Gary Workman ’65 is the recipient of the 2018 Alumnus of the Year award, the highest alumni award presented by the University. A true and faithful friend of Millikin, Workman has shown his devotion to the University through many years of service and financial support.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Millikin in 1965, and was a member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. Workman counts his activities as a Delta Sig among his most memorable experiences, and believes they helped expand his views of life and make him a more sociable person.
As a Millikin student, Workman learned an important principle that he uses regularly: “When working in a group situation, make sure everyone is involved. Because you don't have all the answers, even though you may think you do.”
Workman chose MU because of its stellar business program and recalls former accounting professor Richard Paine as his most memorable Millikin professor. Paine taught most of Workman’s accounting courses, and Workman says he particularly appreciated the thoroughness of Paine’s explanations of various accounting topics.
Because of Millikin’s location in his hometown, Workman could live at home while attending. He also benefitted from student scholarships and worked part-time at United Parcel Service to help fund his education.
His strong work ethic helped turn that part-time job into a lifelong career. After starting at the UPS Decatur facility in 1962 as a part-time package handler, Workman retired from the company in 1995 as a senior internal auditor. His 33 total years of service at UPS encompassed many areas, including personnel, accounting, industrial engineering and internal auditing.
Workman was a member of the Millikin board of trustees from 2002-2005, serving as chairman of the audit committee. In 2006, he was recipient of an Alumni Loyalty Award in appreciation of his faithful service and support of the University. He returned to the board in 2008, serving through 2017 and is now a trustee emeritus.
In addition to giving generously of his time to his alma mater, Workman also is an extremely generous financial supporter of Millikin. Both the Big Blue Club and the Millikin Fund have benefitted greatly from his faithful yearly support. During the Advancing the Vision Campaign, he helped purchase weight training equipment for the Decatur Indoor Sports Center and contributed to the renovation of Albert Taylor Theatre. His leadership and generosity were also instrumental in the renovation of Frank M. Lindsay Field. Completed in the fall of 2014, improvements to the facility included a new artificial playing surface, field lighting, resurfacing of the track and installation of a new video scoreboard. The field was rededicated prior to the first football game of the 2014 season, a victory over Aurora University with a standing-room-only crowd.
But Workman’s generosity did not stop with the Lindsay Field renovations. In March 2017, Millikin University dedicated the Workman Family Softball Field, the new on-campus home of Big Blue softball. Made possible by a $2 million gift from Workman and his wife, Judy, the new facility features an artificial turf surface, lights, chair-back and bleacher seating, press box, team room, concessions and restrooms. On March 26, 2017, an overflow crowd filled the venue for the field’s dedication and witnessed a Big Blue victory over MacMurray College. The team went on to win the 2017 CCIW regular season championship.
This spring brought more good news of Workman’s continuing generosity toward the University. In April, Millikin announced plans to build an on-campus baseball field which will become the new home of the Big Blue baseball program in spring 2019. The new facility is made possible by a generous $4 million contribution from Workman and his family, as well as $500,000 gifts from his fellow Emeriti Trustees Mark and Bob Staley, and from Trustee Tom Harrington ’70 and his wife, Cordia. Plans for the facility include an all-artificial turf field, stadium seating (including some seat-back chairs), clubhouse, lights, press box, concessions and batting cages. Upon completion of the project, Millikin will be the only school in the CCIW with an on-campus baseball-only facility with a full turf field and a clubhouse.
Workman offers this advice to current students preparing for life after graduation: “Involve yourself in as many various school activities as you can that will add to your having a wider and more experienced view of life after graduation. And to stay engaged with Millikin, I would recommend that each graduate contribute financially on at least a yearly basis to Millikin, no matter what the amount.”
This avid supporter of all things Big Blue also enjoys watching Kansas City Royals baseball and spends the entire month of March in Arizona attending spring training games. During October and November, he returns to Arizona to watch the most promising minor league prospects play in the Arizona Fall League.
Workman and his wife, Judy, have three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.