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SIU thanks Leving for gift of Audubon art

Chicago, Illinois Apr 23, 2021 (Issuewire.com) – Southern Illinois University today acknowledged attorney Jeffery M. Leving, a 1974 graduate, for his gift of a collection of artworks to the Morris Library. 


The collection includes 295 bird and 67 mammal paintings by John James Audubon (1785-1851), the Haitian-born American ornithologist, naturalist and painter noted for documenting birds in their natural habitat. He is credited for identifying 25 new species. The collection also includes 13 prints of flowers from the garden of Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Josephine by Belgian painter and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759-1840).


Leving was recognized for his gift during an Earth Day program at the Morris Library.


“This donation is a reflection of how our alumni hold this place dear,” Dean of Library Affairs John Pollitz said. “I am thrilled that someone as successful as Jeffery wants to give back to SIU. This donation is so well suited to our university because we have such a strong relationship with nature. We are surrounded by the Shawnee National Forest and are in the center of the Mississippi Flyway, and we are in the midst of the land that Audubon roamed finding his birds to draw.”


Pollitz said the collection is a resource for classes across the curriculum.


“I enjoyed SIU because it was a great place to learn,” Leving said when asked to recall his college days. “I developed lifelong relationships here. The university is full of great people.”


As a lawyer, Leving is Illinois’ foremost authority on Fathers’ Rights, identifying that divorced fathers, and unmarried fathers whose relationship with their children’s mother ends were often shut out of their children’s lives and had little legal recourse. 


He co-authored and helped pass Illinois’ first real joint custody law, which took effect in 1986. Since then, he has reunited countless fathers and children in his family law practice and has continued to advocate for fathers in Springfield and in the realm of public opinion. He was honored by the Illinois House of Representatives in 2012 for his work reuniting fathers and children.


He is the author of three books: Fathers’ Rights, Divorce Wars and How to Be a Good Divorced Dad, the latter of which was endorsed by President Obama and Cardinal Francis E. George, then the archbishop of Chicago. 


He currently serves as the governor-appointed chairman of the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood.


A celebration of the gift was scheduled for this time last year but was cancelled due to the coronavirus. Today’s program had limited attendance, scattered seating and a mask requirement.


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This article was originally published by IssueWire. Read the original article here.

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