SIU Alumni Association To Honor Ryan As Distinguished Alumni

Southern Illinois University



SIU Alumni Association To Honor Ryan As Distinguished Alumni

March 23, 2016


The Southern Illinois University Alumni Association will honor Marsha Ryan JD ’87 as the recipient of the 2016 SIU Distinguished Alumni Award for Humanitarian Impact.

Marsha Ryan JD ’87 has been a general surgeon in Carbondale, Ill. since 1981. She obtained her M.D. from the University of Oklahoma in 1972. She was a faculty member in the SIU School of Medicine in its Clinical Surgery department until she retired from the full-time practice of surgery in 2015. She continues to teach upper-level law students in disciplines, which involve both law and medicine at the School of Law.

Ryan has shown unwavering commitment to Southern Illinois University and various other community organizations through a variety of philanthropic activities. She was on the SIU Foundation Board of Directors during SIU’s “Opportunity Through Excellence” Campaign, raising $100 million as campaign chair. In addition, Ryan has served the university as a member of the SIU Alumni Association National Board of Directors, Symphony Patrons committee, School of Law Board of Visitors, and the Art and Design Board. She was a founding member of the SIU Chancellor’s Council, as well as a member of the “Southern at 150” committee. Ryan and her husband created the John and Marsha Ryan Bioethicist-in-Residency Endowment to expand a visiting lecturer series at the SIU School of Law’s Center for Health Law and Policy in 2006. She and her family’s philanthropy and devotion made the highly successful series a reality.

The impact of Ryan’s philanthropic contributions of time, knowledge, and resources are felt throughout the Carbondale community. She has been an active supporter of Southern Illinois Healthcare, including serving on the board of directors as chairperson and staying active in the “Hope is Home” Campaign to raise support for the Cancer Center. Ryan is a key supporter of Carbondale Community Arts and the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, which presented her with the Citizen of the Year Award in 2015.

Among her many awards, Ryan received the SIU Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award. She was named an "Inspiring Woman of Achievement" by the university. Carbondale’s Chamber of Commerce presented her with the Athena Award for commitment to the community in 1992 and named her Business Leader of the Year in 2003. Carbondale Main Street Group has also honored Ryan for her ongoing support of the community.

The Ryans are lifetime members of the SIU Alumni Association and reside in Murphysboro, Ill. They have two adult children, Kit ‘10 and Jack ’12. 

Three additional alumni will also be honored as distinguished alumni: C. Primo Angeli ’57, MFA ‘59 (Cultural Impact), Robert “Bob” Steele ’62. M.S. ‘63 (Career Achievement), and Viktor Gruev ‘97 (Young Alumni).

A public ceremony and reception will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29 on the Carbondale campus at the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library.

Michelle Suarez ’85, M.S. Ed. ‘04, executive director of the SIU Alumni Association, said that current SIU students will have the opportunity to engage with the awardees as they demonstrate to our students the value of an SIU education as a platform for successful careers.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors, we are delighted to welcome these honorees to campus,” said Suarez. “They are shining examples of what SIU has to offer the world and represent the significant accomplishments of SIU graduates across many fields.”

The SIU Distinguished Alumni Awards, which began in 1998, recognize SIU Carbondale alumni who have achieved success and recognition in the fields of career achievement, cultural impact, and humanitarian efforts in addition to recognizing an accomplished young alumni. Individuals were selected for the honor they bring to the University through outstanding accomplishments within the award category. In addition, the awards demonstrate to our students the value of an SIU education, and how it serves as a platform for successful careers.