Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Drawing on inspiration

Dirk Tiede was told in high school that his comic book drawings would get him nowhere. Today, the 1997 Millikin graduate is a nationally recognized artist and entrepreneur in the high-demand field of graphic novels for his "Paradigm Shift" manga series.

Tiede has been a featured artist or guest at several anime and comic conventions for more than 10 years, including the San Diego Comic Con, as well as a speaker at the American Academy of Art and other educational institutions. His website,, is littered with a loyal following of fan contributions, art and comments.

"I specifically picked the Japanese manga look because of its action feel and horror element," Tiede says.

Creating his manga is a time-intensive process, Tiede says. "I write it, I'm the one doing the drawing, I'm putting it on the web and making sure it's ready for print," Tiede says, crediting Ris Fleming-Allen '96 as his editor. In fact, he sees her role as instrumental to his process. "Sometimes I'll send her a scene, and she'll practically re-write it. Then it will be more like what I was hoping for than the first draft I sent her," Tiede says. "She plays a very integral part."

When he began the series, he was still working his day job in Chicago, and the first book took him three years to complete. Since its 1999 release, Tiede has released two other books; all three books compose part one of the series. He is currently working on the first book in part two of the series at his home in Boston, collaborating with Fleming-Allen in Chicago.

Manga is an art form for Tiede, in addition to his business and hobby. "It's all about making sure that the radio reception between me and my little muse is as clear as possible so it can just talk and I can listen when it comes out," he says. "I have the skills now that if it wants me to draw something, I'll draw it."

However, there was once a time when Tiede set aside his muse and his drawings. "It was the 1993 Chicago Comic Con. I was young, barely 18," Tiede says, smiling. "I took my work around to the various portfolio reviews there. I don't know if it was that they were overly harsh or I just had thin skin, but I got some rough critiques, and I took it badly."

Tiede's personal
definition of manga

"While 'manga' is just the Japanese word for comics, many people associate the word with an art style defined by characters with big, cartoonish eyes, dynamic and often insanely exaggerated storytelling and outlandish settings and premises.

What struck me when I read manga for the first time was that it felt like watching a movie. The action was so dynamic, and the ink lines in the art looked as if they were practically thrown onto the page, and the characters were just leaping out."

Tiede had previously been encouraged to attend Millikin by his uncle, Russell Tiede, MU associate professor emeritus of music. Although he had intended to set aside comics after his Comic Con experience, Tiede still had the drawings he had worked on throughout high school. James Schietinger, longtime MU professor of art, saw Tiede's talent in them and encouraged him to study art at Millikin.

With his student portfolio review a success, Tiede was excited about the resources that Millikin offers to budding artists. "I had some portfolio reviews at other places which had gone well," Tiede says, "but this knocked them out of the park. The fact that there was a computer art lab just fascinated me. I knew where I wanted to be."

The skills he learned at Millikin helped him find work as a web designer after graduating, but he still wasn't satisfied. "I had this huge skill set, and it got me a job in Chicago, but it was just a job," Tiede says. "I thought, 'Where's the love?' and that's when I started doing comics again."

Chicago itself sparked Tiede's creative fire. "When I first moved there, I took the train downtown to work every day," he says. "We came around the corner and a whole vista of skyline would open up to us. I had a story and characters in mind, but the city inspired my setting.

"It's like there's a movie playing in my head," he notes. "I'm just writing down what happens in the movie, and it hasn't stopped playing yet, so I need to honor it and keep doing it."

Up in the air: two MU alumni help clients get their ideas off the ground

On the surface, Kate Cooper Schroeder ’05 of Louisville, Ky., has a normal 9-5 desk job. However, she does something unique with her eight-hour work shift: She helps people fly.

Schroeder works as a flying producer for ZFX Inc., a company headquartered in Louisville that specializes in live theatrical flying effects. Founded in 1994, ZFX works with more than 400 productions each year, ranging from Broadway musicals to concerts to corporate events. “I love theatre and entertainment. That’s my passion,” Schroeder says. “So, if there is something I can do to help a company or theatre sprout wings, I talk with them about how we can make their vision a reality.”

Schroeder not only helps people fly – she aids clients in getting almost anything in the air. During her five years at ZFX, Schroeder has worked on a variety of projects, including the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, when ZFX was hired to create a system to raise the flags on cue during medal ceremonies. “It was broadcast live, and the whole world was watching the

flags,” Schroeder says. “It was fun to be part of something so prestigious.”

Schroeder attributes much of her success at ZFX to her undergraduate education as a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) musical theatre major. “Here’s one of the great things about Millikin,” Schroeder says. “Most other BFA majors don’t get to push the ‘go’ button on the light board. I was encouraged to do things outside of my comfort zone. There was so much versatility that you won’t find in most other programs. In the real world, being versatile opens up more job opportunities. You can say, ‘Sure, I can do that!’”

Jessica May and Kate Cooper Schroeder, both ’05, at the Live Design Institute trade show and conference.

So, when ZFX was searching for another producer, Schroeder knew where to look; she contacted her former classmate, Jessica May ’05. The two had known each other at school and often performed onand off-stage together. May was a perfect fit for ZFX, Schroeder says, and joined the team as a flying producer last year.

ZFX is the only company of its kind to employ flying producers who work closely with clients to help their artistic visions take flight, Schroeder says. Currently, ZFX employs four flying producers, including the two Millikin grads. “Our job is to talk with clients about what they are looking to achieve and set them up with the appropriate equipment, time and personnel to bring that vision to life,” Schroeder says.

Although ZFX works routinely on popular stage shows such as “Peter Pan” and “Aladdin,” Schroeder and May must consider each client’s unique space and artistic vision when planning the flying effects. “The requirements of each show are incredibly different, but it makes it all the more rewarding when you can help your client pull off what they initially had in mind,” May says. For example, one of May’s favorite projects was a recent production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Fargo, N.D., where Puck and the fairies flew throughout the entire show.

Schroeder and May often work on a good deal of traditional theatre, but they also tackle many out-of-the-ordinary projects, as well. ZFX’s motto is that a production’s flying capabilities are “only limited by your imagination (or ours), gravity and physics.” This flexible policy allows for a variety of unique opportunities, such as flying mannequins for UNIQLO, a Japanese fashion retail company. ZFX provided a display for their flagship store in Shanghai in 2010, and then again this past year for their new New York location.

And opportunities for ZFX, according to Schroeder, are constantly increasing. “Almost every new show being released has a flying effect,” she says, “It’s becoming more and more of a popular thing.” To soar above the competition in this burgeoning field, ZFX employs over 50 people and creates much of their equipment in-house.

They also wear Utilikilts. “We’re the type of company that thinks outside the box, and we start from scratch without any preconceived notions on everything we do … including our fashion choices,” May says.

From their quirky unofficial uniforms to their theatrical ingenuity, Schroeder and May take the profession of producer to new heights. “We like to create a spectacle, while still maintaining the magic,” Schroeder says. “The creativity and artists we have on staff at ZFX make it seem as if someone is actually flying through the air without a wire. Flying isn’t just in your dreams anymore.”

Just funnin' - These alumni toy execs aren't just playing around

Tom Neville '86

It looked like a normal office building from the outside, tucked as it was in a neatly manicured commercial park in Irvine, Calif. The sunny parking lot was quiet, as was the climb to the building’s second floor. But there were also hints of fun: wall-sized photos of grinning children clothed in primary colors adorned the walls of the reception area. A scattering of small toys covered the reception desk.

A delivery person and I waited in the office area when J. Robert “Bob” Lienhop ’76 burst through the door, greeting us both at once. After signing for the delivery, Lienhop ushered me through the door and into a cacophony of visual delight. It was the headquarters of Strottman International, the company Bob serves as president of global operations, and Strottman’s business is making toys – lots and lots of toys.

Lienhop would more accurately claim that the company’s business is to help clients appeal and connect to kids and families by specializing in premium products (i.e. giveaways) and retail experiences. As he explained that day, one reason toys were everywhere was that the growing company had 0verrun its office space and was prepping for a move. The space we toured first was the domain of the “creatives,” as he termed the employees who develop premium campaigns and runs of children’s meal toys for clients including Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Chickfil-A. Strottman International produces all of the children’s meal toys for Wendy’s and Taco Bell restaurants the world over. It makes the majority of Chick-fil-A’s children’s meal toys, as well.

Evidence of creativity was indeed everywhere: clusters of toys marched across shelves, whiteboards mapped ideas in concept balloons and colorful illustrations for upcoming campaigns were tacked to walls and horizontal spaces. Technological opposites for producing toy prototypes were shown in sequence: an old-fashioned drawing and construction table (with wood, nails, paper) shared space with a “printer” that molds and pops out 3-D plastic prototypes of toys for manipulation and testing. Later that afternoon, Lienhop and I discussed other aspects of the company, including Strottman’s manufacturing plants in the Far East as well as the legal, distribution and all-important product licensing aspects of the business.

One thing’s for sure: A lot of work and brainpower goes into the fun today’s kids are having.

Tom Neville '86

Tom Neville ’86, managing director of TCG (formerly The Canadian Group), knows this quite well. Neville, who works and lives in Houston, relies on play for his life’s work, just like Lienhop.

TCG, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, is a manufacturer and distributor of puzzles, games and skill activities for children and families. Branded as “TCG — The Best in Fun,” the company has been described as the fastest-growing puzzle company worldwide.

As with Strottman’s premiums, licenses are key to TCG product sales. TCG’s licenses include Fisher-Price toys (“the most trusted name in the toy business,” Neville says); television series, including “Glee,” “The Mentalist” and “Doodlebops”; teen singing sensation Justin Bieber; Bratz dolls; Zhu Zhu Pets toys; and BBC Planet Earth.

Neville, a Millikin graduate in finance with a minor in psychology, has been behind much of the company’s growth in licensing and worldwide product distribution. Hired by The Canadian Group just over nine years ago, he manages and oversees the company’s marketing, product positioning and strategic licensing partnerships. With a background in sales for companies including Armstrong World Industries and Lego Toys, Neville also finds himself in the perfect position to manage the sales relationship with TCG’s largest customers. It’s an ever-evolving role, with future success to be buoyed by launching new “crazes,” securing entertainment licensing tie-ins and judiciously incorporating technology to augment the child’s experience with traditional puzzles and games. For example, a QR code on a puzzle of a popular teen entertainer, when scanned by a smartphone, might unlock a short “performance” on the smartphone screen. The puzzle itself is fun, but the technology unlocks a new experience that makes the puzzle fun in a different way.

For better or for worse, Neville and Lienhop agree, entertainment and the advertising media are here to stay in the world of play. The magic comes when a license agreement leads the child or family to choose a certain puzzle or a particular dining experience. The actual play experience with these companies’ products — toys, puzzles, games and premium items — is largely traditional, manipulative, imaginative and interactive. According to Neville, there is an incredibly strong market for traditional toys, from puzzles to board games to yo-yos. Some of the products, like puzzles and board games, have a place in the customer’s life throughout adulthood.

Neville points out that the media also influences the timeline of toy “crazes,”and a typical toy craze saturates the market for 18 months before winding down. Therefore, the successful company always looks ahead to ramp up the next big thing.

Fast timelines are mirrored at Strottman International with its children’s meal toys; a single promotion lasts just four to eight weeks. One successful Strottman product promotes a slower tempo of family interactivity, though: The company produces “Build and Grow” kits for the Lowe’s Home Improvement Store “Build and Grow” Kids’ Clinics worldwide. Offered every other Saturday at all Lowe’s retail locations, the clinics allow kids to build a simple wooden toy by hand. Parents and guardians participate, too. Many of the toys feature a bit of technology (such as sound chips or pullback motors) that enhances their play value. The provision of a toy “series” and, sometimes, licensed toy kits, keeps kids and families coming back for this free activity.

The question inevitably arises: while at Millikin, did you envision that you would be working in the world of play? And: did Millikin prepare you well for what you do today? The resounding response from both Bob Lienhop and Tom Neville: “Absolutely not!” to the first question, and “Absolutely yes!” to the second.

Lienhop prepped in college for a “life of numbers and audits.” Drawn from his home in St. Louis to Millikin by its swimming program, Lienhop majored in accounting at MU. Initially hired by Price Waterhouse as an auditor, Lienhop soon sought a new job, one that would both expose him to international business and allow him to live in California. The internal audit department of Mattel Toys delivered on both counts, and Lienhop soon found himself traveling to Paris, Frankfurt and Milan for Mattel, living in Europe for months at a time. After serving as finance director of the short-lived Mattel Electronics division, manufacturer of Atari competitor Intellivision, Lienhop joined Strottman, a marketing company founded by a former Mattel colleague 28 years ago.

Over the past six years, Strottman’s traditional marketing project work has been replaced with a new vision and direction. Seizing on the opportunity to manufacture children’s meal toys, a niche many major toy companies don’t care to pursue, Strottman has capitalized on its principals’ background in the toy industry and on their expertise in acquiring licenses and designing/executing brand partnerships.

Lienhop credits the financial background he received at Millikin for success in his role overseeing Strottman’s business structures and processes. His former swim coach, Carl Johansen, and David Marshall, professor emeritus of accounting, have been particularly influential. Johansen is credited as having been the one to “motivate this flaky swimmer from St. Louis” to believe that he could succeed in swimming, in the classroom and in life. Lienhop sees Marshall as “a great instructor” with a gift for pragmatically explaining lessons in terms students could understand, relating them to everyday business.

Today, Lienhop lives in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., with his wife of 26 years, Debby. They have two grown daughters, Megan and Janna.

Tom Neville came to Millikin from his home in Colorado in large part due to the urging of uncle Mark Neville ’72, who then served MU as director of development (and eventually as vice president for advancement into the early 1990s). Neville graduated in the midst of the 1980s bull market and counted on making his mark as a stockbroker before switching gears to sales.

At Millikin, Neville says he met “a lot of quality individuals — professors, staff and students — and received a well-rounded education with real-world experiences.” It was “ being part of a family that is the Millikin community,” he adds. Professors lectured from their experiences in real business with real clients, clubs and activities taught leadership, internships were a place to apply knowledge and the occasional evening class exposed Neville to the perspectives of working commuter students. “It was just a great experience, being exposed to many different areas at once,” he concludes.

Neville lives in Houston with his wife, Sue, a consultant in the energy industry, and with daughters Lindsey, 16, and Erin, 14. His sister, Melissa Neville Rose of Littleton, Colo., graduated from Millikin in 1988.

Both Lienhop and Neville sent a full-to-bursting box of products to the alumni and development office this spring as a tangible demonstration of what their companies do (and a few of those toys also served as nifty illustrations for this article). The toys will be donated to a local charity in honor of these two alums who invest their hard work and brain power into helping today’s children have fun.

Funding the need to succeed

It may look like a woman's razor for shaving her legs, even down to its lavender color, but it's actually a tool for healing.

So says Athletic Trainer Eric Streeter, who recently purchased six of the devices known as sound-assisted soft tissue mobilization tools (SASTM for short) for MU's exercise science and sport department after receiving a grant from the Burnell and Ermell Fischer Athletic Enhancement Fund. The tools (see one in the above photo) will be used by students who are preparing for careers as athletic trainers through MU's exercise science and sport program and also by on-staff athletic trainers to help aid in the healing of injured student-athletes. Millikin is one of only three universities in Illinois to have the tools.

"SASTM tools are an effective form of therapeutic treatment for injuries such as plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, chronic muscle strain and chronic ligament injuries," Street said in his proposal.

The SASTM purchase was made possible by a grant from an endowment fund established in memory of the late Burnell Fischer, M.D. '39, and his late wife, Ermell Fischer, a Decatur native and supporter of the arts. The Fischers' two sons, Dr. Burnell "Burney" Fischer and Terry Fischer, created the fund as a lasting legacy to their father, whose belief in participating in student athletics was a tradition they wish to perpetuate.

Each year, MU's athletics department personnel can apply for funding for needed equipment or services through the Fischer Fund. A previous grant funded live streaming broadcasts of all home football and basketball games.

This year, a total of five grants were awarded. In addition to the grant for the SASTM tools, they include: iPad 2 technology for all full-time and head coaches to assist in student recruiting and assessment of games; 30 cast-iron kettlebells and a storage rack for the Ralph Allan-Dorothy McClure Fitness/Wellness Center; six high-definition camcorders for use in videotaping sports practices and competitions; and travel expenses for students and administrators from the newly created student athletic advisory council to attend the 2012 NCAA convention.

A clash of kings

The Barbados native, Ron "Suki" King, stares down his opponent, the young up-and-comer Lubabalo Kondlo, a poor man from South Africa who has torn through a forest of red tape just to be here. Now the only thing standing in the way of Kondlo becoming a world champion is the smug King across from him.

This is a game of precision, of great strategy and now a struggle between social classes.

This is checkers. The arena for this match is "King Me," a documentary by Think Media Studios. In addition to following the match between the aptly named King and the underdog Kondlo, the film also explains little known facts about the game and the organizations in charge of these tournaments. The documentary premiered this March at the Cleveland International Film Festival and features Millikin's very own U.S. checkers champion, Richard Beckwith '91 (below).

Beckwith grew up in Decatur a mile from Millikin's campus and started playing in local checkers tournaments in Macon County as a child. He debuted in state tournaments by age 15 and took first in the B division of the Illinois State Tournament by the time he was 16. "I started very young because my dad played. Some of the better players started taking me to state tournaments. From there I moved to Ohio and started competing nationally," he says.

State checkers tournaments usually award the winner with a cash prize of anywhere from $500 to $1,000 and the national tournaments and world title matches offer $5,000 to $10,000 to the victor. These competitions are not about grown men huddled in a friend's basement betting for pennies.

Beckwith is no minor contender in these events. In fact, he won this year's U.S. national championship in February, as well as the San Remo (Italy) Open last October.

"Just about every household has a checker board," Beckwith says. "[but] people just don't understand the game at this kind of level."

Beckwith is a senior scientist working in analytical chemistry with Ricerca Biosciences, where he tests trial versions of drugs for impurities.

"My time at Millikin provided the groundwork for my career," he says. After Millikin he went on to Purdue to receive his doctorate in philosophy, and he started work with Ricerca straight out of graduate school.

But this mild-mannered scientist by day serves by night as the vice president of the World Checker and Draughts* Federation and players representative of the American Checker Federation, a position that is fairly time-consuming, he says.

Hours of work must be put in to serve these organizations at the administrative level. His responsibilities range from making major decisions and raising money to selling items on their online store and writing books and articles about checkers. "To be honest, there is limited time left for other things, but I manage fine," Beckwith says.

That limited time has to include training for upcoming matches. He reads up on checkers strategy, plays against practice opponents and studies past games. In some of the more sophisticated tournaments, the matches are recorded, yielding a great resource for players to use for practice and review. Unfortunately, these organizations do not always possess the necessary funding for these resources.

"We do struggle with sponsorships," Beckwith admits, "but hopefully 'King Me' will shed some light on our world and tournament scene. We have a fantastic game and we want people to know about it."

ESPN airs Scrabble® and poker tournaments for cash prizes that can range from $50,000 to millions, so why not checkers, too, Beckwith wonders. Especially now that this mind game is working its way into the Olympic arena.

Beckwith took seventh place out of 42 checkers contenders four years ago in the 2008 World Mind Sports Games hosted in Beijing's Olympic Village. Another American player, Alex "The Mad Russian" Moiseyev, took the gold. "He's an aggressive player with a very blunt personality," Beckwith says, "but he's a very smart fellow and he dominates the game." During the Cold War, Moiseyev learned a version of checkers in Russia which utilizes a larger board, but quickly mastered the smaller American version when he moved to Pennsylvania in the mid-'90s.

Moiseyev may not be able to attend this year's World Mind Sports Games in Lille, France, due to lack of funding, leaving the field open for players from other countries to grab the gold. Instead he plans on entering the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA) event in Beijing this December, where his expenses will be covered and he has the opportunity to win $5,000 in prize money. Beckwith predicts that Ron King, the champion challenged by Kondlo in "King Me," will be a favorite if Moiseyev does not attend the event in France.

King took the silver medal in 2008 and has been the world champion of the freestyle version of play for 20 years. The documentary highlights this world champion's bravado attitude, adding plenty of spice to the rich mix of characters.

But King is not the only opponent Beckwith will contend with this summer. Michele Borghetti of Italy defeated King in Ireland in 2010 and barely lost the world title to Moiseyev. "Borghetti is already a legend in Italy, and if he goes to the Olympics he could be a serious contender," Beckwith says. "He's aggressive like Alex. They're both very biting and they try to mix it up."

Beckwith, unlike Moiseyev, is competing in France with or without funding, and he knows the competition this summer will be tough. "I can get draws with these guys, but I think they're the better players," he says, disregarding his own accomplishments on the checkers board which seem sure to keep his fellow champions wondering what move to make next.

Although the competition is important to him, Beckwith plays checkers chiefly for enjoyment. "It's a fun and challenging game that is continuing to reach new heights," he says. In this clash of kings, whoever the victor is, the war is fought for the love of the game.

Quiet and unassuming, his life continues to have impact

One week before what would have been his 84th birthday, Millikin University received a surprise from the estate of the late Herschel W. Pritchett of Niantic, Ill.

"The executor of the estate delivered a check for $500,000!" says Dave Brandon, MU's director of development. The 1950 graduate had shared with Brandon years before that he had named Millikin the residual beneficiary of his estate but the probate attorney had estimated that Millikin would receive an amount that was much less. Pritchett's gift was a fitting legacy from a quiet man of integrity who liked to do good without receiving recognition, Brandon says.

"And there is another surprise - Millikin also is slated to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 more from Pritchett's estate," Brandon says. Since Pritchett had not restricted the use of his estate proceeds, the university's board of trustees approved using them in support of the exercise science and sport campaign within "Transform MU," Millikin's $85 million capital campaign.

"Herschel was as loyal an alumnus as you would ever meet, and he would have loved to know that his accumulated capital was being reinvested into the greater Decatur community in support of a strong program like exercise science and sport," Brandon says.

Pritchett died Aug. 17, 2011. A native of Niantic, Ill., he majored in business administration at Millikin and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After graduation, Pritchett completed two years at the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wis., and then entered into the family business - the State Bank of Niantic. He served 49 years at the bank, including as its president from 1980-1993. The Pritchett family had an ownership interest in the State Bank of Niantic from 1893 until 1985, when it was sold to Scott Bancshares Inc., based in Bethany, Ill.

A lifelong bachelor, Pritchett was known in his community as a kind and generous person who helped many young people appreciate the importance of saving money, Brandon says. He served several years on the Niantic-Harristown Board of Education and he and his family were such generous benefactors to Niantic that village officials named a town park and a street in honor of the Pritchetts.

Pritchett regularly attended university events, including the annual Vespers concert, cultural events and stage performances in Kirkland Fine Arts Center and home games of the Big Blue football and basketball teams. He also had the distinction of being the perennial "premiere donor" to the Millikin Fund, the university's annual effort to raise funds in support of operations.

"If it was the last week of June, you could expect to receive a letter from Herschel containing his Millikin Fund gift for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1," Brandon says, adding, "Sometimes, Herschel would deliver the gift in person, and we would have a chance to catch up on the latest Millikin news, SAE news and the like."

In recognition of Pritchett's generous estate commitment, the university will name the physical conditioning learning center in a planned new Exercise Science and Sport Pavilion in his honor. This marquee space is scheduled to occupy most of the south wing of the new facility, to be housed in the former West Towne Square Center on the corner of Oakland and Wood streets. A total of $5.7 milion is needed to acquire, renovate and equip the new facility with state-of-the-art exercise science equipment and technology.

According to Brandon, this cohesive complex with creative learning spaces will lend itself to increased performance learning opportunities by the four majors within the exercise science and sport department. Classroom instruction will be infused with technology, laboratory spaces will be designed for each major, and students will learn by doing under the auspices of a faculty member - and then "train" other Millikin students in a handson manner.

Brandon says, "Herschel made Millikin one of his charitable priorities both during his lifetime and beyond, and for that we are most grateful." ?

A marketing success story, Bibber-style

Jon "Rick" Bibb, associate professor of marketing in the Tabor School of Business, retired this May after a 30-year teaching career at Millikin.

In honor of his retirement, several of the Bibber's former students came together earlier this year to create the Rick Bibb Scholarship. Spearheading the efforts to create the scholarship were Luke Bills '03, Jani Adell Duffy '85, Brenda Urfer Elliott '83, Ed Moss '92, Jon Tiede '92 and Terry Trost '03.

The group's original goal was to collect $10,000 in gifts so the scholarship could reach the endowment level and exist forever at Millikin in providing scholarships to deserving students. The six made their own gifts and helped spread the word to others among Bibb's former students through letters, emails and personal contacts. Campus support among Tabor staff and other employees was strong from the start, as well as support from friends of the Bibber, especially those at Illinois State University (ISU), where he had also taught.

Less than three months later, more than $24,000 in gifts had been raised, and the first scholarship will be awarded for the fall 2013 semester. To be qualified, a student must be a junior or senior within the Tabor School of Business with a 3.0 GPA or higher, a leader, passionate about marketing and interested in international study while at Millikin.

"Rick means so much to many of his students, as both a teacher and a friend. This is a fitting tribute to a man who has helped shape so many lives," said Tiede, who, along with the Millikin Club of St. Louis, hosted a retirement event at his company's office in St. Louis this spring for alumni and friends to honor Bibb.

Bibb received bachelor's and master's degrees in marketing from the University of Missouri - Columbia and completed doctoral coursework in marketing/applied research methodology at the University of Kentucky. In addition to Millikin, he has taught at Illinois State University, Central Missouri State University and the University of Texas - Austin.

He served as coordinator of the marketing department and chapter adviser for the Millikin Marketing Association, and also made strides to strengthen Millikin's worldwide business presence. He helped develop Tabor's international initiatives in Malaysia, Mexico and France, where he was instrumental in developing a dual-degree program between Millikin and the Paris Graduate School of Management. He also collaborated with a Korean distributor of Stevia, a natural sweetener, resulting in a student project that concluded the sweetener had great potential in the U.S. market.

Gifts to his scholarship are still being accepted. Visit to make a gift online or call MU's alumni and development office at 1-877-JMU-ALUM (568-2586).

He gave her hope, and she passes it on

Jess Gruca ’11 and Joe Fiore ’01 in front of Fiore’s recently opened Accelerated Rehabilitation Center in Decatur.

As a high school junior, Jess Gruca ’11 participated in four sports, was hoping to play basketball at the university level, and thought she might like to be a lawyer. But during a game the Peotone, Ill., native calls “her best game ever” with 26 points, 13 steals and 10 rebounds, her life changed drastically. Gruca took a particularly hard hit. It didn’t hurt immediately, but by the end of her next practice she had ruptured the disc between her L4 and L5 vertebrae and, she would soon learn, she had little hope of participating in sports again.

There was talk of back surgery for disc replacement or perhaps fusion. Either would mean a significant change in the young woman’s life.

“Imagine being told at 16 years old: ‘No more sports. No running. No lifting weight over 20 pounds. No kids,’” Gruca remembers. She knew she didn’t want that, and neither did her mother.

“My mom called at least a dozen physical therapists,” Gruca says, “spending hours interviewing them on the phone.” One of these interviews turned up Joe Fiore ’01, then working in the Chicago area as a physical therapist and later at Millikin as a strength and conditioning coach. Gruca’s mom liked what Fiore had to say about what could be done for Jess with physical therapy. “Joe was the first person to give me hope,” Gruca says. Following her physician’s medical treatment and intense physical therapy provided by Fiore, Gruca was playing soccer by that spring.

Fiore became a mentor and role model to Gruca, and by her senior year at Peotone, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She wanted to do what Joe did. So, like Fiore, she came to Millikin’s exercise science and sport program, which put her on the path to giving hope and recovery to others – just what Fiore had done for her.

Citing the combination of classroom time with practical “hands on” experience for her athletic training major, Gruca credits her performance learning experience at Millikin with giving her the skills to prepare the way for her career.

“It’s why those students really need up-to-date equipment,” she says. “The same modalities and machines being used to teach are the ones I use now.”

Currently a personal trainer at the Decatur YMCA, Gruca specializes in working with people with injuries. She wants to give them the same hope and guidance provided to her by Fiore. Her face lights up when discussing a woman with a back injury who could do only one lunge when they first met and can now do dozens easily. Gruca is also excited about applying to physical therapy schools in August.

“You don’t have to be in pain forever,” she says. “Understanding all the little things that can affect one injury is so important. You have to work from the inside out, and athletic training confirmed that for me.”

For Maude Haake, scrapbooking was a piece of cake.

The largest photograph of Haake has been hand-tinted to give her rosy cheeks.

The scrapbook of Maude Haake (later Joy) ’25, a home economics major from Fillmore, Ill., now housed in the university archives’ collection, illustrates how a personal hobby can create a valuable historical artifact for future generations.

Haake's 1921-22 Athletic Association card.

Full of photographs of Haake and her friends around campus and in their Aston Hall dormitory rooms, the scrapbook is an especially rich treasure trove of what archivists call ephemera — items that were originally intended to exist only for a short time before being thrown into a trashcan. Haake, however, considered these ephemeral items to be important souvenirs of her time at Millikin.

Carefully glued and pinned to her scrapbook’s pages are tickets and programs from church services, theatrical, sporting, and musical events; bridge scorecards; greeting cards; homecoming buttons and stamps; invitations to dances, parties, luncheons, and teas; course schedules; dance cards; and receipts.

A photograph of students swimming in Lake Decatur, which was new at the time Haake was a student.

She also included letters from friends in their original, stamped envelopes, a lock of hair, telegrams, dried flowers, newspaper clippings, the pledge of allegiance (handwritten on a scrap of paper), and a stained, lumpy envelope simply labeled “wedding cake.”

Though her book has become unbound with age, most of the items have survived remarkably well considering the lack of archival quality scrapbooking supplies during the early 20th century.

See photos of more items by downloading the pdf of the whole issue. You can download a version without Class Notes, or log in to myMillikin to view the entire issue.

Turf's up -- with your help

Adding artificial turf and lights to Frank M. Lindsay Field is edging closer to reality. The $1.4 million project is part of Millikin's "Transform MU" capital campaign.

The Workman Challenge

Recently, Gary Workman '64, a Millikin trustee, promised to match all commitments made to the turf and lights project - dollar for dollar - up to a total of $100,000.

"The Workman Challenge is a great opportunity to move the Big Blue forward on this important project," says Craig White, new director of athletics and recreation. "A turf surface will help attract and retain the quality of athlete that we need in our program to continue the heritage of Big Blue football and build new chapters of success."

The turf cost alone is $1.1 million.

The Don Shroyer End Zones

Last year, members of the 1961 undefeated football team provided the backing to name the two end zones in honor of their former coach, Don Shroyer '50.

Shroyer, a top running back for the Big Blue during his student days, was signed by the Chicago Bears. He returned to Millikin as head football coach in 1956, and was named conference Coach of the Year in 1961 after the team's undefeated season. During his career, he also served as offensive and defensive backfield coach and also was a linebacker coach for the then St. Louis Cardinals as well as coach of an SIU team that included future NFL quarterback Jim Hart. He returned to Decatur in the early 1970s to hold various positions with Decatur Public Schools before retiring in 1995.

Own your own piece of turf

Although the end zones may be named, alumni and friends can still "own" a piece of the field by funding individual parcels of the turf in a range of $200 to $500 per square yard, gifts that are eligible for the Workman Challenge match. All donors to the project will be recognized for their role in supporting a new and improved Frank M. Lindsay Field.
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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL