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To the Editor:

I initially read with some satisfaction that SIU Carbondale has hired Jennifer DeHaemers as associate chancellor for enrollment management. Welcome, Ms. DeHaemers!

I then read on, and with some dismay, discovered that her position has been vacant since 2014 and has not been filled on a full-time basis since 2011.

Although the job description for this position at SIUC was not detailed, one might safely assume that it resembles her duties at UMKC, where she is coming from. There, “she oversaw university-wide enrollment planning and the development of a strategic enrollment plan. She also collaborated with academic units and other departments to carry out the university’s recruitment strategy.” So my question is, who has had this assignment at our university for the last seven years, while our enrollment and retention have been in decline (the problem is actually older than that)?

Our current chancellor, Dr. Montemagno, has already become something of a lightning rod on several issues, but this seemingly glaring vacancy of a critical position in SIUC’s administration can’t be hung on him. It reaches back over the tenures of multiple chancellors, presidents and indeed, board trustees. Think of it as a whole string section fiddling while Old Main burns. It absolutely escapes my understanding, and I would love nothing more than to hear an explanation.

This brings me to repeat a point I may not have made very well in a previous letter. SIU’s Edwardsville campus recently was considered for a $5.1 million dollar allocation from the Carbondale campus’ budget based on its enrollment reaching parity with Carbondale’s. The SIU system traditionally grew to current levels in part because it was among the most affordable venues for higher education in Illinois’ public university choices. That remains true, but only at the Edwardsville campus. SIU’s Carbondale campus, as of the current school year, is now eighth among the 12 land-grant colleges Illinois funds, while Edwardsville charges the lowest tuition in the state. In fact, Edwardsville’s campus charges a significant $2,505 less per year than Carbondale’s. Using very rough math ($5.1 million/13,000 students), I calculate that Edwardsville could find the money it wants from Carbondale with a $400/year tuition increase, leaving it still some $2,100 less than Carbondale’s tuition. I am not an educator, but I am educable — someone please explain this to me!

Jim Renshaw

Carbondale

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