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  • Nancy Puccini

    Nancy A. Puccini earned her master’s degree in 1987, when the School was still the Institute, the average class size was fewer than 25 members, Professor Walt Franke was the Director and Fritz Drasgow, now the Dean, was in his first years on the faculty. Even then, Nancy was already making impressions.

    “Nancy was a thoughtful student. She asked good questions – not the standard fare,” recalls Drasgow. Thoughtful questions from students will be abundant in the new Nancy A. Puccini Classroom, a 60-seat, state-of-the-art tiered lecture hall where LER students will learn the core curriculum of LER.

    The Puccini Classroom, made possible with a donation of $250,000, will be the largest learning space in the LER building. Named to honor Nancy, who passed away in early 2014, Adeline “Jo” Puccini, Nancy’s mother, is a longtime supporter of the University of Illinois, including a leadership gift to the Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education. This classroom will be transformative for LER and will honor Nancy’s legacy for years to come at the University of Illinois.

  • Nastassja Rinderle and Samantha Russell

    The notion of legacy is integral to the history of the School of Labor and Employment Relations. Throughout our 70 year history, we have been fortunate to see family legacies unfold – children following parents, grandchildren following grandparents, siblings, and cousins. The mother/daughter duo of Samantha Russell and Nastassja Rinderle graduated from the program 17 years apart.

    “Nastassja and I are so excited about the opportunity to give back to LER. We would not be who and where we are today if not for the School,” Russell says. She now lives in Huntington Beach, CA and is consulting after 20 years in the corporate world, most recently as a Vice President at Pump Solutions Group in Illinois.

    Rinderle, now a resident of Seattle, WA and working for Amazon Web Services as an HR Business Partner recently sat down with LER’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Heather Vazquez in September and over coffee, asked earnestly, “So, how much would you like to see someone like me donating?” Ever mindful that someone so young who is willing to be philanthropic is a rare, Vazquez shared, “Give what you can that gives you fulfillment. Philanthropy has to light you up and we are happy to be one of the places you would consider supporting.”

    A couple weeks later, Rinderle e-mailed Vazquez, telling her she and Russell would like to make donation together, and have their name etched into the donor wall with a gift of $10,000. The generous support of our alumni –at all levels of their career, taking advantage of corporate matching gifts and pledging over several years – is among the many things that make LER special.

  • Ronald and Lilia Peters

    Professor Ronald Peters is faculty emeritus with the School. As the former director of the Labor Education Program, his roots are firmly in labor, and his family’s gift will name the office suite where the Labor Education Program has been housed in Champaign for more than 40 years. The Peters’ donation of $25,000 will name the LEP offices on the 2nd floor of LER and is the second such gift for this building campaign from an emeritus member of the LER faculty, joining Professor Emeritus Walt Franke.

    “Lilia and I are pleased to be able to make this gift to this important project. The building addition is one of the most important things LER’s has undertaken in the past 60 years and we are delighted to be a part of this effort.”

  • Emerson

    "The School of Labor and Employment Relations is a key partner in providing HR talent for Emerson.   As alumni of the program, we have always seen the value of our LER degree in our careers, and we are thrilled that Emerson sees this value as well. It’s clear that it is time that the physical structure of the building matched the quality of the talent produced by the program. This addition will allow a better learning environment with cutting-edge technology that will keep the LER talent on pace with the changes in the field of HR. We are proud to be involved with this new space in the building and to continue our partnership with LER."   

    Emerson's gift was supported by LER alumni and Vice Presidents of HR, John Ramon (JD/MHRIR 2001), Demetrios Georgacopoulos (MHRIR 2000), Nick Piazza (MBA/MHRIR 2003) and Global HR Director Mariah Small (MHRIR 2005). Their generous gift will name the Emerson Entryway in the addition.

  • Adrienne Washington

    “I’m a proud and fortunate Illini and I am happy to do my part to help the School of Labor and Employment Relations," says Adrienne Washington, AM 1996, and Alumni Speaker for the December 2013 commencement ceremony. “Putting my name on a plaque is lovely, but knowing I helped my alma mater is what matters.”

    Adrienne's family has a long Illini tradition, boasting a number of alumni, including her father, who was a member of the football team. She is honoring that tradition with a gift for the donor wall in the new addition.

  • The Menzel Family

    “I have always been grateful to what I knew as ILIR for providing me with a fellowship paying my tuition and fees and a stipend at a time in my life when I needed the financial help to continue my education.  My hope is to pay back what I was given at a time I truly needed help, “ says Gerald Menzel, AM 1960. “I always tell my family that they have all benefited in one way or another because of my start at ILIR.”

    The Menzel Family gift will name the staircase at LER. Menzel's son Phil, AM 1989, and grandson Ray Anderson, MHRIR 2012, also graduated from the program.

  • The Newman Family

    “My father’s whole career was with a labor union, and that meant food. He was always either bringing food to work or negotiating at a dinner,” says Eric Newman, who established both a scholarship and named the Newman Kitchen to honor the career of his late father, Stephen J. Newman, class of 1967.

  • PepsiCo

    "The University of Illinois LER Program has been integral to our pipeline of HR talent into PepsiCo.   Illinois students adapt well to our PepsiCo HR Model, and our relationship with LER is an important one.  Through this relationship we have built our reputation as an employer of choice with this talent pool, and I’m excited to watch it grow and evolve through the proposed expansion and updates of the learning space in the building. We are proud to be involved as a partner in this state-of-the art renovation, " says Tim Brinkmann, AM 90, VP HR East Division at PepsiCo.

    PepsiCo is supporting the accessibility infrastructure in the new addition.

  • Larry Pearlman

    Larry Pearlman, AM 1989, has worn almost every hat there is to wear at the School of Labor and Employment Relations - student, alumnus, board member, faculty member and donor. Pearlman, a partner with Oliver Wyman in Chicago, has been making LER a priority for nearly 30 years.

    “Supporting the School just makes sense for me. I have built a career on this degree, I teach in the program, I have served on the Board and I received the Constituent Leadership Award from the Alumni Association. LER is a big part of my life and I am happy to be able to support the school.”

    Pearlman was one of the first alumni to make a gift in support of the LER Classroom Addition, with a pledge of $25,000 to name an office space in the building. Although, we suspect he would be okay if his plaque was outside the restroom in the basement, a space he was pleased to know had seen a remodel in the summer of 2015.