Computer Science Visionary Scholarship Donors
There are a number of Computer Science alumni who are committed to making an Illinois education more accessible. By generously donating to the Computer Science Visionary Scholarship Fund, this cohort of donors (75+) is helping the department recognize the most-deserving and highest-achieving undergraduate students from all backgrounds by providing large, renewable scholarships.
To learn more about how you can make a difference in the life of a student, please contact Director of Advancement Steve Hall.
A few of our CSVS donors include:
Ron Cytron Family
Ron (MS CS ’82, PhD ’84) lost a dear friend and colleague in 2014. This friend was a university educator who cared deeply about students. In the friend’s will, Cytron was instructed to endow a computer science undergraduate scholarship at the school of his choice, and was asked to keep the donor anonymous.
“The Visionary Scholars fund was a nice lever for combining my friend’s gift with additional funds to have a greater effect than the money on its own,” explained Cytron, who envisions the scholarship aiding students who are underrepresented in computer science. “I’d like to see students who couldn’t otherwise attend Illinois benefit from this scholarship.”
Roger is a CS BS ’05 graduate and has been actively engaged with the department since graduating. He has visited campus a number of time where he has shared his expertise and advice with students through panel discussions, job fairs, and as a CS Engineer In Residence.
“I had a great experience as a student at Illinois and want to support current and prospective students as much as possible,” Dickey said. “The world needs more great engineers, and the [Visionary Scholarship Initiative] supports that mission.”
Ross Erlebacher & Susan Silver
Ross (BS CS ’88, MS ’89) and his wife Susan have been long-time supporters of the Illinois Computer Science program. They established their first scholarship in 2008 and have continued to give in a number of ways over the years. Ross is a past CS Alumni Advisory Board member and will also be recognized with the department’s Distinguished Service Award in Fall 2018.
“It’s just one more person who can access the university who wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise,” he said. “We’re big believers in undergraduate scholarships specifically. People need that first door opened.”
After completing his BS in Computer Science in 2012, Marcin Kleczynski founded Malwarebytes, where he is still the CEO. He wanted to make a donation to the department to help pave a way to the campus for entrepreneurially minded students.
“I grew up in Bensenville to a middle-class family that definitely couldn’t afford to pay for my schooling and yet I didn’t qualify for financial aid,” he said. “I got lucky and Malwarebytes started taking off my freshman year of school, but the discomfort was real. If my fortunate turn of events could help others, I’m in!”
Amy earned her BS from the department in 1982 and has always been grateful for the amount of credibility that accompanied her degree. She was awarded the 2018 Society of Automotive Engineers’ Sid Olsen Engineering Executive of the Year Award, which came with a $1,000 award.
She chose to donate the money to the CS Visionary Scholarship Fund. “I think it’s important to give back to our communities.”
Paul is a CS BS ’98 graduate who had big plans for himself, even before attending Illinois. He has been impressed by the department’s efforts to recruit and support underrepresented groups and fully supports the scholarship fund’s goals of making an Illinois education more affordable.
“In my career I’ve been very lucky to experience three revolutions: the internet, then mobile, and now cloud and AI,” he said. “My time at Illinois prepared me well for each of these. I’m thrilled to be able to give something back, so that future computer scientists and engineers will have that same solid starting point that has served me so well.”
Joel attended Illinois from 2004-2007, where he then left the Illinois Computer Science program to start a gaming company (MyMiniLife Inc.) with three classmates. He has proudly maintained his relationship with the department as an Engineer In Residence, by attending alumni events in the Bay Area, and by working with student groups like ACM.
“There are so many students who would not otherwise have access to an Illinois education,” said Poloney. “I really want to bring the best students to Illinois regardless of their financial situation…By donating, you’re investing in your own future, as well as a student’s future. You will surely work with many Illinois Computer Science alumni—keeping the talent pipeline strong will benefit you, your company, and our industry.”
Sandy & John Rankin
Sandy and John are both graduates of Illinois – BS CS `74 and BS LAS Math & CS `72, respectively. They have been actively engaged with the department and college ever since graduating. They established their Engineering Visionary Scholarship at the college-level, providing large, renewable scholarships to students across the entire College of Engineering.
“I worked for Champaign National Bank -- not making a huge amount of money, but it paid for my entire college education,” said John Rankin (BS Math & CS `72). “When we started realizing that kids couldn’t do that anymore, well, we want other people to have the same advantage we had, because we got a heck of a good education here,” said Sandra Rankin (BS CS `74).
David is a CS BS ’05 graduate and was inspired to give because he believes in the direction of the Computer Science program, including more and more of the hands-on, group-based project work he says is a major part of his job as manager of data warehouse development for Sirius XM Radio in New York City.
“Illinois opens up doors everywhere,” Simon said. “You want to go work in California? You want to work in Silicon Valley, you want to work in L.A.? Illinois finds companies that want to recruit there from all over.” Scholarships like the CS Visionary Scholarship program give talented students a runway toward realizing their dreams.