Board approves Lane as Chancellor of SIUC

By Kallie Cox, News Editor

The SIU Board of Trustees unanimously approved former Texas Southern University President, Austin Lane, as the new chancellor of SIU Carbondale at their meeting on Friday.

Lane has a doctor of education degree in higher education administration from the University of Alabama, a master’s degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Langston University in Oklahoma.

System President, Dan Mahony, said Lane has a long history in higher education with 25 years of experience at a wide variety of institutions, including Texas Southern University, University of Texas at Arlington, Lone Star State College and Tyler Junior College.

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“He has had a lot of success in what we were kind of looking for, someone who could do well with budget management, enrollment, strategic planning, […] he has had success in all of those key areas,” Mahony said.

Lane replaces Interim Chancellor John Dunn, who stepped into the position following the death of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno in fall 2018.

Dunn said he plans to move to Oregon to be with his wife, but he does not plan to be too far away from SIU.

“I intend to do what I can to help our new chancellor in the transition. I extended that to Austin earlier along with the message that I will do what I can to be helpful, that includes getting out of the way,” Dunn said.

During the public comments section of the meeting, SIUC Faculty Association President, Dave Johnson, raised concerns about SIU’s claims that Lane boosted enrollment at TSU.

“The most striking figure in the SIU press release announcing the selection of Dr. Lane was a statement that enrollment at Texas Southern had increased by 28% during a three year period from fall 2016- fall 2019,” Johnson said. “That statement is false. Enrollment at Texas Southern increased during that period by less than 2% according to information readily available on the Texas Southern website.”

Johnson said shared governance relies on transparency and trust and that those two qualities will be of the utmost importance for the university as it faces the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Faculty, staff, students, parents and community members need to be able to trust what SIU says,” Johnson said. “In particular they need to be able to trust the facts and figures SIU provides are indeed factual.”

There is no single fact that will be more important to the future of SIUC than enrollment, Johnson said. 

“It is thus deeply troubling that SIUC seems to be broadcasting a blatantly false claim about our presumptive chancellor’s past performance regarding enrollment,” Johnson said.

Johnson said The Houston Chronicle ran a story this morning about a report sponsored by the Texas Southern Board of Regents, that outlines irregularities in TSU’s undergraduate admissions and scholarship programs.

(See more: Texas Southern University admitted 4,000 students over 3 years who where not qualified.)

“How do you plan to ensure trust and transparency going forward given the concerns faculty will have about the hiring of Dr. Lane?” Johnson said. “The FA will do all in its power to work productively with the new administration, but for that relationship to be productive it must be based on transparency and trust.”

Mahony said the difference in the enrollment numbers as SIU reported and as Johnson pointed out, came from a different way of looking at the numbers. 

“As far as the 20% increase, I looked at those numbers and it depends on how you look at it, it really was focused on a cumulative increase over those three years as opposed to fall ‘16 versus fall ‘19,” Mahony said.

During a press conference the DE asked Mahony if he had concerns about Lane after reading the March auditor’s report by Chief Audit Executive, Charla Parker-Thompson. Mahony said the report did not contain evidence of its claims and that he looked at the report from the perspective of a former auditor. 

“I looked at it from not just what is accused but actually what information is there and there was virtually nothing that supported any of those accusations,” Mahony said. “So again he tried to stop the investigation from happening, well who said that? Where is the documentation? is there emails is there texts is there anything that would indicate any support for that? And there wasn’t.”

The DE asked Mahony if he contacted Parker-Thompson to ask her about her reasoning in the report or to see her evidence, he said he did not.

“No, I did not contact the auditor,” Mahony said. “I used her written word rather than talked with her directly about it.”

The full report can be found here.

Mahony said he plans to spend the fall semester working with Lane to complete his strategic plan and to determine what the plan looks like on the Carbondale campus.

“I think also given everything that’s happening, is figuring out how we figure out the fall semester, how we transition to a different kind of experience and it’s not going to be like fall 19 but a fresh experience and how we work through all of the challenges that might present,” Mahony said.

Mahony said he hopes to give Lane the opportunity to connect with the Carbondale campus community in the fall. 

 “So I think part of the discussion earlier was how do you build trust, I think Dr. Lane will do that effectively when he has the chance to go out and meet people and hopefully he will be able to do some of that even in a more restrictive environment in the fall,” Mahony said.

The Board also approved the appointments of M. Cecil Smith as Dean of the School of Education and Howard Motyl as Interim Dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

News Editor Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

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