Paul Sarvela, vice president for academic affairs, was named acting chancellor Tuesday at a special meeting called by the Board of Trustees.
Naming an interim chancellor was the only item on the agenda for the meeting that lasted less than 15 minutes. The acting tag could be changed to interim at the next full board meeting July 24 in Springfield.
“I’ve been here for 28 years, it was quite an honor to be considered,” Sarvela said. “(I) Thought about it a little bit and I said you bet.”
Sarvela said he has plenty of ideas, but the most important thing is a quality education. He said he wants to focus on recruitment, retention and also refresh some of the policies on campus.
In the early 1990s, Sarvela said the campus enrollment was almost 25,000 but is currently around 18,000. He said the budget was different then.
“We’re going to do everything we can to move it ahead because that is where the resources come from,” he said.
Sarvela said he would continue in his position of vice president of academic affairs until they can find someone to help.
“I’ll be wearing two hats for a little while,” he said.
President Randy Dunn said Sarvela is engaging and has the ability to help reconnect the campus.
“I was looking for someone who had the credentials to serve as chancellor, had credibility on the campus and in addition was a people person,” he said.
Sarvela said a salary hasn’t been discussed and a timetable for his length as acting chancellor was not determined.
The board hasn’t discussed how they are going to conduct a search, but Dunn said he hopes it is a national search and Sarvela can apply for the position permanently.
Dunn said there is only one thing for Sarvela and the university to do now.
“For the time being, get in and take on this work that we have teed up for him and see what we can get done,” Dunn said.
Board Vice-Chair Donna Manering said Sarvela knows the landscape and also has a strong background in academics and in research.
The board was scheduled to have a meeting July 1 but it was rescheduled for Tuesday.
“The board felt it was an important decision and that all board members should be involved in making that final decision for acting chancellor,” Manering said. “We take our roles very seriously and we know that SIU and the wider community anticipate that this is a very important assignment.”
The vote was unanimous for Sarvela to be acting chancellor after Dunn’s appointment.
Manering said there wasn’t any doubt from the board members and they weren’t surprised with the appointment.
Sarvela is a tenured Professor of Health Care Management who has coauthored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications, written multiple textbooks and has helped secure more than $4 million in grants and contracts for the university.
He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from the University of Michigan. Sarvela lives in Carbondale with his wife and two children.
Sarvela said he wanted to thank Dunn along with the board for this opportunity.
“I know working together we’re really going to address the issues that need to be worked out,” he said.
Tyler Dixon can be reached at email@example.com or at 618-536-3311 ext. 252