It is a picturesque day in Carbondale, Illinois. Jonathon and I walked the campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale and drank in the riches of its splendor! I am seeing a lot of happy people as they enjoy the reopening of our restaurants for al fresco dining with social distancing. Old campus had families laughing and enjoying the richness of a perfect spring day!
Dr. Austin Lane has been named the chancellor of SIUC. I had the opportunity of watch a zoom Open Forum with Dr. Lane. I was struck with his ability to connect with everyone that he spoke with. His natural ability to not only communicate effectively, but to also give the person that he is talking with a feeling of importance to the mission of Southern…was extraordinary! I have been a chancellor watcher for over 40 years. During that time, and many chancellors, I have not witnessed a more immediate connection and heartfelt belief that this leader demonstrates that every member of the university community is vital to the success of the Saluki family and the institution.
The university is one of the most important elements of my life…and I have been retired for nearly 10 years! I spent my entire career working in the custodial department of SIU…in Building Services at the Physical Plant. Over those years I learned what many have failed to understand. There is no us and them…for our school to succeed, it takes all of our efforts. The Building Services staff took their mission as vital to the success of our SIU! We not only kept our buildings immaculate…but we mentored our over 200 student staff. When they were homesick…we were their surrogate moms and dads. When they wanted to drop-out…we talked them out of it. When they were hungry…we fed them. They were our kids and we rejoiced in their success…with tears in our eyes!
During their last few years of my career I was privileged to be the president of the civil service council, for 5 years. During that time, and before, I became friends with several chancellors…and 1 president. I have longed for a campus leader that has the ability to bring us all together, and when I say us… I am speaking of not only the university community…but the entire Southern Illinois region. Little Egypt is thirsty for a leader that will call us to arms…and let us know that we are essential to the success of our most prized possession…our jewel…SIUC!
I have been close to chancellors who caused the eyes of those with whom they spoke…to brighten! I have been witness to chancellors who brought peace and unity and a vision for the future. Success cannot be delivered by any one man or woman…but their ability to martial the love and abilities of countless people of good will…is priceless!
I emailed Chancellor Lane congratulations…although I considered that he might wonder who was, Jay Brooks, and why would he be congratulating me. I identified myself as a former, career, employee of SIUC and that I had the opportunity to watch the zoom Open Forum. I also noted that I had been retired for almost 10 years. That was yesterday…and he replied to my email after midnight. Now…that is a sure and certain sign to me that this leader is going to include all of us!