Seven years ago, yesterday, was the last day that I worked at Southern Illinois University.
My Director, Phil Gatton, had asked me on numerous occasions if I wanted a retirement reception and I had responded that I, did not.
I told Phil that when I was hired, 32 years and 2 months and 3 weeks ago, no one knew me and my entrance to the University was in no way of note to the institution. I went on to remark that I thought that it would be appropriate for me to leave in the same manner that I arrived…and that to have a retirement reception…could be embarrassing…when no one attends.
Phil, finally convinced me when he mentioned that Elizabeth Cheek would be very hurt if I did not submit to a reception…as she had asked him repeatedly if he was going to have one for me.
I was humbled and honored when several members of the University Community attended the event.
Often, when I am walking Campus, I walk through the Student Center, for warmth in the winter and cool air in the summer, and I pass the Old Main Lounge, where the reception occurred…and I relive the event.
You probably have not noticed…but SIU is a Big Deal to me!
When I was asked to make a few remarks at the reception…I could not… due to the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes.
Suddenly it became real to me…that 32 years had gone by…like the blink of an eye.
My, deceased friend, Moses Lestz, told me that when he heard that I had retired…he wept…because it seemed my career had transpired to quickly and he recalled how happy that he was for me when I first was hired at the University.
As I was listening to Phil’s kind remarks and the woman that was replacing me, Kathy’s, great comments, and finally President Poshard’s lovely thoughts regarding our working together and what he felt that I had accomplished…I knew that my time on the Stage had ended and I wondered if I had done enough?
When I left…SIU’s enrollment was thousands more than it is now.
Building Services had many more employees that it does currently.
So many good and great things that have happened in my life and the betterment of my family is the direct result of my association with SIU.
I have watched the, painful, identity crisis that has occurred over the many people that have held the office of chancellor.
SIU must settle on its’ direction and proceed on that agreed path…unwaveringly…and now!
All progress in incremental.
All progress takes time and dogged dedication.
Delyte Morris was President of Southern Illinois University for over 23 years.
The miracle of SIU Normal’s transformation…did not occur overnight.
When I became the Superintendent of Building Services the Dean of CASA telephoned me and said that she had never seen her custodial staff so happy and in unison regarding their support for my being named their manager.
The Dean of the College of Education called me with a request and then told me later that day, that he wished that I would tell him my secret for getting my staff to accomplish what I asked them so expeditiously?
My supervisor, at the time of my being named Superintendent, told me that, ‘my people loved me!’
For years I had the support of virtually the entire department…and we were able to accomplish many good endeavors for our… SIU.
All my success was directly attributable to the wonderful professionals that supported me and gave me strength in the difficult times.
The University Community must decide that they are going to support a leader that will turn the Great Ship around…and steer it towards calm waters.
I remember, fondly, being invited to our good friends Jim and Laura’s house, on my retirement eve. Two of their lovely daughters, Sarah and Jamie, worked with me in my Campus office over the years. They are such a great family and it was the perfect way to end my last day…at SIU.