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UIS Alumni Awards honor five for exceptional service

November 24, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - Four alumni and a former dean at the University of Illinois at Springfield were honored at the Alumni Awards Dinner and Reception held November 12 in the Public Affairs Center on the UIS campus.

Pamela McClelland received the Distinguished Service Award, the first time this award has been presented at UIS. John D. Blackburn, Deborah K. Cimarosa, and Thomas S. Duncan each received the Loyalty Award for Exceptional Alumni Service, and Dean Emeritus William L. Bloemer was honored for his more than 30 years of service as a faculty member and administrator.

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McClelland, a partner in the Springfield accounting firm Kerber, Eck and Braekel, earned both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Accountancy at UIS, in 1990 and 1995, respectively. After receiving her master’s degree, she distinguished herself academically and professionally by earning the Elijah Watts Sells Award (now the EXCEL Award), which is bestowed on those who score in the top 5 percent nationally among students sitting for the CPA exam.

Since her graduation, McClelland has remained actively involved with UIS. A member of the Accountancy Alumni Committee since 1996, she currently serves as chair and, through her work on the committee, has helped develop major alumni programs and initiatives. One of these -- the annual Don Stanhope Golf Outing -- raised more than $100,000 to establish an endowed scholarship for accountancy students. In 2003-2004, she was a member of the College of Business and Management Task Force of the National Commission on the Future of UIS, which provided insight and discussion on significant issues facing the college.

McClelland has also served the college as an adviser on curriculum decisions and accreditation procedures, has interviewed faculty candidates, and recently joined the UIS Development Advisory Board.

Blackburn is president and CEO of Country Insurance and Financial Services in       Bloomington. In 2003 he served as chairperson of the National Commission on the Future of UIS, providing “meaningful and significant leadership” with the process and operations of the overall commission, as well as the 13 task forces that comprised it. He is also a past participant in the UIS Leadership Roundtable, a program that brings together a select group of alumni and friends who are nationally respected in their chosen fields to advise the campus in matters of vision and strategic planning. Blackburn earned the master of arts in Educational Leadership in 1979.

Cimarosa, currently senior human resources consultant with AIG American General in Springfield, earned a bachelor of arts in Management in 1993 and a master of arts in Individual Option in 1998. Through her service on various committees within the College of Business and Management she has helped shape program curricula and assisted the college in its national accreditation process. She has served as a guest lecturer or adjunct professor for courses on human resources topics and has shared her knowledge and experience through various Alumni Association programs. Most recently she was instrumental in planning and hosting an alumni event in honor of Professor Emeritus Joe Wilkins that resulted in the establishment of a scholarship in Wilkins’ name.

Duncan, who earned the bachelor of arts in Management in 2000, is an investor and business developer as well as owner/operator of inPlay at the Maxam in Peoria. He was also instrumental in planning the event honoring Joe Wilkins and in establishing the related scholarship. Duncan has facilitated a number of meetings and other activities for the College of Business and Management and members of the Peoria business community and has served as a speaker at the Peoria Center’s graduation dinner. He was a member of the CBM Task Force of the National Commission on the Future of UIS, and has been actively involved in efforts to start an alumni chapter in Peoria.

Though technically retired as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor emeritus of Chemistry and Clinical Laboratory Science, Bloemer currently serves UIS as visiting assistant to the provost. He has been associated with the campus since 1973, when he arrived at then-Sangamon State University to teach physical and analytical chemistry.

Of the early years, he notes, “I got interested in computer-assisted instruction early on and ran our PLATO site (a U of I instructional network that predated the Internet) for 15 years. In 1988 I was a recently promoted full professor and just getting serious about CAI when my predecessor suddenly resigned as dean of LAS and I was asked to fill in for the remainder of the term. That lasted 16 and a half years.” 

As dean of the most academically diverse college at UIS, Bloemer was instrumental in making Liberal Arts and Sciences a transformational entity. It was among the first at UIS, or at any U of I campus, to offer a degree program entirely online (the master’s degree in Management Information Systems in 1998), allowing “place bound” students to earn a meaningful undergraduate degree via web-based technology. He also led the implementation of what was at the time the largest program support grant awarded to UIS, a $500,000 SLOAN Grant designed to increase the number of baccalaureate degree programs available online.

Bloemer played a significant role in establishing the Capital Scholars program at UIS, which brought first-year college students to UIS for the first time in 2001, and he led the search efforts that identified the first-ever distinguished faculty chair on campus – Phillip Shaw Paludan, who is Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies.

Most recently, Bloemer helped establish the “K Fund,” named for Building K, which housed the campus’ science programs before construction of the Health and Sciences Building. Private gifts to the K Fund will help UIS provide physical and biological science programs with up-to-date laboratory equipment.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the University of Illinois who have consistently demonstrated extraordinary commitment, dedication, and service for the advancement of the institution. Recipients of the Loyalty Award for Exceptional Alumni Service are alumni who have distinguished themselves in donating their time and talent on behalf of the U of I and UIS.

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.