Foundation & Development

President Goldfarb, Dan Webb, and Gordy Taylor

Dan Webb

Webb for the Defense of Western

Dan Webb is one of the most recognized and distinguished alumni of Western Illinois University. He is the only alum to be awarded the three highest honors Western can bestow: the Alumni Achievement Award, Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. In addition, Webb has served on WIU’s Board of Trustees and currently serves on the President’s National Advisory Council.

In January of this year, Webb pledged $500,000 to establish the Dan and Laura Webb Endowed Professorship in Political Science and the Dan and Laura Webb Pre-Law Scholarship Fund. This gift is in addition to the previously funded Keith Webb Memorial Scholarship in memory of his father, and the Dan Webb Political Science Internship.

“Dan Webb’s service to his undergraduate alma mater has been generous and heartfelt,” says WIU President Al Goldfarb.  “The entire university community is grateful for his generosity and his interest in enhancing the educational experience at Western.”

Webb has spent his entire professional life as a courtroom trial attorney and litigator. From his position as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois to chairman of Winston & Strawn, LLC, he has tried more than 100 jury cases and received international attention for his successful prosecution of retired Admiral John Poindexter in the Iran-Contra affair. As the U.S. attorney in Chicago, he spearheaded the "Operation Greylord" investigations into judicial corruption in Cook County. Webb received national attention for his work as lead trial counsel for General Electric, successfully defending it against criminal price-fixing allegations. He represented Microsoft Corporation in its antitrust litigation and Philip Morris in its tobacco-related court case. Most recently, Webb served as lead defense counsel in the six-month jury trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan.

“I made this gift to WIU because Western provided me with the educational foundation that allowed me to achieve substantial success in the legal profession,” says Webb. “Without that foundation, I would not have been as successful in law school and my legal profession.” Webb credits mentor Dr. Josephine Johnson, his Bushnell, Illinois high school guidance counselor and later WIU Vice President for Advancement, with inspiring his law career. “She saw me debate and told me I should be a trial lawyer,” said Webb. “I left Western to study law at Loyola University, and Josephine and I remained friends until her death.”

“Dan Webb is an amazing man,” stated former WIU Associate Vice President for Alumni Programs Gordy Taylor.  “While we all know that he is one of the nation’s top trial attorneys, what people often don’t know is that Webb is a small town boy at heart and has never forgotten his roots in rural west-central Illinois. The national acclaim that is accorded him has never gone to his head, and he remains a man dedicated to his family. Outside the courtroom, one would never perceive that Webb was the prominent lawyer he is as he never draws attention to himself and is one of the most sincere and kind people I have ever met.”

Indeed, according to Webb, it is his small town upbringing that has facilitated much of his success. “Being a courtroom trial lawyer requires simple, straightforward communication,” he has said. “Growing up in Bushnell and working at Vaughn Hammer Factory gave me the ability to talk to folk. Going to Western, where I experienced diversity and expanded my horizons, was a great learning exercise that has served me well throughout my life and career.”

“It has been my pleasure to share some of my success with the institution that provided the base for it,” Webb added. “There is no more cherished place in my heart than Western Illinois University.”