Reactions again mixed over second draft of Montemagno’s academic reorganization


Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz

Newly appointed Southern Illinois University chancellor Carlo Montemagno speaks about shared governance at the university Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Anthony Hall. “Shared governance is power – it provides the ability for access,” Montemagno said. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno released the second draft of his academic reorganization plan Nov. 17 with changes to reflect the feedback members of the campus community gave the first draft.

Though some say the new draft is better than its predecessor, others say the newest version still misses the mark.

Major changes in the second draft include a year-long  deferral of any decision to keep or eliminate the Africana studies major, the inclusion of political science into the School of Homeland Security and the shift of zoology to another school within the same college.


The plan still includes the elimination of all 42 academic departments on campus and their chairs, an aspect that students and faculty have criticized. Instead of department chairs, a director would oversee multiple programs under the restructuring proposal.

SIU political science professor Virginia Tilley said it is inappropriate for the chancellor to house political science in the same school as his proposed police academy, now called the Public Safety Institute.

“It’s not the job of political science to train people to do homeland security,” Tilley said.

She said the move would suggest homeland security is the principal goal of the program, and it could even “compromise the legitimacy” of research being conducted by political science professors.

Tilley said she would support the creation of program in homeland security where interested political science professors could participate.

Ray Walden IV, an alumnus from Berwyn who studied history, said he thinks Montemagno’s reorganization plan is the best course of action available to the university.

Although Walden said he believes the proposed school system will benefit SIU overall, he said he does see the potential for damage to some programs, especially smaller ones.

“I want the best for the school because it is my alma mater,” Walden said, noting bigger programs will likely not experience any major changes.


Walden, who minored in political science, said while he believes the program would be better suited in the proposed social sciences school, students in political science could still benefit from being in the School of Homeland Security.

“I like the idea of it, because they’re trying to make another reason for students to come into SIU,” he said. “Whether it be in the legal form or whether it be from politics, because unfortunately post-9/11, that is a big part of politics.”

Walden said the best move Montemagno could make with political science would be placing it in the same school as criminology and criminal justice.

Garrett Watts, a junior from Bloomington studying civil engineering, said the elimination of departments makes sense because it will cut costs.

“I understand right now SIU is strapped for cash,” Watts said. “The reality is that somewhere costs need to be cut.”

Montemagno says the reorganization will save the university $2.3 million, which is a little over 1 percent of SIUC’s fiscal year 2018 total general operating budget, according to a budget document released by the Board of Trustees.

Walden said he’s noticed the chancellor has not been receptive to major changes in his plan, despite the chancellor’s repeated calls for shared governance.

“He’s only listening to the people that are agreeing with him or the people who are going along with him but have a few minor changes,” Walden said.

Montemagno has refuted this claim, saying he and his team have sifted through roughly 3,000 feedback responses and spoken to multiple professors and students on campus to ask for input.

One area in which Walden said Montemagno has listened to student input is in the deferral of the decision on whether or not to eliminate the Africana studies major. It is, however, one of the programs Walden said he worries could struggle under the new school system.

Montemagno’s department elimination plan is currently being opposed by Faculty Senate, the Graduate and Professional Student Council and the Undergraduate Student Government.

USG voted to formally oppose the plan in order to represent undergraduate concerns senators said they have heard around campus and to have “a seat at the table,” said USG Executive Vice President Emily Buice.

According to the Vision 2025 Survey, formal feedback is only being accepted from the Faculty Senate and Graduate Council, not from USG or GPSC.

Staff writer Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @coryray_de.

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