So, today the Board of Trustees for Southern Illinois University is meeting, this afternoon, regarding the Search for a permanent Leader for SIU Carbondale.
Since 1999 we have had nine individuals hold this position. Indeed a significant part of our great Campus current difficulties can be traced to the constant turnover in leadership and their bringing different goals, and a New Vision, with each of them. We have been undergoing an identity crisis.
It is instructive to examine what qualities, in a prospective Chancellor, that were successful in the past.
Former President Delyte Morris was loved and respected by all segments of the University Community. He was a Scholar among his peers…an adroit lobbyist for resources from the State Government…and a leader who welcomed the janitors on Campus into his home.
Dr. Donald Beggs was appointed to the Chancellor’s position, for a two year term, and immediately the morale on Campus rose! This was a man who took an interest in all members of SIU. He was the Dean of the College of Education for fifteen years. During these years many members of our custodial staff sang the praises of Dr. Beggs; concern, and interest, and value, of them and the job that they performed.
One of the custodial staff working in Wham, which is the home of the College of Education, told me that Dr. Beggs came to hear him preach, as he was a minister.
Dr. Jo Ann Argersinger regularly told members of the SIU Community to ‘call me Jo Ann.’
She was known to walk out into a yard, where a Grounds Worker was mowing, and shake their hand and tell them how important that they were to the mission of the University.
Chancellor Argersinger so inspired, not only the members of our Campus, but also the entire Southern Illinois Region…that people would inquire about her and remark how they missed her…for ten years after her untimely termination.
I was in her history class and I could not help but be amazed that out of several hundred in attendance…she knew, virtually all of their names…and would call on them by name.
Chancellor Wendler had a big heart for all members of the University…and revealed as much in our numerous conversations over a period of years.
Let us endeavor to choose a Chancellor who wants and needs us as badly as we want and need them.
We need a leader with that little spark of magic!
We need inspiration and hope and to dream of the infinite possibilities of Southern Illinois University…again!
We need someone that is in it for the long haul…and who values and believes that every member of the University Community is integral to it’s success.