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  • Dean Fritz Drasgow and Jean Drasgow, AM 1998

    Dean Fritz Drasgow and Jean Drasgow, AM 1998

    Fritz Drasgow joined the then-Institute in 1982 following three years at Yale. He has remained at the School ever since, now serving as the current dean. His wife, Jean, is a 1998 graduate of the School, and works on campus as the Director of Career Services for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

    “My vision for this School is to continue to grow and evolve, serving the students who choose to come here, as well as our external constituent groups. This building addition will allow us to continue to attract the best faculty and students to our wonderful campus,” says Dean Drasgow. “To demonstrate my commitment to this cause, I am proud to say that my wife, Jean, and I also donated to name an office. LER is a key to both of our successful careers and we wanted that to be our legacy.”

  • 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.

  • Joe Martocchio

    Beyond the loyalty of alumni, it is meaningful when faculty feel strongly enough about their academic home to give generously. Professor Joe Martocchio is one example of this generosity.

    Arriving in Champaign in 1989, young, single, and in a new community, Martocchio was welcomed warmly by then-Director Walt Franke and his wife, Pat. He remembers this fondly, as well as the academic direction and mentorship provided by Franke during his years at the then-Institute.

    As a result, Joe has given generously to the building campaign to name the dean’s office in honor of Professor Franke.  “Walt gave me my chance for an academic career at a world-renowned research institution,” Martocchio recalls. “He looked after me as a new faculty member, and cared for me as a new member of the community.”

    Professor Martocchio has taught Compensation from the time he arrived at LER, which is his favorite class. He has taught Statistics, Training, and Employee Benefits over the years as well. This gift towards the building is a reflection of his belief in the importance of the project. “To me, it’s important to pitch in and improve the student experience however I can.”

     “I am deeply honored to be recognized in this fashion. The School, students, faculty and staff have always meant a great deal to me, and I appreciate beyond words that Joe made a gift associating my name in a permanent way with the dean’s office. I believe strongly that this building campaign helps LER to maintain its national stature and continue to serve students in the outstanding way that we have been known for since 1946. I’m excited to see what the future holds.” - Walt Franke, LER, 1981-1994

  • Nell Madigan

    Since joining LER 15 years ago, Associate Dean Nell Madigan has grown career services and corporate relations into essential elements of the school’s success. In addition to the job we all know her for, she has been leading plans for the building expansion since 2007, a project that ensures that the school will remain competitive for years to come.

    “I am very proud of the success of our students and alumni. The building campaign allows the school to improve our physical facility to match the reputation of the program and make a great first impression with potential students, new faculty, and recruiters,” says Nell. “Contributing to the campaign is one way I can share the importance of this project and let other people who love the school know how strongly I feel.”

    The generous gift form Nell and her husband, Matt, demonstrates their commitment to preparing students for the corporate world now and in the future. Their contribution is just one of the ways that the Madigans continue to support students as they launch successful careers at LER.

  • 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.