SIC Foundation Hosts Donor Appreciation Event

May 28, 2015

The Southeastern Illinois College Foundation recently held its annual donor appreciation event in SIC’s George T. Dennis Visual & Performing Arts Center. 

SIC President, Dr. Jonah Rice welcomed about 70 guests to the appreciation event hosted by the Foundation.  Foundation Board Chair David Port, informed guests that approximately $200,000 of scholarships were processed for local students this year thanks to its munificent donors, making higher education a reality for many. 

More than $20,000 was raised or donated this year to increase existing scholarships, such as the Matthew J. Fry Memorial, Catherine Oldham Memorial, John & Audrey Coyle and George Cox Memorial scholarships.  Four additional new scholarships are being developed, as well:  the Dr. Darnell Memorial, Chuck Hearn Memorial, Ewing-Zumwalt and Rice-Murphy scholarships. 

Additionally, student organizations have raised thousands of funds for their own use, and the Alumni and Friends organization raised about $4,000 in scholarships.

Special non-monetary donations were also mentioned, including the fire truck donated to SIC by the city of Harrisburg and an annual gift of a new tree by the Eldorado Garden Study Club.

Port also noted that a recent audit demonstrated a strong, stable organization with no debt and a strong endowment.  “The Foundation is on rock solid ground – ready, willing and able to support the college and our students,” said Port.

Scholarship recipient, Jose Durbin of Harrisburg, spoke to the guests about the impact scholarships have on students like himself, and thanked them for their generosity. 

Port then recognized current members of the Falcon Society, Lifetime Givers, and scholarship donors and gave out one special award.

The Falcon Society began as a permanent endowment that was matched by the College’s Title III grant during the late 1990s.  Its corpus serves to provide annual income to serve students as well as grow for the future.  The commitment by these members is $1,000 per year until they reach a total gift of $10,000 and become Lifetime Givers of the Falcon Society.  This year $20,000 was added to that endowment.

“On occasion, the foundation recognizes special giving by someone who typifies visionary giving, a type of philanthropy that exceeds expectations from the norm,” said Port. “…this year’s recipient of the Franks Visionary Philanthropist Award (goes) to Mr. Leroy Diefenbach.”

Diefenbach, a Carrier Mills resident, started an endowment in 2011 with a large donation in stock that provided three $1,000 scholarships to Carrier Mills students.  In this way he anticipated he could make a difference in students’ lives so that they could make a difference in their communities.  He added to that in 2013 providing for three more $1,000 scholarships to Harrisburg students.  And one year later, he increased that to three $1,000 scholarships to each school in Saline County for a total of $12,000 per year in scholarships.  

Diefenbach and his late wife, Norma raised six children, many of whom attended SIC.  Mrs. Diefenbach was, herself, a strong advocate for education, and as far back as the 1950s, when the community college system in Illinois was just beginning, she volunteered to drive Saline County residents to the polls to vote for establishing SIC.  Her efforts and those of other supporters resulted in a favorable vote in support for community college in Illinois. 

Always community-minded citizens, Diefenbach built his businesses from the ground up.  He started a construction business and several other businesses, including raising hogs and cattle and managing income-based rental property.  He built a number of the rental units himself and purchased others to help his company prosper and the community to grow while raising six children, many of whom attended SIC.

“Mr. Diefenbach is an American success story who helps foster more success stories,” stated Port.

Upon the conclusion of the event, guests were provided with tickets to see The Addams Familyin the SIC theatre, food was provided by Morello’s and event music was provided by Melinda Tolley on piano.

The SIC Foundation is always looking for new prospects to provide educational opportunities to more students.  Planned giving options allow donors to make sizeable charitable donations without necessarily writ­ing a check with current funds.

Outright contributions such as cash can be made by ownership of marketable securities (stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, for example), real estate, life insur­ance, and other assets can also be transferred. In addition, a variety of trusts, estate bequests, and other gifts with retained benefit can be given.  Different methods have vary­ing advantages in terms of fund­ing, taxes, and capital gains.

The Southeastern Illinois College Foundation was formed by the college's board of trustees in November 1983 to provide a means of raising and administering private funds to support activities and programs at the college which are not adequately funded by local, state, and federal tax resources and student tuition.  For more information about giving, Falcon Society membership or Alumni & Friends membership, contact the foundation office at 618-252-5400 ext. 2482, or visit