University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Homecoming

illini comeback guests

Illini Comeback, a program that began in 1980, honors prominent and accomplished alumni. The guests are invited to return to campus at Homecoming and interact with students, staff and faculty through formal programs, classroom visits and social activities. The program is coordinated by Student Alumni Ambassadors and sponsored by the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

2012 Illini Comeback Honorees:

Ron Bess has been a driving force in the Chicago advertising community for more than 25 years. As president of Havas Worldwide, North America, he oversees the growth of the global marketing agency’s regional network; in his role as CEO of Havas Worldwide, Chicago, he is credited with leading the most significant turnaround in the agency’s history. Bess’ ability to help clients achieve dramatic results has been the hallmark of his career, and he has worked with some of the nation's most respected companies, including McDonald's, Anheuser-Busch, Gatorade, General Mills, Sprint and Kraft. The former co-captain of the football team and all-Big Ten Conference offensive back has served on the boards of the UI Athletic Association and the Department of Advertising’s James Webb Young Fund, and is a member of the UI Foundation. He is a life member of the Alumni Association and in 2010 was named Chicago Illini of the Year. Bess maintains an interest in initiatives that assist children, including the Off the Street Club (Chicago’s oldest boys and girls club), as well as programs that prevent child sexual abuse and help families of children with special needs. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1969 and a master’s degree in advertising in 1972.

Sheldon Siegel’s notable career has taken a two-pronged path – as a corporate attorney at the San Francisco office of the international law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP and as the New York Times’ best-selling novelist of eight legal thrillers. A dozen years ago, Siegel set a goal of completing a first draft of a novel by his 40th birthday; he made the deadline by three days, and in 2000, Special Circumstances was published, the first of seven critically acclaimed courtroom dramas featuring two San Francisco defense attorneys. His eighth novel, The Terrorist Next Door, introduces two detectives as new protagonists and takes place in Siegel’s hometown of Chicago. At present, the attorney/author, whose works have sold in the millions, writes full-time and practices law part-time as a specialist in corporate and securities law. He is also the first-base coach for the Mount Tam Pirates, a high school travel baseball team in Marin County, Calif. A life member of the UI Alumni Association, Siegel keeps in regular touch with the College of Business at the University of Illinois, from which he graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and Bronze Tablet honors, the highest accolade bestowed by the University to the top 3 percent of its graduates.

Beverly Washington is the president and owner of Image Factor, a Chicago-based professional training, coaching and image-consulting firm that offers seminars and workshops around the world on personal and professional development. A successful entrepreneur, she has also worked as a motivational speaker, guest lecturer, model, television host, author and a fashion merchandising and corporate buyer for major stores such as Marshall Fields & Co., the Limited Express and Hart Schaffner Marx. A four-time Big Ten champion high jumper and three-time recipient of the George Huff Award for athletic and academic success, Washington was a member of the 1979 U.S. Olympic training team, as well as the U.S. Women’s All-American Track and Field Team as a high jumper and long jumper. Her many honors include the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University’s Black Alumni Association and being one of the top 100 women selected by Today’s Chicago Woman news magazine. Washington has served on the University’s Athletic Advisory Board and as an Illinois Connection ambassador, and has been a featured speaker at many University events. A life member of the UI Alumni Association, she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1978 in the teaching of dance.