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Dr. Ngozi Ezike to receive honorary SIUC degree; distinguished service awards announced

CARBONDALE (WSIL) — The SIU Board of Trustees has approved six individuals to receive honorary degrees or distinguished service awards.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, will receive an honorary Doctor of Community Health degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The recommendation notes Ezike “has been widely praised for her dedicated efforts as part of a leadership team within the State of Illinois to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the citizens of the Land of Lincoln.” 

Others who will be honored at commencement in May 2021 or at a future commencement are:

  • Harry L. Crisp II, honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. An active philanthropist and major supporter of education, Crisp is chairman and CEO of Pepsi MidAmerica, a family owned business that he built into the largest privately owned Pepsi bottler in the nation. Crisp attended SIU Carbondale from 1954-55 before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. After returning from the service in 1958, Crisp began working in the then-Marion Pepsi-Cola bottling business founded by his father. The company serves a five-state region and employs more than 1,300 people. MidAmerica Pepsi distributes more than 400 brands, including teas, juices and the company’s own branded bottled water. In 2008, the company expanded into a related field, acquiring 33 snack and soft drinking vending companies and in 1997 opened Crisp Container, manufacturing plastic bottles. Crisp’s community involvement and focus on education included serving on the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Board of Education and being a charter member of the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees. He is chairman emeritus of the board of directors at the Bank of Marion; a member of the Illinois Human Resource Investment Council and president of the Harry L. Crisp II and Rosemary Berkel Crisp Foundation. Crisp’s numerous awards include being honored as a Lincoln Academy of Illinois laureate in 2004 and serving as SIU Homecoming grand marshal in 2016.
  • Pamela K. Pfeffer, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. An active leader in community service and philanthropy and a trailblazer for women executives in the financial industry, Pfeffer is co-founder, vice president and corporate secretary of Treemont Capital Inc., a private equity company. A Metropolis native, Pfeffer earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from SIU in 1967 followed by a master’s degree in teaching mathematics from Vanderbilt University. After beginning her career as a mathematics instructor, she entered the banking industry in 1972 and was the first woman to go through Third National Bank’s management training and credit program, eventually becoming the first female branch manager in the bank’s system. Pfeffer is the granddaughter of the late Lindell Sturgis, a key figure in the university’s growth who served on the SIU Board of Trustees for 30 years. Pfeffer and her husband, Philip, established an endowment to fund the Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award. She is former president and emeritus member of the SIU Foundation Board, serving in various capacities since 1995. Her numerous university-related activities include helping establish the Mike Hanes Marching Salukis Scholarship Endowment, which pays tuition for selected band members, and serving as co-chair of the Forever SIU campaign. Pfeffer’s community service also includes serving as a board member for the Nashville Symphony Association and assisting with the Tennessee-based symphony’s successful $100 million capital campaign. She and her husband, who is also a two-degree SIU alumnus, received the SIU Foundation’s Southern Flame Award in 2017 and SIU Distinguished Service Award in 2013. Pamela Pfeffer received the SIU Distinguished Alumni Award for Humanitarian Effort in 2015.
  • Harold Bardo, Distinguished Service Award. Bardo, a native of Sparta, holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from SIU Carbondale and earned a master’s degree in counselor education from SIU Edwardsville. He has served the university and the southern Illinois region for more than 50 years as an educator, administrator and mentor. He joined the SIU faculty in 1968 as an instructor in education psychology and retired in 2014 as director of the medical/dental education preparatory (MEDPREP) program. He served as the university’s NCAA faculty representative for 15 years and twice as interim athletic director. Bardo’s honors include the 2014 Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award; induction into the Saluki Athletics and Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fames, and Saluki Pioneer Award in 2019. That award “recognizes African American individuals who thrived in the Southern Illinois community and paved the way for others.” Bardo has served on the Carbondale Elementary School District board and Carbondale Community High School Curriculum Advisory Committee. He is also a former member of both the Carbondale United Way and Southern Illinois Healthcare board of directors.
  • Terrence J. Roberts, Distinguished Service Award. Roberts, a former faculty member who earned his doctorate in education from SIU Carbondale in 1977, was a member of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of nine Black students who attempted to desegregate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. He would later write “Lessons from Little Rock” on his year at Central High School. Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University and a master’s degree from UCLA before coming to SIU. In a 2003 SIU Alumni magazine article, Roberts cited “SIU’s friendliness to students with disabilities,” noting he spent “three profitable, educational and enjoyable years” at SIU Carbondale. While at SIU, Roberts earned a Good Teaching Award for 1973-74 for his work in the College of Human Resources. Now retired, Roberts spent his career as a clinical psychologist. He leads dialogues about race as CEO of Terrence Roberts Consulting, a management firm whose clients have included the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the Screen Actors Guild. Roberts and his wife, Rita, who is also an SIU graduate, provide consulting services to organizations engaging in discussions about race. Roberts serves on several boards, including the Western Justice Center Foundation and the Grace Hopper STEM Academy.
  • Edward Sing Wong, Distinguished Service Award. Wong is a two-degree alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in accounting earned in 1969 and a master’s degree in interior design earned in 1971. While at SIU, Wong served two years as president of the university’s Hong Kong Student Association. He returned to Hong Kong after graduating and became heavily involved in his family’s highly diversified business interests, which included a textile company catering to global clients. In the 1980s, Wong and his wife, Nancy, established Maranta Ltd. and expanded into active wear and apparel manufacturing for leading brands. Wong was among Hong Kong’s first entrepreneurs who leveraged the city’s international position to connect businesses in mainland China to the rest of the world. After taking over his late father’s textbook publishing company, Modern, Wong became one of the pioneers in the field to transform a paper-based publishing house to an education business by providing e-learning solutions and developing textbooks for a new curriculum subject – Information and Technology – and providing digital teaching materials. He has held multiple roles at the School Association of Hong Kong.

During the meeting, the board also formally presented Wesley Calvert, associate professor of mathematics, with the 2020 Lindell W. Sturgis Memorial Public Service Award.

As a volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America, Calvert used his mathematical expertise and world cultural experiences to create the first award to focus on math in the Scouts’ Nova program. Called “Fearful Symmetry,” the award allows 1.2 million Cub Scouts – boys and girls in grades 2 through 5 – to explore concepts of symmetry, drawing from a variety of cultures.

In addition, Calvert is an active volunteer for the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and a member of its Friends governing board. He has served as a member of his family’s scholarship committee, a leader in his local Lions Club and an Illinois High School Association-certified referee for local high school and youth football leagues. He has also fulfilled many responsibilities in Crainville Baptist Church.

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