August 27, 2020

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 2021 commencement ceremonies.

The nomination deadline is Oct 21. 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 2021 award recommendations to Chancellor Austin A. Lane, who will forward his recommendation to SIU System President Daniel Mahony for consideration by the SIU Board of Trustees during its Dec. 3, 2020, 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 of retirement, 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, including with the nominee, are confidential. 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 includes:

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

Previous distinguished service award recipients

The list of previous distinguished service award recipients includes:

  • 2020 honorees and alumni Seymour L. Bryson, SIU Carbondale educator and former associate chancellor for diversity, and Carolyn F. Donow, a former researcher and lecturer in psychology and former associate director of the Office of Research Development and Administration.
  • 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.

Other recipients include

  • Greg Cook, businessman and SIU supporter.
  • Michael J. “Mike” Lawrence, former journalist, political adviser and Paul Simon Public Policy Institute director.
  • Marsha G. Ryan, surgeon and university philanthropist.
  • Gene Callahan, former SIU Board of Trustees member, journalist and political adviser.
  • SIU School of Law founder Hiram H. Lesar.
  • Virginia Marmaduke, trailblazing journalist.
  • Dorothy A. “Dede” Lingle Ittner, former educator and longtime SIU supporter.
  • 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, Ill., 62901 For questions, contact her at 453-2341 (phone), 453-5362 (fax) or by email at

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