Daily Egyptian

Letter to the Editor: Chancellor has lost ability to lead, should resign

By Will Stephens

I am a lifelong resident of southern Illinois, a 1999 graduate of Carbondale High School, and a 2005 Graduate of SIUC. I remember when SIUC was a vibrant and bustling place filled with more than 23,000 students.

I remember the economic opportunity that came with those students and the pride that it instilled in the region.

Since that time SIUC enrollment has been in decline and now stands at 13,300 students. There are many things that have led to this decline.


Some of which include the abysmal leadership of Illinois politically, tuition hikes driving freshman and sophomore classes to Junior Colleges, the weight of pensions on Illinois’ budget, changing desires of millennial students, surrounding states offering in-state tuition to Illinois residents, and other challenges outside the Universities control.

Another problem that has persisted as a reason for the failure of SIUC as an institution are those people who wish to use the University for their own financial gain, and the financial gain of their family.

For too long SIUC has served as both an educational institution and a nepotism factory. Too often it seems that jobs are awarded to the politically connected and not to the most qualified applicant.

A quick review of the people finder on the SIUC website can find numerous instances of people employed by the University that seem to have family ties to some person within the power structure of the University.

This fact was recently highlighted in a new way when it was reported by the Daily Egyptian that the Chancellor himself engineered his daughter and son in law into jobs that seem to have been conjured up out of thin air and never advertised to the public.

Not just any jobs, but jobs that pay $52,000 per year and $45 per hour respectively. The response from the University is to say that this is “not unusual” and it’s just a part of the hiring process.

It is particularly offensive to me because the average resident in Murphysboro Illinois makes $19,000 per year. That is less than $200.00 per week after taxes. What office should these average residents visit in order to get a job making $52,000 per year? What office should these average residents visit in order to get a job making $45 per hour? What qualifications should I tell them they need to have in order to receive such a job? What should I tell them the interview process will be like? Perhaps I should tell them to get a subscription to ancestry.com and after review of their family tree they should hope they are related to the Chancellor.

So why does any of this matter? It matters because Chancellor Carlo Montemagno has lost the ability to lead at a time when leadership is desperately needed. His plan isn’t devoid of value, but because of these hires he has lost the ability to implement it.

He now has no authority to talk about the financial difficulties facing higher education in Illinois. No ability to right size the university. If these hires were done with the tacit approval of the Board of Trustees and the University president then they should be held to account as well.

Ultimately this chancellor cannot lead and therefore he should resign. Furthermore, SIU should begin the process of instituting a real policy that will curb these type of nepotism hires. It would be a worthwhile first step toward instilling confidence in the university throughout the southern Illinois region and beyond.

These assertions may offend some, but there comes a time when to remain silent is a betrayal of our own character. I am not willing to commit such a betrayal.

Will Stephens, WXAN General Manager and Mayor of Murphysboro can be reached at 618-426-3308.


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4 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: Chancellor has lost ability to lead, should resign”

  1. Karen Sweiger-Veil on February 14th, 2018 12:43 pm

    Thank you, Will Stephens

  2. Mark Doellman on February 14th, 2018 5:34 pm

    I live in Bob-A-Rosa just outside the Murphysboro City limit and am an MBA Graduate of SIU. I understand your point, but how many Chancellors before now, how many Board members and others in power for decades have let this happen? Why is it now just his fault? Politics in Illinois has been this way for decades. Look at the current IL House and Senate. How do you propose that this be corrected? Should all those hired through this be let go? Prosecutions all the way around? A lot of Faculty and spouses are involved. Why should he resign if none of the others are forced to resign. This is not an easy situation. I don’t know the answer. But all that I hear is how bad he is and that people don’t want change. The University needs change. It can’t keep on going the way it is going now. We need to solve the recruitment and retention of students problem. All else pales in comparrison. I would love to hear possible solutions. Thank you for your time,

    Mark Doellman
    240 Brian Ave.
    Murphysboro, IL 62966

  3. Victor E. Roy on February 15th, 2018 12:18 pm

    I agree that his plan has some merit There are some apple carts that need to be shaken up. There are some people afraid of losing or having to share their power. In recent years, the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) was supposed to restructure and reduce the number of departments. The faculty revolted and the plan was dropped..

    I agree with the points on self-interests, because many have served themselves at SIU.

    It is a disgrace that the chancellor hired relatives without posting the positions. It sounds like the board of trustees and president should share some blame, because this was one of his fringe benefits that was orally promised.

  4. insider on February 17th, 2018 10:56 am

    Agreed, something must be done. But, this “something” needs to be positive and constructive. There are alternative plans and ideas that the faculty are behind, why not implement those? Also, regarding the corruption and nepotism within the university and state, saying the people before this chancellor were corrupt too, doesn’t exonerate him. All corruption, when caught, should be penalized. How about we instate a 0 tolerance corruption policy starting with Mr. Montemagno?

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