The Alumni Achievement Award, established in 1957, is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni of the University of Illinois. The award is presented to those alumni who have attained outstanding success and national or international distinction in their chosen profession or life’s work, and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on or bring honor to their alma mater.


  • Nomination is required. Nominees must be living at the time of their nomination.
  • Nominations will be considered active for five years.
  • Nominee must hold an earned degree from the University of Illinois.
  • Nominee must be an individual who is highly distinguished nationally or internationally for his/her chosen business, profession or life’s work.
  • Nominee must be a person of such stature, demonstrated ability and renown that alumni, students, faculty and staff of the University of Illinois will take pride in and be inspired by his/her recognition.
  • Nominee must be an individual who, in deed or action, reflects the importance of his/her education at the University of Illinois.
  • Previous recipients are not eligible for reconsideration.
  • Current members of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees; the UIAA Board of Directors; the Alumni Association Awards and Recognition Committee; and relatives, employers or employees thereof are not eligible for consideration.
  • Current faculty, staff and other employees of the University of Illinois or the UI Alumni Association are not eligible for consideration.
  • Persons currently holding or running for elected state or federal public office in Illinois are not eligible for consideration.
  • The award may not be conferred in absentia; however, it may be granted posthumously.

Nominate Deserving Alumni Today

Recipients must be nominated for the award. Working from these nominations, the Alumni Association Awards and Recognition Committee will select the recipients. The awards will be presented at Commencement or an Alumni Association event. Please complete this online form to submit a nomination.

Please be advised: Should the committee determine the nominee would be more appropriately honored by means of a different award, the committee reserves the right to consider each nominee for other, more suitable recognition.

If you have questions, feel free to contact us at advancement@uis.edu or by phone at 217-206-6058.

Previous Recipients

2022- Trif Alatzas, MA'89 LAS Publisher and Editor-in-chief

2021 - Robert Moore, '80, MPA '85 PAA U.S Marshal, Chief of Police, Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunities Advisory Committee

2020 - Nina Burleigh, MA '84 LAS Best-selling Author, Journalist, Executive Producer

2019 - Randall F. Dunn ’73 CBM, MA ’74 PAA

2018 - Kathy Best MA ’90 PAR
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner

2016 - Darrel Burnett ’78 LAS
Entrepreneur and broadcaster

2015 - Wenguang Huang MA ’91 LAS
Writer, journalist, translator

2014 - Ralph S. Blackman MA ’76 PAA Retired President and CEO of the Foundation for advancing Alcohol Responsibility

2013- Richard C. Osborne CEO, Chairman and President of NYSE-listed Scotsman Industries, Inc

2012 - Fred Parsons ’81 CBM
Founder, Southern Illinois Railcar Co.

2011 - Don Johnson ’82 CBM
Retired President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Aftermarket Technology Corporation

2010 - Lin N. Ezell ’74 LAS
Director, Marine Corps National Museum

2009 - Gordon Heddell, MA ’75 PAA
Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense

2008 - Raju L. Indukuri, MA ’92 CMB
Entrepreneur and founder of Reachnet International

2007 - Cheryl Alters Jamison, MA ’77 PAA
Author, teacher and entrepreneur

2006 - John D. Blackburn MA ’79 EHS
Chief Executive Officer; COUNTRY Insurance and Financial Services Company

2005 - Donna Sollenberger ’71 LAS, MA ’74 LAS
President and CEO of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

2003 - Phillip T. Zeni Sr. ’72
Executive Vice President, COO of Orban/CRL, San Leandro, Calif.

2002 - Randy Schilling, MA ’89 CBA
President, CEO and founder of Quilogy, St. Louis, Mo.

2001 - LeRoy Walker Jr., MA ’81 PAA
Owner/operator of 15 McDonald’s Restaurants
Vice President of Events, National Black McDonald’s Operator’s Association

2000 - Linda Renee Baker ’85 EHS, MA ’87 EHS
Humanitarian, volunteer, public servant, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services

1999 _ Richard G. Austin ’73 LAS
Deputy Director of Aeronautics, State of Illinois
Former Administrator, U.S. General Services Administration

1998 - Philip C. Bradley ’72 CBM
President and CEO, Family Health Network

1997 - W. Robert Felker ’74 PAA
Senior Vice President, First National Bank of Chicago
President and CEO, First Chicago Futures, Inc.

1996 - Richard L. Adorjan ’88 CBM
Director of Public Affairs, Illinois Department of Transportation