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Former ISU President Gene Budig Dies At Age 81

Gene Budig
Elise Amendola
Former Illinois State University President Gene Budig, seen here in 1999.

UPDATED 4:30 p.m. | Former Illinois State University President Gene Budig, who would later become the president of Major League Baseball's American League, has died at the age of 81.

His death was announced Tuesday by the commissioner’s office and the Charleston RiverDogs, a minor league team he co-owned. No cause of death was given.

Budig was the chancellor at Kansas and president at West Virginia and Illinois State universities. He led ISU from 1973 to 1977.

Budig worked early in his ISU presidency to rebuild communication and trust, according to his biography on Milner Library's website. His predecessor, David Berlo, was forced to resign when allegations surfaced of improper spending of university funds on the presidential residence.

During his tenure Budig won board approval for a number of new academic degree programs, including a master’s program in business administration, master's programs in art and theatre, and four doctorate programs in the arts. Budig also facilitated the hiring of more than 80 new faculty positions. In his final days as president, Budig hoped his successors could continue the trend and hire additional faculty.

“President Budig came to lead during turbulent times and worked to build bridges and keep Illinois State moving forward,” President Larry Dietz said in a statement Tuesday. “Under his leadership, the University expanded degree offerings in the arts and business. His mark on the University will long be remembered. I was fortunate to meet him a few years back and will always appreciate his contributions to the University and value his friendship.”

Budig brought that academic pedigree to the job of AL president, and he was the last one to hold the post. He was on the job from 1994 until 2000 when owners abolished the position of league presidents.

Budig also was a newspaper reporter, governor’s assistant, major general in the Nebraska Air National Guard and a teacher at Princeton University.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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