As I have said in the past, I believe that system leadership questions were between the board and the president. I am pleased these questions have been resolved.
I look forward to working with Dr. Dorsey, our colleagues at Edwardsville and the Board of Trustees to reinforce and build on the strengths of the SIU system and its campuses.
I also look forward to continuing the acceleration of the advancement of SIU Carbondale in collaboration with our strong faculty, staff, alumni, friends and community members. While there is work to be done, we have much to be proud of. I look forward to celebrating past achievements and future directions when we mark our 150th anniversary next year.
On Tuesday, the Faculty Senate approved RMEs, or program change plans, for six proposed new schools, another step forward in the revitalization of our academic structure. The schools are:
Applied Engineering and Technology.
Earth Systems and Sustainability.
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences.
A special senate committee that is conducting initial reviews of the program change plans has asked the provost’s office for more information or modifications related to four other plans.
I greatly appreciate the time and effort that faculty members have invested in their thoughtful review of the program change plans. I am also grateful for the work of the provost’s office under the leadership of Interim Provost Meera Komarraju, who has been shepherding the process since her appointment in April.
While there are important steps still ahead of us and we are still discussing several proposals submitted as alternatives, I’m pleased that through this collaborative process, our re-envisioning of our academic programs is beginning to take shape.
Similarly, our other revitalization efforts, many outlined in April’s eight-month update, continue moving forward. A few examples:
We continue to work on the concept of a makerspace to support student research, innovation and creativity. Science Dean Scott Ishman is now leading the initiative.
We are also formalizing an e-sports, or electronic sports, initiative. E-sports are popular with students and provide opportunities for friendly competition on campus and with other institutions.
We continue to work on fall 2018 enrollment. About 250 new students are expected at Saturday’s freshman orientation, and active outreach and support continues for both admitted and returning students who have not yet registered for classes. While we know enrollment will be down, it will be down less than we anticipated eight months ago due to the diligence and efforts of the enrollment management and student affairs teams, as well as our faculty, staff and academic leaders in our departments, schools and colleges. The SIU Foundation and SIU Alumni Association also stepped forward, providing resources to support recruitment efforts. We continue to take every step possible to both to minimize the decline and position ourselves for future years.
In fact, all hands are also on deck to launch the recruitment cycle for fall 2019. We are deploying new strategies and materials and reinforcing everything we do. Open house numbers continue to rise, a signal that we are projecting a renewed energy at SIU. As I’ve said before, enrollment will not rebound overnight or even in a year, but we can make steady progress if we remain focused on our goals.
Finally, we are preparing to announce our fundraising results for fiscal year 2018. While I won’t spoil the announcement, I can share that donor support of SIU increased by about 25 percent over the previous year. I thank all of our alumni, friends, faculty and staff who demonstrate their confidence in SIU and support our students through their gifts.
With so much happening in the world around us, it might be easy to become distracted from our mission. I remain confident that our outlook is positive and we have much to be proud of.
Every day, I learn about faculty whose work brings credit to our reputation and students who are finding success because of the many opportunities they find at SIU. These are the real stories that speak to who we are as a university. Please join me in telling them.
When faculty research leads to community impact, everyone benefits. Two grants provide strong examples of how research supported by external funding helps us fulfill our mission.
Helping STEM teachers
A recent grant from the National Science Foundation will help SIU continue to enhance the teaching of STEM subjects to junior high and high school students in Southern Illinois and beyond. SIU faculty from multiple disciplines will work with selected teachers, who will conduct summer research projects and participate in other professional development activities.
The newly trained “master teacher leaders” will in turn share their knowledge with other teachers, expanding the number of content experts in schools. The ultimate goal is to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and draw students into STEM fields.
Karen Renzaglia, plant biology, is principal investigator on the grant. Her co-investigators include SIU experts in plant biology, zoology, teacher leadership, effective STEM pedagogy and sustainability and environmental science.
In June, following a year of research and planning by Tammy Kochel of SIU’s criminology and criminal justice faculty and her students, eight individuals participated in an interventional meeting and heard first-hand about the impact of gun violence. At the end of the meeting, they were given resources to assist them.
“That might be getting a GED, help getting a job, daycare, housing, mental health, substance abuse — a whole range of possible services,” according to Dr. Kochel.
Both of these projects improve our communities through the creation and exchange of knowledge – helping us fulfill the promise of our mission statement. These are just two examples of the outstanding work our faculty members undertake every day on behalf of Southern Illinois.