Donor Highlight

Donor Highlight

The Department of Chemistry is grateful for every single one of our donors. In recognition of some of these gifts, we've compiled a few snapshots of some truly outstanding donors.


A legacy can be left in many ways. For Dr. Robert and Connie Springborn, one way they chose to leave a legacy was by opening Springborn the doors for generations of graduate students to come to Illinois. In fall of 2007, the Springborns chose to donate the extremely generous sum of $10 million to support the establishment of the Springborn Graduate Fellowship. This fellowship provides not only a stipend, but also a waiver of tuition and fees, and support for the Springborn Fellow to travel to conferences and other laboratories to perform research. In 2011, the Springborn program expanded to support the Springborn Postdoctoral Fellowship.

When asked the reasoning behind their gift, Illinois alum Dr. Springborn replied, "I give for two reasons. I value the education I received, and I want to ensure our country can compete scientifically in the future; Illinois is the best place to invest to achieve both goals. I owe my success to my education."


"Gregarious, relaxed and unflappable" were words that Fortune magazine once used to describe Illinois Chemistry alum, Dr. Dr. Heckert Richard Heckert. Overlooked, however, were the equally accurate words "generous" and "humble". Recently, Dr. Heckert traveled to the Illinois campus for the unveiling of a gift he had given with little fanfare and tremendous impact: an endowment to support the Richard E. Heckert Chair in Chemistry.

Modest and unpretentious, at first Heckert did not wish to have the Chair named after himself, but instead merely wished to provide the funding to allow a Chair in Chemistry to be created. Only after the urging of senior officials in the Foundation, and the request of the Chemistry Department, would Heckert agree to allow the Richard E. Heckert Chair to be named as it was. Now, the Richard E. Heckert Chair in Chemistry provides prestige and support to its holders, starting with the inaugural Chair Dr. Wilfred van der Donk, and stands as a tribute to one of Illinois Chemistry's distinguished alums.


In each person's life, there are individuals that leave an impact for years to come. For Dr. Victor Buhrke, a graduate of Illinois Dr. Buhrke chemistry whose education and talent has lead him to auspicious heights within the DuPont Company, RCA, and Picker X-Ray, one such person was none other than his graduate advisor in Illinois Chemistry, Dr. G. L. Clark.

Recently, Dr. Buhrke chose to honor Dr. Clark by donating to renovate 100 Noyes Lab and dedicate it as G. L. Clark Hall. Renovated and redesigned, G. L. Clark Hall stands ready to educate countless students with state-of-the-art technology, new seating and equipment, and many other innovative features that will aid in teaching many facets of chemical knowledge.

"We gain immense satisfaction in knowing that GL will be memorialized with his name and image appearing in perpetuity at the entrance and within 100 Noyes," Buhrke stated. "We hope that all students who have the privilege of hearing lectures in Clark Auditorium will honor his memory with us."