Distinguished Alumni

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Distinguished Alumni Awards

The SIU Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes SIU Carbondale alumni who have achieved success and recognition since their graduation.

Former recipients include leaders in the business industry, famous actors, and world-class athletes. Pictures and biographies of the selected alumni are located on the first floor of the SIU Student Recreation Center in the Alumni Lounge.


We want to congratulate all alumni who have been recognized and thank the many others who bring prestige and recognition to SIU every day.

Nominate an Alumni!

The SIU Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes SIU Carbondale alumni who have achieved success and recognition since their graduation. Nominate an SIU alumni for a Distinguished Alumni Award.

  • Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Volunteer Excellence Award
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award
  • Young Alumni Leadership Award
  • Saluki Spirit Award

Nominate an Alumni

2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Stephen Scates

Career Achievement

Stephen J. Scates ‘59
College of Agricultural Sciences

Stephen Scates is a retired farmer but still actively involved in his family farming operations. He serves as president of Scates Valley, Inc., is a senior partner at Pat Scates and Sons Farms, and is on the board of director for Scates Gardens, Inc. He has served on the Illinois Soybean Association Board of Directors including two years as chairperson, as chairperson of the Illinois Council for Food and Agricultural Research Legislative, and as a presidential appointee as Illinois state director for the Farm Service Agency (USDA). He facilitated the endowment gift to SIU from the Illinois Soybean Association, formerly known as Illinois Soybean Program Operating Board. Scates was the 2005 Outstanding Alumni in the College of Agricultural Sciences, received an award for Faith in the Marketplace Award from Diocese of Belleville (2008), the Farm Bureau Eagle Award (2005), the Secretary's Award USDA (2000) and several other awards

Benjamin Kalina

Cultural Impact

Benjamin J. Kalina ‘03
College of Mass Communication and Media Arts

As COO for Titmouse, Inc. Ben Kalina is responsible for overseeing production and development across its three studios. He helps promote and maintain the studios’ overall vision, facilitates all incoming jobs and manages processing techniques.

Prior to Titmouse, he worked in production at Warner Bros. Animation & VFX. During his time there he helped develop their digital pipeline and worked on transitioning the studio from traditional paper animation to a digital workflow.

While serving as producer on Amazon's series Niko and the Sword of Light, the show won an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Animation Program.

Seymour Bryson

Humanitarian Impact

Seymour L. Bryson ’59, M.S. ’61, Ph.D. ‘72
College of Liberal Arts / College of Education and Human Services

Dr. Bryson is a long-time employee and supporter of SIU and community. He has received many awards including SIU BOT Diversity Excellence Award Winner, Lindell Sturgis Award for Professional Achievement, Senator Emil Jones’ Mentoring Award, Access Award presented by Introspect, Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education Distinguished Service Award, African Student Council Friend of Africa Award, Illinois College Attendance Association Trail Blazer Award, United Asian American Council Appreciation Award, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Appreciation Award, Blacks Interested in Business Excellence Award, Black Affairs Council Roby Given Award, SIU School of Social Work Alumni Achievement Award, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Faculty Achievement, Black Graduate Students Faculty Achievement, Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education Distinguished Service Award and Who's Who Among Black Americans.

He has served on a variety of campus and community committees and organizations including Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee, Council of Dean's Representative to SIUC Honors Program, chairperson of the President's Task Force on Status of Black Students Faculty and Staff, Outstanding Scholar Award Selection Committee, chairperson of the Southern Illinois University Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, Graduate Deans' Fellowship Committee, Southern Illinois University Carbondale Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, College of Human Resources Affirmative Action Committee, Faculty Status and Welfare Committee, vice president of Student Affairs Advisory Committee, SIU Judicial Review Board, Faculty Senate and the President's Academic Excellence Committee.

Bryson has been instrumental in promoting educational summer and year-round programs to enhance the academic opportunities for underrepresented and low-income students to encourage them to pursue and utilize their full potentials for career enhancement. He spearheaded many programs including Upward Bound, Career Prep, Future Scholars, Head Start and the Center for Academic Success. He provided academic support through tutoring and mentoring services for students.

He has been inducted into the Quincy Senior High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and SIU Intercollegiate Athletic Hall of Fame.

Thomas and Traci Macz

Young Alumni Achievement

Thomas G. ’04 and Traci M. Macz ‘04
College of Applied Science and Arts / College of Liberal Arts

The husband and wife own four funeral homes in in the south-central Illinois area. Tom and Traci were awarded the 2015 Emerging Entrepreneur Award from the Illinois Small Business Development Center and the South-Central Illinois Growth Alliance. In 2017, they received the National Funeral Directors Pursuit of Excellence and again in 2018. The business also was given the 2018 Illinois Award of Funeral Service Distinction.

Tom serves as the Region 3 director for the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, assisting with implementing mandates from the region and as a liaison for the region and IFDA. Traci is a member of the SIUC Mortuary Science and Funeral Service External Advisory Board, assisting with making curriculum recommendations as she mentors and prepares the next generation of funeral directors for southern Illinois. In 2016, she was elected as the Boss of the Year from the Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc.

The Macz family has been very active in the communities that they serve. They are members of City Hope Church, the Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce and have participated in the annual Centralia Halloween Parade, earning several awards for their floats. They have also sponsored several balloons for the annual Centralia Balloon Fest. Tom and Traci have a passion for education and helping students further their dreams and aspirations. Macz Funeral Homes provides annual scholarships to local college students through the late Larry Irvin Scholarship and the Southern Illinois University Mortuary Science Development Fund. The couple shares their expertise with many local children’s organizations to help them secure the Matthew Aurora’s Children’s Foundation Grant. Tom and Traci believe that their involvement is important to making the communities they serve a better place. Additionally, within the industry and academic setting they believe that their role as mentors calls for them to give back to the next generation. The couple acknowledges that they would not be where they are today if it were not for their families, their faith, a dedicated and compassionate team, and all of the mentors who have helped them along the way. In addition to juggling their career, the couple is lovingly devoted to their marriage as well as dedicated parents to their sons, George and Charles.