Although SIUC has faced, significant, challenges over the past twenty years…it is yet, very fortunate!
The university began as a teacher’s college in the nineteenth century, located in a rural farming and coal mining section of Illinois.
Our region has often been referred to as Little Egypt due to our, most southern town, Cairo. Cairo was a stop on the underground railroad during the civil war.
Albeit, my family is from Southern Illinois…I was born in Chicago. My parents had immigrated to Chicago, as many of their generation did, in search of gainful employment.
I can, vividly, recall traveling to Eldorado for our family vacations. I noticed the, beautiful rural setting and the chickens in grandma’s back yard and the cold milk that she served me from a porcelain coffee mug…and the, beloved dog, Nugget, who she later named Narky, who barked and snapped at me on many occasions!
When Narky, later, passed on to his reward…grandma told me that when I finished my milk and cookies that I should join her…for the purpose of praying for him…I drank my milk and ate my cookies…very slowly!
But, in any case, I heard of the wonders of the university that was in Carbondale…and I reveled in the theatrical performances that McLeod Theatre, student, performers brought to my grade school.
I wondered, as a child, if I would ever get the opportunity to see Southern Illinois University…in person?
I was not on the college track…in high school…none of my family had attended university.
My s best friend since first grade, Jackie Brooks, later enrolled in SIU, with any eye toward an accountancy degree…and I considered how nice that would be to further my education.
So, I began working at the university, over forty years ago, and I immediately noticed what a different world I had entered!
CAVU, was one of former president George Herbert Walker Busch’s favorite terms and it stood for; Clear Above Visibility Unlimited. This is an aviation term and was welcomed by the former president when he was a World War II fighter pilot.
Suddenly…I understood that my world of opportunity…had just expanded beyond my wildest dreams!
No longer was I Bradley Jay Brooks, high school graduate, and the seeker of some type of employment that I could succeed in paying my bills…but now I was a member of a world class university that had unlimited opportunities for me!
From my first days at SIUC I encountered person after person that was, totally, immersed in the school! The norm was to work alongside fellow faculty and staff that had the university’s success as their mission.
I saw a photo of my friend, the chancellor of SIUC, John Dunn…laughing and exuberant as he held a flag alongside many international students as they marched on campus in commemoration of our international students!
Chancellor Dunn is a native of Pickneyville, Illinois and he has a heart for the region and for our university!
During my years at SIUC I was not only immersed in the task of making SIUC great…but until this day…it is never far from my mind!
Mary Jane and I had lunch, today, with our friends, Ryan and Elizabeth. What wonderful people they are! And, they are Pickneyville natives, as well!
The secret of Southern Illinois University’s success is contained in the hearts of it’s people!
Dedicated professionals that will work around the clock and rest a few minutes…and then begin again!
Southern is full of skilled technicians who think about the university when they are not at the university and who hate to leave…when it is quitting time!
Several years ago, then, chancellor Wendler, commissioned a study of Southern @ 150.
Contained in the group were members of the campus community like, Glenn Poshard and Sam Goldman…as well as a member of the Building Services department named Brooks.
Many big plans were formulated…for what seemed to be a long time off…
Now, Southern @ 150 is upon us! Some of the goals and aspirations of the committee were unattainable, in the best of circumstances, and others have been impacted by financial shortfalls from the state.
However, one of the primary components of the vision of Southern @ 150…is stronger than ever…and that is a world class university containing dedicated and singular in purpose; students and staff and faculty…and the weather forecast is…CAVU!