Former walk-on continues to give back

Former walk-on continues to give back

PEORIA — Stu Levenick has already done his part for Illinois football, endowing a scholarship for former walk-ons.

Former walk-ons like Levenick, who played offensive line in the 1970s for Bob Blackman after joining the team from Washington.

Today the recently retired Caterpillar executive is helping out the rest of his favorite school.

Levenick donated $500,000 to the UI Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment. The money will fund fellowships for research, education and outreach.

“I really believe in the mission of the university,” Levenick said. “I owe it a lot. Things turned out extremely well for me, and a lot of that goes back to the experiences I had when I was done down there.

“I’ve always wanted to help out, and I’ve tried to do that over the years.”

Levenick and wife Nancy return to Champaign-Urbana several times each year for football and men’s basketball games. He was honored during the 2014 football season as the Varsity I Man of the Year.

The 62-year-old Levenick sees improvement in the Illinois football program.

“Illinois is a school that ought to have a dominant football program,” Levenick said. “We deserve that. We’ve got all the facilities. We’ve got the capability. It’s just a matter of execution.”

Levenick became interested in sustainability during his time at Caterpillar.

“The direction the university was going with the Institute was something I felt was unique and just felt like it was something I could support,” Levenick said. “They’re creating a balance between what’s really good for the environment and something also that makes sense economically long term.”