It feels like early spring….real early. I am on the Writing Porch and it is 44 degrees. It is brisk…like Lipton Tea. I walked what was called when I began working for Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…Greek Row. Greek Row was the home of the Universitys’ many sororities and fraternities. My first evening at SIUC was October 10, 1978. Jimmy Carter was our President and the Iranian Hostage Crisis had not begun. I worked in Thalman Hall which was the home of General Accounting. I could hear the Kappa Fraternity having parties, next door to Thalman. Cars raced up and down the streets from the time that I arrived at 5:00 P:M: until I left at 1:00 A:M:. There was no new Lesar Law School at that time and the Law School was contained in three and one-half of the small Greek Row buildings. In those days there were over 20 thousand students on the Campus and the number rose to almost 25 thousand in the early 90s’. Now, Greek Row is little more than a Ghost Town. Many of the buildings have been vacated for some time and they are in various states of entropy.
Feel at home…I do…when I walk among the Small Group Housing Buildings. I did so on a nightly basis when I was 21 years old…and thrilled with being a part of our University. During my first week, Custodial Supervisor Harold Young came to my building and told me that he had heard that I was doing a good job and that as soon as Personel would allow me to take the Building Custodian Exam…that I should take it. Building Custodian was the title of my supervisor. I could not believe my good fortune and subsequently, woke MJ when I arrived home at 1:30 A:M: to share with her the great news…I was on the fast track to success…
I watch with some concern and amazement as new administrators attempt to reinvent the wheel of our great Campus. I wonder if they think to ask someone who has seen a lot of living at Southern…what happened in the past? I am friends with professionals that could cause these 90 Day Wonders…to be glowing success stories…but they would rather do it their way…as Frank Sinatra sang about. Sadly…I have witnessed a plethora of these folks enter one door of the University…and exit through the Revolving Entrance.
Southern Ilinois University @ Carbondale is a beautiful resource and opportunity for the people of Southern Illinois and the nation…and the world. Interlopers and Carpet Baggers…and those with self-serving agendas have diminished a Jewel…and then walked away to burnish their resume.