University of Illinois System

Distinguished Service Medallion 2015


Mr. Plummer served Illinois Bell Telephone Company and AT&T for nearly 30 years, rising from a management trainee in 1964 to president and CEO of Ameritech Information Systems in 1987. As CEO of Ameritech, he helped increase revenue by 100 percent and improve operating income by 75 percent. Recognized by USA Today as one of the top 10 black executives in America in 1988, he retired from Ameritech in 1993 to start his own firm, Plummer & Associates Consulting, specializing in strategic planning and marketing for the telecommunications industry. Recipient of the 2004 University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award, he is a member of the Navy Pier Hall of Fame and is one of only two individuals to serve on the boards of the UI Board of Trustees, the UI Alumni Association and the UI Foundation. He was the first African American president of the UI Alumni Association, and he and his wife, Joanne, are founding sponsors of Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival on the Urbana campus.


Board Meeting
November 12, 2015


An astute businessman and devoted volunteer with an unparalleled appreciation for and comprehension of the complexity of the University of Illinois, Roger L. Plummer has served his alma mater with true distinction.

A 1964 graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics, Roger has spent his career as an executive in the telecommunications industry. He began with Illinois Bell, and retired as president of Ameritech’s Custom Business Unit. Still today he serves as a consultant specializing in marketing, strategic planning and organizational development in the field. Given his professional success and experience, the University has called upon him on multiple occasions to serve. And time and again, he has done so with enthusiasm, dedication, and excellence.

Roger’s history of service is deep, particularly on the Urbana campus. He was co-chair of the Chancellor’s Advancement Cabinet during the Brilliant Futures campaign; a member of the 125th Anniversary Honorary Committee; the College of Business’ Business Advisory Council, an Executive in Residence, and as a College Commencement speaker. He also served on the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Athletic Advisory Board and the University Library’s National Advisory Committee.

Most notably, Roger’s service surpassed a single campus and resulted in roles on the University’s three most prominent volunteer boards: the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, the University of Illinois Alumni Association Board of Directors, and the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors.

In 1996, Roger was appointed a University Trustee, a role he held for six years. His time on the UIAA Board included holding the office of Chairman of the Board of Directors. His service on the UI Foundation Board culminated in a two-year term as Board Chair during a period of significant organizational leadership transition and strategic planning. Because of his deep experience and enterprise-level understanding of this highly complex institution of higher education, many leaders of the academy, both past and present, have come to consider Roger as both an advisor and friend.

Roger credits his wife, Joanne, with initiating his reengagement with the University more than three decades ago. With her at his side, he has been one of the University’s most dedicated and reliable volunteers. Their support for the University has manifested in named endowments and funds underscoring their personal beliefs in higher education, alumni community, and professional integrity. And, their University of Illinois legacy lives on in their son, Adam B. Plummer, a 1996 graduate of the College of Engineering and a successful engineering executive.

The University of Illinois continues to benefit from the success, the dedication, and the many contributions of its alumni, like Roger. The Board of Trustees awards with gratitude the Distinguished Service Medallion to Roger L. Plummer in recognition of his loyal and exemplary service to his alma mater.


Dr. Easter came to the Urbana campus as a graduate student in 1973, and joined the faculty after earning his doctorate in animal science in 1976. He later served as a department head, dean, interim provost, interim chancellor and interim vice chancellor for research at the Urbana campus, and as president of the three-campus system from 2012 to 2015. Dr. Easter was awarded the title of President Emeritus, recognizing his "stellar and unwavering commitment to the University of Illinois." Dr. Easter also holds the rank of Professor Emeritus for a career on the Urbana campus faculty that made him an internationally known expert in livestock nutrition, as well as Dean Emeritus from the Urbana campus's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.


Board of Trustees Minutes
May 7, 2015


Dr. Robert A. Easter will forever hold a special place in the long, rich history of the University of Illinois.

Over the course of his nearly 40-year career, his contributions to the University are unmatched and his loyalty has become legendary. Dr. Easter has shared his talents as a faculty member, department head, dean, interim provost, interim chancellor, interim vice chancellor for research and, ultimately, as the 19th president of the University of Illinois, the only person since the University's founding to serve in each of those critical roles.

His service was driven by an unwavering devotion to the University that stands as one of the many hallmarks of his distinguished career. He delayed retirement to step in as interim provost and then interim chancellor. He became president after he retired, as he answered calls for help from a University that needed his wisdom and steady hand during difficult times.

Dr. Easter's roots at the University extend beyond his career -- to 1973, when he arrived on the Urbana campus to pursue a doctorate in animal sciences and forged a connection that has endured for more than four decades. After graduating in 1976, he immediately joined the faculty of Urban's Department of Animal Sciences and has remained a faculty member throughout his career. He holds the title of Professor Emeritus, recognizing a celebrated career that made him an internationally acclaimed expert in livestock feeding and transformed the lives of generations of students. His skills in the classroom and laboratory paved the way to his rise in University leadership.

Dr. Easter's lifelong service has played an invaluable role in the University's standing as a world leader in education and innovation, and reflects the qualities that its campuses seek to instill in every graduate. He is an exceptional scholar and visionary leader, with integrity and a moral compass that have steered the University through troubled times toward a bright future. But he is remembered just as much for his kindness, his thoughtfulness, his loyalty and his deep affection for the University, its many stakeholders and its global legacy.

With his wife, Cheryl, Bob Easter served the University of Illinois tirelessly and selflessly, often putting the University's interests ahead of their own.

At a press conference on his first day as president, Dr. Easter was asked about his commitment to the University and why he kept coming out of retirement to serve. The answer, he said, was simple: "I've always been proud to say 'I'm Bob Easter, of the University of Illinois.'"

The Board of Trustees and the entire University family are just as proud of him. For his career of dedication and exemplary service to our University and to honor one who led with distinction, the trustees award the Distinguished Service Medallion to Robert A. Easter, with gratitude and admiration.