Personalizing Public Leadership

I have witnessed, for 40 years the personalizing and transubstantiation of individual leaders into the success or failure of a large institution…who’s community contains thousands of people.

My goodness, that was a lot to say in a sentence…but please allow me to explain.

Yesterday, an article came out in the opinion section of the Southern Illinoisan newspaper that revealed emails, through the freedom of information act, that painted the current President of Southern Illinois University in a less than favorable light.

One of our State Representatives has called for his immediate resignation while another has, publicly invited him to ‘go the hell.’

I have communicated, by email, with President Dunn, on numerous occasions.

On one email exchange I mentioned to the President that I was shocked at the virulent outcry of members of the SIU Edwardsville community when he had proposed them loaning the SIU Carbondale community 35 millions dollars to facilitate a critical budget shortfall that had been brought about by the State of Illinois abdicating their budgetary responsibility by not passing a budget for two years.

I quoted to the University President, G.K. Chesterton, who said, ‘we are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.’

He not only agreed but went on to put the quote in his monthly newsletter.

Now, I do not agree with the reallocation of funds, that would devastate the Carbondale Campus…to fulfill some, apparently non-existent formula for the Edwardsville Campus, but I have no evidence that Dr. Dunn is working toward the dissolution of the Southern Illinois University System…and obliterate his job.

I sincerely believe that the focus has been on the success of the Edwardsville Campus for many years…and the common feeling among University Leaders is that Carbondale is dysfunctional and dying.

I agree that to be apart of a university system is to be willing to see the good and growth of all of the campuses of the system.

I remember my friend, and former chancellor, telling me that a system vice president, told her that the president really wished that he had her at the Edwardsville Campus instead of Carbondale…that was 20 years ago!

We SIUC folks…would no doubt be more amenable to funding reallocations if we had not been left by the side of the road…for dead…for the past 20 or more years.

The University President apologized for referring to us a ‘bitchers.’  Now demonstrate to the University Community…that you do not think what that awful word connotes.

It goes without saying that the human beings that we have hired into the jobs of chancellor and president…must put aside their petty differences…and work for the success of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale…and demonstrate their understanding of their tax payer funded positions.

Let us not become enraptured with personalities…as we all too often have….but rather let us be immersed and enthralled with the success of our precious students and our, almost 150 year old flagship Campus…SIUC!





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