Thumbs up to the African American Museum of Southern Illinois on its 20th anniversary. The museum, operated by volunteers, is located in Carbondale’s University Mall. “For an African-American museum, 20 years is a milestone, and it’s definitely a milestone for a museum in Southern Illinois,” said Carolin Harvey, board member and chair of the museum’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Committee. The educational mission of the museum is vital. Teachers frequently bring their classes to the museum, and the museum’s outreach program sends speakers to classrooms from Cairo to Mount Vernon. A hearty congratulations to a vital part of the Southern Illinois community.

Thumbs down to the health issues that continue to plague former SIU football coach Jerry Kill. It’s not stretching the point to say that Kill revitalized, and possibly rescued, the Saluki football program when he arrived on campus in 2001. Near the end of his tenure, Kill began experiencing epilectic seizures. Those health issues followed him to Northern Illinois, Minnesota and now Rutgers. Kill, Rutgers’ offensive coordinator, was hospitalized after a medical setback Sunday. He is expected to be back on the sideline for Saturday’s game against Morgan State.

Thumbs up to the Saluki football team for its impressive 55-3 home-opening win over Mississippi Valley State University. Du Quoin’s Nick Hill, now in his second year as SIU’s head coach, saw his team dominate every phase of the game. The Salukis now take their show on the road, playing at Southeast Missouri State on Saturday. This will be the 85th meeting between SIU and the Redhawks.

Thumbs up to Jak Tichenor, interim director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute; James Coyle, director of the Center for Global Education at Chapman University in Orange, California; Jeffrey Gedmin, senior director at Blue Star Strategies, a consulting firm, in Washington, D.C.; Stacy McDermott, consulting historian at the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield; Christopher Mooney, W. Russell Arrington Professor of State Politics, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois Springfield; John Shaw, congressional reporter, Market News International. They are the finalists to replace David Yepsen as director of SIU’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. The institute not only keeps alive the legacy of Illinois’ most prominent political names, but provides important perspective on the local and national political issues of our time.

Thumbs down to former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison in Colorado, recently gave his first extensive interview since being incarcerated. The interview was published in Chicago Magazine. The story showed a more reflective, introspective Blagojevich, but the former governor remains unrepentant for his actions, including accusations of trying to sell the senate seat that was vacated when then Sen. Barack Obama was elected president. "I firmly believe that I never crossed any lines in seeking to raise campaign contributions," he told the magazine. "To say otherwise ... would be to dishonor myself, setting a cowardly example for my daughters." Blagojevich is scheduled to be released from prison in 2024.

Thumbs up to Southern Illinois University Carbondale for making the top 100 safest places to attend college list compiled by the National Council for Home Safety and Security. The Carbondale campus was ranked 86th nationally. The listing was based on violent crimes, robberies and crimes against women, both on campus and in the Carbondale community. In light of falling enrollment numbers, this is certainly excellent news for SIUC.


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