Earned M.S. degree from SIUC, 1962

Member of SIUC faculty, 1967-1989

Son, Mark, born (1968) and raised in Carbondale, Ill.

President, Jackson County Chapter, SIUC Alumni Association, 1970

Vice Chairman, SIUC Faculty Senate, 1970

President, SIUC Alumni Association, 1977-1978

Chairperson, Chancellor Search Assistance Council, a group that helped the Board choose the first head of the SIU System, 1979

Governmental Relations Officer, SIU System, 1980-1983

Dean, College of Communication and Fine Arts, SIUC, 1983-1989

Co-chair, Statewide Coordinating Committee, in charge of “Let’s Put Our Money Where Our Minds Are,” a successful campaign for an income tax increase for education, 1988

Alumni Achievement Award recipient, SIUC, 1996

Appointed by James Walker, President, SIU, to serve on strategic planning committee, “2020 Vision Committee,” 2001-2002

Received Proclamation of “Recognition and Distinction,” given by the SIU Board of Trustees upon retirement from the position of Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education

Twice honored by resolutions of appreciation passed by the Illinois General Assembly. May 19, 2002, was designated Keith R. Sanders Day in Illinois

Member, Board of Trustees, Southern Illinois University, 2004-present

Distinguished Alumni recipient, SIUC, 2008

He and his wife Carol endowed an alumni scholarship at SIUC to support the academic goals of high-achieving, low-income students from Franklin County, Ill.

(For more information, contact Dave Gross at 217/545-8080.)