While SIU Board of Trustees members have had an ongoing public dispute, community members question the effect it could have on the university’s reputation.
Board chairman Roger Herrin was voted out of his seat March 22 at the board’s annual elections and told media outlets he believed SIU President Glenn Poshard orchestrated his removal. He and trustee Don Lowery accused Poshard of not effectively communicating with the board when they questioned the administration’s practices.
Lowery also publicly stated Poshard should step down as president of the university.
In response, Poshard held a press conference March 27 where he said Herrin continuously bullied board members during his term as chairman and threatened to have them removed from their seats by the governor if they didn’t agree with his policies and ideas.
Since then, Lowery has questioned whether the administration’s housing allowance of about $60,000 has been effectively used by the president and chancellor.
Mark Chalem, a senior from Carbondale studying finance, said with the university’s declining enrollment issue, the public dispute can’t be good for SIU’s reputation.
“Especially right now, the university doesn’t need to be doing anything to put a negative spin on its image, and this is just as bad of a situation as you could really hope for,” he said.
Andrea Evans, department chair and associate professor in educational administration and higher education, said it’s hard to say whether this could affect the university’s reputation.
“Boards and presidents vary at different institutions, and the relationships will vary,” she said.
Evans said she thinks each board member has a view of how the board should work, and it will take time before the members settle on an agreed expectation of each other.
Some City Council members seem to think the media has sensationalized the dispute.
Councilman Lance Jack said he thinks it’s a shame Herrin has turned the argument into a public affair, because it’s not good for anybody.
“Like anything in today’s news cycle, the press grabs it, plays it up and creates this sensational picture,” Jack said. “If there’s a longer-lasting effect, it’s more the result of the press than anything that the Board of Trustees or president’s office has done.”
He said he doesn’t think the dispute will have an effect on the university in the long run, though.
Councilman Lee Fronabarger said he agrees the media can sometimes blow disputes out of proportion. He said, however, he thinks it’s good to research and review university policies, and board members should speak up if they don’t think things are being run correctly.
“Sometimes there has to be a discussion, but it has to be a healthy discussion to do any good,” Fronabarger said.
Disagreements between board members are common at any university, though, so this dispute probably won’t have much effect on the decision of prospective students, he said.
Hannah Streicher, a senior from Kankakee studying history, also said she thinks these disputes are normal at other universities, and it shouldn’t hinder students from applying to SIU.
Jeanette Grosman, a sophomore from Vernon Hills studying communication disorders and sciences, said she also doesn’t think the issue will have a big influence on enrollment. She said she doesn’t follow the news enough for it to have much of an effect on her, either.
Justice Moore, a junior from Chicago studying accounting, and Michael Kordas, a sophomore from Chicago studying accounting, said they also don’t pay very much attention to the news, and even if they had been educated on the dispute, they would probably shrug it off and not let it affect their opinions of the university.