William Brandt

William Brandt (Saint Louis University /71)

William Brandt has been a fixture on the national stage in the fields of business, civic and political endeavors for over 45 years. He is the founder and Executive Chairman of Development Specialists, Inc., widely recognized as one of the foremost firms in the corporate restructuring industry.  In 2015, he finished his third consecutive term serving as Chair of the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA), having first been appointed by the Governor in 2008.  The IFA is one of the nation’s largest state-sponsored entities engaged in issuing taxable and tax-exempt bonds and making loans for business, nonprofit organizations, and local governments.

Mr. Brandt, a graduate of Saint Louis University and the University of Chicago, has a  longstanding commitment to higher education, seen in his service as chair of the National Advisory Council for the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and as a member of the Board of Trustees of Loyola University Chicago from 2007 to 2016.  It is the confluence of Mr. Brandt’s work at the IFA and as a Loyola Trustee which makes him a worthy nominee for the Magis Medal. In 2013, a presentation by the dean of Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine focused on the fact that a number of Dreamers had recently applied to the medical school. Because Dreamers are not U.S. citizens, the usual avenues of obtaining tuition loans were closed to them.  After extensive consultations with the governor and senior senator of Illinois, Mr. Brandt created a program at the IFA which would offer Dreamers full tuition to medical school through an innovative loan structure and advocated that Dreamers be granted licenses to practice medicine in Illinois.  The students could garner a loan for the full cost of tuition to medical school, and have the entire interest on the loan forgiven thereafter on one condition: following graduation and residency, they would come back to Illinois and practice for three years in a medically-underserved area of the state. The program was confirmed at an IFA meeting in July 2013.   All medical and dental schools in Illinois were authorized to accept Dreamer students under this program and were assured of funding, with Loyola being the first to adopt the program. Thanks to Mr. Brandt’s efforts, seven years later, the first group of Dreamers has already graduated and gone on to serve needy patients.