CARBONDALE -- SIU has appointed Paul Sarvela as its acting chancellor, but the role of university chancellor may not be well understood by all Southern Illinoisans.

What does a university chancellor actually do and how does the chancellor work in conjunction with the university system's president?

"The easiest way to put it is the chancellor is the chief executive officer of the campus, and with that responsibility really comes work in every area of effort and endeavor that a university involves," said President Randy Dunn.

While the president is in charge of the entire SIU system, which includes the SIU Edwardsville campus; the SIU Carbondale campus; and the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, the SIUC chancellor is responsible for the Carbondale campus.

"The chancellor deals with those specific things that happen on this campus. This campus includes the medical school, as well," said Donna Manering, Board of Trustees vice chair. "The day-to-day operations really fall to the chancellor, with the advice and direction of the president and the board of trustees, as well."

Dunn said the chancellor has oversight responsibility regarding the university's budget, employee relations, regional economic development, physical plant and university buildings.

He added that the provost serves as a type of vice chancellor of academic matters, but he reiterated that the chancellor's direction extends into all segments of the campus.

"It really is an orchestration of everything that goes into making the university what it is," Dunn said.

He understands the many hats a chancellor has to wear in performance of his or her duties.

"It may not be unlike being a system president," Dunn said. "You're a bit of a jack-of-all trades and maybe master of none."

In part, the chancellor can be described as the chief quality control agent for the campus.

"The challenge of a person in the CEO role is to be apprised of the work that's going on, ensure that it comports with the values and direction that we're trying to accomplish at the university, that we're doing things in a legal and appropriate way, respectful of the folks who comprise the university and ask critical questions," Dunn said.

Dunn will be an active president, involving himself in discussions about how the university system can work best and in what way the board can help the chancellor, but he has no plans to interfere with the chancellor's responsibilities.

"There is authority that goes to the chancellor directly from the board, and they don't need me as a middle man," Dunn said. 

Dunn plans to work closely with Paul Sarvela, acting chancellor, to achieve some goals they both have for what is expected to be a very active interim period.

"It's probably a consultative-collegial relationship where you're trying to work together -- each with his own roles to figure out how we get some things accomplished," Dunn said.

With each campus having autonomy, Sarvela will be given the freedom to take personal action while serving as acting or interim chancellor.

"I suspect that President Dunn will allow Chancellor Sarvela to analyze situations, gather his own information and make decisions," Manering said.

"His first days in office will probably be meeting with people, talking about issues and concerns and spending time to problem solve and develop plans for those issues and concerns that are addressed."

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Chris Hottensen is the entertainment and features reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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