August 28, 2019

SIU Carbondale accepting honorary degree/service award nominations

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale is now accepting nominations for honorary degree and distinguished service awards that will be presented at May 2020 commencement ceremonies. 

The nomination deadline is Oct. 23. Nominations are also open to the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. The nominating committee, comprised of faculty and university constituency members, will submit the 2020 award recommendations to Chancellor John M. Dunn, who will forward his recommendation to the President for approval at the SIU Board of Trustees Dec. 5, 2019 meeting. 

Honorary degrees are presented to individuals who have made outstanding scholarly contributions or are of considerable renown in any field of activity. The degree can also be awarded to people who have uniquely contributed to human well-being or whose accomplishments resulted in a marked benefit to society.

Distinguished Service Awards honor individuals who have contributed to Southern Illinois, the state, nation, world or the university. No university employee will be considered for the service award in the year they are retiring, although exceptionally qualified employees can be considered for the award either before or after the year they retire.

Nomination letters must include a two- or three-page resume, curriculum vita or biographic sketch that includes a description of the nominee's unique contributions. All nominations are confidential and will not be shared with the nominee. Further information about these awards is available at  

Direct all inquiries to the committee chair, Joey Helleny, at or 618/453-6903.

Previous honorary degree recipients

The list of prior honorary degree recipients include:

  • Former Illinois governors Jim Edgar, William G. Stratton and Otto Kerner.
  • Noted former SIU Carbondale officials Professor R. Buckminster Fuller; SIU Chancellor Donald L. Beggs and former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon.
  • Alumna Joan E. Higginbotham, the first Saluki to fly aboard a space shuttle.
  • Actor Richard Roundtree.
  • Actress Melissa McCarthy.
  • Janice Jacobs, U.S. diplomat and foreign affairs officer.
  • Richard Peck, award-winning children’s novelist.
  • Dick Gregory, former SIU cross-country and track standout.
  • Activist and civil rights leader Charles Neblett.
  • Thanu Kulachol, president emeritus of Bangkok University and former senator of Thailand.
  • Minnijean Brown Trickey, member of the “Little Rock Nine,” who with eight other African-American students were the first to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in the late 1950s.

Previous distinguished service award recipients

The list of previous distinguished service award recipients include:

  • 2019 honorees and alumni Richard Blaudow, who co-founded Advanced Technology Services Inc., and Jim and Vicki Blair of Energy, SIU supporters.
  • 2018 honorees and alumni Bob Gower, an international leader in the chemical industry, and retired U.S. Air Force and SIU Carbondale educator Harvey Welch.
  • 2017 honorees Greg Cook, businessman and SIU supporter; Gene Callahan, former SIU Board of Trustees member, journalist and political adviser, and former educator and longtime SIU supporter Dorothy A. “Dede” Lingle Ittner.

Other recipients include

  • Michael J. “Mike” Lawrence, former journalist, political adviser and Paul Simon Public Policy Institute director.
  • Marsha G. Ryan, surgeon and university philanthropist.
  • SIU School of Law founder Hiram H. Lesar.
  • Virginia Marmaduke, trailblazing journalist.
  • Marianne Webb, Distinguished University Organist and professor emeritus of music.
  • Barbara Lesar, longtime university supporter.

Completed nominations should be sent to Leslie Mills, Office of the Chancellor, Mail Code 4304, Anthony Hall, Room 116, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, 62901 For questions, contact her at 618/453-2341 (phone), 618/453-5362 (fax) or by email at

Please indicate in the submission whether the nomination is for honorary degree or distinguished service award consideration.