Personal Giving Stories

Dear friends and fellow alumni,

eitzen.jpgI remember the day my parents drove me to the U of I in 1962 when I was 18. Dad was a minister, and we lived in the central Illinois community of Jacksonville. The ministry didn’t pay too well in those days; but my folks, through their frugality, were able to pay for my four-year education. They made this sacrifice out of love, knowing that my chances for success and a better life than their own would be much greater with a degree from Illinois. The advantage of in-state tuition also tilted the balance toward Illinois.

The next four years were trying at times as I adjusted to my new surroundings and responsibilities. In spite of all the challenges I faced, in 1966 I graduated, and it was a glorious day! Although I underachieved, I left Illinois a more mature and responsible young man destined for graduate school. My future studies would be funded by one of my father’s parishioners whose only stipulation was that someday I reciprocate her act of kindness.

Fulfilling this generous woman’s simple request is one motivation behind my estate gift. However, being an only child and having no children of my own also meant I had to seriously consider my personal legacy. As I did so, my thoughts dwelled on students who, like me, would have difficulty paying for tuition, be prone to underachieve and face serious obstacles to completing their education.

My estate gift will therefore fund three initiatives aimed entirely at students. The majority will provide scholarships to needy students through the Illinois Promise program. The second component will support the Counseling Center, which provides professional services to help students overcome emotional and other serious challenges. And finally, a portion of my gift will support the Illinois Leadership program to help students reach their full potential.

As I reciprocate the kindness shown to me, I am hopeful that my legacy will thus inspire some of the beneficiaries to do likewise. Our alma mater, and its students in particular, need and warrant our help. Therefore, I ask you to contemplate creating, as I have done, your own Illinois legacy by establishing an estate gift.

Thank you for your consideration,
Lando Eitzen Jr.

When Lando Eitzen came to the U of I, like most incoming freshmen, he was uncertain about what he wanted to do with his life. However, during his sophomore year he became interested in psychology as a result of a course entitled “abnormal psychology.” To further explore his interest, he spent the next few summers working with psychiatric patients at the Jacksonville State Hospital.

Early psychotropic drugs, having serious potential side effects, and treatment methods such as hydrotherapy, electroshock and the lobotomy, had been prevalent before that time. Eitzen saw a variety of mental disorders and as a result of his experience decided to continue his education and training. After obtaining his master’s degree in psychology from Miami University (Ohio) in 1968, he was hired as a staff psychologist at the Lincoln Developmental Center in Lincoln, Ill. His focus there was on brighter males who had wrongly been institutionalized prior to proper screening procedures being in place. Therapy involved motivating the men to want their independence and placement in a less restrictive environment.

In 1972, Eitzen was offered a staff position with promotion in a new psychiatric program for children and adolescents at the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. He spent 10 years with this unit before it was absorbed into another facility, at which time he was transferred to a larger unit at Murray serving the developmentally disabled. From 1988 until his retirement in 2001, he participated significantly in all aspects of bringing information technology to Murray Center.

Today Eitzen is an avid walker/jogger and gardener and enjoys staying up with current events and studying (self-teaching) the keyboard. Lando Eitzen has devoted his career to helping others, and his legacy at the U of I will ensure that mission continues beyond his lifetime.


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