Athletics News
UI Grad Benson Gift Adds Name to Fighting Illini Legacy Club

Jan. 15, 2014

Illinois Renaissance Website | Fighting Illini Legacy Club Seating Options

See more renderings at the Illinois Renaissance Website.
The support and momentum of the Illinois Renaissance of State Farm Center continues to grow. The University of Illinois is honored to announce that 1968 graduate Jim Benson and his family have agreed to make a $2 million gift to name the Fighting Illini Legacy Club in State Farm Center. The name he selected is fitting as a Legacy is something from the past; something that is handed down; something that remains from a previous generation or time.

"I am so very grateful to the University of Illinois for the important impact it has had on the educational growth and life successes of so many generations of the Benson family," Mr. Benson said. "My family and I are truly honored and privileged to give back to the University through this gift and provide a place in this historic facility where our family and so many other Illini families and friends can remember and celebrate the legacy of the Fighting Illini spirit."

"Jim is the epitome of a true Fighting Illini fan that has a very strong passion for the Orange and Blue," UI Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said. "Jim's naming of the Fighting Illini Legacy Club is consistent with his great desire to share the past with those that walk through the doors of this facility for years to come. He has touched the lives of many for several years and we could not be more proud and appreciative of having Jim associated with this outstanding project."




I am so very grateful to the University of Illinois for the important impact it has had on the educational growth and life successes of so many generations of the Benson family
- Jim Benson '68



"Leaving a legacy for all Fighting Illini is very important to Jim," said Sid Micek, President Emeritus of the UI Foundation (UIF). "He is passionate about encouraging others to pay it forward and to lead by example. In doing so, future generations will be motivated to do likewise and continue to inspire others. Mr. Benson is the ideal leader to name this Fighting Illini Legacy Club. His success in the business world and his impactful service to society is the result of his leadership, foresight, and commitment to excellence. Under his direction as a former Chairman of the UIF Board of Directors' Campaign Executive Committee, the University of Illinois recently completed the extremely successful Brilliant Futures Campaign by raising a record $2.5 billion and breaking all campaign goals. Jim's leadership within the United States Olympic Committee, his brilliant career in the financial industry, and his devotion to the Fighting Illini Nation are truly admirable."

Mr. Benson is the founder and chairman of Benson Botsford, LLC, a private investment firm. Previously he served as president and chief executive officer of John Hancock Life Insurance Company, a division of Manulife Financial. Mr. Benson has over 40 years of industry experience and is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of financial services, insurance, investments and compensation. Mr. Benson is the Lead Director on the board for Sapient, Inc., serves on the board of Valmark Securities, Inc., and is the founder of World T.E.A.M. Sports (The Exceptional Athlete Matters), an organization dedicated to providing people with disabilities opportunities through sports activities. In December 2010, Mr. Benson was elected to the U.S. Olympic Committee, and serves as National Paralympic Committee President. In addition, Mr. Benson has served on the boards of the American College Endowment Foundation, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and the Catholic Schools Foundation. Mr. Benson is also a Life Director of the UIF Board. Mr. Benson's breadth of leadership and board experience enable him to provide valuable input regarding corporate governance matters, operations, and strategic direction.

Mr. Benson holds a BA in Economics from the University of Illinois and a MBA from the University of Southern California. Mr. Benson received the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award in 2010 and the University of Illinois College of LAS Alumni Achievement Award in 2006. He established the James M. Benson Professorship in Public Issues and Civic Leadership and the James M. Benson Professorship in English, both in the College of LAS at Illinois. Mr. Benson's son, Jordan Benson, received a BA in Speech Communication from Illinois in 2006 and his daughter, Taylor Benson, received a BS in Psychology from Illinois in 2008.

Mr. Benson will be recognized on the court at halftime at the men's basketball home game against Michigan State on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. Tip-off time is 7 pm at State Farm Center.

The Fighting Illini Legacy Club. See more renderings at the Illinois Renaissance Website.
Fighting Illini Legacy Club

The Fighting Illini Legacy Club will be an energized, private club space used to host premium seating members on game day. This club will be on the south side concourse of State Farm Center between the new East Grand Entrance and the future West Grand Entrance. The Fighting Illini Legacy Club will welcome many of our fans seated within the new Legacy Club Premium Seating section on the south side of the arena. The food, beverages, and convenient location will make this club attractive to fans before, during, and after the game. The Fighting Illini Legacy Club will be a popular meeting space and event venue throughout the year.

Information on the I FUND

The I FUND remains true to the founding principle of college sports: cultivating and preparing Illinois student-athletes to be leaders in industry, business and community. The I FUND strives to provide the best in support services, athletic facilities and academic opportunities for all Fighting Illini student-athletes. This is only possible through the continued generosity of those private individuals, families and businesses involved in the I FUND program. By providing funding to meet the rising costs of financing each student's education, lifelong fans and loyal alumni are able to connect on a very personal level with Illinois student-athletes and the Fighting Illini athletic teams. Make an Impact. Leave a Legacy. Join the I FUND team! Call today 217.333.6595 for Champaign or 312.575.7850 for Chicago.

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