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ISU Gets $1M Gift To Create Innovation Institute

Steve and Sharon Hagge
Steve and Sharon Hagge met at ISU and married on graduation day in 1973.

Illinois State University plans to establish a new innovation institute with a $1 million gift it received from two alums.
Steve and Sharon Hagge offered the gift to the university’s Redbirds Rising campaign to establish the Stephen and Sharon Hagge Innovation Institute. It’s intended to support student learning and leadership opportunities. It will be based at the ISU College of Business.

ISU's Vice President for University Advancement, Pat Vickerman, said the institute will give students a greater opportunity to gain experience outside of the classroom in real world settings. 

"It's really going to be a wonderful opportunity for our students in the College of Business to learn new ways of innovating and having access to experiences that we just haven't been able to offer before," Vickerman said.  

“Innovation is at the forefront of Illinois State University’s planning and curriculum,” said ISU President Larry Dietz. “Steve and Sharon Hagge recognize the important role innovation plays in the University’s mission of preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. We are honored to be the recipient of their generosity and support.”

Steve Hagge is retired, but most recently held the title of president and CEO of AptarGroup Inc. Sharon Hagges taught for 23 years, according to a university news release.

“One of the things that continues to set ISU apart is the direct involvement of teaching professionals with students,” Steve Hagge said. “It was a huge benefit to have professors who were interested in me as a person.”

ISU officials said the Hagges’ have been longtime contributors to the university. They established the Stephen Hagge Accounting Award in 2013 to honor faculty in the College of Business’ accounting department.

“We’re pleased with the fact that the university is always changing and growing,” Sharon Hagges said. “It’s not staying stagnant.”

The Hagges’ met on the first day of class at ISU and were married on graduation day four years later in 1973.

Vickerman said the Redbirds Rising campaign has reached $161 million, exceeding its $150 million target. The campaign is scheduled to continue until the end of June 2020. 

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.