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Heartland Alumnus Richard Casper honored by ICCTA

June 4, 2021

The Illinois Community College Trustees Association has honored Richard Casper as the recipient of the organization's Community College Distinguished Alumni award. 

The award recognizes notable alumni who demonstrate exceptional achievement in their profession and make a positive impact on their community. 

Heartland nominated Casper for the state association award after honoring him on the college level in 2020. Heartland awardees are selected from nominations by fellow Heartland alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members. Casper attended Heartland from 2007-2009 and received an Associates in Art degree. 

Richard Casper is a United States Marine veteran, Purple Heart recipient, artist, and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and executive director of CreatiVets, a non-profit that provides art, music, and writing programs for combat veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. He is also the co-founder of two music companies, Caspar and We Should Write Sometime. As a songwriter, his work has been featured in more than 45 films and tv shows.  

Caspar was named one of TIME Magazine's Next Generation Leaders, is the feature of TIME’s documentary Evidence of Things Unseenand has been recognized by President George W. Bush and The Bush Institute for his passion and work helping combat veterans. 

Caspar served in the USMC from 2003-2007. After a tour in Iraq, left him with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, he discovered art and song writing as therapeutic forms of expression. He later went on to graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From his experiences, he created art and songwriting programs for CreatiVets to help other combat wounded veterans heal. 

Professor of Art Michael McAvoy was one of Casper’s instructors during the awardee’s time at Heartland.

“I couldn't be more proud of a former student than I am of Richard,” said McAvoy. “We all face adversity in our lives but Richard turned his into a way to save lives. I'm very humbled when he claims I had something to do with that.  I taught Richard how to communicate feelings through making art.  Richard is now teaching me how to live with honor and integrity.”

Today, Caspar teaches art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Southern California. He resides in Nashville with his wife Ashley and son Barrett. 


Written by: Steve Fast