The Collens Merit Award is awarded to an individual nominated by the staff and/or faculty who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the future of Illinois Institute of Technology through philanthropic contributions paired with involvement in his or her gift.
B.S. Chemical Engineering (’71), Illinois Institute of Technology
After serving in the U.S. Army, Hill came home, got a job, and enrolled part-time in evening courses at Illinois Tech, having given the importance of education a lot of thought during his time in the military. Before long, he started getting impatient as his work colleagues earned their degrees before him, so he eventually quit his job and enrolled full-time to pick up the pace. “I was 34 when I finally got my degree,” he says, “and it opened up a lot of doors for me.” Hill spent his career as a process engineer at Best Foods (now Unilever company) in Argo, Illinois and later found great success in investing. “My mom taught me the importance of owning stocks,” he says.
Hill has been very generous to Illinois Tech as one of the lead donors to the Ed Kaplan Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship and as a supporter of student scholarships. “I want to help students find their direction in life,” Hill says. In August 2016 Hill took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kaplan Institute, helping set in motion his dream to provide a new direction and unique opportunities for Illinois Tech students.
Thinking about the mark he wants to leave in his life, Hill decided to honor his family for instilling in him the work ethic that got him where he is today. He established the George and Dorothy Hill Endowed Scholarship and the Robert Milton Hill Endowed Scholarship in honor of his grandfather and brother, respectively. “They knew the importance of education, and I think they’d be happy to know I’m doing this,” he says.
Edward Kaplan (ME ’65), fellow alumnus and chief donor to the Kaplan Institute, nominated Hill for his “incredible generosity to Illinois Tech and the deep love for his alma mater that inspired it.” Kaplan says Hill has made a tremendous difference for Illinois Tech and “demonstrates the combination of philanthropy and engagement for which the Collens Merit Award stands. His commitment to the future success of Illinois Institute of Technology is exemplary.”
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