September 23, 2013 marked Western Illinois University’s 20th annual Founders’ Day celebration. Founders’ Day commemorates the humble beginnings of the University. This year, the ceremony not only reflected and honored the past but, speakers and administrators looked to the future of WIU. Vice President for Advancement and Public Services, Brad Bainter, expressed to me his excitement in the progress the University is making.
“It’s a special day to celebrate the history starting in 1902…and now there are over 120,000 alumni,” Bainter proudly stated. The growth of WIU is tremendous. Since 1902, the University has constantly expanded. Even throughout the two and half years I have been on campus, there have been many improvements made to cater to students.
At the Founders’ Day ceremony, President Jack Thomas always gives a State of the University address. It was speculated around campus this year’s address would leave the crowd delighted. And a huge announcement that day did just that. It was announced that alumni Ken and Lorraine Epperson would be contributing a seven figure gift that would help the school meet its $60 million campaign goal nearly three months early. Some of the money will go toward the much anticipated construction of the Performing Arts Center.
The lovely couple has a tremendous background and they have proven their commitment to the University through their constant support. They met at WIU and later married. Ken retired from WIU, and Lorraine was a school counselor. Now they are the real estate business in Macomb. Both Ken and Lorraine have received awards from WIU. Ken has received the Alumni Achievement Award and was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. Lorraine has received the Distinguished Alumni Award.
“(They are) a great example of alumni that have stepped forward to help achieve our goal; I hope there are more that will come forward and do the same,” Bainter said. As an alumnus, I hope to be able to contribute to the betterment of the campus for students who come after me just as the Eppersons continue to do.