I have been experiencing the endless wonders that are Southern Illinois University, since I was 20 years old.
Prior to that I weekly rode the bus from Eldorado to Carbondale where church friends picked me up and took me to Elkville, Illinois, where I had been attending church since I was 12 years old.
Each week that I rode the bus, which was an adventure in its self, I ruminated and wondered where SIU was located in Carbondale…as I could not see it from the Train Depot where the bus deposited me.
Before my weekly bus rides, I was enthralled with the Theatre Department of SIU. The student performers came to my grade school, in Eldorado, every year, and performed the most outstanding plays for our group.
I quickly understood that SIU was special and unlike anything that I had encountered in my little town’s surroundings.
As I sat watching and listening to the dialogue and often singing…I wanted to be in Theatre!
The SIU Theatre students were so friendly and inviting and talented…that it transported me to an oasis of success and opportunity and a vision of what could be my future.
I loved SIUC before I knew her!
My life long buddy, Steve, and I often had breakfast in the cafeteria that was located in Woody Hall and our dear friend, Thelma, managed the facility.
Many years ago this was transformed into New Student Admissions.
I knew nothing of diversity or being inclusive or the beauty of the multitude of peoples of our Earth. SIU taught me what it means to be a human being in a global society.
When I was a custodial crew leader…and one of my African students told me that the international students wanted to work for me…because I had no prejudice…I was humbled and honored and have never received greater compliment.
Southern Illinois University taught me that I was not place bound but that I could be whatever that I wanted to be.
SIU illustrated to me that there was plenty of room for different religions and faiths and for those who are atheist and agnostic.
SIU demonstrated for me that there was a home for the conservative and the liberal and the moderate and that each had something important to say.
SIU showed me that we all are more alike than we are different and that we desire similar things, such as peace and the hope of prosperity and a safe place for our children to study and play and thrive and become…better than us.
I discovered that, although I worked in the housekeeping services, I could be respected and consulted and enjoy chancellors and a president…as my friends.
Well thought out opinions have value in the market place of ideas.
I drove my friend, Jack, to SIU, a year or so before I began working there. He was applying for admission to the Accountancy department. He was quickly accepted…but ultimately chose not to attend due to his mother’s objections to his leaving her home, in Eldorado, as she felt that she needed him to care for her.
I thought at the time that I would love to apply for admission to SIU…but it did not seem that it was in the cards for me…at that time.
SIUC had an extremely large Welcome sign at every entrance of the university. The sign must be observed with the eye of your imagination.
Who do you want to be?
What do you want to be?
Where do you want to travel on the road of life?
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has the answer for you…all you have to provide is the willing participant.
Southern taught me to realize that our world was much larger than I had been told by my family and ministers and, some of, my peers.
The university taught me that acceptance of others difference and the appreciation of the uniqueness of all humankind, was not a moral weakness…but a moral strength.
I found out that African Americans were wonderful friends.
I was honored by people from many countries…including me in their circle of friends.
I made many Gay friends and appreciated them for our shared humanity and discovered that we are all just people…leaning on each other and helping each other…on our path through this mysterious life.
During my 32 years and 3 months and 3 weeks at SIU, I have never been a part of a community that so loved its’ student population.
Building Services staff, daily and nightly, brought food for their student colleagues. They invited them to dinner at their homes during the holidays. They inquired about their classes and their exams and encouraged their students that they could do it!
I sat in a history course that had about three hundred students in it and it was taught by my friend and former chancellor, Jo Ann Argersinger. Jo Ann learned all of the students names and referred to them by name when they asked her a question.
The picturesque beauty of SIUC is unparalleled and is a compelling drawing card for students across the state of Illinois and the nation and the world.
One of our foreman, Gerald Davis, began a Thanksgiving Dinner for our Building Service students, of which there were over 200, in the latter 1980s’. This was one of the most anticipated events in our annual calendar. Students and staff and chancellors and vice chancellors and presidents attended…and the love that was in the room was tremendous.
SIUC will offer you an educational experience that is unique and unprecedented and that will stay with you for your entire life!