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bhetzler / Byron Hetzler, The Southern 

Chester's Jessica Kattenbraker heads to the finish line to win the 400-meter dash during the Black Diamond Conference girls track meet on Wednesday in Chester.

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SIU | New Enrollment Manager
SIUC's new enrollment manager says she's eager to help stop declining numbers

CARBONDALE — It’s safe to say Jennifer DeHaemers has her work cut out for her.

The incoming vice associate chancellor for enrollment management at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, who officially starts May 14, has been handed the herculean task of getting the university’s enrollment back on track.

The entire Southern Illinois region has felt the impacts of the enrollment crisis at SIUC, where the number of students has fallen from 24,869 at the university’s peak in fall 1991 to 14,554 in fall 2017.

During a meeting Wednesday with media representatives in Anthony Hall, DeHaemers said she wasn’t deterred by the urgency of the situation.

“I didn’t have any reservations, I’ll just say that,” DeHaemers said. “I would say that it attracted me to it, because I think I can help.”

DeHaemers was most recently associate vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at University of Missouri-Kansas City from 2011 to 2017. Under her leadership, enrollment increased from 15,492 in fall 2011 to 16,383 in fall 2017.

SIUC’s enrollment manager position has been vacant since 2014, and the position hasn’t been filled on a full-time basis since 2011.

Carlo Montemagno, who became SIUC’s chancellor last August, said he oversaw an “exhaustive, five-month search” before selecting DeHaemers for the position. A report published by Montemagno in April indicates that the initial pool of candidates was not thought to be strong enough, so the search committee elected to take additional time finding a candidate.

“It was very important to get the position filled. It was even more important to get the position filled with the right person,” Montemagno said.

So what’s the first step in staunching SIUC’s enrollment bleed? DeHaemers said she’ll start by gathering data to determine where students are coming from, what the SIUC student experience is like, how they’re “navigating the educational pathway” to the university and why some are leaving.

Because the enrollment manager position has been vacant for so long, that data-gathering effort is long overdue, she said. Next, she’ll put together an enrollment management plan, which could take nine months to a year. 

DeHaemers outlined some strategies she employed at UMKC that could be useful in recruitment and retention at SIUC, such as eliminating unintended barriers that dissuade students from enrolling.

At UMKC, she said, she required attendance-taking from faculty to identify students who were not attending class so that her team could reach out to those students and find out how to help them. She also implemented a “major maps” system to help students understand their pathways to degree completion.

She said national data indicate that students are willing to travel about 150 miles away from home, so she’ll be looking at areas within that radius.

“But beyond that, I really think that SIU is the kind of institution that could draw from across the country and internationally, and there are going to be pockets of students in other locations that need to find out about SIU, and that this will be a great place for them to be to pursue their education,” she said.

She said she’ll also have her team focus on casting a net close to home, where many high school students are choosing to attend colleges like Southeast Missouri State or Murray State over SIUC.

“I think that this is a great product, and I’m not making any comment on what has happened, but I do think we need to make every effort we can in every market, whether it’s towns that are within a 50-mile radius here, or 150 or 500 miles from here. If there’s a student who feels this could be the right place and who we think could be a good fit here, we need to at least offer that opportunity for them to check us out,” DeHaemers said.

The enrollment manager previously reported to the provost; Montemagno said he changed the position to report directly to him because of its importance.

“I felt that I needed to be in a position where I was in touch with our enrollment program, because enrollment touches the entire experience — it touches bringing the students in, it responds to students’ persistence, how successful they are while they’re here, and it’s part of my philosophy where we provide a personal educational experience to students ensuring that students are successful,” he said.

DeHaemers said she believes SIUC has potential and that its enrollment challenges can be addressed.

“It took a little while to get here, where we’re at, so it’s going to take just a little while to climb back out of the hole. But I’m looking forward to working at it,” DeHaemers said.

bhetzler / The Southern File Photo 

Changing fall foliage brightens a tree in front of the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building on the SIU campus in November in Carbondale.

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Southern Illinois | High School Honors Banquet
Southern Illinois' best and brightest honored at annual banquet

CARBONDALE — Lesley Grace is one of the most accomplished graduating seniors at Egyptian High School, but when she was 14 she suffered a devastating loss.

Three days before her 8th grade promotion, her mother, Anita Grace, was brutally murdered in a 2014 attempted bank robbery  in Cairo.

“It was hard, and I actually almost didn’t walk,” Grace said. “But I told myself that my mom would want me to, and I know that she’s still watching me to this day.”

Grace said she’s ready to walk across the graduation stage again on May 12.

She was one of nearly 200 high school seniors from 33 Southern Illinois high schools recognized for their accomplishments during the 48th Annual Southern Illinois Society for High School Achievement Banquet on Tuesday at the SIU Student Center Ballroom.

The event is the result of a longstanding partnership of school administrators, guidance counselors and The Southern Illinoisan newspaper to acknowledge the academic and leadership activities of the region’s best and brightest.

Guidance counselors across the region select six students from their schools to receive the honor. Some schools send seniors who are ranked best academically, and others choose students who excel in certain subject areas or demonstrate good character. 

Grace — who participates in softball, volleyball, cheerleading, Beta Club and her school’s student council — was one of the six students from Egyptian High School honored for academics and leadership.

She was hand-picked by her school guidance counselor to receive a full-ride scholarship to Shawnee Community College, where she plans to study nursing — something she’s wanted to do since she was a little girl.

“I want to be able to help people in any way that I can,” Grace said.

Collin Dorsey, a reporter and anchor for WSIL-TV who recently completed his bachelor’s in electronic journalism at SIUC, served as the night’s keynote speaker. He graduated from Du Quoin High School in 2014 as valedictorian.

“Don’t throw out an entire book that is your dreams because you’ve made one mistake. It’s just one page of your life. Don’t let that page turn into a chapter, and don’t let that chapter turn into a book. A majority of people will give up after failure, but a small few will look at that failure and grow from it. That’s what you need to do,” Dorsey said.

Tom English, The Southern Illinoisan’s executive editor, presented awards to the students alongside reporter and co-organizer Marilyn Halstead.

“These students honored tonight should be very proud of themselves,” English said. “Each year, the best and brightest fill up this room, and it’s great to recognize them. This year is no different. We’re all very proud of them.”

Saline County
Saline County tries to negotiate new way to fund central dispatch

HARRISBURG — The Saline County Board discussed possible action on a 9-1-1 agreement with the city of Harrisburg during its meeting on April 27 regarding how central dispatch center for the county is funded.

According to the Saline County Sheriff’s website, the center currently dispatches the following agencies: Saline County Sheriff's Office; Harrisburg, Carrier Mills, Galatia, Raleigh and Eldorado police department; Harrisburg Animal Control; fire departments in Harrisburg, Eldorado, Carrier Mills, Stonefort and Galatia; and Miller EMS, Saline County EMS and Med-Force EMS.

The center also has dispatch capabilities for: McLeansboro, Elizabethtown, Shawneetown, Cave-In-Rock, Equality, New Haven, Old Shawneetown, Omaha, Ridgeway, Pope County and Sturgis, Kentucky, fire departments; Hardin County EMS; Hardin County Sheriff's Office; Gallatin County EMS; and after hours for Harrisburg Sewer and Water. Other agencies can be dispatched in an emergency.

County Commissioner Mike McKinnies told the county board he would like to get all those involved in one place to discuss a system to fund the dispatch center based on the number of calls received for each agency.

“At this time, we are not any closer on a 9-1-1 agreement,” McKinnies said.

McKinnies and EMS director Tracy Felty broke down the numbers of calls received by agency and town, and found Harrisburg to be the most frequent user of the dispatch center. McKinnies then took the overall number of calls for 2016 and broke them down to get a cost per call. His proposal is that each agency pay based on the number of calls and the average cost per call.

If central dispatch were funded in that manner, the city of Harrisburg would have owed $310,000 for the past year; however, Harrisburg only paid $180,000. Saline County paid more than $400,000 last year.

One of the issues is the cost of health insurance for the center’s employees.

“Health insurance for all county employees is supposed to go up to over half a million dollars next year,” McKinnies said.

He feels like Harrisburg does not want to pay their portion of the bill, but stressed this is not personal.

“I understand that the city of Harrisburg gets probably 70 percent of phone calls, maybe more,” Mayor John McPeek said.

McPeek said the city had its own dispatch center and gave it up when the county built a new jail. They entered an agreement to pay one-third of the costs of central dispatch, with the county board and 9-1-1 also paying one-third each.

Harrisburg pays $180,000 per year for central dispatch. The county wants to increase funding to $250,000 over the next four or five years.

“I don’t have problem with the city paying a portion. I just want the city of Harrisburg to be treated fairly,” McPeek said.

He added that central dispatch takes phones calls for Eldorado, Carrier Mills, Galatia and others, so they should pay something. While he realizes they cannot pay a lot, they can pitch in a little.

Trump hires Clinton impeachment lawyer

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday hired a veteran attorney who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process as the White House shifted to a more aggressive approach to a special counsel investigation that has reached a critical stage.

The White House announced the hiring of lawyer Emmet Flood after disclosing the retirement of Ty Cobb, who for months has been the administration's point person dealing with special counsel Robert Mueller.

It's the latest shakeup for a legal team grappling with unresolved questions on how to protect the president from legal and political jeopardy in Mueller's Russia probe, which is nearing the one-year mark.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Cobb had been discussing the decision for weeks and would retire at the end of May and that Flood would be joining the White House staff to "represent the president and the administration against the Russia witch hunt."

"I'm deeply grateful to the president and the chief of staff for this opportunity to serve my country," Cobb told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "It's been a privilege, and I'm confident that the matter will be in good hands with Emmet Flood."

The replacement of Cobb with Flood may usher in a more adversarial stance toward the Mueller team as Trump's lawyers debate whether to make the president available for an interview with the special counsel and brace for the prospect of a grand jury subpoena if they refuse.

Although Cobb does not personally represent the president, he has functioned as a critical point person for Mueller's document and interview requests, coordinated dealings with prosecutors and worked closely with Trump's personal lawyers. He has repeatedly urged cooperation with the investigation in hopes of bringing it to a quick end, and he has viewed his role as largely finished now that interviews with current and former White House officials have been completed.

Yet Flood, who was embroiled in the bitterly partisan Clinton impeachment fight 20 years ago, may well advocate a more confrontational approach. His law firm, Williams & Connolly, is one of Washington's most prominent, with a reputation for aggressive advocacy for its clients and a history of tangling with the government. It has also represented senior White House officials, including presidents.

Flood, a former law clerk to the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, has defended former Vice President Dick Cheney in a lawsuit brought by former CIA official Valerie Plame and represented President George W. Bush in executive-privilege disputes with Congress - suggesting he is well-versed in the powers of the presidency and may invoke those authorities as the Mueller investigation moves forward.

Flood was always the top choice of White House counsel Don McGahn for the job Cobb was given last summer, according to a person familiar with the hiring decision who described Flood as a "fighter." The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Cobb and McGahn hold different views on how cooperative the White House should be with the special counsel investigation.

Cobb's retirement, though not a surprise, was nonetheless the latest evolution for a legal team marked by turnover.

Trump's lead personal lawyer, John Dowd, left in March. Another attorney whom Trump tried to bring on ultimately passed because of conflicts, and the president two weeks ago added former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a pair of former prosecutors, Martin and Jane Raskin, to work alongside mainstay lawyer Jay Sekulow.

Critical decisions lie ahead. The president's legal team has not committed him to an interview with Mueller, who has dozens of questions on a broad array of topics he'd like to ask. Trump initially said he was eager for an interview, but he hasn't said so recently. His view of Mueller soured further after raids last month that targeted one of his personal lawyers, Michael Cohen, in a separate investigation.

Those interview negotiations are hugely consequential, especially after Dowd confirmed to The Associated Press this week that Mueller's team in March raised the prospect of issuing a grand jury subpoena for Trump, an extraordinary move that would seek to force a sitting president to testify under oath.

It was not immediately clear in what context the possibility of a subpoena was raised or how serious Mueller's prosecutors were about such a move.

If Mueller's team decides to subpoena Trump, the president could still fight it in court or refuse to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination.

Trump lashed out against the investigation in familiar fashion Wednesday, tweeting: "There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap)."

Also Wednesday, Trump echoed the concerns of a small group of House conservatives who have been criticizing the Justice Department for not turning over certain investigation documents.

"What are they afraid of?" Trump tweeted. "At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!"

It was unclear what Trump meant by "get involved."