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Illinois Wesleyan University

June 24, 2019

News for and about the Illinois Wesleyan community

Distributed bimonthly during the summer

Campus News

Theo Bantas '21 Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant
Gabriela Theadora "Theo" Bantas '21 is one of 75 students nationwide to receive a study abroad grant from the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi, supporting her study in Poland this summer.

Rachel and Leah Two Students Receive Grants for Summer Research
Leah Bieniak '21 and Rachel Schoenecker '20 have been awarded multiple grants for their summer research project, "Determining Species Abundance and Habitat Preferences of Breeding Birds in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois."

Demetria Kalodimos '81 to Produce New PBS Show
Demetria Kalodimos '81 is producing and directing the weekly music and conversation show Barnegie Hall for PBS. The show will feature Kalodimos' husband and veteran songwriter Verlon Thompson, along with a wide range of guests.

Emma Dalton '19 Honored by Miracle Network Dance Marathon for Leadership
After the IWU TitanThon helped raise $22,125 in 2019 for OSF Children's Hospital in Peoria, Emma Dalton '19 was named among recipients of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award.

Seal Six New Minors Added for 2019-20
In addition to the more than 80 majors, minors, and programs already available to students, Illinois Wesleyan is adding six new minors and concentrations for the 2019-20 academic year.

Esports Esports Adds Fortnite Following Successful League of Legends Season
Illinois Wesleyan University is adding Fortnite to the IWU Esports Program, starting in the fall of 2019.

Meg Ames Librarians to Study Teaching with Primary Sources
The Ames Library will join an international study exploring how teaching with primary sources promotes student engagement and critical thinking skills, along with participating institutions including Williams College, Brown University, Dartmouth College, University of Virginia, University of Sheffield (U.K.) and Yale University.

interns IBHE Grant to Support Internship Opportunities
Illinois Wesleyan University's Hart Career Center has been awarded an Illinois Cooperative Work Study Program grant from the Illinois Board of Higher Education to support internship opportunities for IWU students who are Illinois residents.

Will Gustafson '20 Awarded Economics Research Opportunity
After his curiosity was sparked in an economics course, William Gustafson '20 won the Mark Israel '91 Endowed Summer Research Fund in Economics to explore the question, "Do 2nd-generation immigrants fare better in the labor market than their parents, and if so, why?"

More News
Titan Athletics
  • Illinois Wesleyan University senior lacrosse player J.C. Grabarek has been elected to the third team of the Division III Men's At-Large Google Cloud Academic All-America® Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). His selection brings the total to 129 for the number of Illinois Wesleyan Academic All-Americans since the program began in 1970 . Illinois Wesleyan is No. 24 among all colleges and universities, regardless of NCAA division, in the number of athletes so honored.

  • Jack Sikma '77 threw out the ceremonial first pitch and Wayne Messmer '72 sang the national anthem before the Chicago Cubs played the Mets at Wrigley Field on Saturday, June 22.

  • Illinois Wesleyan University finished No. 27 (of 442 Division III schools) in the final set of rankings of the 2018-19 Division III Learfield IMG College Directors' Cup Standings, as announced by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
More Highlights
Titans In The News
The (Bryan, Texas) Eagle

Rachel Short ’09 identified a new species of rhinoceros through findings from the Gray Fossil Site of eastern Tennessee.

La Porte (Ind.) County Herald-Argus

Kaitlin Feely ’20 stars in the (Michigan City, Indiana) Canterbury Summer Theatre’s The Queen Bees.

The Pantagraph

Jessica Deahr ’04 is the artistic director of Chicago Dance Crash, performing at Make Music Normal in uptown Normal.

WGLT Radio

Brandon Chopp ’19 earned Illinois Wesleyan’s Phi Beta Kappa Liberal Arts Scholar Award.


Illinois Wesleyan hosted a Hugh O’Brien Youth, or HOBY, four-day leadership skills seminar for high school juniors.

The Pantagraph

Illinois Wesleyan will offer six new minors beginning in 2019-20. More coverage from WMBD-TV.

(Springfield, Ill.) State Journal-Register

A group of school counselors participated in a "Bike O’Fun" tour of local colleges that started at Illinois Wesleyan on June 16.

The Pantagraph

Jack Sikma ’77 returned to Illinois Wesleyan and Bloomington-Normal last week ahead of a speech at the YMCA’s Legacy Dinner. More coverage from WGLT-Radio.

(Sacramento, Calif.) CW31-TV

Cameron Blossom ’13 is the co-founder of Storied Hats, a company offering high-quality, eco-friendly hats without logos.

The Pantagraph

The Illinois Shakespeare Festival’s upcoming production of Pride and Prejudice will be adapted and directed by Deanna Jent ’84.

Broadway World

Hayley Rice ’04 will direct a 2020 production of The Duchess of Malfi at Chicago’s The Factory Theater.

The Ensemblist

Ian Coulter-Buford ’12 has a burgeoning career as a recording artist, actor and choreographer.

Hollywood Chicago

Elizabeth Laidlaw ’93 starred in the CBS-TV limited series The Red Line.

The Alpena (Mich.) News

J. Garner ’21 will join the Thunder Bay Theatre’s core company for the summer 2019 season.

The (Springfield, Ill.) State Journal-Register

Pat Sodemann ’15 has been named an assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Putnam County (Ill.) Record

Author Ron Bluemer will provide a presentation on John Wesley Powell as part of the 150th anniversary of the historic Powell Expedition. Also in the (LaSalle, Ill.) News Tribune.

Houston Chronicle

Former IWU assistant football coach Tim Kelly is broadening the Houston Texans’ horizons as a first-year offensive coordinator in the NFL.

Broadway World

William Dusek ’23 will represent his home state of Minnesota at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

The Pantagraph

Jasil Olabode ’22 is a teacher at Bloomington’s Compassion Center for the Arts, a nonprofit bringing arts programs to McLean County youth.





More Titans in the News
Alumni Events

Titan Connection - Washington 
Sunday, July 21
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Join fellow Titans in celebration of Jack Sikma '77, soon to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. Sikma and Dennie Bridges '61, former IWU men’s basketball coach and athletic director, will share stories of this Titan’s journey to the Hall of Fame.


Network Summer Picnic 
Sunday, August 4
2-5 p.m.
Join fellow alumni and friends at the annual Network Summer Picnic at the home of Dave Darling '79 and Genie Darling.


24th Annual Titan Alumni and Friends Golf Outing  
Monday, September 9

Noon start; 5 p.m. dinner
Join us for the 24th Annual Titan Alumni Golf Outing at the Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, Illinois.

Class Newsletter Highlight
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We've made it easier to keep up with the latest news and photos from your classmates! When you visit your Class Newsletter, you can subscribe via email by submitting your address under "subscribe to my posts."

In recent highlights, Becky Rowland '04 became the Director of Maternal Child Health for the City of Milwaukee Health Department in May. Becky was also selected as a New Leaders Council 2019 Fellow.

Class Newsletters
  • Jonathan Charak '05, Zurich North America’s vice president, senior pricing actuary-emerging solutions, earned a Business Insurance Break Out Award for his work with the Schaumburg, Illinois-based multi-line insurer. Jonathan previously earned the Young Researcher Award (2018), Above and Beyond Achievement Award (2016) and New Member Award (2014) from Casualty Actuarial Society.

  • Steven Sturlis '10 has joined Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States, as a scientific advisor based in their Ann Arbor office.
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This newsletter is an electronic publication of Illinois Wesleyan University's Communications Office, edited by Ann Aubry, director of communications, in conjunction with the Office of Alumni Engagement. To submit items of interest, email See an archive of past editions.


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