May 2, 2013
By the Register-Mail
GALESBURG — Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon will give the Commencement address at the 45th annual Carl Sandburg College Commencement, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. May 16 in Hegg Auditorium at Galesburg High School, 1135 W. Fremont St. Nearly 550 students have applied to graduate, and nearly 250 students are expected to participate in the ceremony.
Simon offers a lifetime and legacy of public service as a lawyer, teacher and working mother. Her record includes four years as a Jackson County prosecutor fighting crime, a decade as a Southern Illinois University law professor and participation in the Illinois Reform Commission, which aimed to restore ethics and trust in government.
As lieutenant governor, Simon is the second highest executive officer in Illinois. She acts as the governor’s point person on education reform and is leading efforts to increase college completion, inspire ethical government, protect military bases from closure, improve services in rural areas and keep waterways clean and safe.
In her first year in office, Simon conducted a fact-finding tour of the state’s 48 community colleges to highlight the role they play in increasing the state’s college completion rate. Simon wants 60 percent of working-age adults to hold meaningful college degrees or certificates by 2025, up from 41 percent today.
A 1987 graduate of Georgetown University’s law school, Simon chose to serve clients without financial resources at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance. She advocated there for people facing domestic violence, discrimination and loss of housing.
Simon then prosecuted DUI and domestic violence cases as an assistant state’s attorney in Jackson County. Four years later, she helped launch the Southern Illinois School of Law’s domestic violence clinic while also teaching legal writing. The domestic violence clinic continues to serve clients and train law students today.
Simon’s parents, the late Paul and Jeanne Simon, served together in the Illinois House of Representatives and were a lifelong team of public servants. Her father gave the Commencement address at Sandburg in 1973 (between his time as lieutenant governor and as a U.S. representative) and 2002 (following his 42-year political career) and is remembered across the state for his honesty and integrity in public service. Simon and her husband, Perry, who teaches at John A. Logan Community College in Carterville, were married in 1987, and have two daughters, Reilly and Brennan.