Daily Egyptian

SIU Board of Trustees talks reorganization, enrollment during Wednesday working session

By Kallie Cox, Staff Reporter

The SIU Board of Trustees discussed the future of the proposed academic reorganization at the Carbondale campus along with tuition changes preceding tomorrow’s board meeting.

“In the face of an uncertain future, we can choose to do nothing or choose action… we have chosen action,” Komarraju said. “Change is not easy, this is a huge task but [with] patience and collaboration we are making it happen.”

Komarraju said the reorganization makes it possible to bring several programs together to share resources, reduce redundancies and generate synergy while facilitating interdisciplinary teaching and research.

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The university would seem more appealing to students arriving in 2019 and beyond, Kommaraju said.

Eight schools have received support for submitted RMEs (Reasonable and Moderate Extension Process), while five are in the approval process and eight are still being worked on, Kommaraju said.

Brione Lockett, SIUC student trustee, said the reorganization was being pushed very fast and asked if the Board would provide checks and balances as the process continued, rather than allowing Interim President J. Kevin Dorsey to have the only say in the process.

“The board having a say-so gives us another opportunity to make this better than what it is,” Lockett said.

Komarraju responded the process is not being pushed too quickly and that it is long overdue. She said the president should be trusted.

Lockett said there have been issues with trusting individuals in the past and there should be more checks and balances in the reorganization process.  This step by step process is different than the approval of the concept of the reorganization and the process needs to grind along, Dorsey said. 

Amy Sholar, SIU Board of Trustees Chair, asked what would happen next if the board approved of the reorganization process.

Komarraju said RMEs would be sent to the Illinois Board of Higher Education and after an estimated 60 days, SIU could start forming the new schools and choosing directors for them. Komarraju said after the completion of the schools many of the interim faculty members would become permanent.

(See more: With over 40 interim positions in administration, SIUC still can’t hire from outside the university to fill them)

Trustee Tom Britton said the reorganization should be a regular item on the board agenda so the board can be informed of the process. 

Trustee Randal Thomas said his concern is that out of the six colleges and 21 schools proposed, none of the six colleges have an approval consensus.

“Only eight of the 21 schools have [been] recommended,” Thomas said. “There is considerable uncertainty about where this process is.”

Thomas said there is considerable confusion and unknowns about the process.

“I cannot support approval of something I have so many questions about,” Thomas said.

Scott Ishman, Interim Dean of the College of Science, said he has been at SIU for over twenty years and it is time to see change on campus.

Ishman said late Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s Vision 2025 plan would create new academic research programs and creative activities, reduce barriers, increase interdisciplinary collaboration and decrease redundancy in our academic programs.

“[It includes] input from all our university constituency groups- alumni, regional community members, we are now at a juncture where eight of thirteen RMEs have been vetted and met with approvals from faculty senate and graduate council,” Ishman said.

Ishman said the reorganization received feedback from all of SIUs constituency groups and asked that the board approve the reorganization plan.

Dave Johnson, SIUC Faculty Association President, asked the board if they knew what they were voting on.

“Are you voting for the latest published draft of Vision 2025?” Johnson asked the board. “Are you voting to eliminate academic departments and replace them with schools?”

Johnson said that all student and faculty constituent bodies have voted against the academic restructuring and that it is a recipe for administrative chaos to dismantle SIU’s current college structure without a plan for a new college structure.

“If it is broad language, this resolution appears to violate [our] unions contract with the university,” Johnson said. “We will ensure our contract is enforced.”

Dan Silver, Interim Director of Paralegal Studies, presented an additional plan to the Board that he said would boost enrollment, recruitment, retention and should be considered separate from – not in competition with, Vision 2025.

Silver’s plan suggests that the university should strategically lower tuition, return to the 60 hour requirement for transfer students, provide application fee waivers for some students, create a center for cross cultural student success, enact a 2 percent reduction on all SIU salaries that exceed $150,000 and advertise the university on platforms that will reach potential students such as YouTube, Spotify and Pandora.

“Enrollment has dropped since 1991 in direct correlation with increases in tuition and fees,” Silver said. “Since 2006, our tuition rose 56 percent and our fees more than 120 percent.”

Silver said the Illinois Board of Higher Education concluded that the number one reason resident students leave the state for college is because of high tuition rates.

“SIUC must enact a $2,000 reduction in tuition for incoming freshmen and transfer students,” SIlver said. “This plan will generate more than $8,000,000 from students who would not otherwise be on campus.”

Silver said in addition to this, SIU must also offer tuition waivers to the highest performing high school seniors both inside and outside Illinois.

The SIU Board of Trustees will meet Thursday, December 13, 2018 at 10 a.m. in Ballroom B at the SIU Student Center for their regularly scheduled meeting.

Staff reporter Kallie Cox can be reached at kcox@dailyegyptian.com.

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1 Comment

One Response to “SIU Board of Trustees talks reorganization, enrollment during Wednesday working session”

  1. Muttley on December 13th, 2018 12:52 am

    One serious fiscal issue lies with academic departments where many faculty teach at most one lecture class per semester, even in low-enrolling programs. These numbers are further obfuscated through teaching assignments that are either delegated to staff members or essentially constitute extensions of faculty research projects. Sone department Chairs earn close to $170,000 and haven’t stepped into the classroom for almost 10 years. These types of faculty inculcate junior faculty who in turn denigrate teaching. Undergraduates are provided a substandard education to the extent that by the time they take 400-level classes at SIU they have the knowledge and ability of a high school student. (Give credit to high school teachers who brought the students upto a level whereby these students were accepted into college.) Subsequently student education is regarded as secondary to the advancement of faculty research projects. Unfortunately, these faculty perform mediocre research with publications in lowly classified journals and spend years without success at receiving a single dollar from external research grant proposals. Yet, the successful and visionary research faculty are marginalized in these types of departments because the Chairs running these departments have their preferred group of faculty whom they support, as they have been trained in the same mold as the Chair.

    Although potentially devastating for the outside reputation of the University as a whole, the best thing that could happen to SIU is if the higher education board of the state of Illinois performed a detailed audit of faculty compensation relative to their actual job hours. Yet such negative publicity could be turned around with explicit and implicit effort to support vested faculty and remove Chairs who suppress student advancement. This would help clean out non performing faculty, which in turn would allow new productive faculty to be hired – and motivated to remain at SIU – and change the culture of the the institution. Sadly, the the mentality of a majority of the current faculty remains focused on retirement and attaining undeserved pay raises than focusing on their main job of educating students. Unfortunately there are many institutions, big and small, whose focus is geared towards improving student education. Until SIU undergoes a transformational culture change then neither students nor the NSF, for example, will be willing to support their cause. The way things stand is that successful students, of which there are many, are being denied their rightful access to a quality education. Word gets around.

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