David W. Tretter, President

David W. Tretter President

David W. Tretter, the fourth President of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, assumed that position on January 1, 2004, following his selection by the Federations Board of Directors. As the Federation President, Tretter is responsible for coordinating the state and federal public policy advocacy efforts of 57 Illinois private, non-profit, independent institutions of higher education. In addition, he serves as the key liaison to the Illinois General Assembly, K-12 and higher education agencies, and the media.

Tretter completed undergraduate work at Illinois State University, and earned a graduate degree in public administration and a certificate in public budgeting and finance from the University of Illinois. He has lectured on lobbying and state finances, and has taught as an adjunct professor of public policy at the University of Illinois. Outside the field of higher education policy, he has published numerous journal articles on the Illinois property tax system. He serves on the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and University State Executives.

Cynthia L. Fuchs, Vice President for Administrative Services

Cynthia L. Fuchs Vice President for Administrative Services

Cynthia L. Fuchs joined the Federation in 1991, beginning her career as executive secretary to the president. She currently serves as vice president for administrative services. In this position, she has overall responsibility for implementing and managing member service programs and doing event planning. Prior to joining the Federation, Fuchs worked for the Illinois General Assembly in the Senate Majority Press Office. In that post she developed a good understanding of the workings of the General Assembly.

Fuchs holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Robert Morris College, and an M.A. in Education from McKendree University.

Penny Stockton, Administrative Assistant

Penny Stockton Administrative Assistant

Penny Stockton joined the Federation in 1995. She is responsible for the smooth operation of the Federation office. She expedites the work of Federation staff and works with member institution staff to keep board members well informed of Federation activities. She is known for her expert handling of inquiries and her professional, friendly voice on the phone.

Stockton graduated from Springfield College in Illinois in 1997 with an Associates Degree.

Donald E. Fouts President Emeritus

President of the Illinois Institute of Independent Colleges and Universities

Donald E. Fouts has a notably broad background in both public and private higher education, with expertise in state and federal policy processes, institutional relations, and program development. He currently serves as president of the Illinois Institute of Independent Colleges and Universities, a 501 C 3 organization dedicated to serving private higher education in Illinois.

Fouts served for twenty years as president of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, leading successful campaigns to secure government funding and help private institutions cut costs. In that post, he worked regularly with the print and electronic media, civic groups, and the corporate community. More recently, Fouts has worked to launch and direct an innovative Ed.D. Program at Benedictine University, also  an online master’s degree at McKendree University, both of which focus on meeting the needs of working adults.

Throughout his career, Fouts has been active in higher education governance at both the state and national levels, serving as board member with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, chairman of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities State Executives, and private sector representative to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. He has also served on the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities.

Fouts has additional experience as a state agency director, with responsibility for regulating private postsecondary institutions and administering adult education programs for the state of Illinois. In that capacity he developed an understanding of the management and marketing strategies utilized by the for-profit sector of higher education.

Fouts has taught and lectured at public and private universities, including Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, DePaul University, and the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago.

Fouts earned his baccalaureate degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Minnesota. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from MacMurray College and Benedictine University.

Joan E. Knox Vice President of Government Relations

Joan E. Knox recently joined the Federation as Vice President of Government Relations. Knox has close to 20 years’ experience in a variety of roles including legislation, policy, and advocacy at both the local and state levels, including 10 years in private higher education.

Knox assists the President in coordinating state and federal public policy advocacy efforts for Federation members. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Xavier University, and is an Edgar Fellow, class of ’13.

She can be reached at