Friday, October 21, 2016

UIS honors alumni for achievement and service

The University of Illinois Springfield honored the significant contributions of Darrel Burnett and Cheryl Peck during the university’s annual Alumni Gala on Friday, October 21, 2016, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

The Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding success and national or international distinction in one’s business, profession or life’s work was presented to Darrel Burnett, of Milton, Wisconsin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1978.

Burnett is founder and Chief Executive Officer of KSI International, Inc., which specializes in Life Changing Technologies with an emphasis on new product development and the development of international markets.

Burnett attended the University on a broadcast scholarship. He served as the first sportscaster at WSSR (now WUIS) and the first “play by play” radio announcer for the Prairie Stars soccer team.

After graduating in 1978, he embarked on a career in broadcasting. He hosted nationally syndicated radio shows from New York City, provided play-by-play for the Indianapolis Colts, and reported on Super Bowls, the World Series, NBA Basketball Championships, U.S. Olympic Trials, NCAA championships and many other events. He spent four years as a pit reporter for the Indianapolis 500, and has remained closely connected to the broadcasting field for nearly 40 years as he continues to narrate documentaries and serve as a frequent host and guest on television and radio shows.

In 1999, Burnett was recruited by the Hoffman Corporation, a construction management firm, to start an operating division in Illinois. In just six years, the division became a $500m enterprise and helped Hoffman earn a top 50 U.S. ranking by Engineering News Record. In 2002, Burnett co-founded Revere Hoffman, specializing in housing for senior citizens; and in 2005, he became Corporate Director for the Mid-Northern Group, a real estate company based in Rockford, IL. In 2009, as president of a water technology company, he helped develop a patented water technology. This led to the founding of KSI International in 2011.

Darrel Burnett serves on the Board of Advisors for the Brian LaViolette Scholarship Foundation and has helped raise more than $1m for numerous community organizations. He has also served on multiple boards of directors and is an elder for Chapel on the Hill in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

The Distinguished Service Award for extraordinary commitment, dedication and service to the advancement of the University of Illinois was awarded to Cheryl Peck, of Springfield, Illinois. She earned a bachelor’s degree in literature in 1986 and a master’s degree in English in 1989.

An all-out advocate for her alma mater, Peck participates in many University events. She served in volunteer leadership roles on the planning and coordinating committee of the UIS Alumni SAGE Society in its formative years, and helped to build the University's archive of oral histories. Peck also served on the Friends of Brookens Library Board.

In 2011, Peck donated $500,000 to establish the Judith E. Everson Professorship in English, the first from a graduate honoring a former professor. With the gift, Peck paid tribute to the faculty member who profoundly influenced her career and her overall educational experience as a “mid-life student” at UIS (then Sangamon State), which she characterized as setting her on “a path of lifelong discovery in books and writing.”

She has also been a longtime annual donor to Brookens Library, WUIS and other campus units, and is a member of the University of Illinois Foundation Presidents Council.

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