Graduation Year

1972

Millikin major: Music education

  • Other degrees:
    • Master of Music in organ performance at University of Illinois
    • Master of library science at Indiana University

Current employment: Executive director at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Ill.

Why did you choose MU?
I chose Millikin University because of its excellent reputation and the high quality of the School of Music.

What activities did you participate in as a student at MU?

  • Sigma Alpha Iota international music fraternity – I was initiated the end of my freshman year and a member for three years. I served as an officer for two years and was also the recipient of the Sword of Honor.
  • Variety of activities in the School of Music – I performed in recitals and choral union, was a dancer in the opera "Carmen" and even helped paint the School of Music practice rooms!

What are some of your accomplishments since graduating from Millikin?

  • I am currently the executive director of the largest library district in the state of Illinois and winner of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Services, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a library in the United States.
  • I was awarded the Illinois Library Association Librarian of the Year 2013
  • I was elected president of the Illinois Library Association in 2009-10 which has a membership of 3,000.
  • I have established concert series in public libraries and provide performance venues for our talented Millikin music faculty and students, including the annual Millikin University Hollis Prize winner (first at the Chicago Public Library and now at Gail Borden Public Library).
  • I was the chief of the music and arts division at the Chicago Public Library.
  • I have been a church organist for more than 30 years, and currently play at the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Barrington, Ill.

When not supporting the Big Blue, what is your favorite thing to do?
Performing piano duet concerts at libraries. My next performance will be in May 2017.

Who is your most memorable MU professor or staff member and why?
This is a difficult question because so many of my music professors come to my thought, each providing me with a unique experience. But, the professor who instilled in me my love for playing the pipe organ is Theodore Ripper. For four years he taught, coached, guided me and, most importantly, established within me a confidence for performing. I will forever be grateful for the solid foundation he gave me which propelled me to go forward for a master’s degree in organ performance.

What is your most memorable MU experience?
I had so many memorable experiences during my four years at MU - too many to count!  But the most important ones that continue to this day are the wonderful friendships that we classmates established. The music class of 1972 was a very special group of students. Many faculty even said so years after we graduated. We experienced so many things together and built a strong support system for each other. Whether it be listening to each other practice, attending each other’s recitals (along with our families), helping each other reach our highest potential, we always helped one another – we were always there for one another. To this very day those friendships are still very strong and we still have that support system in place.  And it all began at MU!

What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use regularly?
The greatest concept I learned at MU is the value of education and discipline. To be successful in one’s endeavors and work, one must have discipline. Talent is a critical component of success, but, without discipline, talent cannot reach its fullest potential.  Being a music major demanded both, as well as a high work ethic. I can truly say that I have taken what I learned at MU and have applied it throughout my entire career. Whether it be leading a major library or performing music, these qualities that I practice daily were instilled in me at a young age while at Millikin.

What advice do you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
It is so important to keep your connections with your fellow students. Not only are they your friends, but they are also your network which is critical as you start your career path and even later. Continue with the high work ethic that your college curriculum demanded. You will need this quality in any job or career you undertake. The world needs more good leaders. Even though you may not have had a leadership role in college, the education you received at Millikin has given you the tools and foundation to develop into a leader. This is what happened to me. You can seize opportunities to expand your leadership abilities or ease into it throughout your career. The important thing is to do it!

Anything else you would like to share with the Millikin community?
I LOVED my years at Millikin! It was a time of awakening for me and established a course that I was to follow for the rest of my life. I am forever grateful for the strong foundation that I received from my Millikin University education.