Board of Trustees plans meeting for appointing interim chancellor as SIU, Carbondale react to Chancellor Montemagno’s death

By Staff Report, Campus Desk

After SIU Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno died Thursday morning, the Board of Trustees has not decided when the special meeting will be held to appoint an interim chancellor.

This is according to John Charles, director of government and public affairs for SIU on behalf of Amy Sholar, Board of Trustees chairwoman. There has been no further comment about the special meeting at the time of publication.

Interim Provost Meera Komarraju said she thinks the university administration will want to carry on with Montemagno’s vision.

“We are working with President Dorsey and with the Board of Trustees [on] what the next steps are,” Komarraju said.

Komarraju also said she wanted to be respectful of Montemagno’s family, since this time is about him and his family’s loss.

“I want to be very respectful about that,” Komarraju said. “That we take time to recognize the family is going through a difficult time and if we can give them a sense of comfort and support.”

Sholar released a statement later this morning saying on behalf of herself and the board collectively, she offers condolences to Montemagno’s family.

While at our Carbondale campus, Carlo served as an innovative administrator and he will be remembered for the care and devotion he held for our students and in promoting their education to be our next generation of leaders,” Sholar said.

President of the SIUC Faculty Association Dave Johnson said Dorsey’s statement commented on the chancellor’s legacy at SIUC, and this will inevitably be a topic of conversation in the days ahead.

“Chancellor Montemagno was nothing if not controversial,” Johnson said. “And while this is not the moment to refight those controversies, they will continue to matter, as we continue to make decisions about SIUC’s future.”

The controversies created by Montemagno, particularly those about his approach to leadership, Johnson said, should be on the minds of the president and board of trustees as they name an interim successor.

“As a university community, then, we should not only mourn the untimely death of Carlo Montemagno,” Johnson said. “But learn all the lessons we can, both positive and negative, from his short but eventful tenure as chancellor of SIUC.”

SIU Carbondale’s leadership team will be working with the board of trustees to ensure the university continues providing a great education to students and serving as an important resource to southern Illinois, Sholar said.

SIU trustee Joel Sambursky said in a statement that he’s told Dorsey he will help ensure a smooth transition of leadership for the Carbondale campus.

“So the next chancellor can continue the good work that Dr. Montemagno began,” Sambursky said.

Sambursky said during Montemagno’s brief tenure he should be credited for addressing financial challenges facing the Carbondale campus while leading efforts to re-envision the campus for the future.

On a personal level, Montemagno made a point to ask about the health of Sambursky’s son, Teddy, he said.

“Despite his own illness, Carlo still cared for others,” Sambursky said. “I got to know him as a good man who cared deeply for SIU.”

Carbondale City Hall released a statement as well.

In the statement Carbondale Mayor John “Mike” Henry said Montemagno was a good man with a bold, innovative vision for Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and the region.

“I considered him to be a good friend,” Henry said. “We will miss him.”

The city’s thoughts and prayers are with the Montemagno family, friends and SIU campus during this difficult time, the release said.

Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors released a statement saying the board is saddened to learn of Montemagno’s death.

Montemagno served as a member of the Board of Directors since August 2017, representing SIU.

“My heart breaks for SIU today. During the time the Chancellor served our Board, we were granted a unique ‘peek behind the curtain’, which enabled us to better understand the proposed changes on campus,” said Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Board President and CEO, Jennifer Olson.

The Chamber worked closely with Chancellor Montemagno to bridge gaps between the business community and the university, the press release said.

“He fought to improve SIUC and the Carbondale community throughout his tenure as Chancellor despite the challenges placed before him,” the release said.

Illinois State Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) released a statement saying Montemagno demonstrated visionary leadership and dedication to southern Illinois.

“Carlo will be missed terribly,” Schimpf said. “But we will honor him by continuing his work to revitalize the university we love.”

Daily Egyptian campus desk can be reached at [email protected].

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