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Patti Hutinger

Patti Hutinger

Hutinger Gift Supports Visiting Artist Fund at WIU through 2013

Longtime arts supporter, activist and humanitarian, Patricia Hutinger made a commitment Monday to support the Western Illinois University art department's Visiting Artist Fund through 2013. Hutinger's gift is made in honor of her son, Scott Hutinger, who passed away in June 2007.

Hutinger has been an active patron of Western's art department, Art Gallery and most recently, the Student Art League. For many years, the retired WIU faculty member has been contributing to funds for supplies, equipment and materials, as well as donating gifts of artwork.

"I see myself as an artist and spend a good deal of time around the department, taking classes and getting to know the students. I'm interested in providing some of the resources the department's budget does not allow for -- things that really make a difference to both students and faculty."

The Visiting Artist Fund enables the department to bring in at least one outside visiting professional each year for lectures, demonstrations and classes, noted Charles Wright, art department chair. Hutinger first supported the Visiting Artist Fund Initiative in 2009, he added.

"I've talked to many students about what makes a difference to them, and they all think the opportunity to listen to and see the work of an artist from the outside is a really good experience," Hutinger said.

"We are appreciative of Patti's gifts to the college over the past several years," said College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Dean Paul Kreider. "This gift further illuminates her loyalty to Western's art program and to the art community," he added.

"I speak for the entire art department in stating we are all very pleased Patti has chosen to continue her kindness to the department in this very generous way," added Wright.

"Throughout the years, Patti's contributions have made it possible for the department to fund a variety of speakers and sponsor numerous artists' presentations. The significance of her generosity is that it can help to shape and enliven the teaching and learning environment in WIU's art program."

Hutinger retired from Western in 2008; she was a professor of early childhood education. In 1975, she founded Macomb Projects, which later became the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education, a service unit in the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) at Western.

According to Joyce Johanson, associate director of the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education, the mission of the Center is to develop and promote practices designed to improve educational opportunities for all young children.

"Patti was an extremely successful grant writer. She was recognized as a national leader in cutting-edge research and development projects targeting young children with special needs. Her contributions to the field of early childhood included innovative research and development projects, particularly those related to technology and adaptive devices," Johanson added.

Hutinger's son, Scott, worked as a computer specialist for the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from WIU and was a certified flight instructor, avid pilot and skydiver.

He is survived by two children, Jordan and Kelsey Bucholtz, and their mother, Karen Bucholtz. Hutinger noted that support of the Visiting Artist Fund and her other gifts are all in memory of Scott.

"Scott and I shared a love of art, and this seemed to be a meaningful way to honor him," Hutinger said. "I hope others will take the opportunity to support departments with enhancements to their instruction. Budgets are so tight, and many areas go without some basic stuff. I just want to help students get the best experience they can at Western and provide faculty with some of the things they need to enhance instruction."

Wright noted that in a time of dwindling funds for the arts on a national scale, Hutinger's gift means a great deal to Western's students, as well as to the entire regional arts community.

"It gives the department's newly formed Visiting Artist/Scholar Committee the ability to plan for and select ever more significant artists and scholars to bring to the Macomb community. Thanks to Patti, we are able to add this element of a lecture series to the art department's program," Wright added.

"I've been lucky to get to know quite a few students. It's fun to see their work and to watch how they grow," Hutinger said. "I learn so much from the students. Isn't that just how it should be?"