Governor J.B. Pritzker appointed Carin Stutz and Patrick Twomey to the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees just a few weeks ago. Stutz and Twomey filled the seats that became vacant when Pritzker withdrew his nominations of Nick Padgett and Jackie Thompson in July.
Stutz and Twomey both graduated from Western and both said they’ve been active with the university as alumni. Both also said they did not apply for the BoT positions –they said the governor’s office contacted them about serving.
Their nominations must still be approved by the Illinois Senate.
Stutz said she grew up in Aurora, Illinois and graduated from WIU in 1978. She now lives in Chicago, where she is Chief Executive Officer of Native Foods. She was named to the position at the Chicago-based vegan fast-casual restaurant chain last week. She previously held executive positions at other restaurant chains.
Stutz said she believes she brings a business sense to Western’s board. She said she will be “a passionate ambassador” for Western.
“When I look back at my career, I got a great foundation here at Western -- the right kind of Midwestern values as well as an excellent education. And I just want to make sure that we continue to thrive so other people have that same opportunity,” Stutz said.
She said she frequently attends alumni events and has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from WIU. She continues striving to help Western’s students.
“My husband and I just recently did a scholarship to help law enforcement and hospitality students. We’re going to rotate each year because we’re both Western graduates,” she said.
“I was a scholarship student. I would not have been able to afford to come to Western, even back in the ‘70s, had it not been for financial aid, which is one of the big reasons why I wanted to give back.
“It’s really important to me that all students who want an education have an opportunity, and why not have it be at Western?”
Stutz said she was heartened to hear so many faculty members speak during the October BoT meeting in support of naming Dr. Martin Abraham as interim president. Stutz said she senses the campus and the community are coming together, which she said will be a powerful combination.
Patrick (Mark) Twomey)
Dr. Twomey is superintendent of the Macomb School District, which means he will now have a hand in education at every level in the community.
“I’m actually part of what’s called the P-20 Council here in the state of Illinois. It’s a focus of pre-K through higher education initiatives,” he said.
Twomey said his school district partners with WIU a great deal, and he said that as a BoT member he will look for opportunities to connect Western with school systems throughout west central Illinois to help students.
He said WIU is important to the entire region.
“We all know the struggles that Western has gone through. Quite frankly I’m honored to be in a position where I can at least help guide and make decisions that can help (WIU) return to the days of being an institution that the whole area can be proud of,” he said.
Twomey said he earned a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate from WIU. He said he worked in the plastics industry for 17 years and his family operated a grain business, so he believes he can bring business and education-related insights to the board.