UIC Business alumnus establishes the Bielinski Family Endowed Faculty Scholar Fund

Don Bielinski
Don Bielinski

UIC Business is honored to announce that Don Bielinski ’71 and his family have established the Bielinski Family Endowed Faculty Scholar Fund. This $2.25 million gift will acknowledge and support the research activity of exceptional faculty who will be named Bielinski Family Faculty Scholars.

“The quality of our academic programs and the stature of our college are highly dependent on the international reputation of our faculty,” said Sandy Wayne, dean of UIC Business.

“Creating named faculty scholars through the Bielinski family’s generous donation will enable us to recognize and retain distinguished faculty, allowing them to continue their groundbreaking research and elevate our institution’s reputation on a global stage.”

Over the span of his career, Bielinski has led businesses ranging in size from startups to Fortune 500 companies. His expertise lies in new business development, financial management, strategy development and innovation. With a diverse operating and financial background, he has held the positions of CEO, vice chairman, group president and CFO in multiple industries and on several continents.

Bielinski currently is managing partner of SMB Interim Management, a firm that places interim senior executives in small to midsize firms across the globe.

Bielinski credits much of his success to his experience at UIC saying, “While my academic learning was important, my time at UIC was also a powerful lesson in the value of hard work, dedication and diversity.

“I was a typical first-generation UIC college student, commuting to campus and working 20 hours a week for all four years,” Bielinski said. “To not work was not an option.

“When I started my career at Grainger, I already knew what it was to work 12+ hours a day, six days a week. While many other new hires from Ivy League schools struggled, I wondered what to do with so much free time.”

Bielinski also described how the diversity he found at UIC contributed to his success as a business leader.

“At UIC, I hung out with a group of 15 to 20 kids in the Montgomery Ward Lounge at Student Center East. Our group was diverse in every way — gender, race, ethnicity, income, interests and importantly, in ideas. I learned to appreciate the value of different viewpoints and the power of solutions reached from diverse perspectives.”

Bielinski’s work ethic coupled with his willingness to seek solutions by engaging diverse viewpoints enabled him to rise to the position of vice president at Grainger in his early 30s, one of the youngest officers in the history of the company.

Acknowledging UIC’s impact on his life, Bielinski has chosen to give back to his alma mater in multiple ways over the years.

As chairman of the Business Advisory Council from 2005–19, he provided an industry perspective as the college developed new programs targeting student success. Since then, he has served on the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors, guiding engagement with alumni, donors and friends to maximize systemwide impact.

In addition to his service, Bielinski has been a longtime philanthropic supporter of the college. He established the Bielinski Family Scholarship Fund in 2010 and contributed to the renovation of Douglass Hall as well as the University of Illinois Foundation’s Philanthropy Center.

The impact of the Bielinski Family Endowed Faculty Scholar Fund will be transformative and far-reaching. “It is crucial for the college to attract and retain the best and brightest faculty dedicated to inclusive excellence in education,” Bielinski said.

“These exceptional faculty will spur innovation through their research while educating a new generation of diverse business leaders, many of whom will be the first in their families to graduate from college.”

Bielinski hopes his gift will inspire other alumni to give back to the college.

“UIC is still a relatively young university,” he said. “We are now at a tipping point where many graduates can look back and see the major role that UIC played in their success. We need them to be involved. The payback will be phenomenal!”

Bielinski had these words of advice for current and future students: “Hard work has its own ROI. Be dedicated to what you do.”

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Campus, Faculty