Frequently Asked Questions

The Lincoln Academy of Illinois is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, and self-perpetuating corporation established in 1964 to recognize the outstanding contributions made by living Illinois citizens, whether by birth or by residence, toward the social, cultural, and technological progress of mankind and thereby to encourage greater dedication to such progress by all citizens of Illinois.

Individuals whose achievements are considered deserving of tribute by the Academy are elected Members of the Academy, proclaimed Laureates, and decorated with the Order of Lincoln, the State of Illinois’ highest award, at a formal public ceremony each year.

The Order of Lincoln, the State’s highest award for individual achievement, consists of conferring upon the Laureate the Badge of the Academy with a citation outlining the reasons for his or her selection as a Laureate. (The Badge is represented on the front cover of this folder.)

Nominations of outstanding Illinoisans, whether by birth or by residence, are called for and received by the Executive Director from the Officers, Regents for Life, Regents, General Trustees and Rectors from the categories of endeavor from which the Academy selects its Laureates. There are presently ten categories: Agriculture, The Arts and Performing Arts, Business, Industry and Communications, Education, Government and Law, Labor, Medicine and Science, Religion, Social Services and Sports. Unsolicited nominations may be made by any Academic Trustee or past Laureate.

A called meeting of the Regents and General Trustees, a group of no more than sixty distinguished Illinoisans appointed by the Governor to six-year terms, Regents for Life, and Rectors in attendance, vote to select from the nominees submitted, those most deserving to honor as Laureates of the Academy, thereby conferring upon them the Order of Lincoln

Yes. It is the policy of the Academy that the newly elected Laureate must be in attendance to receive the award.

The basic membership of the Academy consists of six categories: the Regents, Regents for Life, General Trustees, Rectors, Academic Trustees and Laureates.

The General Trustees, whose duties are to nominate and elect the Laureates, are also responsible for electing from their own ranks the working board of directors of the Academy known as the Board of Regents. Regents for Life are all former living Illinois Governors who serve on the Board of Regents. The Rectors nominate potential Laureates from their respective fields of endeavor. The Academic Trustees nominate outstanding students from their respective universities or colleges to The Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Scholarship program. The Rectors, Academic Trustees and Laureates are members ex officio.

The Regents elect the officers of the Academy, who serve four-year terms: the principal executive officer, known as the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, the Secretary, the Treasurer and the Executive Director. The incumbent Governor of Illinois always serves as President of the Academy. He or she serves as General Trustee and as a Regent. The Regents set Academy policies to be implemented by the Chancellor who is the principal executive officer and shall, in general, supervise and manage the business and affairs of the Academy.

Abraham Lincoln enjoyed balls and parties. He cosponsored a cotillion in Springfield, met his wife at a dance, and his second inaugural ball was described as a “very handsome affair.” The point, however, is that Lincoln never knew in his lifetime the appreciation of his fellow citizens for the qualities that after his death have been so greatly admired. The Investiture of Laureates at the annual convocation is quite solemn. The idea of a gala social event also paying tribute to the Laureates for their contributions to mankind is merely an additional way to honoring them during their lifetimes, as parties have traditionally been held at inaugurations and other happy events.

The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, as a non profit organization, relies on revenues from the annual spring convocation for its funding.

The Academy sponsors the annual Student Laureate Award Program that honors senior college students for their overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities. There are presently fifty-two colleges and universities participating in the program.

The expenses of the convocation and ball are borne principally by admission fees charged those who attend. The additional proceeds from the convocation and ball benefit the Student Laureate Award Program. Operating expenses are supported by donations and assessments from some categories of members and by various individuals and corporations who concur with the goals of the Academy.