February 14, 2011

Beck to receive SIUC Distinguished Service Award

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In recognition of his devotion and service for more than three decades to his alma mater, Southern Illinois and the state, George William “Bill” Beck will receive the Distinguished Service Award at the May Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Business commencement.

The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee approved the award today (Feb. 14). The full board will be asked to ratify the action at its regular April meeting.

“Bill is an outstanding example of an alum who has continued to support his alma mater with a passion that is clear to all who interact with him. We are very proud that he is one of our own and very happy that he is being recognized with this award,” said J. Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business.

Beck is a 1970 graduate of SIUC with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is currently the CEO of Beck Bus Transportation. His grandfather, George Lee Beck, founded the company in 1946 and after Bill’s graduation from college, he purchased his first bus from his father. Under his guiding hand, the company grew from a two-bus operation to a business employing more than 300 people and with 200 school buses, 12 charter coaches and 15 transit buses. About two dozen Southern Illinois and southern Indiana school districts utilize the buses and Saluki Express at SIUC uses the transit buses as well. Although he sold the company in 2007, he continues as CEO.

Beck, of Mt. Vernon, serves as a trustee for the Good Samaritan Regional Health Center Foundation and since 1998 has been a member of Mt. Vernon Police and Fire Commission, currently serving as chair. He is a member of the Past-President’s Council of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and a current member and past president of the Mt. Vernon Crime Stoppers.

Honored in 2007 as a “Leader Among Us” by the “Southern Business Journal,” Beck told his interviewer that the people he dealt with in his business were what is most important to him and that he strived to build a well-respected company known for its safety and integrity. The award recognizes leaders who make Southern Illinois a better place to work and live.

Beck’s commitment to service is obvious at the state level as well, according to the recommendation of the Honorary Degrees and Distinguished Service Awards Committee. He’s twice been chairman of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce and is currently finance chairman for the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce Executive Board. He also previously served on the Illinois Development Finance Authority Board and was the vice chairman of operations.

A member of the SIUC School of Accountancy Advisory Board since 2000, he advises the director regarding student recruitment and retention, curriculum and professional development, and maintaining accreditation. Known for promoting the College of Business and University in the professional community and to the general public, Beck is a lifetime member of the SIU Alumni Association and an avid Saluki fan. The College of Business named him Southern Illinois Business Leader of the Year in 1999 in recognition of his numerous contributions to the region.

In addition, Beck and his wife Barbara, a 1971 elementary education SIUC alumna, established a scholarship endowment to help students afford business degrees. One of the largest scholarship endowments in the College of Business, it funds the Bill and Barbara Beck Accounting Scholarship Endowment and Beck continues to contribute generously to the fund. Saluki Athletics, Saluki Way, the College of Business Accounting Circle, the James King Memorial Accounting Scholarship Endowment, WSIU Fantasy Auction and the Education Excellence Fund also benefit from Beck’s philanthropy.

Beck donated a bus to the Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy, an organization in Rantoul aiding at-risk young men and women get a new start. He and Barbara are major contributors to the Mitchell Museum, where they established the Barbara J. Beck Family Education Center and the Beck Family Art Gallery.