In recent months, Millikin lost two individuals who had been inducted into the Millikin Medallion Society for their lasting impact on the university: Associate Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering Denny Benner and Millikin supporter Lauri Pilling, wife of trustee emeritus Frank “Bud” Pilling. The Millikin Medallion Society Award was conferred during the university’s centennial celebration held from 2001 to 2003 and recognized those individuals who had the greatest impact on Millikin in the university’s first 100 years.
Denny Benner who had taught at the university from 1963 to 1991, died July 19. In addition to teaching, Benner was faculty adviser during the first years of WJMU-FM, the student radio station, and also represented Millikin and the Society of Professional Engineers as state and regional coordinator for MATHCOUNTS, a nationwide competitive program for seventh- and eighth-grade students. He also initiated and supervised a student-tutor system during his 28 years at the university. After his death, the family suggested that memorials be given to the Denny Benner Scholarship at Millikin.
Lauri Pilling died July 9. She and her husband have been long-time and generous supporters of the university, including annual gifts to the Millikin Fund. They also funded the construction of Pilling Chapel, Millikin’s first free-standing interfaith chapel, built in the heart of campus in 1997. They also included an endowment to ensure the chapel’s future viability. Most recently, the Pillings have been supporters to the proposed new university center, a priority of the “Transform MU” capital campaign.
The couple also created the Bud and Lauri Pilling Scholarship Fund in 1992, supported renovations of Shilling Hall in the 1980s and are members of the university’s Investors Society. The couple also received the 2002 James Millikin Award. The award is given annually to non-alumni friends of the university who have demonstrated exemplary financial support of Millikin. They were also recognized with a 2011 “Do Something Great” award presented to outstanding philanthropists by the Decatur and Macon County Community Foundation.