The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

EIU winter break recap

Eastern loses alum, current student, gains new vice president, more
Over winter break, Eastern welcomed a new vice president for university advancement, but suffered tragedy when an alum who was a Charleston City Council member died and a current student died.

During the winter break, an Eastern student and Charleston city councilperson died and a new vice president for university advancement was elected.

James Robert “JR” Desco, a graduate student at Eastern, died during the break. 

Desco was a member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity and a firefighter trainee at the Western Springs Fire Department.

The 24-year-old resided in Burr Ridge, but was formerly from Brookfield.

Charleston city councilperson Matthew Hutti died Dec. 30 in his home in town. 44-year-old Hutti graduated from Eastern in 2007 with a Masters of Science in sports management.  

Eastern’s President Jay Gatrell recalled his friendship with Hutti by saying, “He was an amazing community member, alum and supporter of EIU. Matt was one of the first people I met when I moved to town in 2017—his everyday sense of joy and love for EIU and Charleston were something very special.”

Mindy Spencer was elected as the vice president for university advancement. She will officially begin on Feb. 5.

“I’m excited about the opportunities we will create and the new heights we can achieve. The support, pride and enthusiasm I’ve seen from everyone in and around the EIU community is amazing, and I look forward to everything we can accomplish together,” according to Spencer’s statement on Eastern’s website.

Before joining Eastern, Spencer served in the office of the vice chancellor for student affairs and as senior director and chief advancement officer at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

Eastern’s website quoted Gatrell stating that, “I am excited that Mindy will be EIU’s next vice president for university advancement as she brings a mission and student-focused perspective to the important work of development.”

He also said she brings a extraordinary record of building new teams and launching new development and alumni initiatives in her prior roles.

Eastern has also begun a national search for the next provost and vice president for academic affairs. The university anticipates bringing four candidates to campus in late January or early February.


Audra Gullquist can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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Audra Gullquist
Audra Gullquist, Assistant News Editor
Audra Gullquist is a junior journalism major. She previously served as editor-in-chief at The Navigator.

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