Southern Illinois University Edwardsville officials announced Wednesday that U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, will join its College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science for the spring 2021 semester following the completion of his 24-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Shimkus was joined by SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook, CAS Dean Kevin Leonard and Political Science Department Chair Ken Moffett in a Wednesday news conference.
“I hit these major milestones, and this I one of them, then I focus on the next big thing that I have to do. So, I’m very excited,” Shimkus said.
Shimkus will teach political science classes that serve undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as several other colleges.
“All of these students will benefit from the insights drawn from his many years of public service, most notably his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Leonard said.
Moffett highlighted some of Shimkus’ accomplishments and involvement with the university during his tenure in Congress, including offering SIUE students internships in his office and political campaigns and securing compensation for Madison Energy workers in the Metro East. He also talked about policy initiatives such as expanding the 911 emergency number legislation and coverage and expanding the use of biodiesel fuels and foreign policy.
“All of these experiences are precisely what make him an excellent fit to teach our undergraduate students at SIUE.” Moffett said.
Pembrook also spoke about the Congressman’s service and accomplishments. Shimkus served in the U.S. House since 1996, first in the 20th District, then the 19th District and now the 15th District of Illinois. He served as Madison County treasurer before he was elected to Congress.
Shimkus said SIUE has been good to the Shimkus family. He finished his master’s in business administration in 1997, as he was beginning his first term in the House of Representatives. His father; wife, Karen; son David; and two sisters also graduated from the university.
“I do love the classroom. I appreciate what the community has done for me to allow me to serve, and I just want to give back,” Shimkus said, adding he hopes to inspire student to get involved in the political process through the courses he will teach.
Shimkus also plans to be involved outside the classroom, like watching Cougar basketball and soccer games or just having a cup of coffee with students.
“My wife’s not going to want me home all the time,” he said.
He was asked how he felt about coming back to his alma mater to teach.
"We’re all going to experience transitions in our lives. I’ve been very blessed to serve as a member of Congress, but I also wanted to come home,” he told the media. ”I am very gratified and thankful that they will have me, and I hope to do them proud.”
He also took a question asking how he would portray the Trump era and its lack of bipartisanship to students in the future. He replied that everyone thinks this is an unprecedented time, but the country has seen similar times before, such as during the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson.
Shimkus called Trump a populist rather than a Republican and pointed out times he had issues with the President.
“He’s going to be on the ballot and we’re going to find out the views of the country in a couple weeks,” Shimkus said.