Letter to the Editor: ‘I have full confidence in the chancellor’

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, thank you for your vision. Thank you for your drive. Thank you for your willingness to change. Thank you for a strong backbone. Thank you for your passion for students. Thank you for your commitment to the community. Thank you.

As a student who has received his highest degree of just a high school diploma and will soon acquire a Bachelor’s of Science degree in business management, I could not comprehend the journey to a Ph.D., nor do I think I ever will.

At this point in my life, I have no desire to become a chancellor of a university. After spending almost 21 years of my life in education, I could not see myself going an extra eight or even more. To become a chancellor, you need numerous educational experiences, a vast number of publications, letters of recommendations, and many more checks to assume the position.


So, for me, a student, to criticize such an accomplished individual with experience that could double my age, is irresponsible. I am not equipped to make such rationale.

I am, however, equipped to make observations of my student peers. Intimidation will not be tolerated at this institution. A lack of respect towards fellow students will not be tolerated at this institution. A lack of respect towards our leaders will not be tolerated at this institution. Crude and obscene remarks will not be tolerated at this institution. This is not the SIU I, nor many others, have come to call home.

Who do we think we are? We are students. We are students without knowledge and experience in higher education. We are students guided by emotions and the emotions of others. Have any of us served as Professor? Have any of us served as Dean? Have any of us served as Provost? Have any of us served as chancellor?

No. None of us have.

What gives us the right to criticize educational protocols and procedures when we haven’t even served in the roles of the individuals making them? There is a reason job descriptions have minimum requirements. This allows ill-equipped individuals from assuming those positions. That means us, the students, are ill-equipped.

This institution is changing whether we like it or not. We cannot fight it. If we try, we will fail. The educational climate in this state is in a downturn. More students are leaving this state than ever before. Why? Who knows? What we do know is that SIU is the economic engine of this region. We know that SIU cannot fail. To those students who are opposing such drastic change, I appeal to you. Give it a rest.

Lower your weapons. This goes way beyond us. Reform is needed at this institution. We have an individual who is willing to make change, and what do we do? We attack him and his family. That is not the SIU spirit I have been taught. That is not a Saluki.

Enrollment and morale are at a substantially low point. Do most individuals on this campus really think this can be sustained? I chose SIU because of the enthusiastic individuals I came in contact with on my first campus visit day. My heart breaks for those individuals now that have almost nothing left to give. As a student at this institution for almost three years, I almost have nothing left to give. To prospective students, we appear a united front. We NEED to be a united front.

Chancellor Montemagno has come with ideas that we have not been exposed to before. With his implementation, he has changed his mind, he has revised his vision, he has met with multiple constituent groups multiple times, he has gathered feedback, and with all this, he still makes time to immerse himself in the same students that have verbally opposed him. This is the leader I want as chancellor. This is the leader SIU and the community need.

I am only speaking for myself in this letter, but I hope that this letter appeals to more students to speak up for what they believe in. We cannot put our collective opinions in the hands of a few undergraduate and graduate students. I may not be the undergraduate student government, graduate and professional student council, or the student trustee, but I have full confidence in chancellor Carlo Montemagno.

To the chancellor, keep your head up like I know you already do, and know that you have many students behind you. We support you, we want to see you succeed, and we are keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers. SIU is as much your home as it is ours.

Thank you.

William Schefelbein is a senior studying management at Southern Illinois University and can be contacted at [email protected].