February 14, 2011

University to honor George Sheffer for service

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Carbondale businessman George Sheffer will receive the Distinguished Service Award at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Business commencement ceremony in May in honor of his service to SIUC and the community.

“George is the epitome of distinguished service -- to this university and to this community. Whatever is needed, whenever it is needed, you can count on George Sheffer being ready and willing to step forward and assist. It is an honor to know and work with him,” said J. Dennis Cradit, dean of the College of Business.

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

Sheffer is a native of suburban Chicago and his entrepreneurship began early. At the age of 14 he began working for just a dollar an hour to help pay his Catholic school tuition. By the time he began attending college, he already had years of construction industry experience. He arrived at SIUC in 1971, studying engineering technology, but a year later the U.S. Army drafted him. He continued studies intermittently at SIUC thereafter.

His business career really took off in 1979 with a partnership in the Harrisburg True Value store. Seven years later he sold the store and came to the Murdale True Value store in Carbondale. He is currently the owner and president.

Sheffer’s involvement with SIUC is extensive and longstanding. He has been an adjunct associate professor in the College of Business’ marketing department and along with wife Diane, established the “Murdale True Value Carbondale and Carbondale Achieve Scholarship Fund” benefitting students applying to the SIUC Achieve program.

In addition, Sheffer created the “Community Cares Scholarships” program and organized local businesses to contribute. Each year, Sheffer personally contacted small businesses in Carbondale and surrounding communities asking for a minimum $500 scholarship to the University, thus helping recruit new students to SIUC. At his own expense, Sheffer then hosted a reception at his home for contributors, scholarship recipients and University personnel to celebrate the year’s activities. The program continued for several years and today many of the businesses Sheffer brought on board continue to support scholarships for University students.

If you’ve ever noticed the painted Saluki paw prints on streets leading toward SIUC, you’ve seen more of Sheffer’s handiwork. The Saluki Pride Committee, with Sheffer as chairman, conceived the plan to paint the prints, marking Saluki territory. Each summer and early fall, under Sheffer’s direction, a crew of volunteers spends about two full days painting the paw prints on local streets. The University incurs no expense.

Sheffer’s contributions and involvement go above and beyond his business activities. He participates in numerous volunteer and community service activities. Currently president of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, he continues as a member of the Saluki Pride Committee and also served on the steering committee for Southern Illinois Regional Social Services. He has coached youth soccer, softball and baseball as well

Numerous awards have come to Sheffer in honor of his efforts. He was the College of Business Southern Illinois Business Leader of the Year in 1998, the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year in 1999 and won the 2000 Retail Business of the Year award from the Jackson County Development Corporation. The Southern Business Journal named Sheffer a 2004 “Leaders Among Us” award winner and he also won the 2005 President’s Award from the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of Main Street Award in 2008 from the Carbondale Main Street Board.