John Martinson, SIUE 1975 Master of Business Administration alumnus and recipient of SIUE's Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.EDWARDSVILLE – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is pleased to announce the renaming of its esteemed University Honors Program to the John Martinson Honors Program in recognition of a generous $4 million gift from SIUE 1975 Master of Business Administration alumnus John Martinson. This transformative gift will expand and enhance the Honors experience at SIUE for students for years to come.

"The renaming of the Honors Program and the generous gift from Mr. Martinson exemplifies his innovative spirit and commitment to excellence in undergraduate education. This forward-thinking gift allows SIUE to grow an outstanding program into one that can be a national exemplar,” said SIUE Chancellor James T. Minor, PhD. "This transformative investment will empower future scholars to make critical contributions in current and future career fields positioning them as leaders in the global marketplace."

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A venture capitalist and software industry leader for 40 years, Martinson holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master's degree in astronautics from Purdue University. While in the Air Force, he enrolled in SIUE’s weekend off-campus MBA program at his military base, earning his degree two years later in 1975. The business analysis skills he learned at SIUE helped him evaluate and advise entrepreneurs, leading him to be the successful venture capitalist he is today.

"Honors colleges attract bright and motivated students,” said Martinson. “They will become leaders on campus, in their community and in their career. They inspire my philanthropy by their creativity, energy and potential to improve the world.”

"Through this generous gift SIUE plans to double the Honors student body, making this unique education accessible to more students,” said Jessica Hutchins, PhD, interim director of the John Martinson Honors Program. “We are developing new co-curricular and enrichment experiences for students, including new experiential learning opportunities and pathways to graduate and professional degree programs.”

The program will eventually transition to the John Martinson Honors College, which will be the first named academic unit at SIUE and will allow the University to realize the vision for Honors education.

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The University Honors Program has established a strong foundation over the last decade thanks to the visionary framework crafted by SIUE Provost Denise Cobb, PhD, and Eric Ruckh, PhD, associate professor and former director of the program.

"The long-term goal was to build a program that was strong and vibrant—strong and vibrant enough to be the foundation for an Honors college,” said Ruckh. “John Martinson’s gift is both a recognition of our success and secures the funding to make that transition possible.”

Martinson received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from SIUE in the spring of 2023, a recognition that is bestowed upon individuals who have made a profound impact on the University in line with its mission, vision and values. He was inducted into the SIUE Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011. He has offered his generosity and expertise to the School of Business through his contributions to “The Other 40” entrepreneurship competition, the Entrepreneurs’ Club, the SIUE Small Business Development Center and an entrepreneurship summer camp for high school students.

“The evolution of our Honors Program not only underscores our unwavering dedication to current students but also empowers us to attract other high-achieving scholars to become a part of the thriving academic community at SIUE,” Minor added. "Philanthropy of this magnitude propels us position us to advance our mission at SIUE."

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high-quality education that powerfully transforms the lives of all individuals who seek something greater. A premier metropolitan university, SIUE is creating social and economic mobility for individuals while also powering the workforce of the future. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 12,500.

John Martinson, SIUE 1975 Master of Business Administration alumnus and recipient of SIUE's Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

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