University News

Dawn and Joel Thys Scholarship Established

August 25, 2021

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - While working full time, Joel Thys was able to complete four degrees--one of them is a bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University. To give back to his alma mater, Thys has established the Dawn and Joel Thys Scholarship.

Thys, who was raised on a dairy farm in rural Iowa, owns Thys Automotive in Blairstown, IA. After earning a bachelor's degree in the Board of Governors program (now known as a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies) at Western, he worked his way up to receive a Master of Business Administration (MBA). He and his wife, Dawn, a longtime elementary school educator, have instilled in their children that same work ethic and desire to continue their own education.

"I'm very grateful to Western for the non-traditional class offerings, which allowed me to get my bachelor's completed with night and weekend course work. Without such offerings it would have made it very difficult to complete," said Thys. "As we've been successful in our business endeavours, so has our ability to give back and help students who need a little assistance. We look forward to this being available for years to come."

"The Thys' belief in education and giving back to others is evidenced through this scholarship," said Brad Bainter, executive officer of the WIU Foundation. " Joel's work ethic is inspiring and a great demonstration of what someone can do when they work hard to reach their goals. We greatly appreciate their support for Western."

Applicants for the Dawn and Joel Thys Scholarship must be of sophomore standing or above and a management, marketing or finance major with a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA). Financial need will be a determining factor.

For more information on scholarships, visit

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