Farewell Letter from Alumni Council President John Sanders '74

Dear Fellow Leatherneck Alumni and Friends,

So long … but hello to a new dawn and a new day for Western! As I proudly turn the reigns over to my friend and excellent new Alumni Council President Brian Savage '73, I want you all to know that it has been an honor to serve the Western Alumni Association and our Alma  Mater for 10+ years including the past two as your President. A lot has changed at Western during this time … most of it great—the new Quad Cities campus, development  and growth of new programs in Nursing and Engineering, and continued growth and success in our college of business, law enforcement and justice administration program and science programs. Our students have made us proud with so many honors in the classroom and on the field. We have had a Goldwater Scholar, a number one ranking in CPA certification testing among all Illinois state universities including University of Illinois, and a 100% pass rate in Nursing Board Certifications as well as upset wins in basketball over national powerhouses Stanford and Wisconsin, and playoff appearances by our football team. 

In recent years, we have also persevered through the most challenging times in the history of our University. Our challenges at Western are not unique, nor are they insurmountable. Like most institutions of higher education, the environment has changed dramatically and fast. Western has dealt with incredible challenges in recruitment with a smaller and shifting pool of potential students, competition from web-based providers and other in-state and out-of-state institutions, internal staff and administration issues, labor unrest, and of course, the incredible financial impasse and economic impact with the state of Illinois.

In my previous letters to you, I spoke of “The Winds of Change” and “Getting Engaged”. At that time, I did not realize the incredible relevance those words were to have on the current and future state of Western. We, as a 135,000 member strong Alumni Association, did not sit on the sidelines. We acted strongly and helped lead the way to the changes necessary to the survival and return to prominence of our Alma Mater. A new Board of Trustees was appointed in the Spring with a daunting but clear task to do whatever necessary to ensure the success of Western. It became clear that a change in leadership at the highest level was necessary. On June 14, President Thomas announced he had informed the Board of Trustees that June 30, 2019 would be his last day as President of Western Illinois University stating, “At this pivotal time in our history, I believe the University would best be served by new leadership.” Following his announcement, the Board unanimously voted to accept the President's request.

This change alone will not be enough. It will be up to new Leadership and EVERY key stakeholder of Western to work together relentlessly toward the goal of growing Western and returning it to prominence as a leading university in the state, region, country and the world. Our students, faculty, staff, administration, the communities of Macomb and the Quad Cities and YOU, our Alumni, need to stay informed and engaged by giving Western the very best of your time, talents and resources.  Make a difference … NOW! 

We are all proud to share the unique bond of being a Leatherneck. We know and feel both now and in the challenging and exciting days ahead, that we will all continue to say with pride, “It truly is a great day to be a Leatherneck!”


John's Signature 

John Sanders ‘74

President, WIU Alumni Council

P.S. Feel free to contact me directly at any time at When was the last time you visited Western? #WIUHomecoming 2019 is October 4-5 … be there, if not before!