Saluki Alumni Plaza to get grand opening and dedication after COVID delay


Nicole Tillberg | @nicoltillberg315

Sunrise over the new alumni statue in front of Pullium on the SIU Carbondale campus Tuesday, August 18, 2020. Nicole Tillberg | @nicoltillberg315

The Saluki Alumni Association will hold an opening ceremony for the Saluki Alumni Plaza on Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. on the south lawn of Pulliam Hall.The Saluki Alumni Plaza was developed as a tribute to honor the recent 150 year anniversary of SIU-C. The centerpiece of the plaza is a sculpture of three Saluki dogs, which represent past, present and future SIU-C students. 

Jeffery Gleim, executive director of the Alumni Association, said he’s glad the event can take place safely outside with COVID-19 restrictions. 

“Homecoming seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally dedicate the plaza,” Gleim said.


The sculpture was crafted in a collaboration between SIU-C alumnus John Medwedeff and Megan Robin-Abbott. The artists spent hours poking, prodding and measuring two of the saluki canine mascots in order to replicate them and create a life-like sculpture, Abbott said. The sculpture is made of cast bronze and is 19 feet long.

The Alumni Plaza commemorative statue was installed last June, but went without an opening ceremony due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In order to fund the development of the plaza, the SIU-C Alumni Association National Board of Directors launched a fundraising campaign in 2018. The budget for the project was set at $320,000.

Caleb Hale, director of communications of the Alumni Association, said following the grand opening there will be a ceremony of formal dedication to honor the donors who supported the project. The ceremony will be held directly outside the Alumni Center at 6 p.m. The ceremony of dedication will also feature a renaming of the center to honor a pair of donors. Following the ceremonies, an outdoor concert will be held in the Alumni Association courtyard which can be found directly next to the plaza on the west side of Woody Hall.

400 RSVPs have been sent by people who plan to attend the concert with the band The Jungle Dogs,  which formed in Southern Illinois in the ‘80s. There will be food trucks, and students are encouraged to come.

Gleim said until now the Alumni Association has held no other homecoming event of  this magnitude. 

“It’s unique to things we’ve done before. So, yeah, we’re looking forward to it,” Gleim said.


Although the event will be large, safety in the pandemic is a top concern and  guidelines will be followed, Gleim said.

The Alumni Association is not the only place where alumni services can be found at SIU-C. The Career Development Center offers a wide range of resources to SIU-C alumni as well as students. 

Jaime Conley-Holt, director of the Career Development Center, along with the Student Employment office, has been working in the Career Development Center since 2000. She is also an alumnus of SIU-C, where she received her Master’s. 

“One of the unique features of our office compared to most university career service offices, is that we actually offer all of the same services to our alumni that we do to our students,” Conley-Holt said. 

The career services that are offered by the center range from resume critiques, mock interviews, job search assistance, and career coaching, Conley-Holt said. SIU-C Alumni are also provided with indefinite access to Hire a Saluki, an internet software that acts as a database for employment recruitment and a platform for those seeking employment.  

Conley-Holt said the center also provides externship opportunities. The externship program shares a relationship with the Alumni Association in that most of these externship opportunities offered are completed by current students job shadowing alumni of SIU. 

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the plaza will kick off the homecoming weekend at SIU-C.  The alumni committee dignitaries and media are welcome to attend the ceremonies, and everyone is welcome to attend the performance by The Jungle Dogs. 

 “I think people are ready to celebrate,” Gliem said. “This year seemed like a good time to do it, so that’s what we’re gonna do.”

Staff reporter Kiersten Owens can be reached at [email protected]. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.