Waiting for Greatness

Over the 32 years that I was employed by Southern Illinois University I realized that there was one certainty that propelled the Institution…and one certainty that they sought for again and that was…Greatness.

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The Teacher’s College that grew our of the cornfields and coal mines of Southern Illinois…and out of the dreams and aspirations of the members of the University Community and the entire region…was and is the Miracle of Little Egypt!

I have been retired for seven years and have witnessed the continuing decline in enrollment at SIU.

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This precipitous slide has to stop or there will be no University left for us to place our hopes and dreams in.

There have been a multitude of reasons for the student decline.

The constant changing of chancellors has caused a constant changing in the Vision for the Campus to follow in order to ameliorate the enrollment problem.

The State of Illinois abdicated it’s financial responsibilities for SIU for over two years…and still is less than forthcoming with the support that is required for a State University to flourish.

Internal University Politics has damaged our great school.  Terminating qualified leaders, at times for little more reason than, ‘Spite’, has left our Campus, rudderless, in the past.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Civil Service Community wants, desperately, to see the enrollment turned around and, our SIU, enabled to return to its’ former Greatness.

I have witnessed, for many years, the endless debate as to what the problem of enrollment is and what is the best solution to turn it around.

Chancellors and Presidents have assured us that they had the answer…and then they left us in a period of a few years.

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Who are the carer employees at Southern?  Talk to them.  No one has a greater stake in the success of the economic engine for Southern Illinois.

University life is inherently about debate and discussion and disagreement and freedom of speech and thought.

But, our paramount enrollment problem will yield to the basic components that will compel people to want to be a part of any organization.

Identify with each student and take a human interest in them and their success.

Southern Illinois University will be humanized by the people that care about you.  The University is first…not bricks and mortar…but the members of the Community that reaches out to you and care about you.

Excellence in academic programs that are taught by Professors that care about their students.

I witnessed a phenomenal occurrence in the 1990’s when I witnessed Professor Jo Ann Argersinger address the students in her History Class all by name.  There were over two hundred in the Lawson Lecture Hall.

Focus on unity of purpose in the education of students.

All to often the petty divisions of university life are the focus of Campus, while the gift of our students is dis-regarded.

Many of our students come to us lonely.

Many come battling mental or emotional challenges.

Many come from dysfunctional home environments.

The University must represent a family that works together and that cares about the student and is supremely glad that they are there.

No matter what the academic structure is…the human element of working together and across academic disciplines is of absolute importance in the enrollment success of SIU.

A visionary campus leader will bring us together to utilize the knowledge and expertise of all members of the University Community for the purpose of the success of the entire School.

‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’   Winston Churchill

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