Daily Egyptian

Board of Trustees address racial concerns, appoint college of education dean

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

Recent racial tension stood at the forefront of the SIU Board of Trustees’ bimonthly meeting Thursday morning in Carbondale. 

Among the articles passed was one that will implement a set of diversity initiatives for the system.

“The item the board passed was never intended to be the be-all and end-all to say this is how we’re going to deal with diversity and inclusiveness across the system,” SIU System President Randy Dunn said. “Rather, it was to have a series of events or some initiatives that we could point to and say, ‘Yes, we think this is important and we want to be responsive to.'” 

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Donald Chamberlain III, a graduate student studying social work and representing Salukis United, criticized the action of the board in combating racial issues.

To push back against recent race-related incidents on campus, interim Chancellor Brad Colwell said university administration must continue to work with students, faculty and staff. Colwell recently announced a plan to create a diversity council by the upcoming fall semester. 

“We the students of SIU understand this is a challenge and we understand this will take time,” Chamberlain said. “A true, genuine diversity plan won’t come just after one day — after over 300 students rallied around on campus. It’s going to take time, but you will fail every time you do not include the students of this great institution.”

In Colwell’s email, he said the university plans to consult with students on how the university can better engage in and promote diversity. 

“I’ll readily acknowledge, the Carbondale campus does not have a diversity plan,” Colwell said. “I don’t know that we have ever even represented such. We have to start that process.” 

Chamberlain demanded the university administration define inclusive excellence; the affirmative action committee meet immediately; university administration create a diversity committee with student involvement and a press conference between SIUC administration and media outlets to admit the university has a problem with institutionalized racism. 

“SIU Carbondale is not perfect,” Colwell said. “There is racism on our campus just as there is racism in society. I hope we can join forces as a community to build respect and understanding.” 

Before the full meeting began, Linda McCabe Smith, associate chancellor of institutional diversity, announced she will step down from her position after nearly 23 years at the university to accept an offer at North Carolina State University.

The board decided to postpone the creation of a fiscal year 2017 budget until after the board’s July 1 meeting.

Beginning July 1, Matthew Keefer —  an educational psychology professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Research and Evaluation at the University of Missouri in St. Louis — will be appointed as dean of the College of Education and Human Services. He will make $195,000 yearly.

The trustees also approved the creation of a bike path that will run from East Mill Street south to the east of South Washington Street, connecting the university with downtown Carbondale.

This was the final board meeting for SIUC Student Trustee Allen Shelton. Naomi Tolbert will take over the position at the next meeting. 

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.

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