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SIU Carbondale plans to recruit alumni for ‘volunteer’ adjunct positions

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University Carbondale is asking department chairs to recruit graduates to serve as adjunct faculty on a volunteer basis.

A statement from the office of SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, posted on the chancellor’s website Tuesday afternoon, indicated that the university is developing a “pilot project” in collaboration with the SIU Alumni Association to "create a pool of potential, volunteer adjuncts with advanced academic degrees who might contribute as needed for up to three years after their approval."

Qualified alumni would not teach entire courses, but might deliver an individual lecture, lead a seminar discussion, mentor students or contribute to thesis committees, according to the statement. 

The chancellor’s statement came after an email apparently sent out by Michael Molino, associate dean for budget, personnel and research in the College of Liberal Arts, went viral nationally on social media Tuesday

According to the email posted on Facebook page "The Professor Is In," an academic industry blog, chairs in three of the university’s colleges are being asked to recruit alumni with terminal degrees for zero-time adjunct faculty appointments.

The post containing Molino’s apparent email indicates that the duties of volunteer graduates would consist of the following: "service on graduate student thesis committees, teaching specific graduate or undergraduate lectures in one’s area of expertise, service on departmental or university committees, and collaborations on grant proposals and research projects."

The statement from the chancellor said alumni participating in the program would “enhance — not replace — the work of our faculty.”

“The use of adjuncts is not unusual on our campus and in higher education generally. This exploratory project simply fosters the ability of academic programs to identify and connect with potential adjunct faculty already invested in the university. It benefits current faculty, students and alumni,” the statement reads.

Dave Johnson, president of the SIUC Faculty Association, said that there must be a certain number of SIUC faculty on thesis committees, and that the university could be trying to outsource those roles in response to declining numbers of faculty.

"It may well come with perfectly good intentions from alumni who want to help out, and from leaders of the Alumni Association who are trying to do what they can to give something back to the institution," Johnson said.

He said he's concerned by the apparent attempt to make alumni into "ersatz faculty" by giving them zero-percent appointments, which could allow them to take on duties normally performed by regular SIUC faculty with 100-percent appointments. 

“… What SIU is asking alumni to do is to volunteer unpaid labor, and in some ways that’s going to take pressure off the university to pay people to do this, and this work is important. Graduate faculty are highly trained and committed to their students,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that for underemployed and unemployed recent graduates who want to do some academic work, even if it’s unpaid, there might be some motivation to do it.

“But I think there’s also a risk that alumni, particularly recent graduates, who feel they need to keep in the good graces of their alma mater would feel some pressure to do this even if they don’t want to do it,” Johnson said.

He said the union is consulting with lawyers to find out whether the program would violate the faculty contract.

Neither Molino nor university spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith returned requests for comment Tuesday.

This story has been updated.


Carbondale
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Student CEO Program
Ahead of the curve: Students in the CEO Program show off their businesses

CARBONDALE — Creativity was alive and well Tuesday night at Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center.

Students from the Jackson, Williamson and Union Counties Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, or CEO, programs showcased their products and services at the third annual trade show in Southern Illinois.

The program offers students hands-on business experience and a chance to build their own start-up over the course of a year.

Classes never meet inside a classroom. Instead, they meet in a different business each school quarter. The class meets for about 90 minutes to two hours each day, and it provides two high school credits to the student.

In the second half of the class, students are given the opportunity to start their own business. The students draft a business plan, look for investors and generate a profit. At the end of the semester, the program hosts an annual trade show like the one Tuesday to showcase their businesses.

Ken Stoner, facilitator for the Jackson County CEO class, said there were 14 students enrolled this year, and there are already 26 students set for next year’s class. He said this was first year the class had a student from Trico High School, giving the program a representative from each high school in the county.

This is Stoner’s third and final year as the program’s facilitator. He said each year has gotten better and the relationship with the schools has been “tremendous.” Each year he gets to know the process and timeline a bit better, but each class is completely different.

However, this was the year the program sent alumni into the schools to advocate for the program and it resulted in the enrollment doubling, he said.

Stoner said he’s moving on to another opportunity on his own accord, but he’s enjoyed his time in the program.

“I love CEO,” Stoner said. “This was hardest decision of my life.”

At the trade show, CCHS Senior Jacob Sanders showed off his self-created business — Sanders Scroll Saw Art.

The business model is simple: send Sanders a photo or email an image you would like to have made out of wood, and he will construct it using a scroll saw and spiral blade.

He said the scroll saw was sitting in his father’s garage not being used, so he decided he could use the equipment to start the business.

Sanders will be headed to John A. Logan College next year to major in political science but he plans to keep the business alive. He said the CEO program helped more than he could believe.

“The program is extremely helpful and educational,” he said.

Sander’s classmate, Yaser Naser,  was a popular set up on Tuesday, as he had something people could actually taste.

He launched Sunshine Smoothies, a business he created using a home concoction he developed during a personal weight-loss pursuit.

Naser said each brand of smoothie has conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, which is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in meat and dairy products.

He’s also headed to John A. Logan with dreams of keeping the business alive. He said he’s not sure what he wants to major in just yet, but he does have a plan to market the smoothies in local grocery stores.

Another interesting business was the lone student from Williamson County CEO at the trade show, Hannah Sappington. a junior at Herrin High School. The rest of her classmates had a trade show this past week, but she wanted more time to show off her products as the invitation to all classes was laid out by Jackson County.

Sappington started Scentsibility, a homemade scented soy candle business.

She said the products are all-natural aromatherapy candles made with oils she purchases online. Another facet to the business is the unique “candleholders,” which are second-hand coffee mugs she purchases from thrift shops.

“I’m a big fan of aromatherapy, so I thought this was a fun way to get involved,” Sappington said.

As for the CEO program, Sappington said the experience from the class is unparalleled.

“This is a fun, hand-on experience that you can’t get anywhere else when in high school,” she said. “It is always a great way to know what is going on in your own community.”


Carbondale
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Carbondale officials make trip to Washington D.C. to seek funding for transportation projects

CARBONDALE — Several Carbondale leaders took a trip to Washington D.C. this past week to discuss the city's efforts to secure federal grant funding for transportation improvements, and returned thinking there were positive strides made on the east coast.

Williams

Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said he, Mayor Mike Henry, Brian Chapman of Southern Illinois University, Woody Thorne of Southern Illinois Healthcare and representatives from a local union met with several legislators to seek support for several projects.

From the city’s perspective, its biggest project is the potential multimodal center to replace the current Amtrak Station in downtown Carbondale. The city has unsuccessfully applied for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) in 2016 and 2017.

However, Williams said city officials met with the people who manage the program, newly labeled as Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) in the Donald Trump administration. He said the administrators of the program offered to debrief the city on its application in 2017 and walk it through why certain cities did or didn’t make the cut. Also, they offered to give suggestions about how to make the application stronger.

Williams said the whole point of the trip was to create more visibility for Carbondale with the federal government and obtain more contacts from people who manage programs.

“Carbondale is the biggest community in this largely rural region — and we have the two biggest assets with SIU and SIH — and I think it is important for all of us collectively to be a voice in the region with our state and federal legislators,” he said.

 

Henry

Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said the city officials were met with very warm receptions. While meeting with representatives from Amtrak, he discussed the poor on-time performance for the trains from Chicago to Carbondale.

“We have one of the worst on time performances from Chicago to Carbondale,” he said.

According to documents prepared by the city, the train was late more than 25 percent of the time in Fiscal Year 2017 and 18 percent of the time so far in Fiscal Year 2018. Those same documents say Canadian National, which owns the tracks, routinely grants preference to freight trains over Amtrak trains, which is a violation of federal law.

Also in discussion was a county-level project to upgrade the route from Illinois 127 to St. Louis, starting with about 23 miles of existing road from two lanes to four lanes at Ava Road intersection north of Murphysboro. Documents say the larger road would increase access to destinations and improve highway safety.

Documents also say the project has “design approval” from Illinois Department of Transportation but still needs funding. The required funding for the projects is an estimated $160 million.


Montemagno


Washington
AP
His nomination in peril, Jackson fights for VA post

WASHINGTON — His nomination in peril, Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson fought Tuesday to convince lawmakers of his leadership abilities as more details of accusations against him emerged, ranging from repeated drunkenness to a toxic work environment as he served as a top White House doctor.

President Donald Trump sent mixed signals about his choice to lead the sprawling veterans' agency, suggesting during a White House news conference that Jackson may want to withdraw because of unfair scrutiny. But the president privately urged his nominee to keep fighting to win Senate confirmation, and Jackson showed few signs of backing down.

A watchdog report requested in 2012 and reviewed by The Associated Press found that Jackson and a rival physician exhibited "unprofessional behaviors" as they engaged in a power struggle over the White House medical unit. The six-page report by the Navy's Medical Inspector General found a lack of trust in the leadership and low morale among staff members, who described the working environment as "being caught between parents going through a bitter divorce."

"There is a severe and pervasive lack of trust in the leadership that has deteriorated to the point that staff walk on 'eggshells,'" the assessment found.

The inspector general report reviewed by The AP included no references to improper prescribing of drugs or the use of alcohol, separate allegations revealed by a Senate committee.

Jackson declined to answer reporters' questions about those allegations and gave no indication he would withdraw. The White House disputed that he had improperly administered medication, saying the medical unit passed regular audits by the Controlled Substance Inventory Board.

The audit appeared to contradict public statements from Jackson, who denied the existence of any inspector general report detailing troubling behavior.

After the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee abruptly postponed his confirmation hearing, which had been set for Wednesday, Jackson visited lawmakers to assure them he was fit to lead the VA.

"I'm looking forward to getting it rescheduled and answering everybody's questions," he said in video captured by MSNBC, referring to his hearing.

During a White House news conference, Trump insisted he would stand behind Jackson, calling the White House doctor "one of the finest people that I have met." But he questioned why Jackson would want to put himself through the confirmation fight, which he characterized as unfair.

"I wouldn't do it," Trump said in the East Room, standing next to French President Emmanuel Macron.

"What does he need it for? What do you need this for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country?" Trump asked.

Trump said Jackson, who has been a White House physician since 2006, would make a decision soon. Jackson met privately with Trump Tuesday afternoon in the Oval Office and the president urged him to keep fighting to win confirmation, according to a White House official briefed on the meeting. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions, said Jackson denied the allegations.

Digging in, the White House released handwritten reports from Trump and former President Barack Obama praising Jackson's leadership and medical care, and recommending him for promotion.

Obama wrote in one report, "Promote to Rear Admiral now." Trump wrote last year that Jackson is "A GREAT DOCTOR + LEADER - '2 STAR MATERIAL.'"

A doomed VA nomination would be a political blow to the White House, which has faced criticism for sloppy vetting of Cabinet nominees and tough confirmation battles in a Senate where Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority.

Prior to Jackson's nomination, Trump had told aides and outside advisers that he was fond of Jackson personally and was said to be particularly impressed with Jackson's performance at the White House press room podium in January, when he offered a glowing report on the president's physical and mental well-being.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the American people were the losers in a shaky nomination effort. The Trump Cabinet, he said, "is turning into a sad game of musical chairs."

Trump tapped Jackson last month after firing former Obama administration official David Shulkin following an ethics scandal and mounting rebellion within the agency. But Jackson has faced numerous questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as veterans groups, about whether he has the experience to manage the massive department of 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans.

Allegations began surfacing late last week involving Jackson's workplace practices, including claims of inappropriate behavior and over-prescribing prescription drugs, according to two aides granted anonymity to discuss the situation. The complaints the White House heard include that he oversaw a poor work environment and that he had drunk alcohol on the job, according to an administration official who demanded anonymity to speak on a sensitive personnel matter.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee said it would postpone indefinitely Jackson's hearing to give it more time to sort through the allegations.

Detailing the allegations to NPR, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the committee's top Democrat, said more than 20 current and retired military personnel had made complaints to the committee about Jackson. They included claims that Jackson was "repeatedly drunk" while on travel with Obama and that on overseas trips he excessively handed out prescription drugs to help travelers sleep and wake up.


 

Henry


Williams