Blake Wood
Publish Date

The University of Illinois Springfield School of Public Management and Policy will host the annual Railsplitter banquet and awards from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 31, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield.

The event pays tribute to public servants whose careers exhibit the highest standard of excellence, dedication and accomplishment to the ultimate benefit of the public. The theme this year will be “Many Hands Make Light Work – Public-Private Partnerships and the Promise of the 21st Century.” Federal District Court Judge Brian Stacy Miller will be the keynote speaker. 

Several awards will be presented:

Grace Hou, secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, will receive the Public Service Award. Hou previously served as the president of Woods Fund Chicago, a grant-making foundation that funds organizations that draw on the power of communities to fight the brutality of poverty and structural racism.

Edgar J. Curtis, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Health since January 2008, will receive the Private Sector Award. Curtis provides leadership for the strategic direction of the Springfield-based health system, which delivers comprehensive health services to the central Illinois region.

Betsy Goulet, director of the UIS Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning, clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the UIS Child Advocacy Studies program, will be honored with the School of Public Management Alumni Award. Goulet is a three-time alum, earning her bachelor’s, master’s and a doctorate in public administration at UIS.

The railsplitter name pays homage to President Abraham Lincoln, arguably one of America’s greatest public servants, who used that nickname in the 1860 presidential election. The awards have been presented since 1989, with past recipients including Paul Simon, Jim Edgar, Jesse White, Naomi Lynn and Karen Hasara.

The event is open to the public; however, advanced registration is required by March 14. The cost is $25 per person or $200 for a table of eight. Register online at