April 21, 2021

SIU to present honorary degrees, distinguished service awards during commencement ceremonies

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale will celebrate the achievements of eight individuals with honorary degrees and distinguished service awards during commencement ceremonies May 7-9 at Saluki Stadium.

Ezike-Headshot-sm.jpgDr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, will receive an honorary Doctor of Community Health degree during ceremonies honoring College of Applied Sciences and Arts graduates at noon May 8.

The eight individuals, including Ezike, received SIU Board of Trustees approval. Spring 2021 ceremonies will be in person, following protocols of the Restore Illinois Plan. Social distancing and masks will be required for all participants, guests, and staff. Ceremonies over the three-day celebration will be for spring 2021 graduates along with 2020 graduates.

Ezike, a board-certified internist and pediatrician, has headed IDPH since 2019. The recommendation notes Ezike “has been widely praised for her dedicated efforts as part of a leadership team within the State of Illinois to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the citizens of the Land of Lincoln.” 

Before joining the IDPH, Ezike served for more than 15 years with Cook County Health as medical director at the Juvenile Detention Center and as medical director for the Austin Health Center. Ezike earned her medical degree from the University of California at San Diego and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University.

The other honorees, with their ceremony, are:

Pamela J. Wilson, honorary Doctor of Community Health degree, 6 p.m. May 7, College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Science.

Wilson received her bachelor’s degree in zoology from SIU in 1979 and has devoted her career to protecting public health through her work with the Texas Department of State Health Services. She served as a member of a four-person team that developed and implemented a groundbreaking rabies vaccination program in 1995. Widely recognized for her work, she is the lead author of “Rabies: Clinical Considerations and Exposure Evaluations” published in 2019.

She is a licensed veterinary technician and certified health education specialist. She was an adjunct instructor for 16 years at Austin Community College and has conducted veterinary assistant training programs with the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.

Jacquelyn D. Spinner, honorary Doctor of Media Arts degree, 9 a.m. May 8, College of Mass Communication and Media Arts and College of Liberal Arts.

An SIU Carbondale graduate and former editor of The Daily Egyptian student newspaper, Spinner is an award-winning journalist who worked for the Washington Post from 1995 to 2009 and covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and served as the Post’s Baghdad bureau chief. She has traveled to locales around the world during her career. She has appeared on CNN, BBC, NPR and other national and international outlets. An associate professor of journalism at Columbia College Chicago, Spinner oversees the college’s photojournalism program and advises a student veteran organization.

Spinner has also begun documentary filmmaking. Her first film, “Don’t Forget Me,” earned the Mike Covell Award at the 2019 Big Muddy Film Festival. She is in production on her second film, “Morocco, Morocco” for release later this year.

Harry L. Crisp II, honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, 3 p.m. May 8, College of Business, College of Engineering, SIU School of Medicine.

An active philanthropist and major supporter of education, Crisp is chairman and CEO of Pepsi MidAmerica, a family owned business that he built into the largest privately owned Pepsi bottler in the nation. Crisp attended SIU Carbondale from 1954-55 before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. After returning from the service in 1958, Crisp began working in the then-Marion Pepsi-Cola bottling business founded by his father. The company serves a five-state region and employs more than 1,300 people. MidAmerica Pepsi distributes more than 400 brands, including teas, juices and the company’s own branded bottled water. In 2008, the company expanded into a related field, acquiring 33 snack and soft drinking vending companies and in 1997 opened Crisp Container, manufacturing plastic bottles.

Crisp’s community involvement and focus on education included serving on the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Board of Education and being a charter member of the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees. He is chairman emeritus of the board of directors at the Bank of Marion; a member of the Illinois Human Resource Investment Council and president of the Harry L. Crisp II and Rosemary Berkel Crisp Foundation. Crisp’s numerous awards include being honored as a Lincoln Academy of Illinois laureate in 2004 and serving as SIU Homecoming grand marshal in 2016.

Pamela K. Pfeffer, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, 3 p.m. May 8, College of Business, College of Engineering, SIU School of Medicine.

An active leader in community service and philanthropy and a trailblazer for women executives in the financial industry, Pfeffer is co-founder, vice president and corporate secretary of Treemont Capital Inc., a private equity company. A Metropolis native, Pfeffer earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from SIU in 1967 followed by a master’s degree in teaching mathematics from Vanderbilt University. After beginning her career as a mathematics instructor, she entered the banking industry in 1972 and was the first woman to go through Third National Bank’s management training and credit program, eventually becoming the first female branch manager in the bank’s system. Pfeffer is the granddaughter of the late Lindell Sturgis, a key figure in the university’s growth who served on the SIU Board of Trustees for 30 years. Pfeffer and her husband, Philip, established an endowment to fund the Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award. She is former president and emerita member of the SIU Foundation Board, serving in various capacities since 1995.

Her numerous university-related activities include helping establish the Mike Hanes Marching Salukis Scholarship Endowment, which pays tuition for selected band members, and serving as co-chair of the Forever SIU campaign. Pfeffer’s community service also includes serving as a board member for the Nashville Symphony Association and assisting with the Tennessee-based symphony’s successful $100 million capital campaign. She and her husband, who is also a two-degree SIU alumnus, received the SIU Foundation’s Southern Flame Award in 2017 and SIU Distinguished Service Award in 2013. Pamela Pfeffer received the SIU Distinguished Alumni Award for Humanitarian Effort in 2015.

Harold R. Bardo Jr., Distinguished Service Award, 6 p.m. May 8, College of Education and Human Services.

Bardo, a native of Sparta, holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from SIU and earned a master’s degree in counselor education from SIU Edwardsville. He has served the university and the Southern Illinois region for more than 50 years as an educator, administrator and mentor. He joined the SIU faculty in 1968 as an instructor in education psychology and retired in 2014 as director of the medical/dental education preparatory (MEDPREP) program. He served as the university’s NCAA faculty representative for 15 years and twice as interim athletic director.

Bardo’s honors include the 2014 Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award; induction into the Saluki Athletics and Missouri Valley Conference Halls of Fame, and Saluki Pioneer Award in 2019. That award “recognizes African American individuals who thrived in the Southern Illinois community and paved the way for others.” Bardo has served on the Carbondale Elementary School District board and Carbondale Community High School Curriculum Advisory Committee. He is also a former member of both the Carbondale United Way and Southern Illinois Healthcare board of directors.

Seymour L. Bryson, Distinguished Service Award (posthumous), 6 p.m. May 8, College of Education and Human Services.

A three-degree SIU alumnus, Bryson served the university in academic and administrative positions for 40 years, retiring in 2008 as associate chancellor for diversity. He is widely considered to have been a leader in campus diversity efforts. His work has been recognized by state and national officials, and he helped the university realize more than $50 million in external grants.

A first-generation student from Quincy, Bryson came to SIU Carbondale where the three time Saluki basketball MVP set records, including the university’s career rebounding record that still stands. His numerous awards include the SIU Board of Trustees’ Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Award and the Diversity Excellence Award along with SIU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award. An active community leader, Bryson was also president of the Carbondale chapter of the NAACP, president and board member of the Carbondale United Way and the Jackson County Mental Health (708) Board. Bryson was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1992 and the athletic halls of fame at both Quincy High School and SIU.

Carolyn F. Donow, Distinguished Service Award, 3 p.m. May 9, 2020 graduates in the College of Business, College of Education and Human Services, College of Liberal Arts and College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

Donow, a native of Carterville, is also a three-degree SIU alumna and spent her professional career at the university, retiring in 2004 as associate director of the Office of Research Development and Administration. She began her professional career at SIU as a researcher and lecturer in psychology.

Since retirement, she has been an active volunteer, supporting the Friends of McLeod Summer Playhouse, the Friends of Morris Library and the steering committee of the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign from 2005 to 2008. She also served on the Jackson County Mental Health (708) Board, Carbondale Food Bank and the Carbondale Women’s Center Board. She received the university’s Outstanding Administrative-Professional Staff award in 1992 and in 1997 was named a University Woman of Distinction.