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In this Issue

WIU Sees Improved Retention | Capital Campaign A Success
O'Connor Named 2014 College of Business and Technology Distinguished Alumnus
WIU Students Get Aid Awards Early | WIU RN to BSN Program Goes Online
Western Wednesdays in Glen Ellyn
Join your WIU Alumni Association for some fun in the sun at these exciting events!


WIU Sees Improved Retention

Students at Western Illinois University are performing better in the classroom, retention rates have improved, and more students are finishing their first semester in good academic standing, according to Provost and Academic Vice President Ken Hawkinson '78 '79.

Hawkinson noted that programs such as the Building Connections mentor program, which pairs first year students with a faculty or staff mentor, and a First Year Experience course are having a significant, positive effect on first-year student success. The fall-to-spring retention rate has improved to 89.3 percent (Fall 2013 to Spring 2014), from 82.2 percent in (Fall 2012 to Spring 2013). The percentage of new first-time freshmen in good academic standing or semester honors after their first semester was 78.2 percent in Fall 2013, compared to 70.4 percent in Fall 2012.

"Despite the challenges of fewer high school graduates in the state and greater competition from out-of-state universities, we are thrilled with our Spring 2014 enrollment," he added. "We have cut our fall enrollment deficit in half, while maintaining rigor in the classroom and a commitment to academic excellence. Western's faculty and staff truly care about their students and our support programs are making a difference in the lives of WIU students."

Read more.

Capital Campaign A Success

Capital Campaign SuccessWestern Illinois University President Jack Thomas, along with the WIU Foundation and its Board of Directors, announce the successful completion of the $60 million Higher Values in Higher Education campaign. The campaign officially ended Dec. 31, 2013, raising a total of $62.1 million.

"I would like to thank all of the generous individuals, foundations and corporations that contributed to this success," Thomas said. "Because of you, Western's core values will be translated into action and our students will have enhanced educational opportunities. The higher education landscape has changed drastically in the last decade and private support is necessary to maintain excellence and ensure student success."

The Higher Values in Higher Education Campaign set out to raise $60 million in support of four objectives: student scholarships, faculty support, capital improvement and information and technologies.

"The Higher Values in Higher Education Campaign for Western Illinois University represents only the second philanthropic campaign in the 114-year history of Western," said Brad Bainter '79 '83, vice president for advancement and public services and executive officer of the Foundation. "Our first campaign, which ended in 2000, raised nearly $5 million over its $20 million goal. I am extremely grateful to the leadership provided by President Thomas, President Emeritus Al Goldfarb and our dedicated Foundation Board. I am especially appreciative of the tremendous support we received from our alumni and friends. Finally, I want to thank all Western's development officers and Foundation staff members for their hard work to help us exceed our goal."

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O'Connor Named 2014 College of Business and Technology Distinguished Alumnus

Martin O'ConnorMartin E. O'Connor, a 1978 graduate of Western Illinois University, has been named the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus for the University's College of Business and Technology (CBT).

O'Connor, who received his bachelor's degree in agriculture, is currently the president of OCM, Inc., an organization that provides consultant services to the meat and livestock industries for national and international compliance with regulatory and contracting requirements.

Before his consulting work, O'Connor was the director of the Livestock and Meat Standardization Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC. Prior to that, he served as the assistant chief of the Meat Grading and Certification branch of the USDA and as an international marketing specialist of the USDA's Livestock and Seed Program.

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WIU Students Get Aid Awards Early

Western Illinois University will be one of the first schools in the country to send out financial aid award letters to high school seniors, almost two months ahead of many other college and universities, according to Vice President for Student Services Gary Biller.

"By locking in tuition, fees, room, and board for all four years through Western's Cost Guarantee program, our guaranteed commitment scholarship program and now by getting aid award letters out earlier than most other schools, we continue to be national leaders in helping students and families to make informed choices about the cost to go to college," Biller added. "College affordability is a priority for most students and Western Illinois University is known for our transparency. The extra two months gives students and their families more time to review and understand their financial aid award."

In 2012-2013, Western Illinois University awarded more than $38 million in federal, grant and institutional aid to qualifying students. The average WIU financial aid award included $7,950 in scholarships or grants, with an additional $4,500 in work-study and $4,375 in student loans each year.

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WIU RN to BSN Program Goes Online

School of NursingFive years after Western Illinois University admitted its first nursing student, the RN to BSN program is now moving to a completely online academic path.

Nursing program Director Lea Monahan said the change is being made to accommodate the schedules of nurses who want to further their education while still working.

"All of the nurses we are seeking to serve are working at all different times and different days, and they have families," Monahan said. "They don't have time to come to class. By moving the program online they don't have to meet a face-to-face class obligation, but the faculty are still available to them. This allows nurses to get into classes that fit more into their schedules."

Read more.

Western Wednesdays in Glen Ellyn

Western WednesdaysWe had a great time at our December Western Wednesdays event in Chicago. If you missed us, be sure to join us for our next installment in Glen Ellyn in February. Your WIU Alumni Association began a tradition in 2011 with the first of many Western After Hours! Hundreds of alumni have joined us every month for great food, great conversation and a few beverages. We are continuing our tradition on a NEW bimonthly schedule and we'll be in the suburbs in February and then rotating downtown and back out to the suburbs over the next year!

Western Wednesdays
Wednesday, February 5
5–7 p.m.
Tap House Grill
411 North Main St., Glen Ellyn, IL
(There is no charge for this event.)

Social, light appetizers (while they last) and cash bar: FREE

Pre-registration is preferred, however walk-ins are welcome. To pre-register, please call 309-298-1914 or email

Upcoming Western Wednesdays from 5-7 p.m.:
April 2 – downtown Chicago
June 4 – Chicago suburb
August 6 – downtown Chicago
October 1 – Chicago suburb

Join your WIU Alumni Association for some fun in the sun at these exciting events!

Gulf Shores Area Alumni & Friends Social
Thursday, February 13
Cobalt The Restaurant
28099 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL
Social: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Social, delectable hors d'oeuvres and cash bar $15/person

Phoenix Area Alumni & Friends Social

Sunday, February 16
Su Vino Winery
7035 E. Main St., Suite 110, Scottsdale, AZ
Social: 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Social and wine tasting $20/person

Save the date for next month at Kiawah Island, SC

If you prefer a milder climate, join us in Denver for some basketball!

WIU vs. University of Denver Pregame Social & Men's Basketball Game

Thursday, February 20
Champions Room in Magness Arena
2240 E. Buchtel Blvd., Denver, CO
Pregame Social: 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Tipoff: 7:00 p.m.
Pregame social, food, game ticket and cash bar $20/person

To register for these events, contact the WIU Alumni Association by calling 309-298-1914 or using our Online Event Registration.

All ticket sales are final. Therefore, all tickets purchased through the WIU Alumni Association are non-refundable


RockyCan you find this exact Rocky (in black and white) somewhere else in the eNewsletter? If you find him, email us at
and let us know where he was placed. One winner will be picked from all the entries emailed on the first day of the month and will get a WIU Prize Pack! Good luck!

****Congratulations to the January winner--Christine Dunn '13. She discovered Rocky on the Foundation and Development page.****


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