Donaldson Gift to the Illinois Leadership Center Makes History

The Illinois Leadership Center (ILC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has received the largest outright gift in the history of Student Affairs at Illinois with a $1.17 million gift from Jane and William (“Bill”) Donaldson.

Jane and Bill Donaldson
Jane and Bill Donaldson

The extraordinary gift will establish the Donaldson Leader in Residence Program, intended to bring impactful University of Illinois alumni to campus for a series of formal and informal forums, engaging with students, faculty, university leaders, and the broader campus and local communities.

“Jane and Bill Donaldson have been longtime supporters of the University of Illinois and the Illinois Leadership® Center.  We are grateful to them for their latest investment in our students’ leadership development,” said Dr. Gayle Spencer, Director of the Illinois Leadership Center.  “The Donaldsons’ generosity will create groundbreaking opportunities for immersive engagement, focused on exemplary leadership competencies and real-world experience.”

The Donaldson Leader in Residence Program represents an integral connection to the campus strategic priorities to provide transformative learning experiences and make a significant and visible societal impact. Through this new program, the Illinois Leadership Center will optimize collaborative partnerships across campus and create new, innovative, and relevant opportunities.

“The Donaldson Leader in Residence Program will create critical new links between our students and our alumni,” said Chancellor Robert J. Jones. “Preparing our students to be the leaders of their generation has long been an Illinois hallmark. Jane and Bill’s visionary gift will enable our students to learn those skills more directly from our graduates who have been putting them into measurable action in their lives and careers.”

“Jane has given so much to her alma mater over the years, volunteering her talents to help build the financial and alumni support that makes our state’s flagship university system the very best,” President Tim Killeen said. “Now, Jane and Bill’s generous gift will create even more opportunities, engaging successful graduates like herself whose real-life experiences will transform the lives of students for generations to come.”

In addition to establishing the Donaldson Leader in Residence Program, their gift will establish the Donaldson Student Leader Retreat, a comprehensive leadership training program for officers of registered student organizations. The Retreat is designed to provide these students with the opportunity to develop and strengthen skills and competencies to effectively lead a student organization; to see and value the importance of collaboration; to create a sustainable leadership transition plan for their organization; and to understand how to work with campus policies related to student organizations.  The Donaldsons’ gift will also support a pilot longitudinal study of Illinois graduates who have participated in ILC programs to determine how such participation is related to professional and personal success post-graduation.

“We are truly grateful to Jane and Bill for their insight, vision, and for their steadfast support of student leadership at Illinois since 1992,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Dr. Danita M. B. Young.  “We are humbled by this extraordinary investment in student leadership, which represents the largest donation that the Donaldsons have made to the University of Illinois.  This is an historic milestone for Student Affairs that will provide pivotal transformative opportunities for our students for generations to come.”

Jane Phillips Donaldson, a University of Illinois alumna, is a partner at Phillips Oppenheim, an executive search firm serving non- profits, which she co-founded in 1991.  Previously, she was associate director of undergraduate admissions at Yale College, dean of admissions at Wesleyan University, and founding director of admissions and placement at the Yale School of Management. Ms. Donaldson received a B.A. in the Teaching of English from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) in 1965, and an M.S. in Journalism from the College of Media in 1967.  Ms. Donaldson is a member and past chair of the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors and a former member of the College of Media’s National Advisory Board.  She received the University of Illinois Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 2016 and the LAS Quadrangle Award in 2012.  Ms. Donaldson is a third-generation Illini.

Bill Donaldson served as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Under Secretary of State for International Affairs during the Nixon Administration, chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, and Chairman, President, and CEO of Aetna.   Mr. Donaldson co-founded and led the investment banking firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and was the founding dean of the Yale School of Management. He is a Marine Corps Veteran and a graduate of Yale University and Harvard University School of Business, where he received an MBA with Distinction.

The Donaldsons have three children, Kimberly, Matthew, and Adam.

“Leadership participation in one’s college community cannot be underestimated as a personal ‘pilot program’ and testing ground for future leadership roles professionally and personally,” commented Ms. Donaldson.  “My experience as a Star Course senior manager and as president of Chi Omega, my sorority, was invaluable as I progressed in my career and volunteer work.  Just wish there had been a student leader retreat back then!” she added.

“Jane introduced me to the University of Illinois years ago, and my respect for the institution has continued to grow,” said Mr. Donaldson.  “We are delighted to help make possible a more intense focus on leadership training at the University.  The country is certainly in need of leadership strength throughout all sectors.”

About the Illinois Leadership Center
The nationally recognized Illinois Leadership Center (ILC) was established in 2002 through the Anthony Petullo Fund for Student Leadership Endowment and is a global innovator in research and experiential leadership education.  The ILC currently serves more than 12,000 students annually through leadership programs and workshops and interdisciplinary collaboration across campus on topics including student learning, diversity and inclusion, collaboration, integrity, and innovation and continuous improvement for all Illinois students.  Learn more about the Illinois Leadership Center at

About Student Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Student Affairs at Illinois promotes global leadership in a diverse society, offers health and lifelong wellness initiatives, and facilitates cross-cultural engagement.  Through exceptional programming, relevant services, progressive facilities, and vibrant living/learning environments across campus, Student Affairs creates an experience that empowers students to achieve their greatest potential personally and academically. Learn more about Student Affairs at

How Can You Help?

This is an unprecedented time for our campus, our community, our nation, our world. We are receiving many inquiries about “how can I help students” at this time.  We’d like you to know about the Emergency Dean Fund, where our Illinois students can turn to us in need when they are faced with unexpected, unforeseen, and unavoidable emergency expenses. 

The “Emergency Dean” is an invaluable resource for all Illinois students and families, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week since 1970. The Emergency Dean Fund was created to provide immediate assistance for unanticipated hardships resulting from emergencies or crisis situations.  Examples of ways in which the Emergency Dean Fund has been used to help students in their time of need include

    • clothing for victims of a building fire
    • hotel rooms for students displaced due to a crisis situation
    • meal tickets so that students could eat on campus without charge after their residence was destroyed
    • plane fare for a student returning home abruptly to attend the funeral of an immediate family member

This support can make all the difference in a student’s security and academic survival. When you contribute to this fund, you enable us to make a difference in our students’ security and academic survival. You are contributing to the welfare of all Illinois students.

Oversight of the Emergency Dean fund is provided by the Student Assistance Center in the Office of the Dean of Students and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Dean of Student Support and Advocacy.

If you would like to help us support our Illinois students in their time of need, and those impacted by the Coronavirus, please visit the Emergency Dean Fund.

Historic Latinx murals return to campus Feb. 21

Illinois Experience Fund application available

The Illinois Experience Fund supports student-driven initiatives that create a shared experience around inclusion, service, civic, engagement, spirit, relationship-building, and leadership. Grants are available for programs and initiatives that bring students together through meaningful experiences that are transformative and impactful. The purpose of the fund is to establish connection and community among students that promote integrity, inclusion, service, education and learning, teamwork, and innovation.

This fund was established through the generous support of John Graf (’81) and many other Illinois alumni who believe that the Illinois Experience is unique for each student, and through collaboration and mentoring, Student Affairs can empower students to bring their ideas to life through the resources provided by the Illinois Experience Fund.

Illinois Experience Grants of up to $6,000 are available for Spring 2020. All proposals must be co-sponsored by a Student Affairs unit.

Application Deadline for Spring 2020 grants: December 9, 2019

Find out more and apply today!

Student Affairs Homecoming Celebration 2019

Student Affairs invites you to come home to Illinois and celebrate 2019 Homecoming with us!

Our tent party is the perfect opportunity to come back to campus, relax and enjoy a great breakfast, and reconnect with your Student Affairs Illini Family!

We have football tickets especially for you too. It’s always more fun to cheer on the Fighting Illini surrounded by other Student Affairs alumni in Memorial Stadium. Let’s beat Wisconsin!

Saturday, October 19, 2019 (Homecoming weekend)
9-11am (game time is 11am)
Grange Grove or west side of Memorial Stadium
$15* per adult; children 10 and under are FREE
Football ticket package:
SOLD OUT – sorry!

BNAACC 50th Anniversary Celebration and Building Dedication Ceremony

We invite you to attend the Bruce Nesbitt African American Cultural Center (BNAACC) 50th Anniversary Celebration and the building’s Grand Re-Opening!

The weekend’s theme is “Built to Grow: Past Achievements Fueling Beautiful Futures.” We believe this represents the strong foundation laid by all students, faculty, staff, and community members from the past, present, and future. It would be a great honor if you would join us.

Registration Has Ended! 

NOTE: We DO NOT have the capacity to take registrations during the events.


Friday, October 4:
3-5 p.m. – BNAACC dedication and grand re-opening (1212 W. Nevada St.)
7-9 p.m. – 50th anniversary celebration dinner/program (Alice Campbell Alumni Center)
9 p.m.-2 a.m. – Social at Neil Street Blues in downtown Champaign

Saturday, October 5:
1-4 p.m. – Radical Illini Conference (optional event)
2-6 p.m. – Mentoring lunch (invite ONLY) (Memorial Stadium)
7 p.m.-midnight – Welcome B.L.A.C.K Block Party (1212 W. Nevada St.)

Sunday, October 6:
10 a.m.-1 p.m. – Affinity breakfast (1212 W. Nevada St.)
3 p.m.Black Chorus Concert (Krannert Center for Performing Arts Great Hall)Purchase tickets separately

We do not have a room block for the event weekend. However, the Illini Union Hotel is the university-run hotel that is located within walking distance of the BNAACC and the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

Visit Champaign County has a listing of hotels. It is very easy to reserve rooms, and there are plenty available for the weekend. We hope this information is helpful, as you plan to come visit us.

If you or your business have a desire to sponsor a part of the BNAACC Celebration, we have several sponsorship opportunities and levels available. Our complete sponsorship program will give you all the details.

Printable version of all the details of the weekend, including the agenda, hotel information, etc.

Illinois Leadership Center Announces $75K Gift from Rolls-Royce

Illinois Leadership Center Announces $75K Gift from Rolls-Royce
Left to Right: Rolls-Royce representatives Jim Bernacchi, Cory Nation, Jennifer Ko, and Dan Jensen with Dr. Gayle Spencer, Director of the Illinois Leadership Center, at recognition reception on Friday, March 8.

Champaign, Ill., March 22, 2019—The Illinois Leadership Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has announced a $75,000 gift and five year commitment from Rolls-Royce to support the Rolls-Royce Innovation Program. The gift was recognized at a reception on Friday, March 8 at the Illinois Leadership Center.  Continue reading “Illinois Leadership Center Announces $75K Gift from Rolls-Royce”