The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 11, 2013

Danville couple donates $50,000 for DACC scholarships


DANVILLE — Dr. David Dillman and his wife, Cheryl Vergin, have donated a $50,000 gift to fund scholarships at Danville Area Community College.

The couple came to Danville in the early 1980s and made it their home. During the last 30 years, they have raised their Newfoundland dogs, nurtured their family, built their business and contributed their time and resources to improving Danville.

The Dillman/Vergin Family Scholarship provides $1,000 scholarships through the DACC Foundation. The first recipient was chosen in the fall of 2012.

DACC Foundation Executive Director Tracy Wahlfeldt said in a press release issued by DACC, “These special people provide life-changing opportunities for students. Finances are the single biggest obstacle to obtaining a college education. Dr. Dillman and Ms. Vergin, and other donors like them, provide the wrecking ball that knocks down those walls between students and their educational goals. Their scholarship dollars build bridges to achievement, and we are tremendously grateful for their commitment.”

Dillman is known as an innovator in his field. His Dillman Eye Care Associates celebrated 30 years in business in 2011. While cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States, advances are being made regularly and Dillman is committed to bringing those advances to the community. The practice recently added ReLACS, the latest computer-driven laser technology for cataract surgery. Dillman’s is one of only two practices to offer the service outside of the Chicago area. The other is near St. Louis.

“This procedure represents the second biggest advancement in cataract surgery in my lifetime,” Dillman said in the press release. “I’m exceedingly happy to be one of a handful of practices offering the procedure. The Femtosecond laser used in the surgery will be combined with a second new technology for optical analysis, which inceases precision. The two technologies combined take cataract surgery to a whole new level. I’m proud to bring these technologies to my community.”

Trained in microbiology and a former cancer researcher at the Mayo Clinic, where the couple first met, Vergin helped her husband establish his business in the early years and then turned her talents to rearing their two daughters and actively supporting community organizations. She serves on the board of directors for the Vermilion County Conservation District Foundation.

The couple is well-known for their love of Newfoundland dogs, which Dillman has raised for 38 years. Vergin noted the dogs lived with Dillman before she did. It was through the dogs that they first made a connection to the college.

“Our first veterinarian when we came to Danville was Dr. George Richards, who was chairman of the DACC Board of Trustees at the time,” Dillman said in the release.

“We played a little golf together, and he invited me to lunch with him and Dr. Ron Lingle, then president of DACC. George told me a lot about the college and asked if I would run for a vacant seat on the board. It was an easy decision. George is so persuasive and passionate about the college.”

Dillman won the election and served one term, from 1987 until 1993. Though his term ended 20 years ago, the couple remains committed to the college. A previous gift of $25,000 was given by them in honor of five college employees.

When personal computers first became prevalent in work spaces and in the home, Vergin proactively registered for computer classes at DACC.

When asked what about the college caught her attention and made her want to support its mission, she replied, “The people are wonderful. I’m very impressed with the instructors; they are enthusiastic and easy to contact if you are having trouble. I am in a women’s group that is interested in education for women, including providing scholarships for women who are experiencing a life change that necessitates returning to school for new skills. I appreciate the work the college does in providing education and work skills for residents to stay in the community.”

Dillman added, “There are many fabulous people and organizations that do great things in Danville, but if I had to pick one organization that is the most far-reaching, both for the present and in the future, it would be this college. The college reaches out and positively impacts the community in so many ways.”

The couple wishes to support go-getters who are goal-driven with their scholarships. They also want to help those who have had life-changing circumstances that have brought them back to college.

“We look for a unique personality and character, and take life-changing situations into consideration,” Vergin said in the release. “This year, one of the applicants was someone who had been in high school with our daughter. He was returning to school for new training. He illustrates that there is a place for everyone here. Whether you are just finishing high school or have to go back to get new skills to remain in the work force.”

For the 2012-2013 academic year, the DACC Foundation celebrated awarding a record-breaking 372 scholarships valued at more than $342,000. Scholarship dollars often make the difference between students achieving their dreams or putting them on hold indefinitely.

While the number of scholarships awarded was higher than ever before, there remains unmet need. Continuing growth of new scholarships, such as the Dillman/Vergin Family Scholaship, is essential to meeting the ever-growing need for financial support of students.