Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Press Releases

Several Millikin University alumni were recently recognized by the Business Journal of Midcentral Illinois for its list of 20 under 40 for 2015.

The Business Journal annually recognizes 20 young professionals under the age of 40 who live or work in Macon County and make a difference in the community through their jobs and participation in organizations.

The following Millikin alumni were recognized.

Christina Bolsen Baker '10 is assistant vice president of corporate cash management at Hickory Point Bank. Baker works with managers in Decatur, Ill., and Peoria, Ill., to develop, maintain and grow cash management relationships with businesses and institutions based in those areas.

Keith Creighton '00 is a middle school teacher and department head at Dennis Lab School in Decatur. Creighton hopes to continue to lead the development of the middle school so it can provide the best education for its students.

Olivia Heisner '13 is executive director of DIGG (Decatur is Growing Gardeners) where she handles public relations, marketing, volunteer coordination and grant writing for the organization. DIGG develops urban farms in Decatur and provides work and learning opportunities for residents.

Wes Hillen '13 is a financial services representative at Foster Financial Services, Inc., and the assistant men's golf coach at Millikin University. Hillen helps young professionals and families with life insurance and disability income insurance needs.

Tony Piraino MBA '09 is a new product introduction systems integration engineer for the Caterpillar motor grader product group. Piraino learns how customers use Caterpillar machines and then uses that information to come up with a better machine that ultimately helps their customers make more profit.

Mandi Landacre Podeschi '02 is senior director of development in the Alumni and Development Office at Millikin University. Podeschi supervises the development team and the team's efforts to raise support for the Millikin Fund for Student Scholarships campaign and the Transform MU capital campaign.

Wes Shade '05 is a broker placement specialist for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Shade works collaboratively with the company's account teams to find solutions that meet the needs of their clients' unique risks.

Kelli Smith Runyon '05 is an account executive at DCC Marketing where she has responsibilities ranging from project management, strategy development and implementation, brand development and more.

Click here to read more about the Millikin alumni who were recognized by the Business Journal of Midcentral Illinois.
Millikin University alumna Sierra Boggess '04 is starring in a Broadway musical comedy entitled "It Shoulda Been You," which opened April 14 at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Boggess was recently featured in the New York Times' "In Performance" multimedia series that features actors performing excerpts from shows in which they star. Boggess sings the number "A Little Bit Less Than" from "It Shoulda Been You."

Since her Broadway debut as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," 2004 Millikin graduate Sierra Boggess has become one of the most sought after young artists in the New York and London theatre markets. Referred to by Tony Award-winning Producer and Director Harold Price as "one of the most talented and intelligent artists in the musical theatre today," Sierra dazzles audiences with her unique brand of charm, humor and virtuosity.

Boggess recently finished a limited run in "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway. Her London credits include "Les Misérables," the 25th anniversary concerts of "The Phantom of the Opera" at Royal Albert Hall and "Love Never Dies."
Paul Marien '05, a graduate of Millikin University's Professional Adult Comprehensive Education (PACE) program, was recently named executive director of the Macon County Conservation District.

As executive director, Marien's focus is to hold on to and expand the success of the Macon County Conservation District. Marien will be the district's fourth director since its creation in 1966. The district has more than 3,200 acres of land dedicated to conservation and education.

Through Millikin University's PACE program, Marien earned his Bachelor of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership.

Marien says the goal is to stay the course of awareness and education, and grow the district's volunteer base and programs.

Click here to read more about Marien's efforts in an article from the Herald & Review.
Millikin University alumna Sierra Boggess '04 is starring in a new Broadway musical entitled "It Shoulda Been You," which opened April 14 at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

USA Today says the musical is "this Broadway season's freshest and funniest to date." The musical is directed by Emmy and Tony Award-winner David Hyde Pierce.

Since her Broadway debut as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," 2004 Millikin graduate Sierra Boggess has become one of the most sought after young artists in the New York and London theatre markets. Referred to by Tony Award-winning Producer and Director Harold Price as "one of the most talented and intelligent artists in the musical theatre today," Sierra dazzles audiences with her unique brand of charm, humor and virtuosity.

Boggess recently finished a limited run in "The Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway. Her London credits include "Les Misérables," the 25th anniversary concerts of "The Phantom of the Opera" at Royal Albert Hall and "Love Never Dies."
Bronze Man Books is pleased to announce the publication of the final book in the popular series "Let's Talk Kids," titled "Let's Talk Kids: Celebrating Your Family," written by Claudia Quigg '75, Millikin University adjunct faculty member.

Following the form of the previous books, Quigg continues to share her parenting columns that have been featured in numerous newspapers and radio segments over the years. "Let's Talk Kids: Celebrating Your Family" consists of anecdotes ranging in topics from Halloween to the challenges of a long road trip with young children.

A publication ceremony will be held on Tuesday, April 14, at 4 p.m. at Millikin University's Alumni and Development Center, located at 1305 W. Main St. in Decatur, Ill. The full "Let's Talk Kids" trilogy will be available for purchase. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

"Let's Talk Kids: Celebrating Your Family" is a joyful conclusion to the series, and fans of the first two installments will fall in love with it quickly. The series launched with "Let's Talk Kids: Becoming a Family," tracing the beginnings of parenthood, pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood. This was followed by "Let's Talk Kids: Facing Family Challenges," which focused on the challenges families face with their kids throughout life. Quigg notes that this was "of course a joy to write because I want to support parents and those challenges."

In the final book, readers will find the best parts about having a family. "The third book is like dessert because it's exploring all of the great things that kids get from their families," said Quigg.

Claudia Quigg, M.Ed., is founding executive director of Baby TALK and has blazed the trail for professionals dedicated to supporting families of young children. Her weekly column, "Let's Talk Kids," is featured in a number of newspapers and on WUIS Illinois NPR. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Millikin University and her M.Ed. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A mother of three and grandmother of six, Claudia brings her parenting experience to thousands of families served through Baby TALK programs each year.

Millikin student editors, Lauren Elise Taylor, a senior English writing major from Decatur, Ill., and Caitlin Husted, a junior English writing major from Germantown Hills, Ill., enjoyed the hands-on learning experience with Bronze Man Books, working closely with Claudia Quigg on the editing process and proceeding to design, produce and market the book. Husted, the lead editor, says, "I admire how she covers a variety of topics in one book; it really covers all the bases of parenting."

"Let's Talk Kids" books are available for purchase online at

Bronze Man Books is a student-owned and operated press that was established in spring 2006. It is located on Millikin University's campus in Decatur, Ill. For more information, please call 217.424.6264 or visit
Millikin University commercial music alumnus Matthew West '99 performed in concert at the Decatur Civic Center on April 4 along with opening acts Colton Dixon and Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers. West's band features MU graduates Sean McDonald '12 (drums) and Jake Widenhofer '12 (guitar).

West has released five studio albums since 2003. He has been nominated for eight Dove Awards, winning once in 2003 for his album "Happy." West won the 2013 American Music Award for Best Contemporary Inspirational Artist. West will release his sixth studio album, "Live Forever," on April 28, 2015.

Click here to read an article from the Herald & Review that recaps West's successful music career and the writing process for his new album.
Millikin University's Bronze Man Books is pleased to announce the publication of their newest poetry chapbook, "The Dust We Cherish" by Amanda L. Hamilton '14.

The book's subtitle gives insight into what lies within: "A collection of poems about transition, isolation and almost communicating." Hamilton speaks of her home in central Illinois as inspiration for her writing, recalling rural landscapes alongside dream-like images.

Hamilton graduated from Millikin University in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in English and music. This is her first publication.

Former Millikin professor Katie Schmid Henson notes in the book's introduction that, "The speaker of these poems is mistrustful of language; aware that words are often a site of confusion or even worse, betrayal." Hamilton takes the reader on a journey through transitions and resulting tumultuous emotions. Schmid Henson goes on to say that, "The impulse to both revel in a thing and question its pull runs throughout the chapbook – wrestling with an idea leads to understanding and celebration, and this wrestling is the great power of this collection."

Student editor for "The Dust We Cherish," Brittany Mytnik, a senior English writing major from Plainfield, Ill., says, "Bronze Man Books has paired beautiful photographs, edited to resemble pencil drawings, with the poetry. The result is a stunning and engaging reading experience."

"The Dust We Cherish" will be released on Thursday, March 26, 2015. Community members are invited to attend a release party on March 26 at 7 p.m. in Pilling Chapel on Millikin's campus. Snacks and beverages will be provided, and author Amanda Hamilton will read passages from the book. Audience members will be encouraged to participate in a question and answer session following the reading. Copies of the chapbook will also be available for purchase.

The chapbook will be available on the Bronze Man Books online catalog, found at

Bronze Man Books is a student-owned and operated press that was established in spring 2006. It is located on Millikin University's campus in Decatur, Ill.

Millikin University students have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in a professional environment working as an intern with the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce.

Millikin alumni Chris Olsen '74, and his wife, Deborah Olsen '74, along with Beth Bolz Vincent and Jane Olsen Black have created the Henry H. Bolz Endowed Internship program. The endowment honors the memory of their grandfather, the late Henry H. Bolz, who, for more than 30 years, was the executive director of the Decatur Association of Commerce and Industry and its subsequent iteration, the Metro Decatur Chamber of Commerce. The endowed internship program is a first for Millikin University and the Tabor School of Business.

Chris Olsen is currently vice president of community and government affairs for Tate & Lyle in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Olsen is responsible for federal, state, and local government relations as well as community and media relations for all Tate & Lyle facilities in the United States.

"This internship supports two parts of Decatur that have been very important to the Bolz and Olsen families for a long time: Millikin University and the Chamber of Commerce," said Olsen. "Both of these organizations have made great contributions to Decatur's success, and we hope this internship provides the opportunity for students to support their own development as well as making a contribution to the future success of the community."

During the internship, students will obtain hands-on, meaningful work experience designed to meet academic and career goals. The internship offers Millikin Tabor School of Business, communication or political science students responsibilities such as research, writing, survey, database management, web page maintenance, communications and event preparation. Students will be able to network with colleagues and senior-level executives while participating in educational and professional activities designed to enhance the internship experience.

"The Bolz Endowed Internship will enable Millikin students to learn and practice first-hand advocacy for growth and development in Decatur and Macon County," said Millikin University President Dr. Patrick E. White. "We are grateful for this inspiring gift that empowers Millikin students to engage in service of our community while practicing Performance Learning, one more sign of Millikin's role as Decatur's university." 

The Henry H. Bolz Internship will be held during the spring semester of the academic year, starting in January and ending in May. To qualify for the internship, students must be a junior or senior and have a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average. The first recipient of the Henry H. Bolz Internship is Molly Yablon, a junior business management major from Skokie, Ill.

The Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce was chartered on July 3, 1903, and is recognized as the second oldest Chamber of Commerce in the state of Illinois. The Chamber's mission is to be a pro-business network providing service, political advocacy and leadership to strengthen education, community image and local businesses.

Tabor School of Business

With the Millikin student in mind, the Tabor School of Business has reviewed, rethought and redesigned its business offerings. All students can now customize their educational experience by taking advantage of academic certificates or by enrolling in the new Fast-Track MBA program, which can be completed in 12 months. To learn more about the changes taking place at the Tabor School of business, visit

"We at the Tabor School of Business are excited and grateful that the Henry H. Bolz Internship supports the newly designed Tabor undergraduate program," said Dr. Susan Kruml, dean of the Tabor School of Business. "The new program is focused directly on skills, competencies and attitudes new graduates need to compete and succeed. Performing for and with third-party stakeholders is a hallmark of the program."

For further information about the Henry H. Bolz Endowed Internship, please contact Marianne Taylor, internship & MBA program coordinator at the Tabor School of Business, at 217.424.3503 or by email at

More than 100 alumni and friends joined representatives of Millikin University and Caterpillar Inc. at an event held Nov. 18, 2014, at the Caterpillar Visitors Center in Peoria, Ill. The featured speaker, Doug Oberhelman, a 1975 Millikin graduate, is Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and the event was sponsored by Millikin alumnus LeRoy Hagenbuch, class of 1965.

At the event, Oberhelman credited his Millikin experience with helping to lay the foundation for his successful career.

"Millikin University was the perfect place for me to prepare for my career. I had great professors who instilled in me the confidence to succeed, and the campus environment was rich with opportunities that helped me grow professionally and personally," Oberhelman said. "I know Millikin is that same great place for students today, as it was for me then."

Millikin graduate Jake Manzella from Monticello, Ill., echoed Oberhelman's enthusiasm for the preparation afforded by a Millikin degree, speaking from his personal experience. Manzella completed two internships with Caterpillar during his time as a Millikin student, and graduated in December. He began working for the company full time in January.

In describing the university's commitment to its unique Performance Learning approach that demands students enact the skills, attitudes, and confidence to succeed early in their college years, Millikin President Patrick White noted: "We are doing exactly what so many in our society say higher education should be doing: helping students not only to get jobs but to be prepared to continue to grow in those jobs."

Oberhelman also expressed his confidence in President White's leadership of the university, noting, "I've become acquainted with President Patrick White since he came to Millikin, and it's clear the university is in very good hands under his leadership. I look forward to the great strides Millikin, its students and alumni will continue to make in the years ahead with President White at the helm. All alumni can take pride in knowing that the university is positioned for even greater success in the future."

Millikin University is asking alumni and friends of the university to be "UN-selfie" on Dec. 2, "Giving Tuesday," by giving to Millikin in honor or in memory of an MU professor, administrator, classmate or other individual who positively impacted their lives or the lives of others. All donations will help support student scholarships for deserving MU students.

"Giving Tuesday is a global movement encouraging all of us to 'be UN-selfie' and give back in some way during the holiday season," says Senior Director of Development Mandi Podeschi. "We have two days for getting deals – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now, we have Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to giving back. What better time to make a gift to Millikin in honor or in memory of an MU professor, coach or staff member? It might be the perfect way to honor that special someone in your life during the holiday season."

According to Podeschi, Millikin will share the names of those who have given with those who are being honored, or with a family member if the person has passed – unless the donor asks to remain anonymous. Certificates are also available for those who wish to personally present them to those honored.

Several alumni and friends of the university have already made gifts in honor of individuals, including Alan Buttimer, a 1998 graduate.

"[I'm honoring] Dr. Richard E. Ferry, professor emeritus of education," Buttimer says. "Dr. Ferry instilled a sense of purpose in his students. While it was his responsibility to ensure that as future educators we knew how to teach, it was his personal approach that always reminded us we would be teaching not just skills and content that were part of a curriculum, but real children."

Those who have made gifts are encouraged to help spread the word about Giving Tuesday on their social media accounts by posting an "UN-selfie" photo of themselves along with a post about who they have honored with their gift to MU. Recommended hashtags are #GivingTuesday, #unselfie and #giveMU.

"Our goal for the day is to have at least 250 alumni and friends be part of this global celebration of a new tradition of generosity," Podeschi says. "Most importantly, though, we seek to ensure the growth of our student scholarship fund to help deserving students fulfill their dream of a Millikin education." Currently, 98 percent of all Millikin students receive some type of financial aid to attend the university.

To learn more and to make an online credit card gift, visit Those with questions should call Millikin's Alumni & Development Office at 217.424.6383 or 1.877.JMU.ALUM (568.2586).
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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL