Daily Egyptian

SIUE Faculty Senate executive committee: SIUC needs a ‘new institutional identity’

SIU-Edwardsville%27s+water+tower+can+be+seen+Jan.+27%2C+2017.+%28Jacob+Wiegand+%7C+%40jawiegandphoto%29
SIU-Edwardsville's water tower can be seen Jan. 27, 2017. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

SIU-Edwardsville's water tower can be seen Jan. 27, 2017. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

SIU-Edwardsville's water tower can be seen Jan. 27, 2017. (Jacob Wiegand | @jawiegandphoto)

The faculty of SIU-Edwardsville empathizes with the administrators, faculty, staff and students of SIUC and the broader Carbondale community.

We recognize the significant challenges the campus faces, and we feel for the people at risk. These challenges and the immediate crisis confronting SIUC also influence our institution. Aside from the real concern we have for the well-being of another Illinois higher education institution, it is very much in the best interests of SIUE for our partner university, SIUC, to successfully deal with these challenges.

We do not have direct insight into how SIUC administrators, faculty, staff and students have been involved in planning and decision-making. However, based on public statements and media coverage, what we have not yet seen is recognition by SIUC that the unique set of demographic, financial and political circumstances that encouraged its remarkable growth during the 1950s and 1960s has changed profoundly over the ensuing decades. It is imperative for SIUC to show its commitment to a forward-looking strategy in order to create a competitive, viable academic institution with a new identity, occupying a new niche — a strategy that will require significant changes to achieve.

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In our view, the present abject failure of Illinois state government to fund public higher education is an extreme example of a long-term disinvestment trend that has exposed but not caused the immediate crisis in Carbondale. For whatever reasons, including frequent turnover of administrators, SIUC has for many years not adapted in an innovative manner to changing circumstances such as declining enrollment. This has now led to a crossroads that has forced action by the SIU system in a way that will directly, and negatively, affect SIUE.

It is important for the future of the SIU system that the nature of the relationship between SIUE and SIUC be addressed with open and candid communication. The SIUE Faculty Senate has recently adopted two resolutions that relate directly to the immediate crisis in Carbondale.

The first of these resolutions, adopted April 7, calls upon SIU President Randy Dunn and the SIU Board of Trustees to acknowledge and affirm “that SIUE and SIUC are distinct universities within the SIU system, each with its own unique identity, engaged in a voluntary, equal partnership to serve the educational needs of the residents of Illinois.” Accordingly, the SIUE Faculty Senate asks in the resolution “that enrollment and prudent fiscal resource management will henceforth determine the equitable distribution of state appropriated funds within the system.”

A second resolution, adopted April 18, relates to the proposed emergency “loan” of SIUE “unrestricted” funds to SIUC.  In the second resolution, the “SIUE Faculty Senate in principle opposes a SIU system strategy that jeopardizes the fiscal and structural well-being of our university (and the SIU system) to support operations” at SIUC “that are unsustainable in their current configuration.” The SIUE Faculty Senate requests in this resolution “that should the Board of Trustees decide to proceed with the proposed transfer of funds, they do so in such a manner that puts the well-being of SIUE foremost, and establishes specific parameters necessary for our current and future planning.”

Among the requested stipulations on the proposed transfer of funds, we list a defined limit on the amount of money to be diverted, explicit arrangements for repayment, calculation of and repayment of interest, and a specific timeline for repayment. Most importantly, we recommend that the framework for the temporary transfer of funds would require the prompt preparation and adoption by SIUC of “a plausible new operating plan for reimagining itself in response to the myriad challenges that it faces.”

It is distressing for the SIUE faculty to witness the desperate situation confronting our colleagues at SIUC. We care about what happens to you. For the sake of our system, our state and higher education more broadly, we want SIUC to flourish. We sincerely hope that our partner university will respond to the urgent need to employ strategic budget decisions as a means to create a distinctive new mix of academic programs and a new institutional identity for SIUC.

Respectfully submitted by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, SIU-Edwardsville.

The Faculty Senate Executive Committee at SIU-Edwardsville consists of President Jeffrey Sabby, Past President Stacie Kirk, President-Elect Marcus Agustin, Stephen Kerber, Jennifer Logue, Bryan Lueck, Nancy Lutz, Sorin Nastasia, Jonathan Pettibone, Jennifer Rehg and Morris Taylor.

To submit a letter to the editor, email the Daily Egyptian at [email protected]

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “SIUE Faculty Senate executive committee: SIUC needs a ‘new institutional identity’”

  1. Kate B on May 8th, 2017 3:18 pm

    Nobody will say it so I will (but everybody knows it!) The “second chance” program at SIUC is a disaster, and has been the downfall of the school and community. The admission standards are beyond lax, letting in students that have absolutely no business attending college. These students – imagine this — flunk out or leave after one semester. Many stay in the area instead of returning home to pursue trade school, community college, work opportunites, military service, etc. Some of those who choose to stay become productive members of society. Sadly, most don’t. Just look at crime stats, poverty rates, and unemployment rates of the area. The second chance program was an ill-fated attempt to boost enrollment numbers, and had catastrphic results on the school and surrounding community.

  2. Big Bob on May 9th, 2017 9:44 am

    I would like to establish that the narrative that SIUE is pushing – that they have made tough choices to put them in a better fiscal position – is a false narrative. The only reason SIUE is in a better position is geography. If the campuses magically switched locations, then SUIE’s “identity” would be one of dramatically declining enrollment – while SIUC, now in the metroplex, would be weathering the storm better due to solid student numbers (which the administration would pat themselves on the back for).

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