Vinyard, Shepelak Make Commitment to Support Students

 George Vinyard '71 and Judy Shepelak

November 23, 2009

For more than 40 years, George Vinyard has experienced and witnessed the transforming impact that private financial support makes in the lives of students at Illinois Wesleyan. A recipient of scholarship aid and Student Senate officer who graduated in 1971, Vinyard has since remained active with the University. He was first appointed to the Board of Trustees in 1977, and now serves as the President of the Board.

 "The people here — the faculty, staff, administration and succeeding generations of students — have inspired me and made a profound difference in my life," said Vinyard, who has served on multiple committees and volunteered countless hours for the University. "I want to show my gratitude by doing all I can to sustain the University and make sure that the opportunities that I have had are passed along to future generations."

Along with the time he has given, Vinyard and his wife, Judy Shepelak, have made another commitment in support of Illinois Wesleyan's mission. The couple has pledged $500,000 to student scholarship support in the form of endowment and gifts to The Wesleyan Fund as part of the Transforming Lives campaign. These funds will provide a portion of the more than $110 million that will be given out to students in financial assistance over the next five years. "We want to support students with financial aid that will allow them to pursue the interests and vocations that they love best," said Vinyard, who understands that annual gifts to The Wesleyan Fund help support a wide range of programs and activities, ranging from student financial aid to campus life activities.

Giving students the opportunity to explore their interests is important to Judy Shepelak. As an artist, she has worked with the Oak Park Art League, and it was her artwork that graced the cover of the Illinois Wesleyan holiday card in 2008. She has also studied horticulture and been a garden designer, and has been actively involved for a number of years with the Friends of the Oak Park (Illinois) Conservatory, and with the park district in which the Conservatory is located.

Graduating with a degree in English, Vinyard earned his law degree in 1977 from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He is currently vice president and general counsel of ExteNet Systems, Inc.

"Illinois Wesleyan has been part of our lives for so many years," said Vinyard. "The University and the current students need support to maintain the excellence of the institution and the opportunities it offers. We can all be part of that, especially now."