Collecting input on college-level changes

Aerial shot of Student Services Building

We have received a number good questions and thoughtful feedback following last week’s post announcing that we would move forward with the renaming of the colleges as well as the movement of some departments to new homes as a consequence of the proposed renaming and refocusing of colleges.

As a reminder, the proposed restructuring and renaming of the colleges is separate from the process we are currently engaging in to create academic schools, although the intent to do so was signaled in the school proposal RME’s submitted last October. Since then, we have had numerous suggestions, most from faculty, that have greatly influenced the suggested college names.

Modifications anticipated

The college-level RMEs were submitted to our colleagues in the colleges with the understanding that they might be modified based on discussion and input. Given the importance of consultation at the college level, I have decided to extend the timeline for review by the colleges to ensure that we can engage faculty in extensive discussion and feedback, much as we have throughout the academic restructuring process. I do so believing that we will all benefit from additional opportunities to share questions and information as we stay true to principles of shared governance.

To gather input and faculty ideas, as well as to help answer questions, I have asked Associate Provost Lizette Chevalier, Associate Provost Dave DiLalla, and Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Jim Garvey to meet with faculty in the proposed colleges about the college-level changes. Details about the meetings will be shared through our deans. Of course, you may also continue to send questions and thoughts by email.

Update on schools

Throughout the academic reorganization process, we have welcomed and benefited from faculty input regarding the best location for their programs, names of schools and other areas. This has resulted in many, many positive changes to the proposed school structure and in the development of strategies for effectively implementing and managing it. We have updated the chart showing where we are in the school-creation process to keep you posted on our progress.

Overall, your feedback has led to more than 100 changes to the original straw man proposal released in October. Together, we have created a proposed academic reorganization that belongs not to any individual, but to the greater university that shaped it.

We will continue to move forward as elements of the plan are approved. We have an exciting year of transition ahead. I deeply value all of the input received to date on both the school- and college-level proposals. Your engagement is essential. Thank you for helping us stay on the path to accomplish an ambitious, critically important revitalization of our university.

Embracing Accuracy

Following is a statement I have issued in response to a press release from the Illinois Education Association’s regional office and the Faculty Association.

Statement of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno

The Faculty Association’s continued efforts to mislead our community by misrepresenting information is a disservice to everyone who cares about the future of SIU. Here are some of the areas where the information provided is misrepresented:

  • Faculty votes to extend the time for dialogue are just that – a vote to create time for more information and discussion as allowed in our collective bargaining agreement. These votes do not reflect either positive or negative perspectives.
  • Straw polls are a normal part of the negotiation process among faculty to assess where they are starting from. They are not final votes, and many have been positive. In fact, the only final vote to date was unanimously in favor of creating a School of Computing.
  • Based on the comments of a number of individuals, including faculty, it appears that the referenced survey by the Coordinating Committee for Change was distributed selectively; many have indicated that they were never aware of it.
  • Averaging the enrollment of existing schools hides the fact that two schools in high demand fields – allied health and architecture – had more students in 2017 than in 2012 in spite of an overall campus enrollment decline. In both schools the most significant growth was in graduate enrollment. The total undergraduate and graduate enrollment increase from 2012 to 2017 for allied health was 11.6 percent, and the total for architecture was 20 percent. There are a number of factors that affect a school’s enrollment beyond the structure itself. It’s also important to know that the school structure, if implemented effectively, creates administrative efficiencies that can support the growth of programs within the school.
  • While my goal was indeed to have a finalized plan to the Board of Trustees in April, it was always dependent upon the speed with which our faculty reviewed and responded to proposals. I fully support and respect that some faculty want to take the time for discussion allowed in the process. Meanwhile, I have updated our trustees on the plan and its status.
  • It is highly inaccurate to state that there will be no major improvements until July 1, 2019. As I stated in a recent blog post, we will move forward as things are approved through the process.

The chancellor’s office continues to be attuned to input reported in multiple ways – in meetings, in emails and in individual conversations – and stands by its assessment of the feedback it has received. This feedback has led to more than 100 changes from the original proposals. Faculty are engaged in the process and influencing significant change.

It is unfortunate that the union, rather than contributing to the discussion by forwarding constructive alternatives, chooses to misrepresent the process with misleading rhetoric. I support our collective bargaining agreement and continue to hope that we can move forward collaboratively rather than divisively.

Defining what makes us remarkable

Seth Godin, in his book “Purple Cow,” notes that the phrase “you can’t out Amazon Amazon” was once posted on a banner in Walmart headquarters as the company was deciding whether to venture into online retail business. The point was that the company should find its own path rather than emulate – and lose to – its competitors.

While an institution of higher education is not a retailer, and SIU is certainly not Amazon or Walmart or any of their competitors, we can think about this message within our own context. We are not the major research university to the north of us, and we are not the regional university to the south. We shouldn’t try to be either.

We are SIU, and we need to define and communicate what makes us remarkable if we are to stand out to prospective students. We need to ensure that people perceive us not as just another university, but as an exciting, forward-looking academic community.

Claiming our niche

Solar Charging Station located near the west end of Morris Library.We can start by embracing our strengths. We are a research university that is small enough to provide personal, hands-on experiences yet offer a breadth of comprehensive programs.

We provide every student – not only a few – with outstanding opportunities for experiential learning, from research to creative activities to community service to leadership. And we provide these opportunities early in a student’s academic career.

We can emphasize these strengths by further building extraordinary opportunities for personal growth through expanded focus on experiential learning and a robust campus life.

The role of academic reorganization

Academic reorganization can create further distinctiveness. We can deliver an educational experience outside the lane through innovative academic offerings. Our goal should be to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow and a fulfilling 40-year career.

Our focus on updating the core curriculum will focus on growing the whole person – communication skills, people skills, cultural competency and personal development. Our graduates will stand out not only because of what they know, but also because of who they are.

Creating community

Even as we grow enrollment, targeting an optimal size of 18,300 by 2025, we can maintain a personalized approach that makes every student feel like a valued member of our community.

This sense of being a Saluki, part of a family, is an SIU trademark that we should cherish even as we improve upon it through strong student services and positive, meaningful interaction with faculty members. Every student should be treated as a member of a tight-knit community in every engagement – from the first email, phone call or visit through graduation and beyond.

Making it happen

As we embrace our strengths and revitalize our academic programs and student services, we can stand out as an institution that provides an elite, private university experience with a public university cost, a breadth of comprehensive programs that can be matched by few private institutions, and a remarkable student experience that leads to well-rounded graduates prepared to become 21st century leaders.

We are on our way. I welcome all you do to help shape our remarkable future.

Retention is magic

Growing enrollment isn’t only about recruiting new students. It’s about retaining those we have.

Enrollment growth on the recruitment side of the equation will take time as we revitalize SIU, so it’s critically important that we also immediately focus on retention.

A number of factors contribute to student persistence: the quality of our academic programs, mentoring by faculty members, strong advising, and the quality of campus life.

We can ensure every student has the support needed – through strong academic advising and faculty mentoring – to ensure that they will stay in school and graduate.

Retention plan

Several years ago, the university developed a retention plan that appeared to have some success in its first year. Unfortunately, the plan began to gather dust and we have lost our way.

I have asked the provost’s office to work with deans and others to revisit the plan, identifying what worked, what didn’t, what we might revive and what we want to add. I hope the campus community will engage in the effort.

Longer-term retention will also be positively affected by our revitalized academic programs, a revised core curriculum, and our attention to student life and the total SIU experience.

The retention cycle

Retention cycle chartThe retention cycle is indeed magic. If we focus on quality education and support, our students have greater success, which drives greater retention, allowing us to have larger classes of juniors and seniors, generating more resources that we can reinvest in our programs.

Currently, 27 percent of the freshmen who enroll at SIU graduate in four years, while 44 percent graduate in six years. If we dedicate ourselves to the magic of retention, we can change these rates to 55 percent for all students in four years and 65 percent in six years by 2025. I believe we can do it with the commitment of every faculty and staff member. Please join me in making that commitment.

A Status Report on Academic Reorganization

The reorganization process continues to move forward. We are finalizing and distributing program change plans that take into account feedback from stakeholders, which we continue to welcome.

There are many steps and touch points in the academic reorganization process, some spelled out in our collective bargaining agreement, some defined by constituency group and college operating papers, some rooted in our standing campus practices, and others required by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. For example, faculty have a contractually-defined time period of 90 days to review and discuss proposals for reorganization – in this case, the creation of schools. This can be extended to 120 days upon a vote of the faculty who would be affected. Such an extension occurred for six of the administration-initiated proposals that were under review.

Following the discussion and consultation period, we are developing “program change plans” (to use the terminology of the collective bargaining agreement’s Article 9), which reflects the final version of the proposal after review and consideration of all feedback received during the discussion phase.  Each program change plan will include a “reasonable and moderate extension,” or RME, form. Many on campus will be familiar with the RME process, which is defined by the Illinois Board of Higher Education for modification to an existing program or administrative structure.

We have sent RMEs and Program Change Plans for three proposed schools to the affected academic units, Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, and the Faculty Association for the second phase of the review process. You can see the status of the proposed schools here.

Another nine of the proposed schools have passed the first 90-day review period and program change plans are in development. And seven schools are still in the discussion and consultation process, either because the faculty voted for an extension, or are still within the initial 90-day window.

Once both phases of review have passed and feedback provided, the RMEs will go to the Board of Trustees, at its request, and then the Illinois Board of Higher Education for approval.

Adjusted timeline

Clearly, not all of the proposed schools are moving along at the same pace, which is to be expected. While I had hoped to have them all in place July 1, I now believe that some will move forward later. This means we will likely have a mix of schools and departments at the same time for at least the first half the next academic year. This is fine and reflects the time required for thoughtful campus deliberation. It’s the movement and commitment to the process that are most important.

It has been incorrectly reported, in fact, that we would be taking RMEs to the April board meeting for review. We will take them to the board following the “phase-two” review, without rushing the process.

Whenever they receive them, trustees have indicated that they will make their review a priority. Typically, the board is not involved with the process of RME approvals. However, trustees have a critical role in the review and approval process given the significance of our bold path forward.

We are assessing the impact of the review timeline, as well as our enrollment projections, in our budget planning for the next year. We need to remember that reorganization is not about cutting budgets, but about reinvesting the funds we can save by reducing administrative costs. It is also about realigning faculty interests, curriculum and students with the goal of advancing existing and new programs, research, scholarship and creative activities. The sooner we can save, the sooner we can grow our programs.

As an aside, I should note that it has also been inaccurately reported that we have asked deans to prepare for budget cuts. We have asked deans to plan efficiently for the 2018-2019 academic year, but have specifically said we are not asking them to plan for cuts at this time. This should not be misunderstood as a signal that we believe we will not have significant budget challenges in Fiscal Year 2019, but that we are working carefully to assess our situation. To assist in this process, we will be convening shortly the Chancellor’s Budget and Planning Committee for its input and perspective.

The college structure

Even as we work through the school reorganization process in compliance with our contractual and campus-policy obligations, we can move forward with some pieces that do not require the same levels of review.

For example, we can rename the colleges prior to the creation of the proposed new schools. We are planning to move forward with college name changes so they can be in effect by July 1. Here are the changes as they currently stand:

  • Agricultural Sciences becomes Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Applied Arts and Sciences becomes Health and Human Services
  • Business becomes Business and Analytics
  • Education and Human Services remains a college until whatever time the School of Education were to be created
  • Engineering becomes Science, Technology, Transportation, Engineering and Math

The proposed changes in the names of the colleges will be accomplished via the established campus RME process, which includes review by the colleges, Faculty Senate and Graduate Council.

You’ll note that there are three current colleges missing from the list. Please keep reading.

The Financial Sustainability Plan approved by the Board of Trustees in July 2017 committed to reducing the number of academic colleges by one. The plan spoke to several possibilities for merging the College of Science with other colleges.

In keeping with goal of the Financial Sustainability Plan, we are preparing an RME that would administratively move the departments in the current College of Science into two renamed colleges: one is Agricultural and Life Sciences and the other is Science, Technology, Transportation, Engineering and Math. These academic units will remain independent departments pending the outcome of the broader review of program change plans.

In light of the proposed change in name from College of Applied Arts and Sciences to College of Health and Human Services, we will also propose, as part of the RME, an administrative move of several of the current CASA departments to colleges that provide a stronger programmatic fit (e.g., School of Architecture and the departments affiliated with the School of Transportation).

The Financial Sustainability plan also indicated that we were exploring creating a new college by merging our current college of Mass Communication and Media Arts with the fine and performing arts as well as architecture and design. While the administration’s reorganization proposals brought all of these units into two schools within the College of Social Sciences, Humanities, Media and Arts, I understand that faculty are coming forward with a proposal for a separate college much like what was suggested in the Financial Sustainability plan. I welcome the opportunity to discuss this proposal with the faculty and other stakeholders. Should such a plan come to fruition, the current college of Mass Communication and Media Arts would be renamed to align with this new structure. We will delay renaming the College of Liberal Arts pending the outcome of this conversation.

There may be some departments that will be concerned about their college locations given the new college names, but we anticipate that these concerns will be addressed through the school program change/RME process.

Moving forward

Again, please recall that the renaming and merging of colleges is separate from the program change plans that would create the schools. But we need to begin now to move forward with student recruitment, marketing and fundraising initiatives and to set the stage for the future. And we need to start thinking about the staffing and space needs for those units that will move July 1.

I know this is a lot to digest. Academic reorganization is complex and has many moving parts. Whatever the outcome of the reorganization process, I am committed to working with the campus community to ensure a smooth transition that places service to our students front and center. Please remember that the proposed reorganization is administrative and does not change the programs we offer. It is essential that we inform and assure our current students that the programs they enrolled in will be there for them as we continue to change, innovate and grow.

I continue to be grateful for the thoughtful discussions taking place as we revitalize SIU, and I remain excited for the opportunity it presents for our students and faculty.

It’s Greek to me

Members of the Kappa Alpha Order
From left: Clayton Bertoletti, Jacob Selsor, Brady Cummings, Peyton Boysen, Joe Locher, Evan Smith, Hunter Hill,  Jake Barker, and Jordan Mullen.

Congratulations to all members of our Kappa Alpha Order fraternity for earning five awards – including Samuel Zenas Ammen Award for Chapter Excellence – last month.

The award for chapter excellence is given to the top 10 percent of chapters nationally for excellence in all chapter functions:

  • academic programming,
  • academic achievement,
  • community service,
  • philanthropy,
  • public and fraternal communications/excellence in social media,
  • educational programming,
  • membership education,
  • chapter finances, and
  • recruitment and chapter growth.

The chapter also won awards for educational programming, scholastic achievement, and excellence in fraternal as well as social media communication.

I thank them for bringing pride to themselves, our Greek system, and SIU Carbondale.

An important aspect of student life

SIU’s first fraternity and sorority were established in 1923. Today, our 35 Greek fraternities and sororities provide leadership, service and social experiences that add value to their members and to the campus. Too often, we read about the negatives of Greek life on other campuses, so it’s easy to forget about the benefits and values of Greek organizations.

At SIU, for example, Greek students have higher graduate point averages, retention rates, and graduation rates than the student body as a whole. This is because they focus on academics through study hours, mentoring and other strategies. Members also rely on each other as part of a community.

They volunteer on campus and regionally on projects. For instance, they work closely with Keep Carbondale Beautiful to support the Adopt-A-Spot program and clean-up initiatives, and they work with the American Red Cross to organize an annual Homecoming blood drive.

And Greek organizations help attract students who are looking for the type of experience Greek life can offer.

Greek houses on campus

The old Greek row on the west side of campus reminds us that at one time, many fraternities and sororities lived on campus. I’m pleased to report that several chapters are working with their national organizations to explore bringing their houses to campus. This will be a long process, but it is one more step in revitalizing campus life.

Celebrating the University Museum

People looking at an exhibit in the University Museum

Thank you to all who donated to yesterday’s Day of Giving. While totals are still being finalized, we exceeded last year thanks to your commitment.

Today, I’d like to talk about one of the many things that make SIU worthy of your donations.

Today we celebrate the reopening of the University Museum with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m.

The museum has a long history at SIU. A 1978 book, The First Hundred Years: The University Museum, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, tells much of the story.

The University Museum was planned by Dr. Cyrus Thomas, an entomologist and attorney who was also the brother-in-law of General John A. Logan. He was the museum’s first curator when it opened in 1874 – nearly 145 years ago

Since then, the museum has survived two fires, seven moves, financial challenges and more than one temporary closure. At one time, following the burning of Old Main, it was housed in a large van and traveled throughout Southern Illinois.

In spite of all of these challenges, the museum — like SIU itself — has survived.

Contributing to a comprehensive education

Within the last 10 years, the museum’s collection has grown to include more than 80,000 objects. They cross a range of subjects, from art and architecture to anthropology, botany and zoology. They include the work of Andy Warhol, political memorabilia, Nigerian crafts, Nepali treasures and much more.

The museum itself is a treasure for SIU. We reopened it so that you and many others in Southern Illinois can enjoy and learn from it.

As a comprehensive university, we must embrace the arts, humanities and sciences — all represented in the museum’s collection — along with the many other areas we focus on. If we want well-rounded graduates, we must give them access to a well-rounded education.

The museum helps us do this. It is also an important connection for our region, including area schools.

The University Museum deserves our continued support, and I hope everyone will help us make sure it never closes again.

A day and a year of giving

03.07.18 Give the Gift of Experience | #SIUDay of Giving | siuday.siu.edu

This Wednesday, March 7, is the second SIU Carbondale Day of Giving, a focused effort to encourage private donations in support of our students and programs. Last year’s inaugural day of giving exceeded expectations by raising more than $340,000.

The Day of Giving is also about building awareness of the importance of philanthropy and welcoming new donors, including students, into the fold. I know that many of our colleges are very engaged in encouraging their stakeholders to be a part of the Day of Giving. In addition, the Carbondale community is also engaged – including local businesses and the City Council, which passed a resolution in support of this great event.

I encourage you to let people know how they can be a part of the Day of Giving (#siuday). This year’s theme is “Give the Gift of Experience.” See the video highlighting the experiences of our students and learn more at siuday.siu.edu. Thank you to all who are making the Day of Giving a success.

A proud history of philanthropic support

Research has shown that giving can become a habit that that will continue throughout the donor’s life, so any gift of any size at any time can lead to a lifetime of support for SIU. We can see this in action with the success to date of the three-year, $75 million “Forever SIU” campaign.

In its first year, the campaign raised more than $56 million, or 75 percent of the goal. Many donors have supported SIU for many years, while others are stepping forward because of their excitement about the university’s direction.

The campaign leads us into 2019, our 150th anniversary. I’m excited to see how it evolves as we define the future of SIU.