Meet the TrusteesIn addition to the individuals listed below, per state statute, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, or his or her chief assistant for liaison with higher education when designated to serve in his or her place, serves as an ex-officio member of the board.
Randal Thomas, Chair
Major General (ret.) Randal E. Thomas, of Springfield, was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees in May 2013. He served from 2003 to 2007 as the 36th Adjutant General of Illinois, the highest National Guard post in the state. He also served on the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission from 2008 to 2011. He currently serves as chair of the Board, chair of the Board’s Executive Committee, member of the Board’s Finance Committee, and member of the Board's Audit Committee. He also serves as the Board’s representative to the Joint Trustee Committee for Springfield Medical Education Programs and the Board’s alternate representative to the Board of Directors, Alumni Association of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
A native of Glen Carbon, he is a graduate of Collinsville High School. Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in English from SIU Edwardsville in 1973, a master’s degree in educational technology from SIU Edwardsville in 1980, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2000. He and his wife Joanne met and were married at SIUE.
Thomas received his commission as an Infantry Officer in 1967, while serving in the Army from 1966 to 1969. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor for his 1968-1969 combat service in Vietnam with the Army Special Forces.
Prior to his appointment as Adjutant General in 2003, Thomas spent 30 years as an English teacher, librarian and media director at Hillsboro High School.
He was inducted into the U.S. Army Infantry OCS Hall of Fame in 2006 and the SIU Edwardsville Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011. He is a member of the SIU Edwardsville Alumni Association, the U.S. Army War College Alumni Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, National Guard Association of US, and the National Guard Association of Illinois.
J. Phil Gilbert, Vice-Chair
J. Phil Gilbert, a lifelong resident of Carbondale, was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Feb. 27, 2015. Gilbert served as a member of the Illinois State Board of Elections and was chairman from 1981 to 1983 and vice chairman from 1983 to 1985. Former Gov. James Thompson appointed Gilbert to the Election Reform Commission in 1984 and he also served on the National Council on Governmental Ethics Laws from 1983 to 1987.
Gilbert was a partner in the firm of Gilbert, Kimmel, Huffman & Prosser, Ltd. from 1983 to 1988 when he was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court as a circuit judge in the First Judicial Circuit and served as a state court judge until his appointment to the federal bench. He was appointed United States district judge for the Southern District of Illinois in September 1992 by President George H. W. Bush. He served as chief judge of the Southern District of Illinois from October 1993 to September 2000. While on the federal bench, Gilbert served a six-year term on the Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law.
In March 2014, Gilbert assumed Senior Status but continues his public service by rendering substantial service as a senior judge.
Among his many honors, Gilbert received the Silver Gavel Award for his dedication to justice from the criminal defense bars of the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Missouri in 2008; the SIU School of Law Founders’ Medal for distinguished service to the law school in 2009; and Loyola School of Law’s Distinguished Jurist Award in 2010.
He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in 1974. He and his wife, Gail, have two children, Jennifer and John, and one grandchild.
Joel W. Sambursky, Board Secretary
Joel W. Sambursky, of Carbondale, was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees in September 2013. Sambursky founded Liberty Wealth Management in 2012 during his fifth year as an LPL Financial Advisor. Before becoming an LPL Financial Advisor, Sambursky became the youngest Executive Director in the history of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce while completing his Master’s degree in Business Administration from Southern Illinois University in 2007. Sambursky received his Bachelor’s degree in Finance from SIU Carbondale in 2005.
Teamwork, leadership, and competition are important qualities in Sambursky’s life. As Southern Illinois University’s quarterback from 2002 to 2005, he led the Salukis to three straight conference championships and NCAA National playoff appearances, played in an unprecedented 49 consecutive games, became the first Saluki to be voted the “Toughest Saluki” for four straight years by his teammates, and set many Saluki quarterback records. The Gateway Football Conference awarded Sambursky the Freshman of the Year honor in 2002, and the Player of the Year award in 2004. In February 2012, Sambursky became a first-ballot inductee into the Saluki Hall of Fame.
Sambursky was also recognized by the Gateway Football Conference for his achievements in the classroom, becoming a member of the All-Gateway Conference Academic Team in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Sambursky was also named an Academic All-Star by I-AA Athletics Directors in 2005.
When he is not in the office, Sambursky, an avid outdoorsman, loves hunting, running, hiking, and any opportunity to get outside and enjoy the world’s beauty. Sambursky serves the southern Illinois community with his involvement on the board of directors for the Carbondale Community Arts, and is the past president of the board of directors for the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. Joel is married to Samantha, who was a four-year letter winner for the Saluki Women’s Golf Program. Joel and Samantha have three children, Laney, Jase, and Josephine.
Mr. Ryan Johnson was elected by the students at SIU Edwardsville in April 2016 to serve on the SIU Board of Trustees. His term ends on June 30, 2017.
He is a native of East Peoria, Ill., and graduated from East Peoria Community High School. Johnson is a senior in business administration, specializing in finance.
He is president of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, and he is a member of the Order of Omega and the Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement. Johnson also serves as a Cougar Guide.
Dr. Shirley J. Portwood, of Godfrey, was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees in May 2013. She is a professor emeritus at SIU Edwardsville, where she taught in the Department of Historical Studies for 30 years. She previously taught at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. She currently serves as chair of the Board’s Academic Matters Committee and member of the Board’s Architecture and Design and Audit Committees. She also serves as the Board’s representative to the Board of Directors, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Foundation.
Dr. Portwood holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from SIU Edwardsville, and she earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from Washington University in St. Louis.
She has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency since 2009, and was recently appointed to the Illinois Amistad Commission. Dr. Portwood also serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. She previously served on the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission; on the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association; and on the boards of directors of various professional journals.
Much of Dr. Portwood’s extensive research and publication in professional journals has focused on Illinois African American history. She has participated in numerous professional conferences in the U.S. and in other countries.
Dr. Portwood and her husband, Harry, have five children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Dr. Marsha Ryan was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees in January 2017.
She earned her MD from the University of Oklahoma, and finished her residency in General Surgery at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She practiced general and breast surgery in Carbondale for 36 years, until her retirement in 2017. For 10 of those years, she was an SIU School of Medicine physician employee.
She received her JD from SIU School of Law in 1987, and she taught as an adjunct at the Law School for 30 years, until 2017.
She has held several medical staff appointments at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, serving as chairman of the department of surgery, and chief of staff. She served on the Southern Illinois Healthcare Board of Trustees, and then on its foundation board where she served a term as president. She has been medical director of SIH'’'s Breast Center, and continues to be co-medical director of SIH’s Cancer Institute.
She has been involved with SIU on its Foundation Board. She served as president, and was the campaign chair for the Foundation’s capital campaign, which exceeded its fundraising goal of $100 million.
Ryan has been a long-term member of the Carbondale Community Arts board and several SIU arts boards. She has been the recipient of a variety of community and university awards.
She lives in Murphysboro, Ill., with her husband, John, who is a practicing attorney and a member of the SIU School of Law’s first graduating class. Her two grown children, Jack and Kit, are proud SIU alums as well.
Amy Sholar, an Alton native and lifelong resident of Madison County, was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Feb. 27, 2015. A licensed attorney with her office located in Alton, Sholar earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from SIU Edwardsville. She earned her law degree from St. Louis University in 2001.
During law school, Sholar worked for the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office. After earning her law degree, she worked for the City of Alton handling real estate acquisition, zoning matters and was actively involved in the Weed and Seed Program, a neighborhood revitalization movement.
Sholar opened her private practice in 2004, handling criminal defense and family litigation. She has served as Guardian Ad Litem in countless cases representing minor children who are either victims of abuse and neglect or the subject of custody trials.
Sholar is a member of the Board of Greater Alton Community Development Corporation and the Board of Governors for the Illinois Lincoln Series Excellence in Public Service. She has served as secretary and president of the Alton Wood-River Bar Association and is a member of the Madison County Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association. She is a recipient of the 2012 Women of Distinction Award in her local community.
She has two college-age children, Sadie and Joseph.
Ms. Naomi Tolbert was elected by the students at SIU Carbondale on April 27, 2016, to serve on the SIU Board of Trustees. Her term ends on June 30, 2017.
A first-generation student, she is a native of Carbondale and graduated from Carbondale Community High School. Tolbert is a senior majoring in political science, specializing in International Affairs and International Studies with a focus on the Middle East and Northern Africa. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue a JD/Master’s Degree in political science with a focus on international relations.
Tolbert has earned a variety of academic honors: high honors on the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s List, Horatio Alger In-State Scholar, APSA Ralph Bunche Scholar and four-year Excellence Scholar. She also is a McNair Scholar, Political Science ambassador and vice president of Intercultural Experiences and Diversity in the University Honors Program.
Tolbert is vice president of finance for the Beta Eta chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and assistant vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Association.