150 Years of Southern Illinois University

Today begins Southern Illinois University’s celebration of it’s 150th anniversary in Carbondale, Illinois.

I have been admiring the jubilant faces of faculty, staff, and students as they pose for photos that encourage people to give to the university.

The signs that the SIUC students are holding, for the photos, are clever in their plea for financial assistance for various segments, of a large and diverse, academic institution.  The signs state that if the student had, $1,000.00…that they would give it to their, favorite discipline or department.

When I saw chancellor John Dunn’s big smile, I was reminded of the can-do spirit that founded SIUC and that has kept it vibrant for the past 150 years!

I served on chancellor, Walter Wendler’s, Southern @ 150 committee, several years ago, and the group was comprised of 258 individuals who served on a plethora of sub-committees.

I remember thinking that the committee’s goals were ambitious and the target date for their completion was a mere 16 years away!

One of the most enjoyable experiences I had, while serving with the, august group, was listening to Dr. Samuel Goldman.  Dr. Goldman had such wisdom and a far reaching understanding of not only the university but also the Southern Illinois region…and what it would take to make both flourish!  Dr. Goldman, later went on to become the chancellor of SIUC.

The years from the Southern @ 150 committee to the realization of the 150th anniversary of our school…have raced by!

During those years we have undergone the triple threat of; abysmal state funding and two years without a state budget, a precipitous decrease in our student enrollment, and poor management by a revolving door of chancellors.

The General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio will close Friday.  Thousands of GM employees will be laid-off.  This is not only devastating to the laid-off employees and their families…but also to the businesses in Lordstown and the economy of the area!

Lordstown, Ohio  is a company town…as is Carbondale, Illinois!

Dr. Samuel Goldman understood the dynamic of town and gown…and he explained it to us, clearly and succinctly, in our sub-committee…so many years ago.

SIUC has been an integral part of my life for over 40 years.

The success that the university has afforded me…did not come to me in the traditional academic route.

I was hired as a Building Service Worker I, which is a janitor, and it was the best job that I had ever had!

I could not believe my good fortune to have a job that had a good pay and great benefits!

Being a member of the university community…I wanted to avail myself of the academic opportunities that were available to me.

As I enrolled in classes…and gained confidence in my academic ability…and received encouragement from wonderful professors such as, Carol Burns, I began to believe that I could accomplish anything that I put my mind to!

Happiness and contentment…do not adequately describe my career at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale!  It is, simply, a wonderful place to grow and become a more developed human being.

My world expanded, ten fold, through my years at SIUC.

When I think of the opportunities that I was able to offer to people that do not, typically, receive opportunities…I am speechless!

SIUC is an open door that has opportunity written above it and on the lintels of the door posts!

SIUC is an ocean of knowledge and understanding and growth and acceptance of others who may be different than you are…and it is located in the midst of Little Egypt…and it is a hidden treasure….and, often, people that move here…never leave…why would you want to leave nirvana?

There is a feeling of anticipation that is, palpable, in the air around SIUC!

Students from the northern parts of Illinois and Chicago…want to come here…it is beautiful and sedate and peaceful and a natural laboratory that is worthy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Thoreau!

Students from across the globe…want to attend Southern Illinois University at Carbondale…because it is like nothing that they have ever experienced…and it possess the, epitome, of academic programs!

The people of Carbondale and of Southern Illinois…love their university and they love…SIUC students!

Over many years, when I worked at Building Services, we had an annual Thanksgiving dinner.  The primary focus of our dinner was our 200 student staff.  Chancellors and presidents came to have Thanksgiving dinner with us…and they marveled at the unity and the love and the…family…that we had!



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