Montemagno calls for reorganizing academic programs into new colleges

Southern+Illinois+University+Chancellor+Carlo+Montemagno+waves+to+the+audience+after+his+%22State+of+the+University%22+speech+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+26%2C+2017%2C+at+Shryock+Auditorium.+Montemagno+spoke+on+his+vision+for+the+university+and+the+steps+administration+plans+to+take+to+increase+enrollement+numbers.+%28Brian+Mu%C3%B1oz+%7C+%40BrianMMunoz%29

Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz

Southern Illinois University Chancellor Carlo Montemagno waves to the audience after his "State of the University" speech Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, at Shryock Auditorium. Montemagno spoke on his vision for the university and the steps administration plans to take to increase enrollement numbers. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Amelia Blakely

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno laid out his plans to combat SIU’s “decline” during his State of the University address Tuesday in Shryock Auditorium.

Montemagno said the greatest indicator of that decline is the decreased enrollment, which went down nearly nine percent from last fall.

This year’s decline in enrollment translated into a $9.4 million loss in tuition revenue, Montemagno said.

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Such a decline also indicates a stagnation in the local economy, Montemagno said, which he plans to stimulate by revitalizing the university.
His vision calls for reorganizing existing academic programs and consolidating them with similar programs into new colleges. He said the goal is to reduce the overall number of academic colleges at the university.

This effort would reduce administrative costs by 2.3 million dollars, Montemagno said.

The university must take a critical look at academic programs, Montemagno said, and ensure the university is adapting for new generations of students. If programs are not deemed strong, they could face cuts, he said.

“To secure the resources to invest in current and new programs, we need to identify programs that are weak and terminate those that are no longer necessary,” Montemagno said.

Programs will be assessed based “how they fit within the administrative organization of the entire university,” Montemagno said.

“I want to be clear that academic reorganization is not about eliminating programs, faculty or staff,” he said. “But it’s about creating new scholarly communities that will lead to innovation in teaching and knowledge creation.”

In the immediate future, Montemagno said the administration plans to restructure the university college department. He said some sub-departments will stay in academic affairs and others will move to student affairs.

Also effective immediately, he said academic advisement will be centralized because the existing structure has gaps due to positions becoming vacant or enrollment numbers declining.

The department will now report to the Associate Provost for Academic Programs Lizette Chevalier, but Montemagno said advisors will stay within colleges to maintain connections with faculty and students. Interim dean of University College Laurie Bell will also report to Chevalier to help students.

A draft for program reorganization will be released in October, Montemagno said. He invited deans, department chairs and directors are invited to provide feedback on their respective programs.

In November, a second draft will be released to the entire campus community for additional input. Montemagno said in the spring semester, the plan will be finalized and it will go into effect July 1, 2018.

After the reorganization takes place, the faculty in the newly created schools must come up with their administrative structures and submit operational papers for approval, he said.

The chancellor said he wants every school to develop a top ten national program.

Montemagno said the reorganization effort allows the university to reinvest in its strongest academic programs, and it will free faculty from “service obligations that can be cumbersome in small academic departments.”

A plan for the new fiscal year will be released in the spring semester too, Montemagno said. This will include proposed salary increases for faculty members.

Money for these increases will come from increased enrollment and operating more efficiently, he said.

Montemagno also announced the search for an associate chancellor for enrollment management, who will be responsible for overseeing and coordinating recruitment activities across campus. He said the university’s goal is to connect with more than one million prospective students this year.  

The chancellor said his proposed changes will be implemented quickly because time is of the essence.

“If we don’t redefine and execute quickly, we may be faced with an institution that must abandon our core mission and values,” Montemagno said. “Instead, we must reaffirm and embrace the future our mission calls for.”

Staff writer Amelia Blakely can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely. 

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