BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Recipients of the 2019 Illinois Wesleyan University Alumni Awards
will be honored during Homecoming weekend, Oct. 4-6.
Ed Rust Jr. ’72, Erin Anderson ’07, and Jean (Sullivan) Baird ’80, will be recognized
at the annual “Alumni Awards Reception: Best of Illinois Wesleyan” on Friday, Oct.
4 at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Center’s Young Main Lounge.
Ed Rust Jr. ’72, the retired chairman and CEO of State Farm Insurance Company, will be presented
with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Rust was president and chief executive officer of State Farm from 1985 until 2015.
Upon his retirement, the State Farm Mutual Board designated him Chairman Emeritus.
Rust is a nationally recognized leader who has worked to improve the quality of education
in the United States. He earned a juris doctor degree and a master of business degree
from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Rust serves on the Board of Directors of Illinois Wesleyan University; Caterpillar,
Inc.; S&P Global; and Helmerick and Payne, Inc. He was actively involved in the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce; Financial Services Roundtable; American Enterprise Institute;
National Alliance of Business; Business-Higher Education Forum; Insurance Institute
for Highway Safety; and the Illinois Business Roundtable. He served a year as Chairman
of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and was Vice Chairman of the Business Roundtable
for seven years, chairing its Education and Civil Justice task forces.
As an Illinois Wesleyan trustee, Rust has led the partnership between State Farm and
IWU to provide a robust student scholarship program as well as supporting multiple
capital projects, most notably, State Farm Hall. State Farm and Illinois Wesleyan
have enjoyed a strong relationship built upon education and professional development.
The Robert M. Montgomery Outstanding Young Alumni Award will be presented to Erin Anderson ’07 in recognition of outstanding professional achievement and civic leadership.
Anderson majored in chemistry at IWU and was awarded the annual Undergraduate Award
for Excellence in Chemistry by Iota Sigma Pi, the National Honor Society for Women
in Chemistry, presented annually to only one student in the nation. Anderson worked
as a research assistant in synthetic organic chemistry and presented the results of
her work at the annual American Chemical Society meetings in 2005 and 2007. As a student,
she also authored and co-authored two articles published in leading international
organic chemistry journals.
Anderson has been the recipient of additional awards including the Undergraduate Scholarship
Award for Academic Excellence in Chemistry in 2006, the Center for Cancer Research
Director’s Innovation Award in 2015, and the National Institute of Health Fellows
Award for Research Excellence in 2017.
Following successful completion of her Ph.D. at the Scripps Institute, Anderson joined
the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, Maryland. At the NCI, she developed
new methods to analyze the mechanism of anticancer drug molecules and synthesized
novel small molecules as potential drugs. Anderson is currently working at Loxo Oncology,
a subsidiary of Eli Lilly, where she is developing cancer therapy medications.
This year’s Loyalty Award, presented to alumni or friends of the University who have
made large service or financial contributions to Illinois Wesleyan, will be given
to Jean (Sullivan) Baird ’80.
Baird retired as vice president of operations from State Farm after 36 years with
the company. A French major and student-athlete, Baird was also a talented student
leader and a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. Baird earned a Master of Business Administration
(MBA) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and also held Chartered Property
Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations.
Baird has served Illinois Wesleyan in many alumni volunteer roles, including chair
of her 20th class reunion; member, vice president and president of the IWU Alumni
Association Board of Directors; and secretary of the IWU Board of Trustees. She served
as co-chair of the Transforming Lives Campaign which raised $141 million for the University.
Baird also served as chair of the Presidential Search Committee in 2015.