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School of Labor and Employment Relations University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Donor Profile

Michael (MHRIR ’05) & Christine (MHRIR ’06) Walsh

WalshChristine and Michael Walsh met at LER and later married. On their honeymoon, the two reminisced on their relationship and recognized that they wouldn’t have seen such success in their personal and professional lives had it not been for the three semesters spent at LER.

“Starting a scholarship fund was, to us, the best way to give back,” Michael says. Christine attended LER on fellowship while Michael received funding from the GI bill. The fact that they had no debt upon graduation set them up for success, in their opinion, and they gratefully acknowledge the impact of these scholarships. Consequently, they wanted their assistance to go directly to students.

The couple feels deeply connected to the school and does their best to stay involved outside of their donation. They have come back to recruit LER students and present in courses. Michael recently spoke to the statistics and analytics classes. Like Ron Sipiora, the couple believes that the most useful course at LER was Statistics and stresses that students become fluent in Excel.

The two believe that besides the education itself, the value is the relationships LER has fostered. In addition to their own relationship, their LER-focused wedding was officiated by a fellow alumnus and current instructor, Gentzy Franz, MHRIR ’05.

They experienced healthy debates and sharing of viewpoints both in and out of the classroom. Michael, once co-president of the Student SHRM, said that student organizations “allow students to be more vulnerable amongst their peers. [They] give the opportunity for people to share comments and questions that they might not ask in class.” Christine traveled to China through LER with Professor Lawler, providing exposure to international HR practices and networking with Chinese HR professionals. She now sits on the LER Alumni Board, focused on supporting alumni engagement, fundraising and student interaction.

The two believe the impact of LER should not end at graduation. Whether staying connected through the LER alumni board and attending webinars or coming back to host a 30 minute presentation on campus, the school can still have an impact and you can return that favor. Christine put it simply by saying, “The power of our degree comes from the community we are joining. We should make the most of this and think of the program as an ongoing resource for alumni, but also give back to the program from which we’ve received so much.”