The Escaping Jewel of Little Egypt

Carbondale, Illinois, the home of Southern Illinois University once had four movie theaters.  Now we have one.

Our University Mall has ever increasing vacant store fronts.

One of the two Dry Cleaners, in town, has closed and posted on their door that there simply was not enough customers in Carbondale to support two Dry Cleaners any longer.

Our only independent Book Store, Book Worm, which had been a staple of our economy for many years…has closed due to the lack of a buyer for their store.

The Marion Mall, which is about ten miles from Carbondale, is sectioning off their vacant spaces and retrofitting the structure due to about two thirds of the facility being vacant.

When I was hired at SIU on October 10th, 1978, I immediately began searching for a new automobile to purchase.  I looked in DuQuoin, Illinois and when the car salesman asked me where I worked, I responded that I was just hired as a janitor at SIU.  He responded that my credit would be good at their establishment as SIU had wonderful and extremely secure jobs.

The first custodial crew that I supervised as a Building Custodian contained student staff from; Africa, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Iran.  What an education in international diplomacy!

I was not on the college track in high school.  I was on the vocational track.  The first SIU course that I took was something that I did not perceive that I would ever do.  The course was an Introduction to Computers and the professor told me that I had a great aptitude for university course work and I received an A in the course.

I wanted to enter a discipline and I called the Chair of Electronic Data Processing.  The African American Chair treated me like I just transferred from Harvard.  He met with me in his office and spoke with me at length regarding the benefits of an EDP Associate Degree.

I wrote computer programs by punch card and received the printed out data on watermelon paper.

I studied Basic and Fortran and flowcharts and garbage in and garbage out…and I did well.

I studied composition in Carol Burns class in 1984.  We read the book ‘1984’ in 1984.  Carol spoke to me as an equal and she told me that I could succeed in any academic discipline that I chose.  She suggested law.

Carol was my favorite professor.

Before I retired I was privileged to be a member of the Civil Service Council for over fifteen years.  During that time I served on two chancellor search committees and became friends with several of them and one president of SIU.

What I observed regarding the administration of SIU and the management thereof is that it is not rocket science.  Both Don Beggs and Jo Ann Argersinger were doing a wonderful job and subsequently were not allowed to continue due to human egos and personal agendas.

I personally witnessed students and faculty and staff be attracted to the leadership of Chancellor Argersinger.

I saw the lightness of spirit and the renewal of a vision for the future of SIU under the benevolent two years of Chancellor Beggs.

I was a member of the coming together of the university community while positive chancellors influenced positive change for our beloved school.

I spent my entire 32 year and three month and two week career in Building Services as SIU.

The Building Services Staff love SIU!

We worked tirelessly to provide clean and immaculate buildings that reflected the academic excellence that was provided from our school.

Many custodial staff received their Bachelors and Masters degrees while they were working for SIU.

We were fortunate to hire many individuals who were challenged by either physical or intellectual disabilities.

These custodial technicians were some of our finest staff.  Before I left, one of our deaf staff, Jamie, was promoted to supervisor and subsequently managed a crew of several students and Building Service Workers…and did a tremendous job!

I think of my friend, Ryan, and the herculean work that he performs on a  nightly basis.  This man loves SIU and is totally invested in its success and it requires a good and dedicated and humanitarian and visionary leader…to be worthy of leading him.

Listen SIU Leaders…your staff are believers in SIU…strive to be worthy to lead them!

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale is a school that has wide open doors to those who have disabilities.

SIU had a open door to minorities when it was not politically fashionable to do so…and they still do.

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SIU is the home of the first generation college student.

SIU has so many natural advantages and houses elite academic programs and is waiting for a leader to bring them together…to dream again!

Let us seek vision over monetary reward.

Who wants to lead us because it is in their soul…not on their resume?

Who will fire the furnace of desire and vision and dreams and hopes…that was SIU…and that is more needed now than ever

When I was asked, suddenly, to lead SIU’s Building Services…I prayed that I could be worthy of the dedicated men and women that made up the organization.  I knew that they deserved the best…and that without God’s help…I was not up to the task.

 

 

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