Higher Education: McKendree honored by Special Olympics

SWIC Phi Theta Kappa student Danae Cherry
SWIC Phi Theta Kappa student Danae Cherry Provided photo

Special Olympics Illinois has named McKendree University as outstanding organization of the year for 2015.

The award is presented to an organization which significantly improves special olympians’ experiences either locally or on a state-wide level, according to organization spokeswoman Michele Evans.

“In 2014, after 10 years of involvement with Special Olympics Illinois, (McKendree) elevated its commitment to the organization,” Evans said. “The university played a fundamental role in launching unified soccer, an event impacting 82 athletes” as well as partners and coaches.

More than 200 athletes and coaches participated in the McKendree Shootout Basketball Tournament. School leaders donated McKendree University attire at no cost to special olympians who attended practices and competitions on campus to help make them feel as if they are part of the McKendree team.

McKendree is also credited with helping to raise $108,000 through the Carlyle Lake Polar Plunge and with hosting track and field time trials.

“We are extremely grateful for the growing partnership we are building with the Special Olympics,” McKendree assistant athletic director Angela Red said. “The track and field time trials have always been a big event here. Recently we added the basketball shootout, regional soccer, a powerlifting event, punt and pass football, and paired Special Olympics athletes with members of our Bearcat athletic teams. This partnership offers a unique opportunity not only for our athletes but also for our students who volunteer.”


Lindenwood University will announce July 1 who the new leader of its Belleville campus will be during a visit from new university president Michael Shonrock.

Current Belleville campus president Jerry Bladdick announced earlier this week that he has accepted a job with Ringling College in Sarasota, Florida. He’ll be leaving in September to start with his new employer.

Bladdick’s departure is earlier than originally expected. He announced earlier this year that he would leave the school in December. Shonrock is expected to name an interim campus president during an 11:30 a.m. address to staff and faculty in the Belleville campus auditorium.


Southwestern Illinois College students and Phi Theta Kappa – Theta Epsilon Chapter members Denae Cherry of O’Fallon, a physics major, and Janeece Woodson of Shiloh, an anthropology major, were recently named to the 2015 Phi Theta Kappa All-Illinois Academic Team.

The students were honored for their academic achievements at a ceremony in Springfield. Students eligible for this accolade must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and be graduates from the 2014-15 academic year.


Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Jianwei Huang, assistant professor of civil engineering, has been named a 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers Outstanding Reviewer. The achievement recognizes Huang’s service as a reviewer for the Journal of Bridge Engineering.

“I am proud of my services that allow me to contribute my expertise to the profession,” Huang said. “I feel honored to receive this award.”

Founded in 1852, ASCE is America’s oldest national engineering society, representing more than 145,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. Huang is a member of the organization and has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Bridge Engineering since 2012.

Huang has been a member of the SIUE School of Engineering faculty since 2012. His research interests include bridge engineering and advanced construction materials.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or 618-239-2626. Follow him on Twitter: @scottwuerzBND.