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 |

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 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.