The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees met for several hours in closed session last evening to discuss the qualities that they were looking for in the next Chancellor of SIUC. They were scheduled to select a Chancellor, chosen from a National Search, but chose instead to personally interview the three finalist, in June, along with two more candidates…if they are still interested.
Our beloved University has been experiencing an identity crisis for the past twenty years.
Dr. Delyte Morris came to Southern Illinois Normal University in 1948. Dr. Morris tenure as President of Southern Illinois University was 23 years. He, through his visionary leadership, built SIU Carbondale into an internationally recognized University with both a Law and Medical School. He is also responsible for the creation of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Through his tireless efforts and the support of both sides of the legislative aisle and strong Board of Trustees support; he created a brilliant jewel in the midst of farm and coal country and poor hard working people.
I came to SIU in 1978, and my colleagues still talked of President Morris on a daily basis…so great was his influence on them. This was a man that treated the janitor as a valued colleague.
The next time I witnessed this spark of excitement and belief in the potential greatness of SIU was in the mid 90’s when Dr. Don Beggs was named Chancellor of the Campus for a two year term. Many of us begged and pleaded with the then President of the System, to allow Chancellor Beggs to continue as our leader. He ignored our request.
Subsequently, Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger was chosen as Chancellor of the Carbondale Campus. The excitement and energy surrounding Chancellor Argersinger’s leadership was palpable. I said of her short time in office, that she had caused us to dream again. Chancellor Argersinger was terminated in under a year.
Beggs and Argersinger were visionary leaders that were not afforded the opportunity of time, to turn the Carbondale Campus around.
Now we are on our ninth Chancellor since Dr. Argersinger…someone is going to have to be given the luxury and necessity of time…to address the massive problems facing the Carbondale Campus.
As the old saying goes, ‘hindsight is 20/20.’ Can we learn from our past…and commit ourselves to a leader…who can demonstrate visionary leadership…through the same method that Delyte Morris did…hard dedicate work + Board of Trustees support + legislative support = success over time.
The necessary finance for Higher Education = support for Higher Education.