University News

Marigale Murray Briggs Scholarship Established at Western

November 1, 2005

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MACOMB, IL – She was the type of person to always get noticed in a crowd.

Marigale Murray Briggs, a 1968 Western Illinois University alumna, recently passed away at age 58 from an aggressive breast cancer, but her legacy of leadership and outstanding contributions to her alma mater and to society will continue through the Marigale Murray Briggs Scholarship at Western Illinois University. The scholarship is intended to assist a female undergraduate student in the College of Business and Technology follow BriggsÂ’s path. The qualifications will require high academic standards, campus leadership and service to the community.

After graduating from Western, Briggs was a speech and language therapist in the Tazwell Mason County School District, as well as in the Savanna, Mount Carroll and Hanover districts. But the girl who was named the “Best Dressed Girl at Western” by Glamour Magazine could not resist the pull of the fashion world. She left the field of speech therapy in 1974 to become the corporate director of fashion merchandising for Bergners. Briggs continued to excel in the world of fashion, rising to merchandising director of G. Fox, vice president of fashion merchandising and trend development at Spiegel and the national director of product, fashion merchandising and new business development of Sears Catalog. Eventually she created her own international fashion company, EDM Marketing, with offices in New York and London.

Her success with EDM led Briggs to accept a position with Perry Ellis International in 1993 as executive vice president, and later with Foresight Communications as CEO. In 1998, Briggs decided to once again establish her own business. She created MGB Associates, a company that assisted start-up businesses and established companies with their business planning, development and corporate training. She also continued to serve as a consultant to many corporate leaders in the U.S.

But there was more to Briggs than a successful career. She was a devoted member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority; she served as a pro bono consultant to Kent State UniversityÂ’s Fashion School; and she was an integral part of the Empowering WomenÂ’s Network.

When being interviewed for the Business Ledger Award as the Influential Woman in Chicago Business, Briggs was asked what it meant to be influential. She replied: “To be influential is a great responsibility because my ‘affect’ on others should be in the most positive way possible. Others should be able to learn from my total being: my works, my attitude and my actions. My influence comes from my caring about others and being willing to share me with them.”

“We can draw so much from the way Marigale lived and the dignity with great personal faith and strength she maintained during her illness,” said longtime friend and Western classmate Ernie Blomquist. “She had a special knack of making – and keeping – friends for life. Marigale was a very generous person who cared for so many people. Her profound impact upon them is a great gift to those who shared her great life.

“It is fitting that Marigale be honored by this scholarship because the way she lived her successful life will be an inspiration to Western students,” he added. “She showed that by hard work and perseverance it isn’t all that far from the Tri Sigma house on Murray Street in Macomb to Wall Street in New York.”

Over the years, Briggs earned numerous honors including the “Influential Woman in Chicago Business” award; “Who’s Who of International Businesswomen;” Western’s Alumni Achievement Award; Tri-Sigma’s “National Centennial Women of Distinction;” and was the focus of a front page feature story in Crain’s New York Business.

“I have seldom seen the outpouring of admiration and love that came with the creation of the Marigale Murray Briggs Scholarship. Marigale was that rare individual whose distinguished career, though exceptional in every respect, was nevertheless, eclipsed by her extraordinary personality,” said Dan Hendricks, vice president for advancement and public services at Western. “She was one of a kind and truly amazing.”

For more information or to contribute to the Marigale Murray Briggs Scholarship at Western Illinois University, contact the WIU Foundation at 309/298-1861 or Blomquist at Contributions may also be made online at

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing