Text of chancellor’s speech regarding academic reorganization


Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz

Newly appointed Southern Illinois University chancellor Carlo Montemagno poses for a portrait Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Anthony Hall. “Resources do not define your vision or define your ultimate goals – they establish a framework for the path that you have to travel. But they don’t define who we are as an institution,” Montemagno said. “My vision is that we establish SIUC as a destination institution – that people from across the country and around the world know of us and want to come here because of the quality of the educational experience the students get.” (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Campus desk

The following is the transcript of a speech Chancellor Carlo Montemagno gave Thursday in the Student Center regarding his plan to restructure academic programs. 

Welcome, and thank you for coming.

Since my State of the University address a few weeks ago, I’ve received a lot of thoughtful feedback. Some people are excited, others are intrigued and still others are waiting to learn more.


Today, I’ll provide additional details of the proposal to reorganize our academic programs. The goals are to ensure that we fulfill our mission of access and opportunity, innovation in research and creativity and outstanding teaching focused on nurturing student success.

We will do this by breaking down academic silos to create synergy and provide new opportunities for collaboration and knowledge creation. In turn, we will attract and retain students.

I am frequently asked two questions: Why is reorganization necessary, and what’s the hurry?

To answer this, let’s take stock of the university. We have experienced a significant decline in enrollment over a number of years. We have lost more than 50 percent in our freshman class over the last three years alone. We are in a free-fall, and this is directly impacting the health of the institution.

Why is this occurring? It’s occurring because we are not offering programs that are distinctive and relevant to today’s students. As we try to correct it, we face limited resources, declining faculty numbers and no help from the state.

We must recast and reinforce both our academic programs and our research.

The biggest limitation in our ability to change has been bureaucratic, artificial boundaries created by the way we count effort and resources. In numerous conversations with faculty, I have heard about great ideas to deliver new programs that were stymied because of bureaucratic obstructions.


The solution is to eliminate the primary obstacles for multidisciplinary interaction — the financial structure associated with departments. By eliminating departments, we coarsen the delivery of resources to support innovative thinking.

By creating schools and realigning programs that have inherent synergy, we provide a concentration of talent that masks the challenges we are facing due to limited faculty numbers. Lastly, by organizing into schools around relevant themes, we provide a clearer window to those on the outside to see the incredible offerings we provide.

This change in structure has the ability to enable our faculty to develop the programs they dream of and to engage in research that was previously inaccessible to them.

As I present this straw man proposal, I would like all faculty and staff to be thinking: where can we combine offerings to free up resources to both invest in building stronger programs and create new programs.

This process is designed to enable the faculty to recapture ownership of the academic enterprise and to reinvigorate the spirit of discovery and inquiry at SIU.

Speed is essential. We must turn our enrollment free-fall around quickly by realigning current programs and adding new ones so that we can better appeal to — and market to — today’s students. Already, we are in the planning stages for recruiting the fall 2019 class; all of our marketing materials must be finalized in the spring. We cannot capitalize on this change if we do not make it. We cannot wait still another year to present our new face to prospective students.

I have no illusion that we will turn enrollment around immediately. But I do believe that we must get started now to have an impact in two years. I know we can meet the timeline if we work together.

I remind us all that enrollment generates revenue that we can reinvest. Lack of enrollment due to inertia would force us to abandon our mission as a comprehensive doctoral research university. We would have fewer programs, colleges, fewer schools and, importantly, fewer people.

And while academic reorganization is not about the savings, it will generate savings nonetheless. We cannot ignore the fact that the sooner we generate savings, the sooner we can invest in our people and programs.

What is our ideal enrollment?

To answer this question, we have been busy looking at capacity in terms of programs and space, as well as other factors, to determine an ideal size for SIU. We want to be sure that we can be a comprehensive university that still provides a personalized educational experience. I believe a realistic target enrollment that allows us to do both is to grow to 18,300 students by 2025.

A lower target will affect our capacity to be a comprehensive institution. A higher target risks our ability to provide a personalized educational experience.

I believe that 18,300 is realistic and achievable.

Before we go further, I would like to reiterate two important points from the State of the University address.

First, there will be no layoffs of faculty or staff tied to academic reorganization. While the reorganization will generate savings to reinvest in our people and programs, the goal is to reenergize and update our programs, advance our research enterprise, and grow enrollment and reputation.

Finally, everything we are about to look at is a proposal — it is not final. Instead, it is a draft intended to initiate conversation and generate feedback. I know that the final structure will look different at the end of the process. Faculty, especially, will have insights that may lead to changes, since they are the experts on the programs.

In fact, some of you have already gotten into the spirit of the conversation by suggesting alternative names for schools or colleges. I’ve also received several thoughtful proposals about the best homes for programs or the best structure for groups of programs.

To all of you who have shared your ideas so far, I thank you. You will not yet see your input reflected in the proposal today. We want to make changes based on the full input we expect to receive resulting from today’s release of the specific program details.

Feedback is exactly what this process is about. I encourage everyone to participate. I’ll share more about how you can do that at the end of these remarks.

Let’s start by looking at our academic program structure as it stands today. We have eight colleges with 42 departments and schools. These numbers do not include the schools of law and medicine. Again, this slide looks at programs rather than departments.

Let me give you a couple of examples of opportunities I’ve already mentioned:

Highlighted in green here are the programs related to allied health and human services outside of the medical school — based in three different colleges.

We see the same issue with areas focused on management — highlighted in orange — across four colleges.

In both of these cases, we could build better synergy and deeper, broader programs. In some cases, we could also eliminate duplicate curriculum being taught in these courses.

Now let’s look at a draft of the proposed new structure, which has five colleges and 18 schools, including law and medicine. You see here those same programs in health and management in their new proposed homes.

Before I break this down further, let me offer a few points about what you will see.

First, remember that we are looking at programs and not departments. The goal is to move programs and faculty into schools, eliminating departments. Current examples of the general model already exist at SIU.

They are present in the School of Allied Health, School of Art and Design and School of Architecture. These schools house multiple academic degree programs, with faculty tenure residing in the school. So we are not creating new ground. A modified version of this structure already exists on a smaller scale.

Next, you will not see every program listed. Some are in the discussion process for possible elimination or are already being taught out. We have not included minors or all graduate programs simply to keep things as easy to follow as possible. Graduate and minor programs will move into schools just as undergraduate major programs will move.

And finally, you will see some ideas for new programs. It will be up to the faculty in the schools to decide whether to move these or other new programs they identify forward. Ultimately, in fact, the nature and structure of programs in each school will be decided by its faculty members. They can decide to leave them as-is, merge or restructure them, or add or eliminate them.

But first, we have to start with deciding where our existing programs might go — and how we might merge them into schools.

As we walk through these, you won’t need to take notes. We have this laid out on boards for you after the presentation and will be posting the structure on the Vision 2025 website immediately after the open forum later today.

Let’s buckle up and review.

First is the proposed College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. This is the one I have had the most feedback on so far — both in terms of the name of the college and schools and in potential program structure. The numbers you see give you a sense of size based on this fall’s students and faculty. Student numbers are for declared majors.

Proposed are three schools: Integrated Biological Sciences, Production Agriculture, and Sustainability and Earth Science.

Programs that would become part of the School of Integrated Biological Sciences are anatomy, a proposed new program in bioinformatics, fermentation science, neuroscience, plant biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, biological sciences, microbiology, physiology and pre-medicine, pre-nursing, pre-dentistry and pre-veterinary programs.

Note that we are proposing to move several basic science programs currently in the School of Medicine to this school to build greater synergy within the school and to ensure that we have a complete palette of discipline offerings in the school. Even more importantly, we see this as building a bridge that will unlock opportunities for research in translational medicine with Springfield. Students in the School of Medicine will not be affected by the shift of these programs.

The School of Production Agriculture would include agricultural systems and education; agronomy or, as currently known, our soil and crop programs; horticulture; and animal science. This change will reaffirm our commitment to supporting our regional and state agricultural enterprises. Research universities in urban settings do not have this advantage. We need to capitalize on it.

The proposed School of Sustainability and Earth Science presents a great opportunity to build visibility for the good work we are doing in environmental management, forestry, geography and environmental resources, geology, environment policy and zoology.

Again, this is the college that is generating the most feedback so far. I welcome this engagement and look forward to hearing more of your ideas.

The proposed College of Business and Analytics includes a School of Accountancy and Finance and a School of Management and Marketing. The name change is meant to reflect the anticipated incorporation of data analytics as a core feature to benefit future graduates of this college.

Accountancy and Finance includes accounting, agribusiness economics, economics and finance.

Management and Marketing brings together business and administration, management, health care management, hospitality and tourism administration, marketing, recreation professions and sport administration.

Education is SIU’s founding program. As a normal school, we were initially created to educate skilled teachers to serve Illinois communities. We have lost this focus.

If we move our human services programs out of our current College of Education and Human Services, we can rededicate ourselves to the education programs that are at our roots through a smaller, more focused school. In effect, we are elevating our focus on education to be on par with the School of Law, which educates attorneys, and the School of Medicine, which educates medical professional, and now the School of Education, which educates educators.

The schools would include our teaching education programs; counseling and quantitative methods; curriculum, instruction and administration certification, special education and workforce education and development.

The College of Engineering, Physical Science and Applied Technology would have four schools: engineering, homeland security, physical sciences and transportation and technology.

We cannot become a leading institution of engineering research and education as currently positioned. To correct this, I propose adding a new program in chemical and biological engineering to our School of Engineering. The school would also include the existing programs in civil, computer, electrical and mechanical engineering as well as energy fuel and management.

I will also strongly encourage the faculty in the School of Engineering to expand graduate school offerings to include a wider array of Ph.D. programs. This will be essential for us to advance from an R2 to an R1 research institution.

We live in challenging times. An essential element of keeping us all safe is having well-educated individuals who can lead the charge against those who wish us harm. Accordingly, we propose creating a School of Homeland Security that would include criminology and criminal justice, new cyber-security program and forensic sciences programs, public safety management, information systems technology and a proposed police academy. Creation of the police academy will require state approval, and we have already begun the process to secure it. I’m convinced that this school will position SIU as a national leader in educating the next generation of people dedicated to the safety of our nation.

The School of Physical Sciences would include chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics. It would also include a new program in machine learning dedicated to educating individuals who, for example, create autonomous vehicles. We are also proposing a new program in material science, a field leading technological advancement in areas such as intelligent materials and advanced point-of-care medical diagnostics.

And finally we have the School of Transportation and Technology. This school would include our hallmark programs in automotive technology, aviation management and flight, aviation technologies, electrical engineering technology, industrial management and applied engineering, technical resource management and quality engineering and management. It would also include a proposed new programs in robotics and automation.

Our new College of Health and Human Services will bring together all that we do to improve health and support a high quality of life in the region under one umbrella. The college would include two schools: clinical services and human services.

The School of Clinical Services would include behavior analysis and therapy, communications disorders and sciences, dental hygiene, physical therapist assistant, radiologic sciences and rehabilitation services. These programs share a commonality in that they directly educate our students to deliver quality clinical care.

The School of Human Services is proposed to include exercise science, a new program in gerontology and rural health, human nutrition and dietetics, mortuary science and funeral service, public health and social work.

All of these programs are important to supporting our community. Bringing them together expands the critical mass of our offerings and provides a central location for future students who desire to work in health-related fields.

I am very excited about the proposed College of Liberal and Performing Arts. It would include four schools: Architecture, Art and Design; Humanities; Media and Performing Arts; and Social Science.

The School of Architecture, Art and Design would include architectural studies, fashion design and merchandising, art, industrial design, interior design and a proposed new program in landscape architecture. The commonality and synergy that can happen by bringing these programs together is obvious.

The School of Humanities would include English; history; languages, cultures and international studies; linguistics; and philosophy.

The School of Media and Performing Arts would include cinema and photography; communication studies; journalism; music; musical theater; radio, TV and digital media; and theater.

And finally, the proposed School of Social Science would include anthropology, paralegal studies, political science, pre-law, psychology and sociology.

There are no changes proposed for the School of Law.

Changes in the School of Medicine relate only to those programs that we have proposed moving to the school of Integrated Biological Sciences, so I will not walk through the rest of the school’s programs here.

This is what the “straw man” proposal looks like. It should be noted that should your degree program be eliminated, it does not mean that the individual courses will go away. They can remain with support of the faculty as long we have enough students to enroll in them.

Let me say this again: faculty in the schools will have the ultimate decisions about whether programs stay the same, whether they are updated due to opportunities created by bringing programs together, and whether new programs are added. This is shared governance in its most basic form. The faculty have the opportunity to define their educational programs.

As noted in the State of the University address, faculty will have the opportunity to propose operating papers for their schools and define the policies and committees associated with the governance of their school.

I will also challenge faculty in each school to identify at least one program that has the potential to become a top-10 national program and establish that as a goal for the school.

It’s important for us to remember that no current student will be affected by this reorganization. All students will be able to complete their programs under the requirements that existed when they first enrolled at SIU.

Finally, this effort is not about merging one college into another in order to diminish any current college. Instead, it is about rebuilding from the ground up. In that rebuilding, some colleges will look very similar to colleges we have now, and some will look very different. Every faculty member who moves into a new school will have a voice as a full participant, not an add-on.

As I have emphasized, I look forward to robust discussion of the straw-man proposal among members of the campus community. This will include careful attention to our responsibilities under the Collective Bargaining Agreement’s Article 9, which focuses on program changes.

My leadership team is drafting program change proposals. When finalized, these will be distributed to appropriate faculty. As noted earlier, we have already received a substantial number of comments on the straw man proposal, and these comments will inform the program change proposals that we will ultimately forward for review.

I invite faculty who may have not yet done so to participate in the development of the proposals by communicating feedback or input on the straw-man proposal before November 6 on the feedback form at the address highlighted here.  We will submit formal proposals to the requisite faculty on or about Friday, November 10.

Please note that this is not the last opportunity for faculty and other stakeholders to provide feedback on the program change proposals

In mid-February, the final structure for the proposed reorganization will be released. Until then I welcome comments, observations and suggestions for improvement. After the structure is finalized, it will be time for the faculty to begin defining their school and governance structures.

My goal continues to be to have a budget based upon a final plan to take to the Board of Trustees in April.

If we can get this done by April to demonstrate how we will generate savings, the budget will include salary increases. Any increases would require appropriate negotiation with collective bargaining units. I believe it is absolutely possible to make this happen if we work together.

I would like to turn now to our core curriculum.

If we are to distinguish ourselves from other institutions, we need to ask ourselves a question: What characteristics should define every SIU graduate?

I propose all of our graduates must have strong written and oral communication skills, an appreciation for living and working in a multicultural and global society, emotional intelligence and leadership skills. We also want our students to have a multidisciplinary foundation that allows them to be able to assimilate knowledge that comes from multiple sources. This is one of the primary benefits of attending a comprehensive research institution.

If we want our students to be competent in all of these areas, we need to make sure our core curriculum delivers on that promise. We also need to make sure the core curriculum is more relevant to students so it is less about checking off the requirements and more about helping them connect the dots between the core curriculum and their future success.

I have asked Dr. Reza Habib, director of the core curriculum, and the core curriculum committee to begin to explore a number of ideas simultaneously with academic reorganization.

First, how can we integrate our English composition and communications courses within a student’s discipline so the skills learned are immediately relevant? Can we co-teach them with a faculty member in the discipline and a faculty member whose focus is on communication skills, whether in English, communication or another department? Can we embed them in or couple them with lab courses?

If we can rethink the model, we can ensure that every graduate has the skill set to be a competent communicator using every medium in every field, whether it’s business, art, engineering or social work.

Next, how can we ensure that every single student understands what it means to live in a multicultural society? I think we would be hard-pressed to find graduates today who will spend the rest of their lives only with people who are just like themselves.

Our current core curriculum requires three credit hours tied to multiculturalism, and a student can choose from more than 50 worthy courses to fulfill the requirement – but none by itself provides the full range of cultural competencies our students need to be successful in the world in which they will live and work.

I’ve asked the diversity council to take the charge for developing the idea base for incorporating cultural competency for our students in meaningful and impactful ways.

This is going also going to require that we inculcate multicultural learning concepts within the context of a student’s chosen discipline.

Let me add again that existing courses would not go away as long as there is enough student interest.

Finally, how can we make sure all of our core curriculum courses are directly relevant to students, regardless of their career paths? For example, how do we connect science and the arts to our everyday lives, helping ensure that the core curriculum adds value?

These are the big questions. I believe we have creative faculty who can collaborate to answer them — especially once we de-couple the core curriculum from the credit hour model that has inhibited our willingness to change.

Rethinking the core starts with understanding what we want the outcome to be and creating a curriculum that takes us there. The completed core will define our next generation of Salukis.

As an aside, Undergraduate Student Council President Joshua Bowens has agreed to work with the Undergraduate Student Government on an honor code for all students to prepare them to be ethical citizens before and after graduation.

I’m also going to ask the faculty to take a hard look at their academic programs. Historical requirements for many programs may be out of date and are included only because of past practices. I would like the faculty to use this chance, unencumbered by outdated budget models, to explore how we may provide more impactful experiential learning opportunities, eliminate topical duplication and drive the advancement of innovative academic programs across the campus.

I know what you’re thinking: We have a lot of work to do in a very short time. That’s probably an understatement.

We will be working on several levels. For example, I would like faculty who might be willing to facilitate conversations and coordinate efforts at the proposed school level to identify themselves over the next two weeks. Please email Associate Provosts Lizette Chevalier and David Dilalla if you are interested.

Ultimately, directors of the schools will be chosen by the faculty, as will the individuals who will oversee each program. As noted earlier, we will also be following established processes to work with our constituency heads and remain in compliance with collective bargaining agreements.

We will continue to collect input from our stakeholders through these formal processes, as well as through informal processes.

I would encourage our staff, community and business leaders, alumni and the extended SIU community to provide ideas or concerns. Please, if you identify a problem, also identify a possible solution.

I know that together we will build a great university that fulfills the potential we all perceive.

Thank you for your patience as I have walked through some fairly complicated information. As I said at the outset, I know that the final structure will not look exactly like this, but I hope you are as excited about the possibilities as I am.

Reorganizing our academic programs will create new opportunities for collaboration and knowledge creation. It will help us better package and market our programs to students so they can see multiple opportunities and paths within schools. It will revitalize our enrollment. It will reduce administrative costs and time, which will free faculty for teaching and research. And it will create a new, more relevant SIU for students, faculty and staff.

This path will allow us to realize the hidden potential of the second jewel in the crown of Illinois higher education. It will clearly assert our position as one of two comprehensive public research universities in the state.

I would ask that you not listen to those voices who have no interest in you achieving your ambitions, but instead because of lack of heart, will actively point to shadows in the dark to inject uncertainty and unfounded fear.

Instead be fierce and embrace your inner Saluki.  Dream big and act big.  Now is the time to grasp what we all want – a great SIU.  I believe in the faculty and staff who define SIU.

Set aside your fear, run with me, and I know we will all succeed.

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