Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Advancement & Public Services
Erik Archer Soldier Statesman Scholarship
“The person I am today - an Army Major, husband, and father, was created here in these halls, here on this campus. The Army Major talking to a distraught Soldier was created as an RA helping a resident through family issues. The successful communicator was created as a writer for the Courier. The husband met his wife on a PT run the first day of ROTC. I owe a debt to this institution that can never be repaid but it is a debt that I am supremely thankful to carry.”
These are the words of Major Erik Archer, 2001 WIU history graduate, to the crowd gathered in Macomb on the evening of October 29 for the announcement of the public phase of the $60 million campaign, Set the Standard: Higher Values in Higher Education.
Archer, along with his wife, Beth ’01, has established the Soldier Statesman scholarship to recognize and reward a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Ranger Club who epitomizes the Army values and is a leader at WIU and in ROTC.
Archer is currently the Fort Carson (CO) Provost Marshal, between his third and fourth deployment overseas. “When Erik contacted me about funding the scholarship via payroll deduction earlier this year, he mentioned it might take a little time to set it up,” said VP of Advancement & Public Services Brad Bainter. “When I asked why, he said it was because he was currently serving our country in Afghanistan.”
“That really hit home hard and fast,” said Bainter. “Here was a fellow alum serving overseas, in a dangerous situation, with a wife and children at home. Yet, he took the time to remember Western and the thoughtful action to make sure his scholarship would be funded, regardless of his location.”
“My wife and I were in a position to give back to the university and the program that gave us so much,” said Archer. “We wanted to help in a small way, some cadets that may have been in the same position we both were in ROTC.”
“The scholarship is designed to help a student struggling to scrape together funds to attend. Both my wife and I struggled financially and academically at points, and we want to help those who find themselves in the same situation,” said Archer. “I’m not addressing you as the prototypical scholar, rather the student who, partnering with the university, overcame obstacles to succeed.”
Archer mentioned many things that Western gave him, besides an education: a wife, confidence, humility and compassion. “I came to WIU as a boy without direction and left a confident leader of men engaged to a beautiful fellow Leatherneck,” he said. “To everyone who makes this institution what it is, thank you, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, for creating this amazing paint brush with which students like me can take and transform a blank canvas into a thriving work of art.”
“Major Archer personifies the core values of Western,” stated Bainter. “He is the living the values we promote and embrace. I am grateful for, and humbled by, his thoughtful generosity. Erik Archer is what this great institution is all about.”