HIGHLIGHTS

COLLEGE

Greetings
A Question of Prosperity
College News
Learning from the Experts

STUDENT

Honoring Diversity
Discipline-Related Student Clubs
Commerce Rates High with Class of '99

DEVELOPMENT

D'Arcy Named Brogan Scholar
Chair Supports Entrepreneurship
Boon to Commerce Library

ALUMNI

New Officers
Class Notes
Calendar of Events

Alumni Association Membership Form/The News Exchange

CHICAGO ROUND TABLE SERIES

The Commerce Office of Development is pleased to offer a series of events that brings alumni together to discuss topics of interest in the university and business communities.

HOLD THESE DATES!

  •  Tuesday, May 23; Topic: Accountancy
  •  Tuesday, August 15; Topic: Banking
  •  Wednesday, November 15
  •  Thursday, February 1, 2001

Sessions will be held in the Illini Center, 200 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For more information, please contact
the CBA Development Office at 217-333-6434, or lockmon@uiuc.edu

 

College

Josh Whitman: An Athlete and a Scholar

You're a talented football player and a straight-A student and when you're not working hard, you're working harder. And that's a pretty good thumbnail bio of Josh Whitman, junior finance major and tight end. A 3.976 GPA (a.k.a., nearly perfect) got Whitman named Fighting Illini Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 1999 at the team's annual banquet in November. It was in the role of scholar-athlete that he addressed the Micronpc.com Bowl Banquet, a gathering of corporate sponsors and business leaders held in Fort Lauderdale on December 29, the day before the Fighting Illini capped the '99 season with their first bowl victory in five years. And the GTE Academic All-American Program, which acknowledges the achievements of college athletes who excel in academics as well as sports, has accorded first-team honors to Whitman. (Second-team honors went to Fighting Illini Fred Wakefield, a kinesiology major. The two are the first to receive this recognition during Ron Turner's tenure as head football coach.)

But Whitman has had a certain amount of practice in bringing home such kudos — his winning records in the classroom and on the gridiron began early. Growing up in West Lafayette, Indiana, he was a straight-A student at Harrison High School, where he played for four years on the Harrison Raiders, going on to graduate as class valedictorian and student body president. A three-time All-Hoosier Conference pick, he was named Region IV Most Valuable Player and a North-South All Star in his senior year. When the recruiters started stopping by to talk (including scouts from most of the schools in the Big Ten) he narrowed his choices to three — University of Maryland, Indiana, and Illinois. Ultimately, "I chose Illinois because it seemed like the best fit. I felt the most comfortable with my teammates," he said in a recent interview with InSight, adding frankly: "I have to admit I didn't realize what a good school I was getting into. I pretty much lucked out, I guess." This is the sort of disarming disclaimer typical of Whitman, who is not wont to tout either his expertise or his savvy — though he's got plenty of both. From his first days on campus, he knew that Commerce was for him. "I enjoy the math. I enjoy looking at how you can use money to make more money," he said, acknowledging: "In some classes it might take the T.A.s and the professors until after the first assignment to realize I'm not here at the University of Illinois just to play football.

"His record speaks to his determination on the field as well as off. During the '99 season, he started all twelve games as tight end and was ranked sixteenth in the nation for tight-end receptions — including two touchdown receptions in the game against Ohio, a thirty-three yard catch in the game against Penn State and two receptions (one of them a twenty-five yarder) in the match with Indiana. He said: "I think the older guys on the team really appreciated where we went this year" — that is, to a winning season and a post-Christmas romp at the Micronpc.com Bowl, where the Fighting Illini trounced the University of Virginia Cavaliers 63-21. "The last couple of years were pretty frustrating, though we could always see we were headed in the right direction," he observed. "It was great to see all our hard work pay off." Payoff time really began on October 23 with the upset win over Michigan that turned the season. "What happened with that game is something that has happened only once or twice in my athletic career — I knew what the outcome of the game was going to be," Whitman recalled. "Even at half-time, when we were down by thirteen points, the guys in the locker room were confident and relaxed. We knew we were just a couple of plays from turning it around." And they did, in one of the most dramatic afternoons in Illinois football history. They pulled off a triumph clinched by a dramatic fourth-quarter interception, followed by two touchdowns, for a 35-29 victory. "That win gave us a lot of confidence," he smiled. "We went to Miami with two objectives. Number one was to win the game. Number two was to have a good time. We got to do both."
Said football coach Ron Turner: "Josh is one of the most exceptional people I have ever met. He has always been such a strong leader on this football team and a great role model for the younger players. Josh has always had tremendous success with both athletics and academics which stems from his determination and work ethic."

Parents, Mark and Mary Beth Whitman, "are definitely my biggest fans and my biggest inspiration," said Whitman. "They've kept me pointed in the right direction." As part of that direction, he is a member of SAAB — the Student Athletic Advisory Board — and serves on the Director's Athletic Board, a Faculty Senate Committee that includes deans from several colleges and members of the board of trustees. He shares a house on campus with three roommates, two of them teammates. In his leisure time, he likes to play pool, listen to music, watch movies and — of course — sleep. Not that there's ever a whole lot of leisure time.


  Going for the goal.

"They keep us pretty busy year round — though out of season at least I'm not at the stadium `til 9 or 9:30 at night," he grinned. After graduation, as a member of the Commerce Class of 2001, Whitman said: "I'd like to play in the NFL. At the very least, I'd like to stay involved with athletics in some way. It's something I've been involved with ever since I can remember."