Vinyard Honored for Decades of University Leadership
Oct. 28, 2019
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –– Recently retired Illinois Wesleyan University Board of Trustees
Chair George Vinyard ’71 was recognized for nearly 50 years of service and leadership
to the University during the Board’s October meeting.
In Vinyard’s honor, the Memorial Center’s Davidson Room –– the location of Board and
Student Senate meetings –– was renamed The Vinyard Room, and the Humanities Division
presented Vinyard with a Distinguished Humanities Alumnus award. Vinyard, who remains
on the Board, served as Chair from 2005-2019. He joined the Board in 1977 and was
elected secretary in 1993, beginning a 26-year tenure on the Executive Committee.
“For all of the people here –– faculty, staff and trustees who I’ve worked with over
the years –– anything I may have accomplished was the result of being part of a great
team,” Vinyard told the audience during an Oct. 24 dinner in recognition of his service.
“It’s been my honor, my privilege, and my pleasure to work with this group.”
Vinyard began serving the University, first as a student senator, and later, as Student
Senate President in 1970-71. He returned post-graduation to work with President Robert
Eckley as an administrative assistant from 1972-1974. Vinyard then enrolled at the
University of Michigan law school, where he graduated cum laude in l977 and was immediately
recruited by Eckley to join the Board as a 27-year-old.
Former President Richard Wilson, who shared a decade of his 11-year presidency with
Vinyard as Board Chair remarked, “The relationship between a college president and
the Board Chair is critical, and I feel fortunate to have had someone with George’s
insights, experience, and sensitivities to work with for a decade.”
Under Vinyard’s leadership, Illinois Wesleyan saw a highly successful capital campaign,
Transforming Lives, an effort that resulted in a transformed campus in many ways,
from physical improvements such as Joslin Atrium and State Farm Hall, academic support
including endowed professorships, to expanded funding for student financial aid.
Board Chair Tim Szerlong concluded, “We hope that the spirit of George’s commitment,
thoughtful consideration and calm demeanor will inspire all of us to never forget
his service, caring, and contributions to our alma mater, and to plant our feet firmly
on the path he created.”
Vinyard, who works professionally as an attorney in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, graduated
from Illinois Wesleyan in 1971 with a degree in English Literature.