The breast star of the Order of Lincoln: the Great Seal of Illinois circled by the Latin inscription, Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat (English: The one who has earned the palm [it], bears the reward)
|Formation||December 2, 1964|
|Founders||Michael Butler and Governor Otto Kerner, Jr.|
|Purpose||Recognize contributions made by living Illinoisans|
|Governor J.B. Pritzker|
|The Honorable Ronald Dean Spears|
|Julie A. Kellner|
The Lincoln Academy of Illinois is a not-for-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to recognizing contributions made by living Illinoisans. Named for Abraham Lincoln, the Academy administers the Order of Lincoln, the highest award given by the U.S. state of Illinois. Each year several people (known as Lincoln Laureates) are presented the award at a ceremony presided over by the Academy President, the Governor of Illinois. The organization also gives an annual Student Laureate award to one student from each four-year degree-granting institution of higher learning in Illinois, as well as one student from the state's community colleges. Several prominent individuals have received the award.
After visiting the Illinois exhibit at the 1964 World's Fair, theater producer Michael Butler was inspired to start an organization to honor distinguished Illinoisans. Butler, who was then head of the state's Organization for Economic Development, submitted a proposal to this effect to Governor Otto Kerner, Jr.. The Governor accepted the proposal and named Butler the first Chancellor of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois on December 2, 1964. The first convocation to honor Lincoln Laureates was held on February 12, 1965, at the Chicago Historical Society. Since that time, over 300 Illinoisans have received the award.
The Academy began awarding Student Laureate awards to outstanding college students in 1975.
The Academy is overseen by the President, who is always the incumbent Governor of Illinois. The five other officers are elected for four-year terms by 18 Regents, who act as the Board of Directors. The chief executive officer is known as the Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor performs the duties of the Chancellor in his/her absence. Major administrative duties are carried out by the Executive Director. Finances are handled by a Treasurer, and meeting minutes are certified by a Secretary.
The 18 Regents are elected from among the Trustees. There are three types of trustees: General Trustees, Academic Trustees, and Rectors. There are 60 General Trustees, each of whom is appointed for six-year terms by the President of the Academy or current Trustees. The Academic Trustees are the chief executive officers of all degree-granting institutions of higher learning in the State of Illinois, plus the presidents of multi-campus four year institutions and a representative of the Illinois Community College Board. There are ten Rectors, who represent each of the categories of endeavor from which the Academy selects the award recipients.
The Lincoln Academy elects several Laureates each year to the Order of Lincoln, the highest award given by the State of Illinois. The award is presented at a formal public ceremony presided over by the President of the Academy (who is also the Governor of Illinois). The ceremony rotates every three years between Springfield, Chicago, and other areas of the state. Honorees are presented with the Badge of the Academy and a citation listing the reasons for their selection as Laureates.
Nominees for the award usually must be Illinoisans either by birth or residence. Nominations are invited from the Academy's individual Officers, Regents, or Rectors. Past Laureates and certain academics have the ability to make unsolicited nominations. The candidates are nominated for their contributions to society in one of these areas: agriculture; the arts and performing arts; business; industry and communications; education; government and law; labor; medicine and science; religion; social services; or sports. Laureates are then selected at a meeting of the Regents and Trustees.
The Lincoln Academy also presents the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement award to one graduating senior from each four-year college or university in the state, as well as one student from a community college. Each student, nominated by his/her respective institution, is named a Student Laureate and receives the Lincoln Medal, a certificate of merit, and a civic engagement monetary award. Student Laureates are chosen by the chief executive officers of their respective institutions, who also serve as Academic Trustees of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Student Laureates are honored for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities. The ceremony is held in the Old State Capitol, and is followed by a luncheon with the Governor at the Executive Mansion.