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2021 Ag Advisory Board
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Cliff Becker with his wife, Kristine; his son, Ivan; and their daughter, Ruby
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Agriculture Alumnus Memorialized Through New Endowment Fund

April 22, 2024

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MACOMB, IL - - The life and impressive career of WIU alumnus Cliff Becker are being memorialized through a new fund for the School of Agriculture.

Becker, originally from Oak Park, IL, graduated from WIU with a degree in Agriculture in 1984. He was a fourth-generation farmer who had an impressive 39-year career in the agricultural field. Becker spent more than 10 years as executive vice president at Farm Journal and 23 years with Vance Publishing, where he served as senior vice president and publishing director for their food360 division. At his passing, Becker was the vice president of New Campus Development for the American Royal in Kansas City, MO.

Becker was a passionate graduate, staying involved in many capacities with the WIU School of Agriculture, including serving as the vice president of the School's Advisory Board. In 2021, Becker was named a School of Agriculture Distinguished Alumnus.

"Cliff was a very supporting alumnus, who always had a positive, engaging, energetic attitude. He was always willing to share his memories and stories about his time at WIU. Cliff was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Ag Expo and emceed the School of Agriculture 100th anniversary banquet and other alumni events," School of Agriculture Director Andy Baker said.

That passion for Becker's alma mater and academic program has led his wife, Kristine, to choose to preserve Cliff's memory through the new Cliff Becker Agriculture Excellence Fund. When endowed, this fund will provide unrestricted resources annually to allow the School of Agriculture to pursue emerging opportunities, address its highest needs and support student success.

"Cliff was a huge proponent of keeping youth involved in the agricultural sector. He had to work and help himself through school. Staying involved with the college and being able to offer his insight, move projects forward, be an influencer and continue to bring college students into the fields was super important to him," Kristine said.

Becker developed multiple connections throughout his impressive career in the agricultural publishing industry and his accomplishments at the American Royal, providing Kristine with several options for establishing a permanent memorial in his honor.

"I really felt that establishing a fund at WIU really spoke to Cliff and what his desires would be. In terms of moving his legacy forward and having a bigger impact, it made sense to work with WIU," Kristine said.

According to Baker, the Becker Fund will assist his team in recognizing individuals and activities that represent Becker's grit, energy, resilience and positive attitude.

"Cliff was well-loved. He was truly a gift. It's such an honor to see him continue to be recognized for everything that he contributed. My hope is Cliff's name, his passion and everything that he was about remains in the forefront," Kristine said.

"This first-of-its-kind, unrestricted fund is an incredible tribute to Cliff and all that he helped further with his involvement with the School of Agriculture. We are so grateful for the gifts Cliff gave to WIU during his lifetime through volunteering and his philanthropy, and we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that others have shown to help establish this fund in Cliff's memory. Our goal is to endow this fund so that it will support the School of Agriculture in perpetuity," College of Business and Technology Director of Development Liz Gougeon said.

The response to the establishment of the Becker Fund has been strong. To date, more than 90 individuals have chosen to honor Becker with a gift to the fund. Alumni, friends and other supporters are invited to support this initiative and push the Becker Fund to endowment level.

The School of Agriculture Advisory Board has elected to champion the Becker Fund during this week's Western Challenge, WIU's ninth annual day of giving, scheduled for Wednesday, April 24. During the 24-hour fundraising initiative, financial support for any area is encouraged. To direct a gift to the Cliff Becker Agriculture Excellence Fund, visit

Posted By: Drew Donahoo (
Office of University Communications & Marketing