Enrollment…There Are Answers

Enrollment at our beloved University, SIU Carbondale, has declined once again.  The Fall Semester enrollment is 14,554 or a 8.96 decline from Fall Semester enrollment in 2016.

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This issue has been on-going since the mid 1990’s…and is getting progressively worse each year.

I enjoyed what new chancellor Montemagno said, when he noted that reasons for enrollment decline must not be excuses.

I can recall my friend, chancellor Don Beggs, telling me, the first Fall Semester that he was chancellor, that enrollment had increased by nine students…and that, although, this was not many, at least it did not decline.

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It might be time to think outside the box?

I have sat on, several,  University wide committees that were formed, expressly, to address the problem of declining enrollment.

I have watched more than one, ‘expert’ group of enrollment consultants, be hired by our University…to give the full proof plan on increasing students.

But, enough about the past…this is the first day of the rest of our lives.

Perhaps, we could expand the idea base of the University, when it comes to enrollment?

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In the latter 90’s I was asked, by then chancellor, Jo Ann Argersinger, to be a apart of a group of SIU faculty, staff, and students, who would visit various schools in Southern Illinois and Paducah, Kentucky, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri…for the purpose of presenting the unique opportunities of Southern Illinois University.

There were wonderful and productive meetings.

The famous motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, once said, ‘I really do not care how much you know, until I know how much you care…about me.’

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I have suggested, for more years than I like to admit, that University Administration, would do well…to include their wonderful civil service staff in these important enrollment discussions.

I read where our new chancellor has said that with all of the combined brain power …that is part of SIU and the surrounding region…we should be able to solve any problem.

During my career in Building Services, one of our foreman, Gerald Davis, started a Thanksgiving dinner for our over two hundred student staff…this went on for over twenty years…and there was a feeling of home…and family…and unity…that let these students know…that there was no place like their SIU Home!

Many of our student staff, in Building Services, was from countries from all over the globe.  If we say we are a diverse School…and we welcome all people’s…we must demonstrate that…person to person…over dinner and study and recreation…and life.  Actions speak louder than words.

When a student comes to SIU…we are certainly small enough now…that they should feel a part of the family.

I have been witness to chancellors and presidents that personally connected with students…and the connected students did not leave.

SIU…is just an emotionless group of buildings…until a student connects with a representative of the University…and then that caring person…becomes SIU to the student.

Our wonderful students come to us…missing mom and dad…and friends and community.  We have to become that Missing Community!

There is a bit of a Silo Mentality at our precious school.  I was a member of the Community…for over thirty two years.

At times, SIU is a bit like a city…with a bunch of neighborhoods.

University Leadership…should seek to bring everyone together…to break down the Silos…and seek those ideas that are Universalist…or those who seek the betterment of the entire School.

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There was a popular book written that was entitled, It Takes a Village.  Laying politics aside…truly the Renaissance of SIU Carbondale…will take no less than the assistance and good will of the entire University Community and the surrounding Southern Illinois Region.

My son, Jonathon, so connected with and bonded with and became friends of…the students that used the Lentz Hall Cafeteria…that they formed a Fan Club for him…and they stay in touch with him…to this day.  He was SIU…to these students.

With just over 12,000 students on Campus…let it be everyone’s goal…to make each and every one of their University Experiences…unique and special and caring and family.

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Students, that are now attending SIU, that feel loved and cared for and family and a part of the School…will tell their family and friends and neighbors…and SIU will not have an enrollment problem.

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Search for people…who are looking for how much they can give….rather than how much they can make.

Let us believe in each other…and model our family for our precious students…and we will have enrollment success!

2 responses

  1. Could enrolment be down due to lesser population growth America wide? In Singapore, we have 1 in 9 above 50 years old. Some Junior colleges had to close as lesser children and the focus now is on pre-school as our government is trying to hard to get citizens to procreate. So, I was wondering if it was the case that the population has shrunk and that people 18 years ago did not choose to have more children and now 18 years later lesser enrolment at universities or colleges? I wonder if this is also America wide?

    1. Yes, there are less high school graduates in Illinois. Also, Illinois politicians failed to produce a budget for two years. This made life for state universities very difficult and affected enrollment.

      However, SIU has a rich history of both national and international outreach. Enrollment success will rest on inspired leadership from all members of the University Community.

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