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Legacy Gala recognizes two with Lifetime Achievement Awards

Closeup of a Highland Community College building with greenery.

It was an evening of celebrating Highland Community College, thanking corporate partners and donors, and recognizing individuals at the Legacy Gala on April 29 at The Wagner House in Freeport.

Highland’s rich history was celebrated through the presentation of the Delbert Scheider Legacy Gala Lifetime Achievement Award to Dennis Endress and Carl Fairbairn.

More than 200 guests joined the Foundation to celebrate 60 years of Highland. Funds from the Legacy Gala generate additional support for the Mission of Highland Community College through support to the Legacy Campaign initiatives such as the HOPE Fund. A highlight of the night included raising funds explicitly for the HOPE Fund, as attendees were challenged to raise $6,000 in six minutes in honor of Highland’s 60th Anniversary. More than $7,000 was raised in under five minutes, bringing the total support for the night to more than $90,000.

“It’s important to note Highland’s success began from visionary leaders,” said Dan Dick, Executive Director of the Highland Community College Foundation. “This year marks the 60th graduating class of Highland. As we celebrate 60 years, we look back at the leadership and legacy of those who came before us. The trust they’ve instilled in us to leave our marks for the students and community we serve is one we should never lose focus on.”

Dick adds, “Delbert Scheider was one of our College’s visionary leaders, and it is a tremendous honor to award the Lifetime Achievement award in his memory each year. This year’s recipients, and their families, embody the visionary leadership our community needed not only years ago, but the exact leadership we hope for today from across the community. We saw this come to life at the Gala as we came together to celebrate their leadership and invest in the future of Highland Community College.”

Endress has been part of the College from the beginning of its rich history of providing quality education to the district. When Highland was first formed, it was called Freeport College. Endress is passionate about this mission and pushed hard to change the name to reflect all the communities it serves. He was elected to the Highland Board of Trustees in 1989 and served for 18 years. During the course of his tenure on the board, he served two years as Chair and two years as Vice-Chair. Some of his accomplishments were overseeing the addition of Childcare and Nursing programs. He attributes his greatest accomplishment to the addition of the Student/Conference Center on campus.

Fairbairn has likewise always been a resolute promoter of higher education. Fairbairn served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1972 to 1975. The Neenah and Carl Fairbairn School of Nursing was created in honor of Carl’s wife Neenah and he after the Foundation received a generous gift from Malcolm Fairbairn, their son, honoring the legacy they’ve created in our region. As part of a lifelong Stephenson County family that has cared for and supported HCC for more than 50 years, his heart and passion remain with Highland.

Philanthropic support generated through the dinner and fundraiser goes to directly support HCC Cougars (student worker program, student activities, and student recruitment and retention) and instructional equipment.

Eyewitness News Chief Meteorologist Candice King, an alumna of Highland Community College, was the guest host for the Gala. Entertainment was provided by the Highland Music Department, with performances by the Royal Scots, and a live auction was presented by HCC alumnus Tim Connors.

For more on the Highland Foundation visit

(Left to right) Dan Dick, Chris Kuberski, Dave Barton, Dennis Endress, Chris Urish, Jim Endress/Teila Thommen for Highland Community College

(Left to right) Chris Kuberski, Jim Endress, Malcolm Fairbairn, Dave Barton, Colleen (Fairbairn) Bowar, Stephen Fairbairn//Teila Thommen for Highland Community College