Alumni Association Honors Simmons

More 500 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville students participated in the graduation ceremonies at the university on Saturday.

The graduate and baccalaureate candidates were from the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Education, School of Engineering and School of Nursing.

Roger Tedrick, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said the students who graduated Saturday will join over 75,000 men and women as SIUE alumni.

“Each of you graduating can take pride in your accomplishment,” Tedrick said. “This is an important time in your life.”

The Distinguished Alumnus Award was also given to former student John Simmons.

Each year the award is given from the SIUE Alumni Association to a former student who has achieved distinction in a particular field and has served the university.

Simmons, who is the founder of Simmons Hanly Conroy in East Alton, graduated from SIUE in 1991. He served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 1988.

After leaving SIUE, Simmons went to law school at Southern Methodist University. In 1999, he established his own law firm, which started out with two attorneys and six staff members. It has now grown to 55 attorneys and 315 staff members in offices locally and in Chicago, Texas and New York City.

Simmons currently resides in Alton and serves on the SIUE Alumni Association Board and SIU Board of Trustees.

The Great Teacher Award was given to Robert R. Phillips, who is an instructor of economics and finance.

The SIUE Alumni Association gives the award yearly after alumni nominate candidates for the award and a committee chooses from the nominations.

Phillips has been teaching at the university since 1997 and has worked for his own firm as well as IBM Corp and Mars Inc.

He earned a B.S. in chemical engineering at Washington University and a master’s in Business Administration at the University of Illinois.

Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift said that graduation not only benefits the student, but the university.

“Your presence has enriched the university because of your difference,” Vandegrift said.