FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date: December 6, 2002
Contact: Cheryl Peck
SPRINGFIELD – When the University of Illinois at Springfield became the academic arm of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum earlier this year, Jim and Linda Gobberdiel of Monticello found the opportunity to give that they had been looking for. They decided to make a bequest of their estate to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Center for Governmental Studies at UIS and to direct income from the Gobberdiel Endowment to the center as well.
The gifts, the monetary value of which cannot be calculated at this time, represent the first received by the presidential center at UIS. “We are extremely pleased that the Gobberdiels chose to give their support to the center, ” said Ernest Cowles, the center’s interim executive director. “Their generosity will be very beneficial to the center in the areas of fundraising, communications, and, eventually, scholarships, in accordance with their wishes,” he said. Dr. Cowles said it was particularly gratifying that the couple recognized the “enormous potential” of the center in its role of housing and managing a variety of programs and initiatives designed to enrich the study of Lincoln and illuminate contemporary issues through reference to the example he set.
“As the promise of an academic arm to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in downtown Springfield began to materialize at the University of Illinois at Springfield, we felt it matched several of our career and vocational interests and that our gifts should support the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Center for Governmental Studies at UIS,” said Jim Gobberdiel.
Gobberdiel, who has been the communications officer at the U of I Foundation since 1976, is a 1965 graduate of U of I at Urbana/Champaign. He has a lifelong interest in American history, particularly the Civil War and specifically the war in the West. “I have a special interest in the border state of Missouri, guerrilla warfare throughout the region that was devastating to the civilian population, and General Nathaniel Lyon – the first general killed in the war in a contest considered to be the second major battle of the Civil War,” Gobberdiel said. He has collected an autographed letter by General Lyon as well as several period photographs and engraved portraits of him, and engravings of the Wilson’s Creek battle scene near Springfield, Missouri, where he died.
Linda, a graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, worked many years in retail and as a giftware sales representative. She has been a Master Gardener since 1998 and is currently working with a group of fellow Monticello residents to revitalize a park off the square in that town.
Gobberdiel said he views the presidential center at UIS as very exciting. “It will increase interest in the Springfield campus. I think it’s going to enhance not only UIS but also the University of Illinois overall,” he said. “The presidential library will be a wonderful facility for scholars throughout the world.”
UIS received a $1.5 million appropriation from the Legislature last spring to begin funding some of the initiatives of the presidential center. They include a Lincoln Leadership Academy, Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series, Presidential Library Staff Internship Program, Lincoln Research Fellows, Lincoln Papers Research, and Institute for Literacy in America. In addition, UIS received a $420,000 grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education for an annual Summer Leadership Program for High School Students.
It is expected to take a year or longer for all aspects of the center to be operational. A search for an executive director is under way.