Nebraska at Heart
Gene A. Budig (1939-2020) was the twelfth president of Illinois State University. Born in McCook, Nebraska, Budig would earn his degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While going to school, Budig worked as a bureau chief for the Lincoln Journal and Star. After graduation, Budig worked as an administrative assistant to the Nebraska state governor. By 1967, Budig returned to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and served as a vice-chairman and director of Public Affairs. Budig arrived at ISU in 1972 as a vice president, dean, and professor of educational administration. After Berlo’s resignation in 1973, Budig was named acting president and appointed to the presidency later that year.
Due to the volatile nature of his predecessor’s tenure, Budig worked early in his presidency to rebuild communication and trust. In his four and a half years as president, Budig gained the Board of Regents approval for a number of new academic degree programs including a master’s program in business administration, masters programs in art and theatre, and four doctorate programs in the arts. Budig also facilitated the hiring of over 80 new faculty positions. In his final days as president, Budig hoped his successors could continue the trend and hire additional faculty.
From College to Baseball
Budig resigned from the presidency in January 1977 to become the new president of West Virginia University. Budig would go on to become the chancellor at the University of Kansas and, in 1994, became the president of Major League Baseball’s American League. Budig stepped down from his post as the AL president in 1999 and later went back to teaching at Princeton University. In 2007, Budig became co-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs, a minor league team affiliated with the New York Yankees. Budig died on September 8, 2020 at the age of 81 in South Carolina.