A Farewell Letter from the Alumni Council President Brian Savage '73

brianIt has been a distinct honor and privilege to serve as President of the Western Illinois University Alumni Council these last two years. I now hand over the reigns to my friend and our accomplished Vice President Matthew Toland ’05 ’10, who will begin his term as President July 1.     

I want to personally thank everyone that provides financial support to our great University. It is hard to understand why a state university needs our dollars, but when you look at the numbers, less than 1/3 of the University’s budget currently comes from the state of Illinois. Your gifts go a long way providing support to our students, to the Alumni Association and the University.

If you haven’t met our new President Guiyou Haung, I encourage you to attend an event as he embarks, along with the Alumni Association, on the Inaugural Alumni & Friends Tour to introduce yourself and get to know him. He has a vision and a mission for Western that will increase enrollment and make WIU Attractive and Distinctive.

 The University has established the “Alumni Legacy Scholarship” of $1,500 for children and grandchildren of WIU graduates. In addition, the Alumni Association provides 21 additional “Leatherneck Legacy” scholarships. I strongly encourage you ask your children and grandchildren to consider WIU when looking at colleges. It’s a great value and without a doubt the best deal for your dollar. Please visit our website at where you will see the excellent career opportunities available, and the great successes our graduating students have in job placement. So many of our Alumni have been successful in their fields of study—all you have to do is look at the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and Alumni Achievement Award recipients ( to get a flavor of the successes of our Alumni.

We have made a concerted effort to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at Western and on the WIU Alumni Council—the 26-member board representing the interests of our diverse 140,000+ member Alumni Association. We are also working closely with the Black Alumni Council to schedule joint events and combining efforts to connect ALL alumni. In our recent visit with the Mayor of Macomb, Michael Inman, about diversity, equity and inclusion, we were very encouraged by the efforts the city is making, and we will continue to support their work.

No doubt this past year has been challenging for our Alumni outreach. Our Zoom meetings, panels and events have attracted a number of new participants and were an excellent alternative to our in-person activities However, I’m looking forward to getting back to in-person programs such as golf outings, Western Wednesdays and of course, HOMECOMING (Oct. 1-2). Also, as many know, the Mega Reunion, spearheaded by Alumnus Chris Foltz, was postponed, but under his leadership and working hand-in-hand with the University, plans are underway with a new date to be announced soon. Let’s keep up the energy generated by this group of 20,000 Alumni and friends!

I also want to thank Chris for his efforts, as well as everyone who made a donation on Purple and Gold Day/Western Challenge April 24. Western’s national profile is directly impacted by HOW MANY alumni give, so your participation at any level was every bit as important as the amount you gave.

I wore my WIU face mask everywhere I could this past year and it was encouraging to hear people yell out “Go Leathernecks”. Some asked where did I get that mask? Others yelled “I went to Western!” There is nothing better than hearing that WIU pride!

While my time as President has ended, I will remain on the council as Past President. I look forward to continuing to serve my alma mater as we get back to in-person events. I encourage you to attend and I hope to meet many of you there. Until then, thank you for all you do … thank you for the opportunity to serve you … and as always—it’s a GREAT DAY TO BE A LEATHERNECK.



 Brian Savage ‘73