2006 Distinguished Alumni Award

Larry Mortier and Lorraine Barnhart Epperson

The outstanding accomplishments of Larry Mortier and Lorraine Barnhart Epperson were recognized Saturday, May 13 when they were presented the Western Illinois University Distinguished Alumni Award at Spring Commencement Exercises.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, given since 1973, recognizes alumni who have reached the pinnacle of their careers and have brought credit to the University and themselves through their professional accomplishments or community service at local, state, or national levels and have extended meritorious service for the advancement and continued excellence of WIU.

larryMortier retired as vice president for advancement and public services at Western in August 2005. He had served as executive director for the WIU Foundation since 1987 before being named vice president in August 1994. He served as the University's chief development officer during the Centennial Campaign for Western (1995-2000), which generated $24.8 million in private gift support. The assets of the Foundation more than doubled during Mortier's tenure as vice president.

Mortier was instrumental in the University/community's nine-year relationship with the NFL's St. Louis Rams, and he served as Western's representative to the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDCO) for nearly 10 years, including serving as the organization's vice president.

Mortier's 11-year tenure as vice president included the expansion of the WIU Alumni Association programming and services; the growth of the WIU Foundation's scholarship program; the development of the University's official web site; the Visual Production Center transition of photographic services to digital format and enhanced large format display capability; and a University Relations-led yearlong Centennial Celebration in 1999-2000. Mortier established the University's first governmental relations office and led the adoption of a formal integrated marketing approach to University communications, including the creation of a University marketing office.

During Mortier's administration, Western athletics programs won five Mid-Continent Conference Commissioners Cups for overall program excellence, including 24 team championships. He took the lead on several new facilities initiatives and was a strong advocate of the program's commitment to gender equity.

Before joining the development staff in 1986, Mortier served as associate director of admissions for community college relations from 1983 to 1984 and was a member of Western's football coaching staff as assistant in 1975-1976, and as assistant head coach from 1979 to 1983.

He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in education at Western in 1970 and 1971 and his doctorate in educational administration from Southern Illinois University in 1995.

Epperson is a real estate broker and owner of Century 21-Purdum-Epperson, Inc. in Macomb. Epperson entered the real estate business in 1974 with the R.B. Purdum Real Estate Firm. She and her husband, Ken, purchased the business in 1985 and in 1990 purchased the Century 21 franchise. She has earned the Certified Residential Specialist designation based on education and sales volume. For the past 10 years she has earned the Centurion Producer Award from the Century 21 franchise for sales volume and for the past two years the coveted Quality Service Pinnacle Award for exceptional service.

Before turning to a business career, Epperson was in education for many years, starting her career as a business education teacher prior to 18 years as director of guidance at Macomb High School.

Epperson was a Board of Governor's trustee from 1993 to 1995, and was appointed by Gov. Jim Edgar to Western's Board of Trustees in 1995. Her term ended Feb. 2, 2006. Epperson served as vice chair of the Board in 1996 and chair from 1997 to 1999. She had most recently served as the chair of the Board of Trustees' academic and student services committee.

In 1988, she received the Western Illinois University College of Business and Technology's Distinguished Alumni Award. Epperson served as a member of the WIU Alumni Council from 1979 to 1981 and from 1984 to 1990, including two years as president. She was also a member of the WIU Foundation Board of Directors from 1993 to 1994.

Epperson has also received the Sigma Sigma Sigma Centennial Woman of Distinction given by the National Sorority in 1998 and the Isaac and Ethel Leighty Community Award given by the McDonough County United Way in 2000.

In the Macomb community, Epperson is involved in many organizations and activities. She is a member of the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Quality of Life Advisory Committee, vice president of the Performing Arts Society at Western, as well as the Sigma Sigma Sigma Housing Corporation. She is a past president of Western Illinois University Women, past chair of McDonough County United Way, past president of Lamoine Valley Board of Realtors, and served as a board member for the McDonough County YMCA.

Epperson received her bachelor's degree in 1948 and master's degree in 1952 from Western.