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picture of Lee Millner with text "Lee Milner Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund" with QR code to a link that is already linked on the page.

Students in the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting program will benefit from a new scholarship fund named in honor of a longtime public servant and photographer.

The Lee Milner Memorial Endowment Scholarship Fund was established in memory of Milner, of Springfield, who died April 17, 2024. He was 78. It will provide tuition support for students enrolled in PAR, the 10-month master’s degree program that trains student journalists to cover government and politics.

Milner had a long career working as an Effingham Daily News photojournalist, an Army clerk and photojournalist, a pathologist’s photographer at Memorial Health in Springfield, a legislative coordinator in Washington, D.C., an assistant press secretary to Illinois state Rep. Bill Redmond, and director of communications at the Illinois State Board of Education.

In recent years, he was a constant presence at the Illinois Capitol, photographing numerous events involving public officials for the Illinois Times, a weekly Springfield newspaper

It was in the Capitol’s press room where Milner befriended and guided countless PAR interns as they learned their way around the building to cover news conferences, committee meetings and legislative floor action.

Two of those interns – Sam Dunklau and Rebecca Anzel from the PAR Class of 2018 – became close friends with Milner and his family. Dunklau and Anzel, who are now married and live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, have provided the initial gift to establish the Milner Scholarship Fund.

“Lee Milner was our rock while we were in PAR and in the years since,” Sam wrote on Facebook recently. “The kindness and love he and his family have shown us is beyond words. We miss him so much. Lee’s legacy as a friend and mentor lives on, and we’re hoping this new scholarship fund helps keep it strong for future PAR students he undoubtedly would have taken under his wing.”

Donations to the new fund can be made online.

The Lee Milner Memorial Endowment Scholarship Fund is one of 16 scholarship funds that defray the cost of tuition for PAR students. Learn more about the PAR Scholarship funds.