To the Editor:
As members of the SIU Alumni Association Board, we have the envious task of being both goodwill ambassadors and cheerleaders for a University that enriched our lives. SIU is abundant with traditions and past accomplishments. These are the things that make our job easy and enjoyable. We are also deeply concerned about our University’s future. Years of budget delays and cuts combined with leadership changes have caused us to feel uneasy about what the years ahead will look like for our alma mater, SIU.
Then, along comes a man with vision, integrity, and determination, Dr. Carlo Montemagno. Chancellor Montemagno laid out a straw man plan for a bright future for SIU and is committed to going the distance and to do whatever is necessary to return the SIU campus back to its glory days. This is truly something in which to be excited. His resilience is a characteristic we find common in the stories we hear from alums. Many SIU graduates faced daunting obstacles to earn their degrees. However, they persevered and their SIU experience served them well throughout their lives. Likely, the most important tradition we need to continue is the SIU tradition of helping individuals find and develop their talents so they can contribute and become productive members of society. This is where SIU excels and what is most at risk. We believe the best path forward is to embrace the work of Chancellor Montemagno and give him time and resources to end declining enrollment and rebuild our University to the stature we are capable of attaining. It’s been recently reported that waiting lists at each of the top US universities is at an all time high. The demand is there and we need to seize the moment and position SIU for these students. The clock is ticking and it is now time for our Board of Trustees to demonstrate their leadership by approving Dr. Montemagno’ s plan at their meeting this week.
We were surprised and deeply concerned to learn the SIU Board of Trustees received a recommendation to cut the SIU Carbondale budget by $5.1 million and move the funds to the Edwardsville campus. Carbondale has weathered an incredible storm of financial uncertainty and has survived. SIUC has a plan, under the leadership of Chancellor Montemagno, to rebuild and become stronger. How could a substantial reduction in funds such as the one proposed make any sense while the University seeks to reorganize? We understand there is no urgency for this move so further thought and discussion would be prudent before acting. The Chancellor has spelled out how this reduction would affect the Carbondale campus in his blog https://blog.chancellor.siu.edu/responding-to-a-funding-proposal/. Furthermore, this appears to be a distraction to what the real needs are for a healthy system, which is a robust and competitive SIU Carbondale campus.
In conclusion, we believe the right thing for the SIU Board of Trustees to do is to approve as much of the Chancellor’s plan as possible at their next meeting so we can go about the important work of furthering the essential mission of SIU. We also believe that the wrong thing to do to is to reallocate funding away from SIUC at a time when it so desperately needs the financial and administrative support of our Board of Trustees. We applaud the numerous local legislators and the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce who share our view and have voiced their opinions on diverting funds away from Carbondale. Let us do what is required to continue to embrace the rich traditions of the past and to ensure that there is a robust future for the Carbondale campus. Please say “Yes” to the Chancellor’s plan and “No” to reallocating Carbondale’s budget.
Larry Mieldezis, President
Rick Wysocki, President-Elect
Scott Moller, Vice President
Gary Heflin, Executive Committee
Laura Soucy, Executive Committee