The Heart Of The University

I was a member of the Southern Illinois University community for over 32 years.  During those years…I was a member of the civil service staff.


I began as a Building Service Worker I…that is a janitor.

I attended a meeting of the Range Committee, this morning, and when the chair of the committee asked my opinion…I spoke at length, and probably much to long, regarding my feelings for our University and the value of my civil service colleagues!

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I recall my, former co-worker, Joan and how hard she worked to make the Agriculture building immaculate!  Joan did not see herself in some type of diminished role of, a housekeeper, she preceived that she was instrumental in the success of the School of Agriculture and the recruitment and retention of our most precious citizens…our students!  And you know what…she was!

The Dean of Agriculture and the Associate Deans and all of the Ag professors…loved her and considered her their, cherished, colleague!

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When I was the Superintendent of Building Services, my assistant, Elizabeth, was dedicated, beyond her years, to not only the success of Building Service…but to the success of SIUC!  I marvel at how hard she works and her 24/7 commitment to the University!  This fine lady, who has three sons and commutes back and forth from Pickneyville, Illinois…and she wears her concern for SIU’s, comeback, like the Jews wear the Tefillin, ‘which is a cubic black box with leather straps that Orthodox Jewish men wear on their head and their arm during weekday morning prayer.’   Wikipedia

I admired, Jim, the chair of the committee at this morning’s meeting.  His careful and considerate conducting of the meeting as well as conversation that I enjoyed, with him, prior to the event,…was demonstrative of the professionalism within the civil service ranks!

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I thought of my friend and former colleague, Gerald Davis, and his beginning a Thanksgiving Dinner for the, over 200 students, and 150 full time staff of Building Services.  For over ten years we enjoyed a, seminal annual event, that was loved by our students…who came from all over the world!

I reflect about, Cyndy, and her unparalleled connections with our student body!  Cyndy worked with me for the last several years of my career and she was a gem!  This intelligent and unassuming professional mentored students and befriended them and encouraged staff and generally took the burden of all, ‘who were weak and heavy laden’, and did so without fanfare and without recognition!

Our current Chancellor, John Dunn, told me, years ago when he was, also the Interim Chancellor, that the civil service staff were the first to volunteer to  to call students to aid in the recruitment of them!


Former Chancellor Argersinger asked civil service staff to aid her in, public events, to recruit students.  I am referring to talking with the students and engaging them…not emptying their trash or clerical duties!

I have known several chancellors and a president.  They are just people with big jobs and a lot of responsibility.  They need friends and confidants and someone who has no hidden agenda!

So often we look to the administrator or the vice chancellor or the director…to solve the problems of the University.  In reality the civil service staff have been the un-sung heroes of SIUC!  They have worried with our students and fed our students and mentored our students and became surrogate parents to our students and have representedIMG_4595 Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to our students!

The key to the success of SIUC is not another administrator….or another multi-degreed leader…or the success of the sports program…it is the support of the backbone of our campus…our civil service staff!

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I was privileged to work my entire 32 + year career with Building Services! During those years I found that many of the staff were either bringing food, each evening, for their student colleagues, or taking them to their homes to feed them on the weekends and holidays!

The Housekeeping staff held a plethora of Bachelor’s degrees and master degrees and many of them were graduates of SIUC!

My colleagues could not only speak intelligently on any subject but they had a burning passion for their alma matter…and they worked tirelessly to ensure the University’s success!

We can say…all day long…that we love our civil service staff….and that they are the salt of the earth…and that we could not function without their dedicated efforts…but at the end of the day….support equals financial support….or chancellors and vice chancellors…would work for free?






6 responses

  1. I always love the photos you share of the university you worked at. I wish I could visit it when I next visit USA. A part of me wants to revisit University Of Oregon and perhaps I could pop by visit yours. Alas, it is just a wish!

    1. You must come and visit SIU! I will show you the campus! 🌞

      1. Aww that would be awesome B Jay! I would like that very much and just chillax and have a beer with you and your family. Thanks and I will bear that in mind. If you ever think of travelling to Singapore let me know too.

  2. What a simply wonderful, uplifting, spirit; not one I have encountered over here, that’s for sure! Lovely images too.

    1. Thank you, my friend! You are too kind! 🌞

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