Distinguished Service Award

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The Distinguished Service Award should be reserved for persons who have contributed importantly to southern Illinois, to the nation, to the world, to the State, and/or to the University.  No University employee shall be considered for a Distinguished Service Award in the year of his or her retirement; however, this does not preclude the consideration of an exceptionally qualified employee for an Award at a time either before or after the year of his retirement.

Nominations are due by Wednesday, October 24, 2018.

For nomination guidelines and contact information for the Distinguished Service Awards, please go view the Nomination Guidelines and Deadlines.

View a list of previous recipients.

2018 Distinguished Service

Bob G. Gower, Ph.D.

Bob G. Gower, Former CEO of Lyondell Petrochemical Company, Founder of Specified Fuels & Chemicals, Co-Founder of Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. and Ensysce Biosciences Inc. Bob received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Illinois University in 1958 and 1960, respectively, and his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1963.

Dr. Gower moved through several sales, research and engineering assignments with Sinclair and Atlantic Richfield after the merger of the two companies in 1969. He became Vice President of ARCO Chemical Company in 1977 and Senior Vice President in 1979. In 1984, he was elected Senior Vice President of Atlantic Richfield Company, responsible for strategic planning and advanced research.

Dr. Gower became President of Lyondell Petrochemical Company when it was formed as a division of Atlantic Richfield in 1985. Lyondell was a composite of all the unprofitable chemical and refining segments within ARCO. Lyondell became profitable within 9 months, and the transformation is considered as one of the best business turnarounds in the industry. Lyondell was taken public in 1989 in one of the largest initial public offerings to that date. Bob retired from Lyondell in 1997.

After leaving Lyondell, Bob’s family bought manufacturing assets that produced specialty fuels for use in new automobile environmental certification and lubricant standardized quality testing, Specified Fuels & Chemicals. The company was the primary supplier of these fuels in the U. S. This business was sold in 2000.

In 2000, Bob Gower was co-founder, along with Rick Smalley, of Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc. and served as CEO until the merger with Unidym in 2007. In 2008, Bob formed Ensysce Biosciences, Inc. to focus on single wall carbon nanotube delivery systems for cancer drugs. In 2015, Ensysce acquired Signature Therapeutics which had focused on abuse resistant opioid pain drugs. Signature had a unique prodrug delivery approach where the opioid drug is released and activated only by contact with trypsin.

Ensysce has completed Phase 1 clinical trials for its initial drug, an opioid prodrug that is inactive until it contacts trypsin in the digestive system and, therefore, will not become active if snorted, smoked or dissolved and injected. Ensysce’s second drug candidate prevents overdose even if multiple pills are taken. There are no comparable drugs in the market.

Dr. Gower is active in educational efforts in the Houston area. He served as President of Communities in Schools of Houston, the most effective program in the country at keeping students in school, from 1998 to 2002 and is still active on the Board. He was head of the 1991-92 United Way campaign for Houston. He has served on the Boards of several companies. Dr. Gower is married to the former Mary Beth Miller. They have three daughters.

2018 Distinguished Service

Harvey Welch, Jr.

Harvey Welch Jr., a native of Centralia, Illinois, attended Southern Illinois University where he played basketball and became the first African American Air Force ROTC graduate. After a 20-year military career involving the education and training of Air Force personnel and earning a master’s degree, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. Harvey returned to SIU in 1975 as Dean of Student Life. In 1987 he became Vice President for Student Affairs which involved being responsible for the student center, student health service, financial aid, university housing, recreation center, career services, disability support services, and student development and discipline. He was also the chief student affairs officer at the SIU Edwardsville campus in 1994-1995.

During his lifetime, Harvey has served on boards and been of service to over 30 professional, civic, and religious organizations. Harvey is both a past Carbondale Rotary Club president and Rotary District Governor. He has observed the Rotary motto of Service Above Self in many capacities. Harvey has served as president of the Illinois Guidance Association, Carbondale Park District Board, John A. Logan College Museum Board, and the Carbondale Police and Fire Commission, and as regional Vice President of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. In 2006 he was named Citizen of the Year by the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.

For the last 20 years Harvey and his wife Trish have sponsored a golf tournament fundraiser for SIU student scholarships. The recipients of these scholarships are selected based on service to the university and/or the community.