Fulfilling our mission through partnerships

Historically, public universities have received nearly 100 percent of their resources from state funds and tuition. Declines in state appropriations – more than 23 percent for SIU between the 2001 and 2018 fiscal years – have been offset over the years by increases in tuition and fees.

Clearly, this is a pattern that cannot continue. The future of SIU cannot rely on these two primary funding sources alone.

And while resources from our generous donors are critically important and make a very positive difference, their use is typically restricted to specific areas of the university that align with the interests of the donor. Private donations cannot fill the gaps made by declines in either state funding or tuition.

However, we have an alternative.

The value of partnerships

Strategic partnerships between SIU, industry and the economic development arms of our state and federal government can support academic programs and research to benefit faculty and students.

For example, partnerships with our incredible agricultural base have the potential to provide a capital investment in our farms in support of both teaching and research. There are similar opportunities in the STEM fields, the fine arts, health fields and many other areas.


University/industry/government partnerships have many benefits.

Industry and government partners can help ensure that future employees are well prepared. Partners also welcome access to extraordinarily well-trained graduates. They may also want to be on the front end of new discoveries that will change how they operate or better serve constituents. The university benefits by attracting and deploying resources that support its mission, its community, its faculty and its students.

Everyone wins.

We’ve already started

Last week, I wrote about existing and future economic development partnerships, but there are many other examples already in place at SIU.

The Advanced Coal and Energy Research Center has received $4.6 million in funds from the energy sector to better use coal resources and transition to new energy sources in Illinois.  The “energy boost” grant provides faculty and facilities support for energy/industry research and also trains our students through scholarships.

The Center for Embedded Systems is one of our best examples of a government/industry/SIU partnership that translates to instant jobs for our students. In fact, Intel is one of our top employers.

Like Intel, many industry partners are looking for ways to grow a pipeline of well-prepared future employees.

For example, Navistar International Corp. donated nine commercial trucks to our automotive technology program, and Rush Enterprises, Inc., supported the partnership by providing licenses to software that allows students to configure and program truck body controllers.

Michael Behrmann, chair of automotive technology, discusses the benefits of donations by Navistar International Corp. and Rush Enterprises, Inc. to the program.

Similarly, the U.S. Navy donated a Gulfstream III airplane to our aviation technologies program.

Identifying strategic partners

Partnerships can provide an influx of resources that will allow us to thrive and grow. I believe that we have the potential to grow the number of industry and government partnerships significantly to benefit our students and faculty while preserving the integrity of our mission.

We need to be intentional about identifying partners whose interests align with our mission and programs. We have several conversations underway now. I encourage our faculty to identify and work with the university to explore partnership opportunities that will help move us forward.

I look forward to hearing your ideas.

It’s about the ‘product’

As we focus on recruitment, we must think about the product we deliver. Of course, education is not a product like a cell phone or a can of vegetables on a grocery shelf. It is a valuable service we offer to people who have many other choices. Our “product” is the Saluki experience.

When people aren’t buying a service or product, no matter how strong we believe it to be, we must look closely at how we can change, improve and distinguish it to make it more attractive. All of the marketing in the world won’t make a difference if the service or product doesn’t stand out from its competitors.

At SIU, academic reorganization is all about reinforcing, expanding and distinguishing the Saluki experience by making it more visible and accessible to prospective students. There is nothing more fundamental to future enrollment growth than revitalizing and repositioning our academic programs.

The full college experience

We are not focusing on academic programs alone. As noted in my eight-month update to the campus, we are also actively looking at all of the elements that comprise the Saluki experience, including student life and student services, to bring renewed energy and excitement to campus. We must revitalize the entire campus experience.

Word of mouth can be one of our best marketing tools, so we must make sure our students have a positive experience that they will talk about with enthusiasm. Every interaction we have with every current and prospective student is critically important.

Recruitment and retention

The eight-month update includes many of our strategies – most of them new – focusing specifically on recruitment and retention. We have put a great deal of energy into these efforts, which may be less visible than academic reorganization but are no less important.

I’m pleased to announce one major step forward: the appointment of Jennifer DeHaemers as associate chancellor for enrollment management.

I won’t revisit details of the many other steps we are taking, since you can read them in the report, but a few of the highlights follow:


  • Earlier outreach to prospective students, including freshman and sophomores.
  • Increased outreach to a greater number of prospective students.
  • Streamlined application and admissions process.
  • Increased outreach to guidance counselors.
  • Increased outreach to community colleges.
  • Increased outreach to prospective graduate and international students.
  • College calling campaigns.
  • Revamping marketing messages and strategies.


  • Updating retention plan.
  • Improving course scheduling.
  • Increased academic support and realigned student support and engagement initiatives.
  • Ongoing and new college-level retention strategies.
  • Updated student fee structure.
  • Improved orientation.
  • Enhanced career services.
  • Enhanced student and residence life.

Taking action

If we are to distinguish ourselves from other campuses so that we stand out in a crowd of institutions – so that we address our enrollment changes – we have to look at everything we do. This includes the product we offer, the way we position and promote it to attract new students, and what we do to retain our students once we attract them. We are addressing all of these areas simultaneously thanks to the dedication of our faculty and staff.

Even so, we will not turn enrollment around overnight. As I have said in the past, it took us many years to get here and it will take time to correct course. None of the many changes we are making will be in time to significantly influence fall 2018 enrollment, although we are still doing everything we can to increase the yield of students already in the pipeline.

Furthermore, future gains we make in new students will be partially offset as our larger junior and senior classes graduate and our smaller freshman and sophomore classes move up. This is one of the reasons retention must be a continued focus.

The most important point is that we are taking action. Lack of sufficient action in the past is at the heart of our enrollment decline. We continue to work collaboratively and hard on all fronts, and we are seeing signs of progress. Let’s keep moving forward.

Field trip

Earlier this month, six faculty members took a field trip to Arizona State University to learn first-hand about the transition of many of its departments into schools.

There, at the invitation of ASU President Michael Crow, they met with academic and administrative leaders to gain a better understanding of the possibilities and the process – what worked and what didn’t.

As you may know, Arizona State underwent a major academic reorganization that included the creation of schools from groups of academic departments, not unlike the process we are engaged in at SIU Carbondale. Academic reorganization with a focus on interdisciplinary engagement was a significant component of ASU’s recent growth and success, as outlined in the book Designing the New American University by President Crow and William Dabars.

Seeing is believing

I’m grateful for the willingness of our delegation’s members  – Craiz Anz, Michael Eichholz, Derek Fisher, Scott Ishman, Christina McIntyre and Mandara Savage – to invest the time to learn from their colleagues at Arizona State. They returned from the trip eager to share what they learned and are currently planning to reach out to meet with groups of faculty and staff across campus.

By understanding how another institution managed its own evolution, we can see that change is doable and success is achievable. I know that not everything that worked at ASU will work here, but I believe we have talented and visionary faculty and staff who can adapt lessons learned to our own campus. In fact, I believe that our success at SIU will depend as much on attitude and creativity as it does on process and hard work.

Thank you to President Crow and everyone at Arizona State for helping us see what’s possible.

Moving forward: A new update on academic reorganization

Following are brief updates on the status of academic reorganization.

Votes so far

So far, 12 departments have voted on proposed schools. Overall, about 65 percent of the votes have been “yes,” 29 percent have been “no,” and 6 percent have been “abstain.”

Here’s a breakdown:

School of Biological Sciences

Microbiology: 4 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain

Plant biology: 8 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain

Zoology: 1 yes, 12 no, 1 abstain

School of Computing

Computer science: 12 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain

School of Earth Systems and Sustainability

Geography: 4 yes, 1 no, 0 abstain

Geology: 8 yes, 1 no, 0 abstain

School of Health Sciences

Allied Health: 10 yes, 0 no, 0 abstain

Rehabilitation: 8 yes, 2 no, 0 abstain

School of Human Sciences

Kinesiology: 0 yes, 9 no, 0 abstain

Social Work: 4 yes, 1 no, 0 abstain

Public Health: 4 yes, 0 no, 2 abstain

Animal Science, food and nutrition: 3 yes, 4 no, 3 abstain

Once all units in a proposed school have voted and plans are reviewed at the college level, the RMEs are forwarded to the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Council and Faculty Association in accordance with our outlined processes. You can see an update of where each school is in the process here.

New proposals

We have received a faculty proposal for a College of Social Sciences and Humanities and understand that a proposal for a College of Communication, Design and the Arts is forthcoming. I appreciate the efforts of the faculty to develop and submit these proposals. The provost’s office will continue to be on point for managing the process to vet proposals and communication with faculty on their status.

The votes and the new proposals are all part of the feedback and give-and-take processes that continue to shape our reorganization.


We remain attuned to the ongoing feedback on the use of the term “departments.” Some faculty feel strongly that the term, especially in some fields, is important to disciplinary identity. I understand this view. However, as I have said earlier, the term “department” has a very specific meaning in university policy and in our collective bargaining agreement. I have also indicated that we are happy to work to address this terminology issue in compliance with existing bargaining and policy procedures.

To start this conversation, we reached out the Faculty Association with a proposal to collaborate on a Memorandum of Understanding that would allow us to use the term “department” instead of “division” within the context of the new school structures. The school structure would not change: departments would be nested within schools headed by a director who has fiduciary and administrative responsibility for the school.

The association has indicated that it would prefer to take this issue up during full collective bargaining, which begins later in the spring. While we were disappointed, we look forward to the opportunity to work on this issue in the future.

EDITED 3:30 p.m. April 19: Corrected percentages on overall votes. Animal Science, Food and Nutrition was incorrectly labeled and the vote tally was incorrect.

EDITED: 8:25 p.m., April 19: Corrected vote tallies for Kinesiology and Animal Science, Food and Nutrition.

Eight months of progress

When I arrived on campus nearly eight months ago, I knew I was coming to a university with strong faculty and staff, loyal alumni and friends, and a welcoming community. I also knew that that we had a lot of intense, meaningful work to do to fulfill the promise of the university’s mission.

Looking back at the last eight months, we have accomplished a great deal toward the revitalization of this great institution. Today, I am sharing an update outlining the progress we have made as a campus community. We have much to be proud of, and much more to do. Thank you for all you do to position us for the future.

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.

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.

An updated look at academic reorganization

A number of people have asked for the most current version of our proposed academic structure. While it continues to evolve thanks to ongoing input from our faculty, I’ve posted the current version on the Vision 2025 website.

You’ll see a lot of changes. Most significant among them are in the schools:

The former School of Accountancy and Finance in the College of Business is now two schools: a School of Accountancy and a School of Analytics, Finance and Economics.

We’ve added a School of Computing to the renamed College of Science, Technology, Transportation, Engineering and Math (or ST2EM, our own version of STEM). In this college, we have also divided the School of Transportation and Applied Technology into a School of Applied Engineering and Technology and a School of Transportation.

And we have created a new School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences in the renamed College of Health Services and Human Science.

Evolving plan

A number of programs have been moved to new schools or even colleges at the suggestion of faculty. In fact, over the course of 70 meetings with faculty and other stakeholders – and counting – we have made more than 100 changes in the plan to date, including changing the location of programs, adding schools and renaming both schools and colleges. And while I think we are close, I am sure there are additional changes to come based on feedback.

I continue to be grateful for the constructive engagement of our faculty in proposing changes that best address the needs of their programs. They are the ones who must and will own our academic programs regardless of the final structure.

Space exploration: A look at our campus

Aerial view of the SIU Campus

Space. We looked toward it in August as the center of a total eclipse. Now, it is time to look earthward at a different kind of space – our own facilities at SIU.

How can we use our classrooms and laboratories strategically to provide the best academic experience for students and faculty members alike? How can wise use of space maximize synergy, enhance communication and promote cross-disciplinary learning and research?

If we are to answer these significant questions, we need to undertake a long-overdue review of space utilization on campus.

Enhancing the student experience

In addition to looking at our academic spaces, we must also consider our student housing space. SIU has had great success with living-learning communities that bring together students who share similar majors or interests. What can we do to even further integrate our on-campus life with initiatives that promote academic success?

The housing staff is looking at ways we can enhance spaces such as study rooms to reflect each LLC community. Examples already in place are a drafting table are in the architecture LLC and an engine room for automotive technology students. They are also exploring a faculty-in-residence program to better integrate the inside- and outside-the-classroom experiences.

What more can we do optimize housing and other student-focused spaces, such as the Student Center, to enhance the student experience? One example currently under discussion: I have asked Jim Garvey and Lori Stettler, vice chancellor for student affairs, to look at creating a highly visible makerspace with funds made possible by an SIU donor. A makerspace allows students to get together to create and explore, providing the tools and room to do so. It will help attract students to the Student Center and add excitement to campus life. I’m looking forward to the outcome.

Efficient use of space

While our primary focus needs to be on using our space strategically to achieve our goals, we cannot ignore the importance of using all of our space efficiently. Currently, we use only 10 percent of our classroom space after 5 p.m., for example. Over last summer, we saved $60,000 in utility and maintenance costs by closing Lawson Hall, a classroom building. Our current infrastructure once supported nearly 25,000 students, and even when we reach our goal of 18,300 by 2025, we will still have plenty of room. This raises an additional question: How should we prioritize our investments in maintaining spaces across campus?

Finding the answers

I have asked Lizette Chevalier, associate provost for academic program; Jim Garvey, interim vice chancellor for research; and Judy Marshall, executive director of finance and administration, to engage the campus in a review of how we use our space and what we might do to make sure we are making optimal use of our classrooms, laboratories, studios and other facilities that support our academic mission. They will engage individuals from the colleges, administrative offices and housing, under the leadership of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Stettler, to help assess how we’re using space currently and offer recommendations for improvement. I look forward to their recommendations.