Meet the Trustees

In 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.

Former members of the Board of Trustees are listed here.

J. Phil GilbertJ. Phil Gilbert, 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 two grandchildren.

Ed hightowerEd Hightower, Vice Chair

Ed Hightower was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on March 22, 2019. He previously served from 2001 to 2014. He also served on the Lewis and Clark Community College Board of Trustees for more than 26 years.

In 2015, Dr. Hightower retired as superintendent of the Edwardsville School District 7. In the 19 years he led the district, it grew from 5,000 students to more than 7,000 students and became one of the top districts in the state, with remarkable accomplishments in academics, athletics and in the performing arts.

Supervising more than $160 million in school construction during his tenure, Dr. Hightower raised millions of dollars from private sources to build a wrestling center and aquatic center with an Olympic-sized pool as well as funding computer upgrades through the Technology in the 21st Century Classroom Initiative.

He also was an NCAA Basketball Referee for 36 years, officiating 12 Final Four Championships. Hightower has been named the Illinois Principal of the Year and Naismith College Official of the Year, received the National Distinguished Principals Award and has been inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.

The Edwardsville resident received his bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a doctorate in Education Administration from St. Louis University.

Roger Tedrick Roger Tedrick, Secretary

Roger B. Tedrick was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on March 22, 2019. He was originally appointed to the Board in 2004 and is a former member of both the SIU Alumni Association and SIU Foundation Boards.

He is president of the Tedrick Group Risk Management Solutions, a risk management and commercial insurance firm based in Mount Vernon. He founded the firm with his wife, Sally, in 1984.

Mr. Tedrick was born in Vandalia but spent much of his childhood in Carbondale. He attended University High School and graduated from SIU Carbondale in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in political science.

Active at SIU, he co-chaired the Undergraduate Academics Committee for Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, SIU Carbondale’s long-range plan. He has also represented alumni and friends of the university on many searches for the Carbondale campus.

Mr. Tedrick is past president of the Jefferson County Development Corporation and a partner with Illinois Minerals LLC and Illinois Methane, LLC. He is a Board member of Intersect Illinois, an economic development organization.

Mr. Tedrick is committed to seeing all campuses within the SIU system excel. He says SIU Edwardsville is poised to grow with the Metro East area as it expands and believes the SIU School of Medicine is critical to the future of rural health care in Illinois.

He lives in Mount Vernon with his wife. They have two grown daughters, Lori and Sarah, and five grandchildren.

Ed Curtis

Edgar Curtis

Edgar Curtis has served as president and chief executive officer of Memorial Health System since January 2008. He provides leadership for the strategic direction of the health system which delivers comprehensive health services to the central Illinois region. Curtis began in 1975 as a registered nurse and has served in a variety of administrative positions. Curtis is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and past chair of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association Board. He serves on the board of the BJC Collaborative, the American Hospital Association’s Regional Policy board, and is Vice-Chair of the Sangamon County Economic Development Commission. He previously served on the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Commission on the Future of the Workforce, and the Advisory Board of the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Nursing. Curtis is past-chair of the boards of the Springfield Urban League, United Way of Central Illinois and Central Illinois Foodbank. He has been named the Grassroots Champion by the AHA and awarded the Order of Lincoln by The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. The Springfield resident received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and was inducted in to the School of Nursing Hall of Fame.

Steve Gear

Steve Gear

Steve Gear was elected in April 2020 by the students of SIU Carbondale to serve on the SIU Board of Trustees. His term runs through June 30, 2021.

A native of Kankakee and a May 2009 graduate of Kankakee High School, Gear is already a double alumnus of the university. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology in 2013 and completed his Master of Social Work degree in 2016.

After working in the field of social work, he returned to SIU to complete his doctorate in rehabilitation and counseling. His dissertation focus is on the impact of the COVID-19 virus on resources available specifically for people with disabilities.

Gear serves as a graduate assistant for Project 12-Ways, a university-affiliated program that provides training and assistance for parents to help at-risk families. He previously interned as a youth mentor for the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale and as a group counselor for Redeploy Illinois. He was also chosen as a participant in the Trauma Based Behavioral Health Fellowship at SIU.

Gear has been active in numerous university organizations. He is currently active with Graduate Assistants United, the Graduate Professional Student Council and the Black Graduate Student Association. He has also been involved with the Social Work Student Alliance, NAACP – SIU Chapter, Student Programming Council, Alpha Phi Alpha and other campus organizations.

Jacob Graham

Jacob Graham

Jacob Graham was elected by the students of SIU Edwardsville to serve on the SIU Board of Trustees. His term begins July 1, 2020.

A 2017 graduate from Paris High School and lifelong resident of Paris, Illinois, before moving to SIU Edwardsville, Graham is starting his senior year at SIUE majoring in economics and management. 

Before being elected as student trustee from the Edwardsville campus, Graham served as student body president and also a senator-at-large. Outside of student government, Graham holds an executive position in his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and also serves as president of Order of Omega. 

Graham has been actively involved in helping incoming SIUE students become acclimated on campus. In the past two summers, Graham has served as a Springboard leader to help guide students through summer orientation. He also served as a Cougar Guide leader to help students navigate through the SIUE experience the weekend before fall classes begin. 

Graham said he decided to run for student trustee representing SIUE because he saw it as a leadership opportunity where he can make a positive impact beyond the SIUE campus.

Subhash SharmaSubhash Sharma

Dr. Subhash C. Sharma was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on March 22, 2019.

Dr. Sharma is professor emeritus of economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. During his 35-year teaching career, he served as the department’s director of undergraduate studies, director of graduate studies and department chair.

Dr. Sharma chaired or co-chaired dissertations of 40 Ph.D. students and served on other 85 Ph.D. dissertation committees across campus, supervised 18 master’s research papers and served on another 23 master’s research paper committees.

An active researcher, Dr. Sharma is a Fellow of the Midwest Econometric Group, an executive editor of the Journal of Asian Economics, and an editorial board member of the Applied Economics Journal.

His research interests concentrate on economics, finance and statistics, and he has published 85 papers in these areas. Much of his research appeared in top journals such as the International Economic Review, Journal of Econometrics, Journal of Development Economics; Journal of Productive Analysis; Journal of Asian Economics; Journal of Banking and Finance; Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking; Journal of Multinational Financial Management; Australian Journal of Statistics; Communications in Statistics-Theory and Methods; and Communications in Statistics-Simulation and Computation.

During his tenure at SIU Carbondale, Dr. Sharma has been involved in civic service both at the local and state levels and co-authored multiple Economic Impact studies for the State of Illinois.

Dr. Sharma received his bachelor’s (Honors) in mathematics and master’s degree in mathematical- statistics from the University of Delhi and his Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Kentucky in 1983. He and his wife, Kusum, have two children and are proud residents of Carbondale for more than 35 years.

Amy Sholar

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.

John SimmonsJohn Simmons

John Simmons, an attorney from Alton, was appointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on March 22, 2019. He was originally appointed to the board in 2004 and served for more than nine years. During that time, he first served as the board’s secretary and later as its chairman. He is a former member of both the SIUE Alumni Association and SIUE Foundation boards.

Simmons grew up in southern Illinois and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from SIUE in 1991. While an undergraduate, he served as president of the SIUE student body and was a member of the Dean's College, a program for honors students. He earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University after leaving SIUE. Before he began his college studies, he served in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer, earning an honorable discharge in 1988.

Simmons founded Simmons Hanly Conroy in 1999 with seven employees and a focus on asbestos litigation. Under his leadership, the firm expanded to a national litigation firm with more than 250 employees, including over 80 attorneys, spread between six offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis and Alton. Today, the firm represents clients from across the country in the practice areas of asbestos and mesothelioma, dangerous drugs and medical devices, prescription opioid litigation, sexual abuse litigation, environmental litigation and other mass torts and class actions.

Simmons started the firm because he believed he could provide a higher level of legal care to clients by combining legal expertise with service-minded values. Simmons’s vision expanded when he and the firm made a joint $10.2 million donation to build the Simmons Cancer Institute on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Springfield. The cancer institute is the only one of its kind in downstate Illinois. Physicians there see more than 20,000 patient visits per year, and no matter the financial resources patients may have, they are never turned away from care.

Motivated by Simmons’ core belief of giving back to the community, firm employees have donated more than $1 million to local charities and events through the Simmons Employee Foundation. Additionally, under his leadership, the firm has donated more than $20 million to cancer research nationwide and hundreds of thousands of dollars to local non-profits and organizations under his leadership.

Simmons hopes to give back to his alma mater during his term on the board, bringing a fresh perspective to issues and challenges public universities will face. Simmons and his wife, Jayne, have four children and one grandchild.