April - May 2020
In This Issue
  • Are You Ready? Join Us as ACI's Virtual Benefit Reception Launches Online Today
  • Rockford University Peer Mentoring Program Goes Digital
  • News from ACI Members
  • ACI Employment Data Updated, Shows Nearly 24,000 Illinois College Alumni Working for Top Companies
  • ACI Events Schedule Revised Because of COVID-19 Emergency
  • ACI Awarded Grant to Establish Leadership Council to Help Raise Funds
  • ACI Board Member Named to List of Notable Women Executives
  • Please Save These Dates for Upcoming ACI Events!
  • ACI Welcomes Gifts to Support Students at Member Colleges and Universities
Are You Ready? Join Us as ACI's Virtual Benefit Reception Launches Today
President Jamel SC Wright"This is an unprecedented time, and our students need your unprecedented support." With this observation, Dr. Jamel S.C. Wright, left, president of Eureka College, Eureka, Illinois, and president of Associated Colleges of Illinois, expresses the urgency driving ACI’s Virtual Benefit Reception, which launches today, May 1, at The virtual event stands in for ACI's 2020 Annual Benefit Reception, originally scheduled for April 17, at the University Club of Chicago. Attendees at ACI’s Virtual Benefit Reception can give to the organization here.
Event sponsors are Aon, Fidelity Charitable, Gallagher, Husch Blackwell and Robbins Schwartz.
Frank Cella
The COVID-19 emergency may be keeping us apart," says Frank Cella, right, managing director, Marsh, and chair of ACI's Board of Trustees, "but you can still get to know ACI, our member colleges and universities, the students we serve, and their compelling stories and support our work by navigating through [the virtual benefit page]."
Wright has already heard some of those stories from her students at Eureka College. "We are all being pressure-tested, and the lives of our students … have been completely upended." Some students, she says, worry that their families can’t afford to feed them at home. Others fear that, with parents now unemployed, they will be unable to return to school in the fall. Addressing the virtual audience, Wright hopes that, "while I can’t see you, your heart is still wide open and that you remain on the ready to champion ACI students with your generous support."  
Click here to read the full story.
Rockford University Peer Mentoring Program Goes Digital
by Leslie Joan Millenson, ACI Director, Special Projects
When the COVID-19 emergency threatened to shutter Rockford University’s campus, Dr. Karen Walker acted fast to connect with the mentees in the school’s Men of Color Mentorship Program. Part of the network of ACI Peer Mentoring Programs on 11 member campuses around the state, Rockford’s Men of Color Mentorship Program provides
Rockford Men of Color Mentoring Group Facebook pagethree mentors to support 15 students at high risk for failure to thrive at college. Walker, transition coordinator for Rockford’s Center for Learning Strategies, knew the shift from classroom instruction to online learning plus dislocation from campus life could be a real stumbling block for these young men.
"When all this started going down, our students were on spring break," explains Walker, "so many were not checking their email, so social media really was really important for us." Rockford’s Men of Color Mentoring Program has always had an active social media presence on both Facebook (see example, right) and Snapchat. To leverage the program’s social media presence in response to the COVID-19 emergency, Walker held a virtual meeting with the three mentors. "We used Zoom, and we got them totally comfortable with the platform," Walker recalls. "Of course, these students are digital natives, so they picked it up really quickly."
Click here to read the full story.
News from ACI Members
Members help MacMurray College students and first responders; president to retire
MacMurray College has been in operation for 174 years.
Several ACI colleges and universities in Central and Western Illinois have stepped up to help students enrolled at Jacksonville's MacMurray College when the college closes this month at the end of the academic year.
MacMurray College is a former ACI member institution. It was one of 22 charter members of ACI when it was formed in 1952.
MacMurray College staff negotiated transfer agreements with several colleges and universities within a two-hour radius of the school, according to the Jacksonville Journal-Courier newspaper. At least six institutions are ACI members: Blackburn College, Carlinville; Eureka College, Eureka; Illinois College, Jacksonville; McKendree University, Lebanon; Millikin University, Decatur; and Monmouth College, Monmouth.  
In late March, the MacMurray College Board of Trustees decided to close the 174-year-old college, citing longstanding financial problems, compounded by declining enrollment, rising competitive costs and a small endowment. 
Helping first responders during COVID-19 emergency
At least two ACI member colleges and universities offered on-campus housing to first responders who need to isolate from their families during the COVID-19 emergency. North Central College, Naperville, announced April 1 it would provide backup housing for Naperville's public safety personnel while they continue working during the COVID-19 emergency.
Wheaton College, Wheaton, announced April 9 it signed an agreement with the City of Naperville to provide housing to first responders.  The college announced a similar agreement with DuPage County on April 22. 
Knox College president to retire
President Teresa Amott, Knox College
Dr. Teresa L. Amott, president of ACI member Knox College, Galesburg, announced this spring that she will retire in June 2021, 10 years after joining Knox. Amott said she told the Knox College Board of Trustees earlier this year she will leave after 10 years as president and return with her husband to Pennsylvania.
Amott holds a doctorate in economics from Boston College and a bachelor's degree in economics from Smith College. She has spent her entire career in higher education, serving at several colleges and universities in faculty and administrative positions before she arrived at Knox. She currently serves as a member of the NCAA Division III Presidents Council and the board of directors of Campus Compact, a national organization of campuses dedicated to civic engagement. 
ACI Employment Data Updated, Shows Nearly 24,000 Illinois College Alumni Working for Top Companies
New web page shows employment data in pie chart, bar graphs
Updated research shows nearly 24,000 ACI member college and university alumni are employed by 148 top employers throughout Illinois. The figures were compiled by ACI this spring, updating the organization's original 2019 Member Employment Data research project.
Companies and organizations with the most ACI college and university alumni employees are Advocate Aurora Health, 1,900 employees; Blue Cross/Blue Shield, 1,105 employees; State Farm, 964 employees; J.P. Morgan & Chase Co., 692 employees; and Caterpillar, 689 employees.
Compiled from LinkedIn profiles, the data show how many students from ACI's 27 member institutions are employed at the top 148 Illinois companies. There is also additional, detailed employment information for each company and each ACI member.
"The data show that there are thousands of ACI member college and university alumni who have found great careers with hundreds of employers throughout the state," says Mick Weltman, ACI executive director. "The data also suggests there are many opportunities at Illinois companies waiting for students preparing for careers right now at ACI colleges and universities. These students gain useful skills and knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences. They also learn to communicate well, solve problems, think critically and adapt to change. There's no question ACI college alumni are an integral part of the state's economy and will be for decades to come."
Compiled by a student in ACI’s micro-internship program, the updated data are displayed on the ACI website in charts, plus new, visual depictions of the data in a pie charts and bar graphs, says Weltman.
For nearly 70 years, ACI has focused on independent Illinois colleges and universities, providing scholarships, emergency funds, peer mentoring and more recently, college-to-career education for underserved students.
ACI's college-to-career initiative includes an annual Career Development Conference and Employer Expo. In addition, ACI offers Work and Life Skills Boot Camps that help low-income, first-generation and students of color develop career and workplace skills. These boot camps are funded by a First Opportunity Partners Grant from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), with support from the UPS Foundation and matching funds from Wells Fargo. Plans are currently underway to find safe and practical ways to deliver these programs during the 2020-21 academic year, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This fall, ACI is expected to initiate a Career Mentoring Program for senior students, funded in part by a $19,210 National Venture Fund grant from CIC. ACI has also provided micro-internships through a partnership with Parker Dewey.
ACI Events Schedule Revised Because of COVID-19 Emergency
ACI's spring and early summer events calendar changed in March because of local and state orders to cancel most public events in response to the COVID-19 health emergency.
The most significant change for ACI was the annual Benefit Reception, originally scheduled for April 17, at the University Club of Chicago. Instead, the organization planned a Virtual Benefit Reception, which launches online today, May 1. (See story above). Related meetings, such as ACI's Annual Board of Trustees meeting and ACI's Presidents Institute were rescheduled as conference calls and webinars. The annual meeting was reset for May 15, and the Presidents Institute will be held as webinars planned for June 5, June 12 and June 19.
Other event changes include: 
  • Work and Life Skills Boot Camp: Scheduled for April 25, this session was postponed and will be held this fall, with the date and location to be announced.
  • ACI Wealth Advisors Breakfast: Planned for May 14, the event was postponed until a fall date and location to be announced.
  • ACI Spring Conference: Scheduled for June 8 at Eureka College, the conference was cancelled. Instead, a series of webinars is being planned with speakers working at member colleges in advancement, finance and student engagement.
  • Summer Get-Together for public relations marketing professionals: Set for June 11 and hosted by Augustana College, this event was cancelled. The next is expected in June 2021. 
ACI Awarded Grant to Establish Leadership Council to Help Raise Funds
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) awarded a grant of $8,500 to ACI to establish a high-profile volunteer group known as a "Leadership Council." The council will comprise key senior leaders and influencers from corporate, civic, association and nonprofit organizations with a significant interest in liberal arts and sciences education. It is ACI's first volunteer board focused exclusively on fundraising.
The Leadership Council project is funded through a Capacity-Building Grant from CIC.
"ACI is uniquely positioned with access to hundreds of corporations and organizations in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois," said Mick Weltman, ACI executive director. "This Leadership Council will help enhance our fundraising and support talented, underserved students attending ACI's 27 member colleges and universities." The new Leadership Council will be a non-voting, non-governance volunteer board, Weltman added.
Members of the council will provide financial support, lend their names to ACI initiatives, create and share testimonials and network with like-minded peers to make connections and raise funds for ACI, according to the grant application. To help launch the project, ACI has engaged a national consulting firm, Campbell & Company, Chicago, to develop a project plan and timeline, identify and meet with prospects, and secure at least 10 charter members by Aug. 31. Campbell & Company is currently building a Major Gifts Program for ACI.                            
Since 2010, CIC's Capacity-Building grant program has awarded more than $482,000 to fund State Council projects, said Carol Schuler, CIC vice president for State Council programs.
ACI Board Member Named to List of Notable Women Executives
Elizabeth Cook, ACI Board of Trustees
Congratulations to ACI Board of Trustees member Elizabeth Cook, left, named to Crain's 2020 Notable Women Executives Over 50. Crain's Chicago Business publishes the annual list of its top 50 women executives. 
Cook joined the ACI Board of Trustees in February 2019. She has been a member of CME Group for nearly 40 years and has been on its board of directors since 2015. According to Crain's, she began her career as a runner and went on to trade Swiss franc futures and options. Cook later switched to the interest rate arena with a focus on eurodollar and equity options. Cook is owner and president of Lucky Star, a real estate company, and she also serves on the board of Women in Listed Derivatives. 
Please Save These Dates for Upcoming ACI Events!
  • Friday, May 1: ACI Virtual Benefit Reception, online
  • Friday, May 15: ACI Board of Trustees Annual Meeting, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., conference call
  • Friday, June 5: ACI Presidents Institute, Part I: Legal Issues, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., webinar
  • Friday, June 12: ACI Presidents Institute, Part II: Collaboration and Partnerships, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., webinar
  • Friday, June 19: ACI Presidents Institute, Part III: Presidents' Discussion, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., webinar
  • Sunday, June 14 to Tuesday, June 16: Midwest Roundtable on Talent, Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
Give a Gift to Support Students at ACI Member Colleges and Universities
Students in need are seeking immediate help for fall 2020
As highlighted by our Virtual Benefit Reception, students in need are seeking immediate financial help to enroll in member colleges and universities this fall. Many parents and students are unemployed because of the COVID-19 emergency, yet students want to continue their degree programs. ACI welcomes your financial gifts, which will provide scholarships, emergency financial aid and programming to support these college students.
ACI is a charitable organization as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to ACI are tax-deductible, as described in the Code. ACI welcomes cash gifts, online giving by credit card and gifts of stock. Stock gifts can be particularly beneficial because if the stock has increased in value from the time it was purchased, the owner can avoid paying capital gains tax by donating the stock – and the fair market value at the time of the contribution is deductible, subject to certain limits described in the Internal Revenue Code. Consult your tax advisor/preparer for definitive guidance before engaging in any transaction.
To make an online gift, visit ACI's Giving webpage and choose how you prefer to designate your donation. Or, contact Mick Weltman, ACI executive director, at 312-263-2391, ext. 1, or write to
ACI Member Colleges and Universities 
Augustana College - Aurora University - Benedictine University - Blackburn College
 Concordia University Chicago - Dominican University - Elmhurst College - Eureka College - Illinois College
 Illinois Wesleyan University - Judson University - Knox College - Lewis University - McKendree University
 Millikin University - Monmouth College - North Central College - North Park University
 Olivet Nazarene University - Principia College - Quincy University - Rockford University
St. Augustine College - Saint Xavier University - Trinity Christian College - University of St. Francis - Wheaton College

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