Carbondale, Ill. – Tim Fink has been “in tune” with the Carbondale community for nearly three decades. While he originally moved to Carbondale to support his wife’s career, Fink soon was launching Southern Illinois University’s opera and musical theater program. He just retired after 25 years of incredible commitment to the school and community, where he served as artistic director of the McLeod Summer Playhouse for 10 years while acting in many impactful productions across the area and serving as accompanist at Epiphany Lutheran Church. He has received the “Good Neighbor” Award inspired by Fred Rogers for his service as an educator, all-around great neighbor and community member.
Friend, former colleague and neighbor Edward Benyas nominated Fink for the Good Neighbor Award. “Tim is one of the hardest working faculty members in the School of Music. Tim developed this (musical Theater) degree, shepherded it through the highly bureaucratic accreditation process and ran it successfully for over a decade. While many areas of the university struggle with student enrollment, Tim's musical theater program has continued to attract students year after year. Once the students were here, his role was even more important. He treats every student with care, respect and professionalism, and has been an incredible role model. Many of his students have gone off to great professional success, including a recent graduate who will portray Eliza Hamilton in a national touring production of Hamilton. I know no educator who is more dedicated to his profession or his students.”
Fink advocated for the musical theater program after realizing there were no students to sing baritone in a school opera. He developed the bachelor’s program in musical theater, which soon expanded into a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater.
In honor of his work sharing music, theater and education to the community, Fink earned the “Good Neighbor” Award from WSIU Public Broadcasting’s One Region, All Neighbors Initiative. To him, being a good neighbor means “interacting and being a part of the community in various ways, taking in the events, spending time with other people.” He particularly appreciates the size of the Carbondale community as well as the arts, athletics and people he continues to interact with.
Fink grew up in the small town of Davenport, Wash., where he “wanted to be a musician, and in that little town, boy, there weren’t very many musical resources.” His dad was a wheat farmer who respected his son’s passion for music and recognized that musical talent could last a lifetime, so he “gave me an hour anytime I wanted to go and practice piano,” whether it was a busy harvest time or not. Even though his high school football team went to state during Fink’s sophomore year, he told the coach, “I won’t be returning next year because I want to devote all my time to being a piano teacher.”
Since retirement, Fink has enjoyed more time for golf, travel, woodworking and home design. Of Benyas, Fink notes that “we just hit it off and have been very good friends” since meeting nearly three decades ago. “We argue like a couple of brothers and ridicule each other, but it’s all in fun, and we enjoy each other’s company.”
As a good neighbor, “Tim exemplifies it in every respect—friendliness, service, honesty, integrity, commitment,” Benyas added. “I can’t fix anything—whenever I need help, he is the man. Admittedly, he keeps a running list on his phone of all the favors he's done for me, and each time a new one is added, he reads off the whole list to me! He is also very active in ensuring that our small neighborhood is maintained, planting trees, fixing the entry sign, trimming branches. He's a terrific neighbor!”
The 'Good Neighbor' Award recognizes those who make a positive impact in the community. Each month during 2019, winners will be chosen from nominations submitted by the public.
About One Region, All Neighbors
WSIU’s One Region, All Neighbors campaign is inspired by the life and legacy of Fred Rogers. For more than 30 years, Rogers reached into homes and hearts with his children’s public television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, demonstrating the power of kindness and transforming our understanding of childhood. WSIU’s One Region, All Neighbors initiative encourages community members to nominate those making positive contributions through acts of kindness, compassion and service. Each month during 2019, winners are chosen from nominations submitted by the public in five categories - individual, youth, educator, community group and business. All awardees and nominators will be invited to attend a special ceremony where they will be recognized for outstanding contributions in their communities.
Nominate Your Neighbors
WSIU encourages the public to participate in the One Region, All Neighbors campaign by nominating neighbors onlineand sharing on social media using #WeAreAllNeighbors.
About WSIU Public Broadcasting
WSIU Public Broadcasting is licensed to the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University and is an integral part of the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts on the Carbondale campus. The WSIU stations reach more than five million people across six states and beyond through five digital public television channels, three public radio stations, a radio information service, a website, and education and outreach services.
WSIU's mission is to improve the quality of life of the people they serve. The WSIU stations partner with other community organizations to promote positive change and to support the academic and public service missions of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Learn more and get the latest station news online at and on WSIU's Facebook and Twitter pages. WSIU's programs and services are partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.