In memoriam

As the SIU community mourns the passing of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, the university would like to provide a forum for people to share their best memories of Carlo and kind thoughts about his tenure at our great institution.

Please comment on this post with your favorite story about a positive encounter with the late chancellor, condolences for his family or uplifting message for the community in this difficult time.

47 thoughts on “In memoriam”

  1. My family and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Chancellor Montemagno. Our hearts go out to Carlo’s wife Pam and their wonderful family.

    During his brief tenure, Dr. Montemagno should be credited with addressing the financial challenges facing SIU Carbondale, while at the same time leading efforts to re-envision the campus and position it for a successful future.

    I’ve told SIU President Dorsey that as a trustee I’m committed to helping him ensure a smooth transition of leadership for the Carbondale campus so the next chancellor can continue the good work that Dr. Montemagno began.

    On a personal level, Dr. Montemagno always made a point to inquire about the health of my son Teddy. Despite his own illness, Carlo still cared for others. Dr. Montemagno should be rightfully praised as a visionary, genius, engineer, and leading expert in nanotechnology, but I also got to know him as a good man who cared deeply for SIU. He is someone that I am thankful to have gotten to know this past year, and I am better for having the opportunity to do so.

    The loss of Dr. Montemagno’s leadership will be felt in the SIU community, but the work he courageously began will continue and be a part of his brief but great legacy of leadership at SIU.

    Joel W. Sambursky
    SIU Trustee

  2. On behalf of myself and our SIU System Board of Trustees, I want to offer sincere condolences to the family of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno. We are saddened at his loss which will be felt not only across the Carbondale campus, but the entire university system.

    Before coming to SIU, Carlo was known as an international expert in nanotechnology and biomedical engineering. While at our Carbondale campus, Carlo served as an innovative administrator and he will be remembered for the care and devotion he held for our students and in promoting their education to be our next generation of leaders. He will be greatly missed.

    As Interim President Dorsey said earlier today, we will be working with SIU Carbondale’s leadership team to ensure the university continues to fulfill its promise of providing a great education to our students and serving as an important resource to the region we serve.

    Amy Sholar
    Chair, SIU Board of Trustees

  3. I am so sad that I did not get to meet you and was looking forward to such a time at the reception you were planning after Homecoming. I only started working for the SIU Alumni Association in September. I have heard such amazing things about you and I know you were working with the Alumni Association to build a stronger and better SIU and Alumni community. You will be missed by those who knew you and those you touched with your ideas and commitment to growth.

  4. It was such an awful shock to hear of Dr. Montemagno’s passing, and I can only imagine the impact of such a loss to his family and close friends. It is a shame that SIU had such a brief time to get to know him and to benefit from his leadership, but I am glad he shared a piece of himself with us here in Carbondale, and chose to make this home for awhile. My sincere condolences to his wife, Pam, and the rest of his family.

  5. As a member of the SIU Alumni Board. I am sadden of this the passing of Dr. Montemagno. I was impressed on his unwavering dedication to move SIU forward to greater heights. He always found time to go out of his way to talk to everyone. In my conversations with him during board meetings. He always was positive and had the University moving toward bigger and better goals. A good man gone to soon.

  6. This is one of the saddest days of my life. We lost a great chancellor, a tough chancellor, a man with a vision, but most importantly, a good man. I think the world of him and his family. Carlo is the reason I came back to Southern Illinois. He’s a person I learned a lot from in a short time. We worked very well together. He never quit on trying to make this university better. The day of his passing, he was still working. I was fortunate to be able to say goodbye. I would hope we take his vision and plan for our university, and execute it and make him proud. We owe him that. I love the man and what he stood for. He positively impacted so many lives. How many chancellors go into the softball dugout and wish the softball team good luck? He will long be remembered for his passion for SIU and his ability to move our University forward during a difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Pamela, his two children and five grandchildren.

    Coach Kill

  7. It is a shock to hear of the passing of Dr. Montemagno. First and foremost my deep sympathy to his wife Pam and family. May God’s Blessing be with you as you go forward. This man; I had the great pleasure to meet several times and 3 specifically in his office to talk University, Agriculture business and the overall welfare of SIUC. A person of true dedication, strength, love and a genuine passion to make SIUC great again. What a visionary, craftsman and flexible man to work for the good of all. We will miss his leadership, but we (I) will work hard to move forward the vision of Dr. Montemagno for SIUC. Thank you for caring!

  8. The chancellor was very open to listening to ideas and made me feel like I was an important part of the big picture here at SIU. I believe that he instilled pride in many of us to be Salukis. Given the damage, the lack of funding has done to SIU and the known discord between faculty and administration, I felt it took courage and a vision to take the chancellor position here. I am incredibly sorry that he became ill and that we have lost a fine leader. I express my deepest sympathy to Dr. Montemagno’s family. I had the opportunity to introduce myself and my dad to the chancellor and his wife one day when my dad was visiting from Florida and we were shopping for phones at Best Buy. Mrs. Montemagno is a delightful woman. They were both so cordial to me and my 95-year-old dad. I choose to remember the chancellor from that casual conversation. He and his wife were just another couple of people that day, sorting out the mystery of smartphones like I was, and our talk was full of laughter and smiles.

  9. This is a tremendous loss to Carlo’s wife Pam & family and our family at SIU. Carlo was a true visionary and had our wonderful University on a spectacular path. He was selfless and everything positive that we should all strive to be in our own lives. Carlo’s journey at SIU was not easy but he always took the high road in dealing with any setback. We lost a great man today, far too soon but who left a legacy that we should continue to embrace. You will be missed!!

  10. Chancellor Montemagno believed deeply in this campus and wanted nothing but the best for our students, staff, and faculty. He was fiercely loyal and caring, understanding that the key to success in everything in life first starts with heart and soul – then comes the smarts and, most importantly, the sweat. When we first met over a year ago, we discussed how bright the future was for Saluki Nation, that we only had to believe in ourselves, and be willing to build toward a common, ambitious goal for a new academic structure. I believed him then and still do now, knowing that our best days are ahead of us, especially now that he has forged a clear path forward. My deepest condolences to his family at this time. I hope that they take some solace in knowing that he has left us with a great gift, and for that we will be forever grateful.

  11. I will always remember Chancellor Montemagno for his bright smile and unbridled enthusiasm for SIU. I was looking forward to talking to him during homecoming next week and hearing about everything happening on campus. I will miss seeing him in the Dawg Pound cheering along side the students. Comforting thoughts and prayers to Pamela, his children, grandchildren and his SIU family.

  12. I want to give the family my condolences and thank them for all that Dr. Montemagno has done for SIU. This wonderful man had leadership and vision that jump started some great changes. A gentleman of wonderful character even when some chose to not be wonderful. I want to you know that his tenure and service to SIU and the community is something that everyone is grateful for.

  13. As Vice President of the Civil Service Council, I was fortunate to get to spend time with Carlo during his initial visit to campus. I had researched his background, and was rather impressed, but nothing impressed me more than his calm demeanor when we were in what seemed like the midst of the storm. He was quick to note the beauty of our campus and dedication of our faculty and staff. We talked about what being a Saluki meant. He hadn’t been on campus long and could already sense the Saluki pride we all feel. I asked him the tough question of what attracted him to come here when we were in one of the worst financial situations? He was quick to respond by saying because this is what he loved to do. He noted SIU had many academic strengths, and he was up for the challenge of doing his best to move our university forward. He took ownership in the university before he was selected for the position. I knew right then that he was the breath of fresh air we had longed for. Prior turnover was mentioned in the Chancellor’s role, and I joked with him about how many years he could promise us. He assured me this would be his final job, and that he had intentions of retiring from this job once he got us back on track. While he didn’t give me the exact number of years, he was certain Pam did not want to pack up and move again! He mentioned it had to be true love as many times as she had moved with him. During his short time in Southern Illinois, he made a huge impact on everyone he met. While not everyone believed in his plan, he believed in every faculty member, staff member, and student. He attended a Council meeting to answer many tough questions about the reorganization, and afterwards he told us about the huge megaphone Pam had bought him for the athletic events. I saw him at the next game over break and asked where the megaphone was. He told me he was waiting on the students to return, and that he did. It was heartwarming to see him in the Dawg Pound with his grandkids and our students cheering on the Saluki’s. It didn’t take him long to win the students over. We had many fond visits at Board Meetings, holiday gatherings, the Cardboard Boat Regatta, Athletic events, etc. It was encouraging to see him work with the City of Carbondale and the Chamber of Commerce bridging that gap between the University and the community. During one of my last visits with Carlo I was asking him how he was doing when he quickly shifted the conversation to the 1% pay increase range employees were getting. He was quick to add how he appreciated the tremendous amount of work these individuals put in day in and day out at the University. He told me he wished he could do more, and he was in hopes enrollment would turn around so he could do more in the future. While I know he didn’t feel well that day, he was more concerned about others and he assured me he would be fine. His optimism and enthusiasm for success at SIU and within the region was immeasurable. He knew we had a rich history and a promising future at SIU, and I can only hope his vision will be fulfilled. While his Saluki family was very important to him, his wife, children and grandchildren were the apples of his eye. Thank you for the memories, Carlo. The Saluki nation mourns along with your family.

  14. My heart is heavy over the loss of a very brilliant and impressionable scholar. Dr. Carlo Montemagno didn’t allow the dreaded disease of cancer to impede his desire to put Southern Illinois University of Carbondale on the map as one of the top Universities in the World. We spoke in depth about his vision for our beloved university and I’m convinced that the seeds that were planted and the vision that he articulated during his brief tenure as Chancellor will come to fruition. Even though he’s no longer with us, his determination,professionalism and humility will continue to be felt on the Carbondale Campus and the Southern Illinois region for generations to come. My heartfelt condolences to his wife and family during this difficult period.

  15. Chancellor Montemagno’s vision will endure. I knew him as an outgoing person to whom others gravitated. He dreamed of success and pushed in that direction. He saw the potential to move Southern Illinois forward. He listened, processed information, and implemented a plan of action. He established a shared value system among his leadership team. He valued hard work and self-sacrifice. He commended those who put forth the same efforts.

    Chancellor Montemagno was very cognizant of individual freedoms and a great supporter of law enforcement. He fostered an environment where individual opinions were celebrated. He saw university police officers as peace officers, educators, and mentors. Chancellor Montemagno was committed to fostering innovation, not stifling it.

    Chancellor Montemagno demonstrated his desire for improvement. Others saw his passion, and it became contagious. I will miss him greatly, but will always remember his leadership and the example he set.

    Benjamin Newman
    SIU Carbondale Chief of Police

  16. The first time I met Chancellor Montemagno, was at a very difficult time in my life. He could see that on my face and he encouraged me and used his humor to make me feel more at ease. In that brief moment, he made a lasting impression. I will never forget his kindness in that moment. When he visited the Head Start Department in August with his wife at his side, he was very encouraging and kind to our whole staff, even though he was dealing with his own difficulties at the time. He let everyone present know that we were appreciated for the work that Head Start does for children and families. In just two brief encounters, he made a big difference to me and the Head Start staff. I would like to express my sympathy to his family in this very difficult time and offer my prayers for your comfort and healing.

  17. My heartfelt condolences to his family. As a member of the Graduate Council Executive Committee I had the opportunity to discuss university policies with him since the very beginning of his tenure here. We had agreement on some of the very important areas where we could improve: interdisciplinary research and teaching, research-based teaching as a part of undergraduate curricula, etc. I hope we continue to make progress on these fronts.

  18. Chancellor Montemagno enthusiastic conduct and progressive ideas will have a long-lasting impact among the SIU community. From day one he would shake hands firmly – with full, undivided attention. He made it clear the importance of listening, and that being brave and innovative is as essential as benefiting from the richness of diversity. I express my deepest sympathy to Dr. Montemagno’s family.

  19. I, too, was sad hear of the chancellor’s passing this week. When I attended the first reorganization meeting that he held on campus, I was asked by another faculty member next to me what I thought of the presentation. I said that I thought we need to run as fast as our legs could carry us toward this plan. It was visionary, hopeful, and truly inspirational, and that, after a time when not many news stories in higher education in Illinois and particularly here on campus were any of those things. I hope SIU continues the move toward the reorganization. I believe it will bring needed change in our vision of SIU and its future. There will be much hard work and change is never easy, but the end goal is worth the trouble of doing.

  20. Like so many others, I was saddened to learn yesterday that Chancellor Montemagno had passed away. I have only recently joined the university but in that time really came to appreciate Carlo and his vision for SIU. He was kind, had a sense of humor, and has accomplished much in his too-short time at SIU. I remember my interview with him and how impressed I was with his intelligence, the questions he asked and the way he listened to my responses. I am grateful that he saw me as a good match for SIU and his vision for improving enrollment. To his wonderful wife, Pam, and his children and grandchildren, I send my deepest sympathies for your loss of Carlo. To our SIU family, of which I am such a new member, I know this is also a rough time for all of you. Let’s build on the momentum we have to continue to move SIU forward and honor the Chancellor with the many success yet in our future.

  21. I am deeply saddened by the news of The Chancellor’s passing. Cancer continues to impact so many people around us – it is never easy seeing anyone go through the trials of it, and I honestly have so much respect and pride for how he navigated it (and continued to work despite his declining health).

    I was fortunate to have met Chancellor Montemagno this past February at the Carbondale Chamber’s Annual Banquet. Dr. Meera Kommaraju introduced us, and he was just as engaged and kind as I had heard he was. Regardless of whether people agreed with his vision or reorganization plan for SIU, ultimately we have to recognize that he came to help get SIU back on its feet. Anyone could see that he spent every moment he could talking with and listening to students/faculty/staff, attending events across campus and the local community, and trying to do his best – I know I saw his efforts, loud and clear.

    I am so thankful for his time here and for what he was able to accomplish – and I hope the work he has done so far is at least, in some form, continued on. I am proud to be a Saluki and want to see SIU succeed!

    Let’s all continue to keep his family in our thoughts and prayers!

  22. Chancellor Montemagno worked tirelessly to position the university for better days ahead. His positive outlook and visionary agenda were precisely what our university needed. In my mind, he was the perfect person for the job. I will miss him.

  23. As the advisor to the Dawg Pound, I got to interact with Chancellor Montemagno, Pam and their grand kids quite often at several football and basketball games. They were huge supporters of the Pound, bringing them homemade brownies or candy to most games. The Chancellor and Spencer would jump right in the front row and cheer on the Dawgs and heckle the opposing team. He loved to heckle the other players! The Montemagno’s even invited the Dawg Pound officers over for a viewing party of the Missouri State game last season. They welcomed the students into their Saluki decorated basement with good food and tons of Saluki spirit. He was making some needed changes on campus and he will be missed by many. The entire Dawg Pound is sending thoughts and prayers to Pam and the rest of the family!

    In Saluki Spirit,
    Carly James

  24. My heartfelt condolences to Chancellor Montemagno’s family. He breathed life into the university from the minute he became Chancellor. His vision, passion and hard work have put Saluki Nation on a path to a bright future. I am truly honored to have shared time with such a great leader and will be forever grateful for his selfless dedication to SIU.

  25. Indeed this was very sad news. My wife, Marilyn, and I offer our prayers for strength and comfort be given to the Chancellor’s family in these very sad times. As a member of the Alumni Association board I only had a few opportunities to discuss events. I found Carlo to be a keen listener and clearly committed to finding a path to restore the SIUC campus and strengthen the SIU system. I will remember those efforts and try my best to use what I learned to achieve those goals.

  26. I was saddened to hear of Chancellor Montemagno’s passing on Wednesday. My condolences go out to his family and all those who were close to him. Just a short time after joining SIUC, in August of 2017, the Chancellor came to the MEDPREP program “Milestone” Ceremony, an event where we welcome our new MEDPREP students studying to become physicians and dentists. Dr. Montemagno was enthusiastic and gracious to all, but what really stuck with me was that he asked students to personally be in touch if they needed anything, and he gave his e-mail. I was very touched by how Dr. Montemagno clearly believed in the importance of every student as an individual. I will always remember him for the generous spirit he displayed that day, for how much he believed in all our students, and for the tremendous energy he was prepared to give to make SIU a stronger institution for all.

  27. This is a very sad time for SIU, and my deepest sympathy goes to Carlo’s wife, Pam, and their family. Carlo was such a dear man, not only kind and intelligent and attentive, but also deeply committed to making SIU a better place. He gave completely of himself to help the Saluki community. My interactions with him and with Pam have always been joyful and full of positive strength. I am truly grateful for having known Carlo and for all that he has done for this community. He will be sorely missed.

  28. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you’ll see that Dr. Montemagno’s previous column, published here last week, was titled: “A Family Atmosphere.” In that article, he explained that nurturing and support are “trademarks” of our SIU campus community. Continuing with this theme, I send condolences to Dr. Montmagno’s family at this difficult time. Further, I truly hope that all of us here at SIU, in Carbondale, and throughout the southern Illinois region can continue to come together like family and work toward common goals for our campus.

  29. Amy and I send our thoughts, prayers, and love to Carlos’ wife Pam, and family. Our hearts are heavy and saddened by the loss of such a wonderful man.

    As the Immediate Past President of our SIU Alumni Association and member of the AA Board of Directors, I can say Dr. Montemagno’s impact on Southern Illinois University will be felt for years and years to come. He is exactly what SIU needed in these times of change. His passion and love for the university that includes our past, current and future students was so very honest and special. I had the opportunity to get to know Carlo over the last year and can say, our University is better today because of his leadership, his commitment, his passion and his rally cry to challenge us all to make SIU exactly what we know it is, an absolutely exceptional leading University with a bright future ahead.

    Although the Chancellor may no longer be here in person, his presence and vision will be what carries SIU well into the future. Dr. Montemagno was the perfect match for exactly what SIU needed at this time, and his influence has set the stage for our future. As we move forward and take our university to the new heights and work to address the challenges ahead – Dr. Montemango will be right there with us all. We could not have done it without this wonderful leader, father, husband, grandfather and friend.

    Saluki-nation stands beside this great man’s family and will work to build on his great vision and strong legacy left behind. Thank you Dr. Montemagno for all you have given SIU, today we feel sad, but we are so thankful and appreciative for the time we had with you here. Your SIU legacy will live on forever.

    Larry Mieldezis
    SIU AA Board of Directors, Immediate Past President
    Class of 1986

  30. I was deeply sad to hear of Dr. Montemagno’s passing. He was an intellectually vigorous, kind man who worked tirelessly for SIU. I was most impressed by his interactions with our students. He always found time for them, regardless of his schedule. The week he arrived on campus, he took time to be interviewed by two students in my College for a documentary project on the Eclipse. Whether he was passing the time of day with them, enjoying sports with them, or visiting a student event, it was clear that he was deeply engaged with our students. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

  31. Carlo Montemagno was a force of nature. He had the sort of vitality and energy that makes it difficult to believe that he has really left us. He had a certain Bronx charm, and he could make a direct, human connection with people, in groups or as individuals, in a way that many leaders cannot. He could be disarmingly honest, in a way that won him respect even in the midst of disagreements. We indeed had our differences, some of them quite serious ones, but he worked hard for SIUC, and was passionate about his ideas for higher education. And, as these testimonials show, he clearly had a positive impact on many people across campus. My thoughts go out to his friends and family.

    Dave Johnson
    President, SIUC Faculty Association

  32. The Faculty Senate offers its condolences to the family of Chancellor Montemagno. This is also a sad time for the campus community and we will miss him. He was a leader who actively engaged faculty, staff and students in a way not seen in many years.

    Chancellor Montemagno’s creativity, vision, and intellect were characteristics well-suited to the challenges faced by the university. Above all, he challenged faculty—those who agreed with him and those who did not—to start conversations about revitalizing SIU. Those conversations have resulted in unprecedented work by the faculty and administration in reshaping the university.

    With renewed focus on our mission statement, faculty will continue to work on the revitalization of SIU. Carlo knew that the future of SIU was in the hands of the faculty and staff who care so deeply about this institution. The work he began will continue to be shaped and honored by the reinvigorated shared governance of faculty and administration.

    Jonathan Bean, Faculty Senate President
    James Wall, Vice President
    Cherie Watson, Secretary
    Executive Council Members:
    Kathie Chwalisz
    Ahmad Fakhoury
    Derek Fisher
    Matthew Gorzalski
    Michelle Kibby
    Grant Miller
    April Teske
    Melissa Viernow

  33. My heartfelt condolences to Chancellor Montemagno’s family. It is difficult to accept his absence. When Dr. Montemagno first interviewed on our campus I was blown away by his vision, brilliance and prior accomplishments – and wondered, will he come here? As a college dean, I was acutely aware that we needed action and a strong leader. As our Chancellor, he was very courageous and defined bold and innovative steps forward. He stood up for us. He firmly believed in our potential and the outstanding things we were doing in our classrooms and scholarship. He inspired us to be innovative. Even as he faced personal health challenges, he came to work every day, bravely and cheerfully, steadfastly focused on making us successful. I will always be grateful for the privilege of working closely with him these past six months.

  34. It was a beautiful Carbondale evening when I met Carlo at a reception at the Stone Center. Rick Wysocki and I were eagerly anticipating meeting Carlo as he made his way through the crowded house talking to people. We finally got our opportunity to introduce ourselves to him on the patio. As I shook his hand I immediately noticed Carlos’ impressive grip, sparkle in his eyes, and his warm smile. He spoke so quickly I could tell his words were having difficulty keeping up with all of the thoughts and ideas that raced through his head. His enthusiasm was kid-like and contagious. He told us he had plans to rebuild SIU to a new glory and this was his new home and his final career stop. Over the next many months, I had the opportunity to meet with him and see him present his vision at various meetings. He approached his job with confidence and discipline. I’m amazed at how much he accomplished in such a short period of time, especially considering the countless roadblocks thrown in his path. But these obstacles did not deter him. Instead, as a great leader, he woke up every day and dealt with what was in front of him and remained positive. He was a proud Saluki who gave us his all and made an indelible mark on SIU. We are better off from having Chancellor Montemagno’s at SIU and have all benefitted from the work he did to move the University forward. I only wish we had more time with him. My deepest condolences to Pam and the entire Montemagno family. Thank you for sharing this wonderful human being with us.

  35. The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on. – Walter Lippmann

    Chancellor Montemagno was truly a leader. He gave us a vision and inspired us to move forward with that vision so SIU could reach greater heights. I feel fortunate to have known and worked with him. Even though it was a brief period, it was impactful. Pam and the Montemagno family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  36. I had the pleasure of interacting with Chancellor Montemagno several times during his tenure at SIU. The first time I met him was after one of his signature presentations. I introduced myself and we briefly discussed some key points of his vision for SIU. It was a brief but meaningly conversation for me. A few weeks later, in the same fashion, I spoke with him after his presentation and took steps to reintroduce myself, not thinking that he would remember me let alone the details of our initial conversation. He politely stopped me mid-sentence and with a smile confirmed that he remembered meeting me as well as the details of our discourse. Chancellor Carlo meaningfully engaged in conversations and his enthusiasm was infectious.

    My sincere condolences to Mrs Montemagno, to his family and to all those that he touched, whether he inspired you to action alongside or contrary to his vision. He was and is an inspiration.

  37. Carlo was a great man.
    We met in Cuba on an education mission, he connected with the High School students sitting on the wall outside our digs…whilst I was procrastinating inside.
    He connected with me over fishing, golf and nano-technology (did the lipids for my latest DNA sequencer). And that blessed insomniac Rooster, he taught me to pack ear plugs!
    He whistled sea shanties getting onto the fishing boat.
    I was sad when high waves meant he/we could not go out of the bay.
    And we got switched out of Hemmingway’s Restaurant (“The Old Man and the Sea” was written there). Imagine, both in one day, for a fisherman and Navy Veteran. He was not afraid of a challenge.
    He owes me a game of golf, in Heaven it will have to be.

    A truly Great Man.
    Pamela, my deepest Condolences.

  38. Carlo was a man with a warm heart, great sense of humor, had amazing perseverance and truly was a visionary. He saw paths to lead to the goals and dreams for SIU that he shared with us on day one of his arrival to campus. I feel very fortunate to also have traveled with him on the trip to Cu​​ba. Sitting in the airport he showed me pictures of him climbing up frozen waterfalls at Glacier National Park; he was quite the athlete too.
    He will be dearly missed. My deepest sympathy to Pam and all of his family.

  39. Carlo and I met at move-in day 2017. He came to Steaghall Hall to see how the “Aggies did it” when moving freshmen into the LLC. It’s then that he shared with me his passion for agriculture and when I knew he was going to be down to Earth and approachable. We had many conversations afterwards talking about reorganization and the years of work this campus had already done on the topic. He was my guest at the Kiwanis Club of Carbondale where we shared our common interest in helping youth. Our lives have been enriched having known him. A truly inspiring person.

  40. Carlo Montemagno had big aspirations for our campus, but not from afar, he was part of it, heart and soul, which was a trait so compelling about him and needed for our time and at this moment. I remember how truly excited he sounded on his radio interview during the solar eclipse, like a kid, the excitement was contagious. In class, I used him as example for my students as to what a leader should be. We will sadly miss him, he taught us a lot.

  41. Deepest Condolences to Pam and the entire family. Let us continue to move forward by honoring Dr. Montemagno’s vision for Southern Illinois University.

  42. Memorial Service Remarks

    It is my honor to speak to you from several perspectives; interim dean, faculty since 1985, & a Carbondale native who attended University school during the time of SIU campus’ excitement and growth with Delyte Morris building SIUC, Buckminster Fuller giving lectures, Gary Drake bringing Grateful Dead, Elton John, & Dooby Brothers to the arena plus many other people, and activities keeping the campus hopping with enthusiasm, occasional unrest & excitement which was always innovative & competitive. We were known for excellent academics, relevant and critical research and community service. What I’m saying is SIU attracted excellent individuals. Chancellor Montemagno is one who would have fit then and definitely fit regenerating that great tradition.

    I’m going to share snap shots of my experiences to support my statement.

    My first true interaction with Chancellor Montemagno was at the DuQuoin State Fair parade in August 2017. While we had only been introduced in a mass crowd prior to that, he recognized me and flagged me across the street to stand with his family. He treated me as a long-time friend. Carlo reached out to people and engaged them as peers and friends – and he adored his family.

    My first true one-on-one interaction was when he called me into his office shortly after I became interim dean. He showed me the “white boards” that were the topic of campus discussion. Quite honestly, I was thrilled! I am a landscape architect and design gaming/simulations – his process was common to the process used in decision making when designing complex components. As a leader and a visionary, he set the stage.

    In March 2018, a small group attended an Agriculture Conference in Cuba. There were impressive international high tech exhibits. As Carlo looked at the technology, he recognized two different technologies that he was involved in the innovation. He was truly an innovator.

    Later on that trip, he spied a group of Cuban high school students hanging out in the shade of a large tree. He joined them, and quickly engaged them in conversation and laughter. He loved students, and took the time to be interested in them.

    Leaving Cuba, as we waited in the airport, Carlo and I boasted about our passports stamps, and shared iPhone pictures. His passport had several extensions, and was like a fat wallet compared to my partially stamped, no extension one. He was a traveler, and most of his travel was research or work related. Looking at photos, I think we tied on the cutest grandchildren pictures. But again, he beat me on the most athletic stunts on vacation. I showed him my image of snow shoeing at National Glacier Park. Ha, I thought, but then he pulled up a picture of himself climbing a frozen waterfall at the park. He was an athlete and loved adventure.

    Carlo joined Dean’s Council soon after he made it public that he had cancer. His words were powerful and inspiring. We were silenced in the moment.

    Finally, when he was thanked – he answered – “For what – Doing my job?”

    My last conversation with Carlo was in a football suite. He pulled me aside and dogmatically instructed me on an opportunity to pursue for agriculture. I was, again, thrilled with his ideas as we waved our arms around as we spoke. Once he walked away, someone came up to me and asked if he was chewing me out. No, I explained, we were just excited about a new opportunity.

    Carlo had his own way. He got to the point.
    He didn’t waste time, and didn’t like to see it wasted.
    He lived life to the fullest.
    He didn’t give up.

    It is with a heavy heart that I am standing here today telling these stories in his memory.

    Yet it is with a warm heart as I reflect on the powerful spirit and confidence in SIU that Chancellor Montemagno has left us with to ‘get to work’!

  43. Memorial Service Remarks

    My Cabinet colleagues asked me to represent the Chancellor’s leadership team. It is an honor to share our collective thoughts with you. Although Chancellor Montemagno was with us for just about 16 months, he left a lasting impression. How might we articulate what he meant to us? Here are some of our reflections.

    Chancellor Montemagno believed in our potential: Although he had several other opportunities he was considering, the Chancellor chose to come to SIU. Even when we were not at our best. With a quick study and razor sharp analysis he discerned our strengths, the potential inherent in the work we were doing, and saw an opportunity to implement a visionary plan. He certainly loved a challenge!

    Having worked in the military and the corporate world, prior to entering the academy, the Chancellor preferred to move at warp speed, urging us forward with his energy and enthusiasm, a twinkle in his eye, and exuding a sense of urgency. Looking back, we are glad he hurried. He was able to leave us with a roadmap developed during the short time he spent with us. We remain inspired by his vision and a legacy that is bound to shape our future. The Board of Trustees hired him to bring about change and he delivered on that charge.

    Chancellor Montemagno was an Engineer at Work: During one of his first media interviews after arriving at SIU, the Chancellor talked about the reward of solving one of his early scientific challenges. He told the reporter that no individual on the team could solve the entire problem alone. But, by breaking it down and applying the individual expertise of each team member to the parts, it got solved through teamwork.

    When faced with complicated challenges, many of us look at the whole and see something insurmountable. As an engineer, Dr. Montemagno looked at the parts. He believed that by focusing on each piece of the puzzle and its relationship to the bigger picture, any mission can be accomplished. This was his strategy to achieve his vision. It’s also why he was constantly reminding us of the importance of focusing on our mission every day, in every action that we take.

    As many of his ideas for SIU began to take root and gain ownership across campus, he often said that Vision 2025 was no longer his plan, but the university’s plan. And now, with his untimely loss, we have been given full ownership – of the whole and the parts – if we choose to take it. His legacy lies in showing that each and every member of the SIU community, no matter their role, has the power to contribute in securing the university’s future.

    Chancellor Montemagno focused on students, the community, and the region:
    Students were very dear to the Chancellor’s heart. He enjoyed spending time with them and was keen on improving the student experience with imaginative initiatives including a Makerspace and eSports. He urged us to step up our game and enhance our recruitment efforts so that the institution, including students and employees as well as the community could thrive. He was acutely aware of SIU’s unique mission of serving the region and actively reached out to community organizations and strove to build corporate partnerships.

    On a personal note, having had the privilege of working closely with the Chancellor for the past six months, I remain impressed with his pursuit of excellent, interdisciplinary perspective, dynamic presence, creative initiatives, bold, decisive actions, the courage to stand up for us, the guts to initiate change, his firm belief in our potential to succeed and his fierce loyalty for all things Saluki. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Pam, his children, grandchildren and family. Thank you for sharing Chancellor Carlo Montemagno with us.

  44. Memorial Service Remarks

    Pam, on behalf of myself and the rest of the Board of Trustees I want to extend our
    deepest and sincere sympathy to you and the rest of your family. I last saw and spoke to Carlo on
    September 29 at the SIU football game. I stopped by with my family to see him in the
    Chancellor’s box at Saluki Stadium. He was always talking about his love for SIU, its students
    and the things he was hoping to accomplish to improve the educational opportunities which he
    believed would attract more students to this campus. As we were talking he noticed his
    grandson, Spencer, and my grandson, Will, playing and occasionally watching the football game.
    Observing the two of them he turned to me and said, “You know, there is nothing more
    important in life than family.” Carlo had the right perspective on life, although he was dedicated
    to his profession and gave every ounce of energy he had to making SIUC a better place, family
    was first and foremost to him, as it should have been.

    Last April I had Carlo speak at a Naturalization ceremony I had here on campus, where I
    administered the oath of citizenship to over 50 new citizens that came from all walks of life and
    countries. It was then that I learned of how remarkable Carlo’s personal journey has been. He
    talked about how his mother’s parents came to the United States from the United Kingdom,
    Scotland and Ireland shortly after World War 1. His paternal great-grandfather came from Italy
    but it was his paternal grandmother’s story of coming from Italy when the climate changed under
    Benito Mussolini that touched him the most. He said he was the first generation in many, many
    generations to ever go to college or even graduate from a university and now he had the privilege
    of leading a great university. He was very proud of his heritage.

    Carlo came to town with a seemingly impossible task of turning this campus around in
    the face of declining state funding and enrollment. But he was not deterred and would have none
    of it. He was passionate about SIU and its future. He thought outside the box and had a vision
    and plan that he firmly believed would succeed in improving academic opportunities and
    increasing enrollment. Change is hard in any organization, especially educational institutions,
    but Carlo was an optimist and believed change was needed for this campus to grow and prosper.
    He is right. His strength of spirit and boundless energy with his ideas and innovation energized
    this campus. He was an amazing and very intelligent individual who was down to earth and
    connected with students, faculty, staff, alumni, the community and region.

    I have heard it said that the measure of true success is not what you have achieved, or
    whether you have made a difference … it’s knowing you have touched the lives of others, and in
    some way made this world a little bit brighter and little bit better. Carlo did all that and more in
    not only what he achieved in his professional endeavors but also raising a wonderful and
    extremely close family and he made a huge difference in the lives of so many people.

    All of us occasionally get unsolicited e-mails of which 90% I hit the delete button. But I
    received an e-mail a couple years ago and I can’t remember who sent it, but it was a poem that I
    read and kept that I would like to share with you. Whenever you visit a cemetery and you look at
    gravestones, you see the date of birth and the date of death and in between those two dates is a

    The poem sent to me was authored by Linda Ellis and titled, “the Dash.”

    By Linda Ellis
    I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend
    and referred to the dates on his tombstone… from the beginning to the end.
    He noted at first came the date of his birth… and spoke of the following date with tears
    But he said what mattered most of all… was the dash between those years.
    For that dash represents all the time… he spent alive on earth
    and now only those who loved him… know what that little line is worth.
    For it matters not how much we own….the cars the house….the cash
    What matters is how we lived and loved… and how we spent our dash
    So think about this long and hard… are there things you would like to change
    For you never know how much time is left… that can still be rearranged
    If we can just slow down enough… to consider what is true and real
    And always try to understand… how other people feel
    And be less quick to anger… and show appreciation more
    And love the people in our lives… like we have never loved before
    If we treat each other with respect… and more often wear a smile
    Remembering that this special dash… might only last a little while
    So when your eulogy is being read… with your life’s actions to rehash
    Would you be proud of the things they say… about how you spent your dash

    Carlo’s Dash is filled with love of family, love of country, love for SIU and a love and
    advocate for higher education and opportunities he saw in everyone that all things are possible.

    So it is up to us to ensure a purpose to his life that was cut short by illness but not by
    drive, determination, dedication, and a vision of educational opportunity and excellence for all.

    Let us rededicate ourselves to this beautiful and wonderful campus and university, to a
    culture of completion of his vision, and to an obsession with excellence that Carlo brought to our
    community, to our campus, and to our lives.

    J. Phil Gilbert
    SIU Board of Trustees

  45. Very sad news related to SIU, with the recent death of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.
    Chancellor Montemagno made a trip to New York City last Fall, and stopped by to see me.
    We had a very interesting Breakfast Meeting at the coffee shop across the street from my apartment building (along with SIU fundraiser Jesse Goldsmith and SIU alumnus Greg Cook, who flew them from Carbondale to NYC in his private plane).
    I was very impressed with Chancellor Montemagno’s vision for SIU, and major changes he proposed.
    I joked with him that he stole some of my ideas regarding student recruitment.
    His passing is a major loss for SIU. He will be missed!

  46. To our wonderful community, we thank you for your caring deeds and words during our family’s recent loss. Your gifts of love and support have comforted us through this difficult time.

    Your many acts of kindness and sympathy continue to be a great comfort to us in our time of sorrow. Carlo will always be remembered for his integrity, drive for excellence, positive attitude and warm smile.

    He will be missed forever, but we know that he will live in the hearts of all who shared their grief with us during this difficult time.

    With heartfelt thanks,
    Pamela Montemagno

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