University of Illinois System
Last item for navigation

Dr. Tai R. Shin and Mrs. You H. Shin Humanitarian Award

About the Award

The Dr. Tai R. Shin and Mrs. You H. Shin Humanitarian Award was established in 2022 with a gift to the University of Illinois System from Dr. Tai R. Shin (MS 1977, PhD 2008 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) and Mrs. You H. Shin. The Shin Humanitarian Award honors an individual who has had an exemplary impact on humanity.

The honoree will receive a $50,000 award that they will present to a department or program of their choosing at one of the U of I System universities.

Shin Humanitarian honorees will be invited to present a lecture or a program at one of the universities and will be encouraged to engage in meaningful dialogue with students, faculty, and staff during their visit.

The honoree will receive a $5,000 honorarium and travel expenses.


Preference is for recipients of the Shin Humanitarian Award to be alumni of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the University of Illinois Chicago, or the University of Illinois Springfield. Nominees shall be individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Their actions, including writing and scholarly works, if appropriate, are exemplary in promoting the betterment of humanity.
  • They exhibit impeccable integrity and unusual courage and stamina in helping improve outcomes for communities experiencing hunger, illness, poverty, or persecution.
  • They take extraordinary and/or consistent actions to improve environmental sustainability and/or environmental justice.
  • They take extraordinary and/or consistent actions to improve racial, gender, or ethnic equity.
  • Their actions improve the lives of others through the protection and promotion of human rights.
  • And, their actions and accomplishments indicate they are free of any racial, ethnic, gender, religious, and other forms of prejudice.

Honorees must articulate these values in a manner that commands the respect of the U of I System community.

About the Shins

Tai and You Shin immigrated to the United States from South Korea in 1973 and faced many hardships due to economic, language, and cultural barriers. Dr. Shin received a master's degree in food science from the UIUC in 1977 and then, at 65 years old, earned his doctorate in food science and human nutrition from UIUC, as well. Dr. Shin is president of Swagger Food Corporation in Vernon Hills, Illinois, the company he founded in 1978. Swagger supplies spices and dry goods to a range of customers in the industrial and retail markets. Mrs. Shin, who passed away in early 2023, was a registered pharmacist, although she had not been in active practice for several decades.

As a cancer survivor, Dr. Shin developed a passion for how food provides needed nutrition in the patient recovery process.

Dr. Shin is actively involved in several professional memberships and positions, receiving recognition and awards for his accomplishments. He has always been interested in promoting humanity by mutually respecting and dignifying one another.

Dr. and Mrs. Shin have made notable contributions to furthering education by providing a gift to UIUC for its Food Science & Human Nutrition Pilot Processing Plant, as well as establishing two scholarships, including the “Swagger Foods Corporation Scholarship.” Dr. and Mrs. Shin have two daughters, Maria and Erica, who live with their families in the northern suburbs of Chicago.


Nominations must be submitted by sending a nomination packet to the Shin Award Committee. The nomination letter should include the nominee’s C.V. or resume, a short biography (300-word maximum) and an explanation about why the nominee is deserving of this award (1,200-word maximum). All nominations must be received by April 12, 2024 and will be screened for eligibility and forwarded to the selection committee for review.


Current and Past Award Honorees


Direct questions to U of I System Interim Assistant Vice President Gretchen Lohman, chair of the Shin Award Committee, at