Sladek Gift Creates AE Scholarships


Thanks to a generous gift from the estate of AE alumnus Richard R. Sladek, BS '50, the AE Department has awarded scholarships of $4,000 each to four undergraduates.

A total gift of $270,000 has been made available for an endowment for the AE Department. The university Office of Student Financial Aid will disburse Sladek scholarships to AE students on a needs basis. Inaugural beneficiaries of the philanthropy are freshmen Brandon M. Vlach of Chicago, Illinois, and Michael A. Passaro of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and continuing undergraduates Shannon M. Weber of Westmont, Illinois, and Kelaine P. Patterson of Sugar Grove, Illinois.

“In these times of increasing tuition costs, the ability to provide scholarships to our students is critical, and we are truly thankful to the Sladek family to give us the opportunity to provide support to these four undergraduates,” said Philippe Geubelle, Interim AE Department Head. “This will undoubtedly help us attract and retain top quality students in our undergraduate program.”

The contribution to AE was one third of the total gift benefiting the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Another third was given to the Department of Communication, and the remaining third to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Born June 19, 1920, Richard R. Saldek enjoyed an engineering career at Boeing Corporation that took him all over the world, despite his profound speech and hearing disabilities. He was a World War II veteran, and attended Navy Pier in Chicago while a University of Illinois student. Sladek died on May 25, 2006.

His father, Robert B. Sladek, also was a University of Illinois graduate, earning a BS in 1918 in General Agriculture.