Crisp named ‘Friend of University’



April 14, 2005 – Harry L. Crisp II, chairman and chief executive officer of  Pepsi MidAmerica has been named the 2005 “Friend of the University” by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.

Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University, will present the award April 16 at the annual President’s Council dinner at the Show Me Center.

The “Friend of the University” award, which recognizes those who support and who are closely associated with the mission, purposes, plans and programs of the University, is the highest honor bestowed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. When the Foundation Board established this award, it also established the criteria for the Friend of the University. The Friend of the University must be a person who has the respect of the community and the University, and whose actions have confirmed their interest and involvement with the University.

Crisp’s primary business is the production and distribution of soft drinks to a large geographical area that includes portions of Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky. His Pepsi-Cola bottling company in Marion is the one of the largest privately owned Pepsi bottling and distributing operations in the nation.

Crisp is a charter member of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation board of directors. He and his wife, Rosemary, are also charter members of the President’s Council, the Foundation’s organization to recognize major donors. Mrs. Crisp served as chairperson of the Council for more than a decade. Mr. Crisp also serves as a member of the Harrison College of Business Advisory Council.

Last year, the Crisps generously made a seven-figure contribution as part of a private gift campaign by the University Foundation that will be used to build the new Southeast Missouri Regional Museum at the River Campus. The new Regional Museum, which will be named for the Crisps, will replace the current University Museum, which has existed in its present location in Memorial Hall since 1976. The new museum is anticipated to be an architecturally unique and significant structure that will attract people from throughout the community and the surrounding region. The museum will focus on archaeology, regional history and fine arts.

In addition to the River Campus Regional Museum, in 1984, Mr. and Mrs. Crisp made a six-figure financial gift to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation to expand and renovate the University’s nursing building. Mrs. Crisp is a Registered Nurse, and attended the University of Evansville and St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Evansville, Ind.

Southeast’s nursing building subsequently was renamed the Rosemary Berkel Crisp Hall of Nursing, and, in 1986, Mrs. Crisp was named “Friend of the University” by the University Foundation. Although the Crisps are not the first husband and wife to be honored as Friends of the University, they are the first to be honored separately for their contributions.

Dobbins said the University is fortunate to have friends like the Crisps. Dobbins also stated that Mr. Crisp has been devoted to improving higher education access in this region through his work with  numerous community college, foundation, university, and statewide boards, providing them with vision and generous financial support.

“We deeply appreciate his continued dedication to our institution and the cause of access to higher education at all levels,” Dobbins said.

Previous recipients of the Friend of the University Award include Margaret Woods Allen, Anne Bradshaw, Louis D. Brodsky, Delmar A. Cobble, Rosemary Berkel Crisp, Robert A. Dempster, Sen. John Dennis, John W. Glenn, B. W. Harrison, Donald L. Harrison, Martin Hecht, Earl and Marjorie Holland, Rush H. Limbaugh, Sr., Guy and Claudine Pinckley, State Rep. Marvin E. Proffer, Gary and Wendy Rust, Otto and Della Seabaugh, Aleen Vogel Wehking, and Judith R. Wilferth.

“Harry L., like his predecessors, has demonstrated an unrelenting commitment and interest in Southeast Missouri State University, its programs and mission,” said Dobbins in announcing the award.

In 1987, Crisp announced that Pepsi MidAmerica was donating to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation a 100,000-square foot building in Malden, Mo., formerly used as a bottling plant and warehouse for soft drinks. His stipulation was that the building be developed for higher education purposes.

With the help of area legislators and the support of then Gov. John Ashcroft, the University secured appropriations for operations and building renovation, and the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center (CBEC) was opened in January 1988. The building was named for Crisp’s father, Harry L. Crisp Sr., who founded the Marion soft drink firm in 1935. When the CBEC opened in the spring of 1988, about 15,000 square feet of space had been renovated for educational purposes and it had about 125 enrollments.

In August 1989, the center began the academic year with six standard classrooms, an Adult Basic Education classroom, electronic library, an office and student lounge area. In 1991, a science laboratory and three additional classrooms were opened. In 1993, plans were underway to add a new computer lab. In fall 2003, a new 5,000-square-foot addition at the Center opened, which includes four classrooms and a Rice Research lab. One of the new classrooms is being used as a science laboratory, and two of the rooms are state-of-the-art ITV classrooms for distance learning courses.

Today, in spring 2005, enrollment at the CBEC has mushroomed to 406 enrollments. 

The Crisp BEC has been a model for Southeast’s nationally recognized system of higher education centers, which have been selected to receive the 2005 Regional Innovator Award for Missouri to be presented by the Southern Growth Policies Board in June in Point Clear, Ala. Southeast officials say the CBEC, like the University’s other higher education centers, boosts Southeast Missouri’s quality of life in by providing access to postsecondary education and adult literacy. Southeast’s area higher education centers, extending from Perryville to Kennett, Mo., now serve more than 2,000 students.

In addition to Crisp’s commitment to the CBEC in Malden, Mo., his dedication and service to other organizations in this region is nothing short of extraordinary, according to Dobbins.

He serves on the board of managers of the Illinois Masonic Children’s Home in Murphysboro, Ill. After serving 33 years as chairman, he currently is chairman emeritus of the board of The Bank of Marion and a member of the Eastern Illinois University Foundation Board. He is a member of the Murray State University Foundation Board of Trustees and a charter member of the Paducah Junior College, Inc., Development Council.

He is a former member of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the University of Tennessee-Martin Development Councils, past chairman of the Southern Illinois University Foundation, and a past member of the President’s Council at Southern Illinois University, the Illinois Human Resource Investment Council, the Culver Academies Educational Foundation Board of Trustees at Culver, Ind., and the Governor Jim Edgar Transition Team. He has been a member of the executive Board of the National Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Association and served as president.

He is presently a member of the Executive Board of the St. Louis Regional Council of the Boy Scouts of America as well as the National Board of the Boys Scouts of America, and was elected one of the charter members to the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees. Crisp is a member of the Southern Illinois Manufacturers’ Network, the Williamson County Shriners, S.I. EDGE, Marion Rotary Club, and the Shawnee Division Marine Corps League.                 A Marion, Ill., native, Crisp served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956 to 1958. He attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind., and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

In  2004, he was installed as a Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. This is  a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, and self-perpetuating organization established in 1965 to recognize the outstanding contributions made by living Illinois citizens, whether by birth or by residence, toward the social, cultural, and technological progress of mankind and thereby to encourage greater dedication to such progress by all citizens of Illinois. Individuals whose achievements are considered deserving of tribute by the Academy are elected Members of the Academy, proclaimed Laureates, and decorated with the Order of Lincoln, the State of Illinois’ highest award, at a formal public ceremony each year.

He also has been honored by the John A. Logan College Foundation with the Foundation’s first ever “Leadership Award.” In November 1992, he was presented the Distinguished Business/Industry award by the Missouri Community College Association. He received the Distinguished Business Industry Award from the State of Missouri Community College Association in 1992, the Central Region Trustee Leadership Award from the Association of Community College Trustees Association in Springfield, Ill., in 1993, the Meritorious Service Award from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association of Springfield in 1993, and the Distinguished Service Award and the Ways and Means Award from the Marion Jaycees.

In 1989, he was appointed by the governor of Illinois to the position of chairman of the Illinois Community College Board, following his successful service as board member. He also served as a member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and was appointed vice president of the board for the Illinois Distance Learning Foundation. He retired from these boards in 1999.

Also in 1999, 30 Illinois Community College Districts established the Harry L. Crisp II Scholarship Fund, and the Southern Illinois Collegiate Common Market of Herrin, Ill., awarded him the Friend of Education Award.

He has received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Millikin University; the 1995 American Enterprise Award from the Prairie Institute in Chicago; an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Murray State University in Murray, Ky.; and an Honorary Associate of Science Degree from Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, Ill.

In 1998, the Illinois Community College System dedicated and named its new building the “Harry L. Crisp II Community College Center.” In 2002, John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill., dedicated a life size statue of Crisp in honor of his service on the college’s charter board of trustees, as chairman of the Illinois Community College System for 10 years, its chairman emeritus, and as a generous benefactor of education.

Crisp and his wife, Rosemary, are the parents of six children, Cynthia, Catherine, Cheryl, Carole, Harry L. III and Cara. Cynthia, Cheryl and Carole all attended Southeast Missouri State University. The family resides in Marion. 

Harry L. Crisp II photo