Longtime SIUE professor chosen for interim chancellor

By Elizabeth Donald, Belleville News-Democrat

For the next year, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will be led by one of its own.

Stephen Hansen, a long-time history professor and interim dean of the college of arts and sciences, has been appointed as interim chancellor to guide the university during its year-long search for a replacement for Julie Furst-Bowe.

Hansen, 67, began as an instructor at the College of DuPage and a research associate in Chicago. He taught at Northern Illinois University and Georgia Southern College before coming to SIUE as an adjunct professor in 1984.

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He has served as dean of graduate studies and as associate provost for research at various points in his history with SIUE. In 2014, he was named interim dean of the college of arts and sciences, which is the largest educational unit at SIUE. His resume, provided by the SIU Board of Trustees, included more than 15 pages of awards, articles, honors, committees and other service.

SIU President Randy Dunn said SIUE is on the right track and he wants to make sure it keeps moving forward. “I think Steve has the right talents and skill to make sure that that happens,” Dunn said.

Hansen said the position of an interim chancellor is “a curious position.”

“On the one hand, you’re not expected to change the world or change the university, because you’re only here for a short time,” he said. “But yet you can’t just be a caretaker, you can’t just sit on things. The institution is dynamic, the environment is changing, and I want to be able to sustain the momentum the university has developed over the past number of years that has made it a great university.”

Hansen said the state’s budget crisis is one of the university’s top challenges. “The uncertainty is killing everyone,” he said. “Not having a budget is very difficult. The good news for SIU Edwardsville is that our enrollment is up once again and we’re in pretty good fiscal condition as far as that goes.”

However, he said they are still dependent on state appropriations, and the negotiations between the governor and the legislature will have “a definite impact” on the way they can provide education for the students.

Hansen said the message he wants to get out is that universities have a critical role in modern society. “We’re an investment in the future, to our children and to adults who come back for education,” he said. “I want SIUE to strengthen its already-strong reputation for excellence and I want us to be able to respond to the needs of southwestern Illinois and our region… I want us to deliver programs to our students who are of the highest quality.”

SIUE Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe finishes her three-year tenure Friday, having resigned in order to take a new position in her home state of Wisconsin.

SIU is in an awkward position, with both main campuses led by interim chancellors. Board chairman Randal Thomas said they have intentionally structured their search plans so that they will not be searching for two chancellors at once. Hansen’s contract, which will pay $290,000, stipulates that he will serve for one year, and he said he has no intention of putting his name in for the permanent position.

Meanwhile, the SIUC interim chancellor will serve for two years, Thomas said, so that the search for Carbondale’s new chancellor will begin once Edwardsville’s chancellor is found.

Dunn said he anticipates convening a search committee shortly after classes begin, with the goal of conducting a broad-based national search for a permanent chancellor to begin next July.

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