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PUBLICATIONS Inside Illinois Vol. 20, No. 19, May 3, 2001

Dan Perrino honored with Chancellor’s Medallion

Sharita Forrest, News Bureau Staff Writer
(217) 244-1072; slforres@illinois.edu

Top honors Dan Perrino and his wife, Marge, seem to be enjoying themselves at the dinner held in Dan's honor March 26th when he was presented with the Chancellor's Medallion.

When Dan Perrino received a call from Chancellor Michael Aiken requesting a meeting, Perrino said he thought perhaps he’d be receiving a reprimand.

Instead, he learned that he’d be receiving the Chancellor’s Medallion, bestowed in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the university during his 28 years on the faculty and since his retirement in 1988.

"I was dumbfounded," Perrino said about receiving the award.

The Chancellor’s Medallion recognizes individuals whose service to the campus has exceeded all expectations and precedents.

"Nearly every letter of recommendation that was sent on Dan’s behalf uses the word ‘ambassador’ in describing his contributions to this campus," Aiken said, in presenting the award to Perrino on March 26.

"In each role that he has played on campus, in more than 40 years of service, Dan has always built goodwill between the university and the people it serves," Aiken said.

A UI alum, Perrino earned his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees in music education in 1948 and 1949, respectively.

Perrino joined the UI faculty on Feb. 1, 1960, as assistant professor of music and music extension in the division of university extension. A year later, he became director of music extension and the Illinois Summer Youth Music program.

Over the course of his career, he held seven different appointments, including eight years as dean of campus programs and services. Perrino helped launch several cultural diversity programs, including the Black Chorus, La Casa Cultural Latina, Quad Day and the African-American Cultural Program.

"He has, by dint of his energy and his active commitment to the best ideals of this institution, raised the standard by which we should measure service and the hope for what Martin Luther King Jr. called a ‘beloved community,’ " said Clarence Shelley, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, in a letter recommending Perrino for the award.

From 1976 until his retirement in 1988, Perrino served as associate dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, where he was director of the Illinois Summer Youth Music program, director of Continuing Education in music and coordinator of Alumni Affairs and Development.

After his retirement, Perrino returned to the School of Music part time in 1989 as coordinator of alumni affairs.

In 1992, after yet another unsuccessful attempt at retirement, Perrino was selected to chair a university task force on ethnic and cultural diversity, designing programs to unify the campus through cultural enrichment.

Since 1993, Perrino has been working part time at the Alumni Association, where he coordinated the Medicare 7, 8 or 9 program and created a senior alumni program, which sustains ties between the university and Champaign-Urbana area alumni through continuing education and cultural events.

Perhaps Perrino’s most celebrated achievement is his founding of Medicare 7, 8 or 9, a jazz ensemble. The group’s first informal performance at the Illini Union in 1969 was intended to help soothe campus unrest by bringing faculty and staff members and students together through music.

Much to his surprise, Perrino said, the group’s jam session at the Union was not its last. The band’s Dixieland sound was enormously popular, and the ensemble became a goodwill ambassador for the university, traveling to 38 states and delivering more than 2,000 concerts before its final farewell performances at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in November 1998. More than 120 different musicians played with the group during its 30 years and the ensemble made nine recordings and five televisions appearances.

The name Medicare 7, 8 or 9 was derived from offhand remarks Perrino and another band member made to a Daily Illini reporter at the initial performance, alluding to age and number of musicians, which varied according to how many showed up to perform.

On June 1, the 80-year-old Perrino plans to try retirement again, although he said the prospect scares him a little because he doesn’t have any hobbies.

However, Perrino is already working on another project related to the university. Perrino and Hugh Satterlee, retired ombudsman, are coordinating an oral history for the university archives in which 25 student affairs personnel give their perspectives on campus events between the years 1968 and 1972.

News Bureau, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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