U.S. District Court Judge J. Phil Gilbert poses in his office at the Federal Courthouse in Benton.

A senior U.S. district judge, a lawyer and a Carbondale business owner have been named to the SIU Board of Trustees.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to announce the appointments of U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert, Edwardsville litigator Amy Sholar and Joel Sambursky early Friday morning.

The move comes just before terms expire for two sitting trustees, Don Lowery and Marquita Wiley.

The Illinois Senate must vote to affirm the appointments.

Sambursky: Reappointed

This is the second appointment to the board in as many years for Sambursky, a 32-year-old SIU alumnus and owner of the Carbondale-based financial advisement firm Liberty Wealth Management, LLC.

Gov. Pat Quinn named Sambursky to the board in 2013, but the Illinois Senate never took up his confirmation. During Rauner’s first days in Springfield, he ousted Sambursky along with more than 160 other state officials appointed by his Democratic predecessors.

At the time, Rauner said: “For some appointments, we may decide to reappoint. We just want to assess the situation.”

Illinois law allows appointees to begin work as they await confirmation, so Sambursky in effect served on the board between September 2013 and Jan. 13.

“He fits the bill perfectly as far as we’re concerned,” board chairman Randal Thomas said in an interview with The Southern in January. “Sambursky has been an excellent board member.”

Perhaps best known as the star quarterback of the 2002-2005 Salukis, Sambursky led the team to three conference championships and national playoff appearances. A Saluki hall of famer, Samburksy holds the university’s record for career passing, with nearly 8,000 yards.

"It is an honor to be reappointed to the SIU Board of Trustees by Gov. Rauner," Sambursky said in an email Friday morning. "I appreciate his confidence in my abilities to serve in this role. 

"I look forward to continuing to be a strong advocate for the good work of our talented students, faculty, and staff."

The Liberty, Missouri, native earned his bachelor's and master’s degrees from SIU. He sits on the board of Carbondale Community Arts and is the past president and executive director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce.

Sambursky lives in Carbondale with his wife, former Saluki golfer Samantha “Sam” Sambursky (Sutzer).

He did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday night.

Gilbert: SIU runs deep

Senior U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert is a lifelong Carbondale resident whose family ties to SIU date back more than 100 years.

“The university has just been an integral part of my life here in Carbondale,” Gilbert said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to serve a university that has been an important part of my family’s life.”

Gilbert’s grandfather, John P. Gilbert, attended Southern Illinois Normal College, the teachers' college that later became SIU. He returned to the school in 1910 to head the Department of Biology and Agriculture.

Gilbert’s parents both graduated from SIU. His father, John G. Gilbert, an influential Southern Illinois legislator, helped spur SIU’s expansion from a small college to the large research university it is today.

Gilbert, 65, is a graduate of Carbondale Community High School, the University of Illinois and Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.

Before President George H. W. Bush appointed him to the federal bench for the Southern District of Illinois in 1992, Gilbert served as circuit judge in the state’s First Judicial Circuit, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Elections, assistant city attorney in Carbondale and special assistant attorney general for Illinois.

Gilbert said he’s looking forward to helping the university through a time of transition.

“The budgetary concerns are probably the No. 1 concern,” he said. “But we need to get a chancellor and athletic director, and then with the new chancellor work on student enrollment, retention.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed slashing higher-education budgets by more than 31 percent. The SIU system, which includes the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses and the SIU School of Medicine, would face a $62 million cut if Rauner’s proposal passes.

Glenn Poshard, past-president of SIU and a longtime friend of Gilbert’s, said Gilbert’s discerning legal mind will benefit the board.

“He is a great listener,” Poshard said. “He’s someone who is very capable of finding the middle ground on issues that confront the university. He’s not going onto the board with any agenda of his own.

“Phil’s just been a great servant to Southern Illinois, and I think he’ll continue to be on this Board of Trustees,” he added.

Sholar: Edwardsville connection

SIU Edwardsville alumnus Amy Sholar, of Alton, has owned The Law Office of Amy Sholar, PC, since 2004. Prior to starting the firm, Sholar managed community redevelopment, real-estate acquisitions and zoning for the City of Alton, according to information provided by Rauner’s office.

In 2012, Sholar, 43, was awarded the Women of Distinction award.

Sholar could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday evening.

According to a profile posted on her law office’s website, Sholar is a lifelong resident of Madison County. She received her law degree in 2001 from St. Louis University School of Law.

The website lists services related to family law, DIU and traffic violations, drug offenses and violent crimes.

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Sarah Graham is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering higher education and Union County.

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