The Cruise Liner…Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…Is Turning Around

We Brooks have enjoyed several cruises in our time. We have cruised to Alaska and the Caribbean and the Mediterranean and around the United Kingdom. It takes awhile for an ocean liner to turn around…think Titanic… Nevertheless the university community and the entire Southern Illinois region received some great news yesterday when we read the fall enrollment numbers. We have the largest freshman class in several years. We have been hemorrhaging students to the tune of around 1,000 per year…now only 100 down.

Kudos to Chancellor Lane and his staff who have…finally taken hold of the rudder and are turning our great University around…before it strikes the massive iceberg. I wrote recently about my seeing more students on campus than I have in several years. I walk the campus daily.

For 32 years and 2 months and 3 weeks I saw SIUC at its zenith…and the beginning of its diminution. I recall when Chancellor Beggs was so happy and told me with great joy that the fall enrollment in the latter 1990’s had a 4 student increase. This is the last fall enrollment student increase that I can recall. I was closely involved with more than one chancellor due to my being a member of 2 Chancellor Search Committees and my role as president of the Civil Service Council. Also my friend and former president of the Southern Illinois University System, Dr. Glenn Poshard, asked my advice on many occasions. I was appointed to a plethora of University Wide Committees that were charged with ascertaining what our school needed to do to recruit and retain our most precious University Citizens…our students.

Throughout my career in Building Services I was convinced that our staff could make a profound difference in the most important aspect of our duties…the recruitment and retention of students. Often the new student is looking for someone who represents SIUC and it is the civil service staff that they encounter on a regular basis. Our full time staff of 140 worked with our student staff of 200 on a daily/nightly basis. Among our 30 custodial crews our wonderful student staff found a home away from home. Sub-foreman and Building Service Workers brought their student colleagues food to eat and invited them to their home for holidays. We had a department wide Thanksgiving dinner for our student and full time staff that was a joy to be a part of. The look of joy and the feeling of home was throughout the auditorium and illustrated on the face of each grateful student.

Compromise is the oil that makes the engine run. Each of us have to stand on our fundamental beliefs of right and wrong…good and bad…ethical and unethical…but the normal rhythm of success in life and the promise of accomplishing worthy endeavors is anchored by compromise….and watching out for icebergs…

Photo by Jean-Christophe Andru00e9 on

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