May 26, 2017

SIU Foundation presents four inaugural awards

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The SIU Foundation, which raises funds to benefit Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has presented four awards recognizing individuals who have supported its mission and the university. 

The inaugural awards were created in conjunction with the foundation’s 75th anniversary in 2017 and will be presented annually. 

“These awards are our way of recognizing those people who have impacted the foundation in a very special way,” said James Salmo, chief executive officer of the foundation. 

The awards and recipients are: 

  • The Outstanding Student Philanthropy Award, which recognizes a student who has encouraged investing in future Salukis and the campus as a whole: Sarah Hollis, a May graduate who studied foreign language and international trade
  • The Outstanding Faculty and Staff Foundation Award, recognizing a current or retired SIU employee who has provided dedicated and long-term service and leadership to the foundation and university: Gilbert “Gil” Kroening, retired dean emeritus of the College of Agricultural Sciences
  • The Outstanding Foundation Service Award, honoring individuals who demonstrate great leadership, commitment and volunteerism to support philanthropic efforts through their service and assistance on advisory or governing boards, events and programs: alumnus Paul Conti of Glen Ellyn, Ill.
  • The Southern Flame Award, honoring an individual, family, or corporation for outstanding giving and generosity that has helped transform SIU: Pamela and Philip Pfeffer, alumni based in Nashville, Tenn. 

Additional information about the award winners follows. 

Hollis, whose parents both attended SIU, is a native of Battletown, Ky. She joined the SIU Foundation as a student caller her freshman year. She has secured more than 750 donations and raised more than $55,000, according to Susan Rashid, president-elect of the foundation board. 

“Sarah has become a member of a select group of callers to join the $50,000 Club,” Rashid said. “Along with being a top caller, she also takes a lot of pride in helping her peers, especially new student callers, become just as successful as she is.” 

Kroening was a member of the agriculture college’s inaugural graduating class in 1959, earning the outstanding senior award. After completing his master’s degree, also at SIU, he went on to earn his doctoral degree at Cornell University and taught at Washington State University. 

In 1974, he returned home to SIU and became the college’s second-longest serving dean. He later became director of the Office of International Agriculture in the college and was also responsible for the development of a new university-wide program in Foreign Service. 

Kroening and his wife, alumnus Jean Kroening, established the Gil and Jean Kroening Fellowship Lecture Series. This fellowship brings a distinguished speaker to campus annually to address issues such as U.S. and world agriculture, food, and environmental issues. 

“Dr. Kroening was instrumental in the creation of student exchange programs with agricultural programs in Lithuania and Russia,” Rashid said. “This initiative had a significant impact to international programs and international culture on campus.” 

Conti has served SIU for more than 40 years in multiple capacities. Not long after receiving his MBA degree in the 1970s, he worked on alumni scholarship programs for students planning to attend SIU. He helped organize and establish the Chicagoland SIU annual golf outing, Wrigley Field day and White Sox outing.  

Conti was elected to the SIU Alumni Association Board and served as president for two years before being elected to the SIU Foundation Board and serving as its president. 

In addition to serving on search committees for key university leadership positions, he has served as an adviser to the College of Business and was instrumental in establishing the student investment program currently in use through the SIU Foundation. 

Roger Tedrick, current president of the foundation board, said Conti and his wife, Lee Ann, created a student endowment that they have funded for decades. 

“Paul has literally spent decades serving on board executive committees and ad hoc planning committees,” said Tedrick.  “You name it – he has been involved.” 

The Pfeffers met at SIU while they were students. They were both involved in many activities, including the Marching Salukis, where she was the head majorette and he was field announcer.  

Pamela Pfeffer, a Metropolis native, earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1967.  After earning her master’s degree in teaching mathematics from Vanderbilt University in 1968, she was a university mathematics instructor at the University of Tennessee-Nashville before beginning her career in the banking industry. 

Philip Pfeffer, a St. Louis native, is president and CEO of Nashville-based Treemont Capital, Inc., a private equity investment company.  He is a two-degree SIU Carbondale graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry in 1965 and a master’s degree in economics in 1966.  He completed postgraduate studies in economics at Vanderbilt University from 1966 to 1968 as a National Science Foundation Fellow. 

He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from SIU in 1997, the Southern Illinois University Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998 and the Alumni Achievement Award in 1992.  

The Pfeffers, who received a Distinguished Service Award from the university in 2013, are life members of the SIU Alumni Association and the Paul and Virginia Society. Both have served on boards for the Alumni Association, Foundation and College of Liberal Arts.  

The Pfeffers’ giving began in 1981 and has continued for 36 years.  They support the Lindell Sturgis Award, Marching Salukis, the Michael Hanes Scholarship Fund, mathematics, economics, Pulliam Tower, athletics, College of Business, Class of 1965 and Class of 1967 Reunion activities, to name just a few.  

In 1998 the Pfeffers created the Pfeffer Foundation Endowment Fund, which generates annual distributions that benefit the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science and provides grants in support other projects and programs that support academic excellence.  

“The Southern Flame Award is the foundation’s highest honor, and there could be no better inaugural recipients than Pam and Phil,” Tedrick said. “The breadth of their impact is university-wide, and they epitomize the joy of philanthropy at SIU.”