Clark State Community College will award its final Founder’s Award and its inaugural Richard O. Brinkman Award at the 25th Anniversary Circle of Friends Gala on Saturday, September 29 at an outdoor venue that will be set up near the Clark State Performing Arts Center in downtown Springfield.
The Clark State Circle of Friends created the Founder’s Award in 2004 to recognize and honor individuals and organizations who have contributed significantly to the success and sustainability of the Performing Arts Center. Since then, Clark State has awarded 18 Founder’s Awards to individuals, families and organizations who have contributed to the formation and preservation of the center.
“As we think about the success of the Performing Arts Center moving forward, we must also think about the impact it has on Clark State students, who remain the focus of all we do at Clark State,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “And so this year, in honor of the College’s presidential founder, we will continue to celebrate this wonderful venue in our community while also honoring the individuals, families and organizations who have had a substantial impact on student success at Clark State.”
Longtime Clark State supporter and advocate for education, Patrick Field, will be presented the final Founder’s Award. Field is president of Wallace and Turner Insurance in Springfield and owner of Coppertop Restaurant in Urbana. Field has also been a supporter and mentor for the Champion City Scholars program since the inception of the program and initiated the start-up of the Champaign County Scholars program which welcomed its first class this school year.
“I am incredibly humbled,” said Field. “My relationship with the PAC goes back to day one. My dad was on the Clark State Board of Trustees at the time. I distinctly remember opening night and praying for the paint to dry in time.”
Field’s father, John Field, received the Founder’s Award in 2006. “As a son, I don’t know if there is anything better you can do than look through the list of names and see your father’s name and know how proud you were of him and what it meant to him,” he said.
Field said just to have his name associated with the list of Founder’s Award recipients is an incredible honor. “A lot of those people made a lot of things possible at the PAC and in Springfield,” he said. “Growing up with my dad on the Board…I consider the entity of Clark State a friend.”
Field’s passion for education has led him to support numerous students and schools in the community, in addition to Clark State. He hopes to see the Scholars program expanded to more schools and students in the area.
“Arts to me is a rounding piece of education,” said Field. “Education creates opportunities, the arts enhance those opportunities and create a better person. I believe the greatest out-of-the-box thinkers were somehow connected to the arts. If I had to define Clark State, they are building better people by creating better opportunities.”
The Richard O. Brinkman Award will be awarded posthumously to Warren G. “Spud” Elliott, D.D.S. The Brinkman Award was established to recognize individuals and organizations who have given their time, resources and leadership to improve the lives of Clark State students through education.
Richard O. Brinkman served as president of Clark State Community College. Brinkman founded "The Springfield and Clark County Technical Education Program" in 1962. He was the director of the program and later president of the college until his retirement on June 30, 1983. From 1962 to 1974, Brinkman also served as the superintendent of the Springfield and Clark County Joint Vocational School.
Spud Elliott was an oral surgeon in Springfield. After he passed away in 2006, his estate donated funds to help establish the Champion City Scholars program that bears Dr. Elliott's name.
“The Champion City Scholars program would not be possible without the generosity of Warren G. Elliott and his family,” said Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin. “Clark State and the student participants are grateful for their generosity, vision and commitment to ensuring a college education for these students through strong mentorship, career guidance and personal development.”
Spud Elliott’s children, Amy and Mark, said their father had a strong work ethic. He was always grateful for all the people that helped him get his education and was often a “silent giver” who wanted no recognition for his gifts.
Mark Elliott said receiving the inaugural Brinkman Award is exciting because his father was also a first generation college student. “Dad was fond of saying that professors took an average student and spent their time helping him have a successful career,” he said. “He felt that the people of Clark County allowed him to make a living, and he wanted to return that favor.”
“I never knew just how much of a ‘giver’ he was until near the end of his life,” said Elliott’s daughter Amy Elberfeld. “My father never forgot the people who helped him get his college education including an ‘old man’ who picked him up in his car every morning to sell Fuller Brushes door to door. He taught my brother and I to be givers - givers of our time, our talent and money.”
The final Founder’s Award and the first Richard O. Brinkman Award will be presented at Clark State’s annual Circle of Friends Gala at 5 p.m., Saturday, September 29 at an outdoor venue that will be set up near the Clark State Performing Arts Center in downtown Springfield. The Broadway production of The Jersey Boys will follow indoors at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.
Gala tickets are $200 each and include dinner and the Jersey Boys concert. Tickets for the Gala dinner only are $140 each. To reserve your tickets to the Gala, contact Lori Common at 937.328.3841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.