From left: Curt Lox, PhD, dean of the SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior, Sen. Jim Oberweis, Trish Oberweis, PhD, professor of criminal justice studies at SIUE, Rich Walker, interim vice chancellor for administration, and Rachel Stack, vice chancellor for University Advancement and CEO of the University Foundation.
In the midst of a decline in state funding, a private donation has launched strong support for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Education, Health and Human Behavior’s new nutrition lab. The facility, which is scheduled for completion in August, has received an up to $50,000 investment from the Oberweis family.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, chairman of Oberweis Dairy and a Republican from Sugar Grove, presented the matching gift to university leaders on Friday, March 3. Oberweis’ daughter, Trish Oberweis, is a professor of criminal justice studies in the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences.
“Illinois is a great state with some wonderful higher education opportunities,” Oberweis said. “It’s important that in this time when the state is unable to provide the level of funding that it has in the past, that we step up to the challenge and try to help make sure our institutions of higher learning have an opportunity to continue to grow.
“SIUE is a great example of a university that has been better prepared than some others in the state, and I’m glad to help and support that. Raising private funds leads to a better, more solid path to growth in the future.”
“The contributions of the Oberweis family are essential to the university’s growth,” said Rachel Stack, vice chancellor for University Advancement and chief executive officer of the University Foundation. “We couldn’t achieve what we call the margin of excellence with our programs if we didn’t have private support. Sen. Oberweis’ donation marks a real turning point in our philanthropy.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for nutrition professionals is expected to grow 16 percent by 2024, faster than average for all occupations nationally. SIUE’s bachelor’s in nutrition program began in fall 2015, and now has more than 40 declared majors or minors.
“With this donation, we’ll be able to offer students valuable hands-on experiences, which are crucial educational components that truly set students apart,” said Erik Kirk, PhD, chair of the School of Education’s Department of Applied Health. “The lab will be utilized for curriculum related to the science of food, food and culture, and large quantity preparation. It will be used by not only nutrition majors, but also students fulfilling a health component for general education requirements and the community at large.”
The lab will be named on behalf of the Oberweis family. It will be equipped with vital food preparation equipment, including a commercial dishwasher, multiple ovens and refrigerators, and video projection equipment to enhance student viewing during instructor demonstrations.
“This donation is going to pay forward for years to come and have a long-term impact on new students who will come through the program,” Kirk added. “Having someone committed to funding the education of these students and future generations speaks volumes, and is much appreciated.”
For more information on contributing toward the SIUE nutrition lab, and other giving opportunities, visit siue.edu/give.