Opinion: Doing something

By Daniel Silver

Whatever your opinions of Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s proposal, the fact remains it is not about improving enrollment any time in the next seven years. It is also not about saving money.

He said so himself.

If programs and jobs are cut due to continuing losses in enrollment over the next several years, that will happen whether we do nothing or if the Chancellor’s proposal is pursued. Years have been wasted not pursuing an expeditious enrollment plan.


Something has to be done. It should be of great concern to everyone that no plan is currently before the Board to expeditiously stem the declines in enrollment, to improve retention on campus, or to really hear our students’ voices.

There are a number of prudent things that can be done that are constructive and have positive probabilities of timely success.

There is a plan at sidoingsomething.blogspot.com for the Board’s consideration; a plan to lower fees and tuition with a superior media blitz, to institute a Center for Cross-Cultural Student Success, a return to 60 credit hours required for transfer students to SIU, a 2 percent reduction in SIU salaries that exceed $150,000.00, and advertising in movie theaters.

This plan can be pursued if we all unify to demand it. Each success is designed to expeditiously improve enrollment and retention, enhance SIU, the morale and successes of our students and faculty, and to improve our region.

The plan’s Center for Cross-Cultural Student Success will enable an active, contemporaneous, comprehensive support system for at-risk students, including, but not limited to, an emphasis on recognition of diverse cultural needs of varied races, ethnicities, and genders.

Established programs and resources will benefit all undergraduate students in significant ways, taking care not to be used or viewed as culturally divisive or restrictive.

Years ago, SIU had the Center for Academic Success with fully funded and staffed peer advising, staff mentoring, and close monitoring of academic progress for all academically at-risk students. The CAS had a sophomore return rate of 77 percent, which was also true of the once very successful Minority Engineering Program. Consider SIU’s overall 2016 retention rate of 43 percent.

Eastern Illinois University claims an additional 4,400 new students in one year by expanding its advertising, especially to movie theaters. Imagine if we had advertised in theaters that showed your favorite movie over the last year.

Recognizing that many things need to be accomplished, shoring up enrollment needs to take priority over others. Implementing this comprehensive plan in no way ignores that additional ideas exist to remedy problems we identify at the university. At this time, in this place, we simply must pursue a strategic plan to jump-start and sustain enrollment and retention.

How things proceed is up to each of us. If you believe something has to be done, then you need to do something. Read the documented plan at sidoingsomething.blogspot.com. Write to the Board of Trustees at [email protected] before April requesting pursuit of this comprehensive plan. Thank you.

Daniel A. Silver, J.D., Interim Director of the SIUC Paralegal Studies Program can be reached at [email protected]