During NIU Foundation’s annual gala, Red and Black, this month, a $1 million gift from John Burns (’88) and his wife, Denise Burns, of River Forest, IL, was part of the celebration. The money is earmarked for the Angel Touch program, which benefits NIU students who are in good academic standing but are short of funds to finish their degree.
Angel Touch, which began two years ago, has already dedicated $241,000 to assist 100 students. Catherine Squires, president and CEO of the NIU Foundation, and vice president of the Division of University Advancement, said the goal is to reach $4 million to $5 million in the fund.
During the gala, about $405,000 was raised for student scholarships, compared with $330,000 last year.
As the keynote speaker for Red and Black this year, John Burns, who has donated to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences virtually every year since graduating in 1988, said he would not be where he is today without NIU.
“It provided me several chances – a training ground to lead others, patience when I failed, guidance and faith when I least expected it, confidence to eventually succeed,” he said.
During his speech, he recalled getting a job as a residential assistant when his dad was out of work so he could get free room and board.
“This fund is for all of them, from one of them who wouldn’t be here today had it not been for the angel’s touch of NIU and all of its wonderful people more than 30 years ago,” he said.