SIU study, if approved, may delay vote on splitting university system

If a state House resolution calling for an independent study on the future of Southern Illinois University passes, a legislative vote on whether to split the two campuses that make up the system will not take place in the coming weeks, according to one lawmaker.

State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said in a phone interview that state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, will not call for a vote on his bill to separate SIU Edwardsville from SIU Carbondale, if a resolution for a study were to pass.

The resolution seeking a study, which passed out of committee in an 11-7 vote Wednesday, calls for the Illinois Board of Higher Education to conduct a study that looks at the governance structure of the SIU system and the feasibility and viability of separating the two campuses.

“This is just a study,” Stuart said. “It doesn’t move anything forward; it simply gives us a study to make a further decision on how to move the universities forward so both campuses could thrive.”

Hoffman proposed legislation to split the two campuses after the SIU board of trustees opted against shifting $5.1 million in state funding from the Carbondale campus to the Edwardsville campus. The funding shift would have brought the two universities to a 60-40 split of state dollars, with Carbondale still receiving the larger share. The shift was proposed in response to Edwardsville’s growing enrollment.

Stuart said she believes it’s important to have an independent entity perform the study and to “look at both perspectives to get an accurate look at which is the best way to move forward.”

With lawmakers’ approval, the study is expected to take place over the summer and could be completed by the fall. The Illinois Board of Higher Education has begun some preliminary work on the study and started looking at the SIU situation, said Al Bowman, the board’s executive director.

“The financial aspect of this is probably the most prominent variable, and we’re prepared to look into it,” Bowman said. “As an agency, and certainly as its director, I don’t have a personal or professional opinion of what should happen; we’re just going to look at the facts, and present our findings to the General Assembly.”

Bowman’s staff would most likely handle a bulk of the work, he said.

He said the plan is to present the pros and cons and let “policymakers come up with a decision. He added, “The governance structure is really a political decision.”

IBHE staff would look at finances, including the credit ratings of the institutions if they remain together or if they split.

“How would (credit rating agencies) Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s look at a system (as) it’s currently built as versus separate entities?” Bowman said.

If the resolution calling for a study by the higher education board doesn’t pass in the House this month, SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook said the issue would come back to the SIU Board of Trustees to discuss. Their next board meeting is in July.

A special meeting is also scheduled for May 30, so trustees can consider taking a position on the resolution and on other legislation related to SIU, according to the agenda.

Pembrook said he supports having an outside entity take a look at the university system and the way it distributes money to its campuses. “I have confidence that that is a good direction to go,” he said.

Related stories from Belleville News-Democrat

“We think that an equity approach means we should have more funding,” Pembrook said of Edwardsville. He added that he understands SIUC has struggles, which is why the campus community is concerned about shifting money away from Carbondale.

But Pembrook said that even the trustees with ties to Carbondale, who rejected shifting state money to Edwardsville back in April, thought it made sense to hear from a consultant.

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May 23, 2018 at 04:22PM

SIU study, if approved, may delay vote on splitting university system

Our View: SIU drama can’t lead to more bureaucracy

If all you focus on is the in-fighting between the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses of the Southern Illinois University System, you might not notice that what some are advocating for in this battle is the creation of another layer of government.

As if Illinois needed another governmental board.

The latest headline was due to the revelation that SIU System President Randy Dunn in an email called some members of the Carbondale campus “bitchers.” But the root of the disagreement between the two campuses is resources: Edwardsville advocates argue that since its population is growing while Carbondale’s sinks, it should get a larger slice of state dollars the SIU System receives.

SIU Carbondale gets about 60 percent of the system’s share of state funding, even though the two campuses last fall had almost the same enrollment. In fall 2017, Edwardsville had 13,796 students compared to 14,184 at Carbondale. Compare that to 2000, when fall enrollment at Edwardsville was 12,193 but a whopping 22,645 at Carbondale.

Edwardsville administrators recently asked to transfer $5 million from Carbondale to Edwardsville for the 2018-2019 school year, a request the SIU board of trustees narrowly voted down. Also in the mix: Legislation was introduced in the General Assembly that would separate the Edwardsville campus from the SIU system and let it become a standalone university.

If legislators are going to get involved, it should be to start working toward consolidating the nine boards that govern the 13 public, four-year universities in Illinois into one system. Take those nine system presidents, and their many layers of administrators, and create one system that oversees all of the public universities. Those are all high-level, well-paid positions that take up a lot of funding (and we’re not even counting the folks over at the Illinois State Board of Higher Education). Use that money instead to actually educate students, instead of endless layers of bureaucracy.

This system works elsewhere, notably for our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin. Each campus would have strategically selected areas of specialization, and one board would oversee the system with an eye toward what is best for the state — and taxpayers — as a whole.

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May 23, 2018 at 08:25PM

Our View: SIU drama can’t lead to more bureaucracy

IL Rep. Bryant announces petition to stop attacks on SIUC

IL Rep. Bryant announces petition to stop attacks on SIUC

(Source: Illinois House Republican Staff)
(Source: Illinois House Republican Staff)


State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) has announced a petition drive aimed at stopping legislative attacks on Southern Illinois University Carbondale by members of the Illinois House Democrat caucus, led by Speaker Mike Madigan.

“Though the deadline for substantive bills has passed, as I stated two weeks ago, no bad idea is ever truly dead in Springfield,” Bryant said. “And this week the deadline to pass the ‘Attack SIU Carbondale’ legislative package was extended until May 25. Rumors in Springfield are that Rep. Hoffman plans to call the legislation for House floor votes as early as Wednesday.”

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Bryant has made news recently by speaking out during a House Perfunctory Session against HBs 1292, 1293, and 1294.

Last week, Bryant also publicly called for SIU President Randy Dunn to resign, following revelations that Dunn had referred to he and Bryant’s shared Carbondale constituents as, ‘b*******.’

“For the health of the University system and to preserve the future of SIU Carbondale we must defeat these attacks on SIU-C by Mike Madigan and his lieutenants in the House,” Bryant said. “I am urging all my constituents, and every Saluki alumni across Illinois and across the nation to join me and sign the online petition opposing the ‘attack SIU-C package,” Bryant said.

The online petition can be found at

Copyright 2018 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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May 23, 2018 at 12:39PM

IL Rep. Bryant announces petition to stop attacks on SIUC

Evolution of control over Illinois universities favors separate SIUE

Remember when Illinois had a Board of Regents? How about a Board of Governors? Even if you know what they were, I’ll bet you haven’t thought about them in a long while.

Their time passed 22 years ago. But the reason they existed — and what happened to them — have some bearing on what is fast becoming Metro East’s hottest political debate.

It’s about the rivalry heating up at Southern Illinois University between its sort-of siblings in Edwardsville and Carbondale.

We may benefit from a quick look way back, to when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, William Stratton was Illinois governor and returning World War II soldiers created what would remain an enduring demand for higher education.

Lawmakers saw the need for a central organization to coordinate what were then six state universities to maximize efficiency, accessibility and economy. From that, over the objection of all six, came creation of the Illinois Board of Higher Education in 1961.

With a say over which schools can offer which programs, and a voice in managing the state’s allocation to higher education, the IBHE was, and is, a powerful entity.

In 1964. the Legislature created what some dubbed a “system of systems.” The bigger players — the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University — would keep their own boards of trustees to deal with internal matters and the IBHE. The other state universities would be overseen by one of two newly created entities: the Board of Regents or the Board of Governors.

In theory, the smaller universities benefited from boards that carried a broad view and the clout of representing more than one school. But the extra layer was cumbersome. And in any family of several kids, there will come a time when each child thinks another got a bigger helping of the ice cream.

Under a revamp in 1996, seven of the then-eight universities under shared boards were each given their own trustees. (The eighth, Sangamon State, in Springfield, instead became part of the University of Illinois.)

Although SIU effectively had split Carbondale and Edwardsville into separate institutions by the end of the 1960s, they continued to share a system president and a board of trustees whose job, in part, is to balance the campuses’ needs. It’s a vestige of the system of systems.

That delivers us to now, and a bruising fight over the allocation of SIU’s available money. About 64 percent goes to the struggling campus at Carbondale even though growth in Edwardsville may give it the greater enrollment before the end of this year.

It seemed like just a skirmish when I wrote a month ago about anger over the SIU trustees’ choice not to transfer $5.1 million to Edwardsville from Carbondale. (This, after SIUE had lent up to $35 million to SIUC to keep it solvent last year; the money was repaid.)

Legislation subsequently was introduced by state Rep, Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, and others to divide the two SIUs altogether, or at least to split revenue equally between them.

Petitions to divorce the campuses have failed during skirmishes before. But this time, it looks more like war.

The system president, Randy Dunn, lost some credibility down south when a freedom of information request dislodged his email to colleagues that referred to “bitchers in Carbondale” who opposed the $5.1 million transfer. (Dad got caught siding with one sibling over the other.)

Dunn apologized for the remark but not for supporting the proposed transfer. He has taken withering verbal fire — including calls for his resignation — from some SIUC partisans. They insist that the campus, which has suffered plummeting enrollment, cannot afford to lose any revenue.

What really caught my attention was an “open letter” offered a few days ago by the immediate five past chancellors of SIUE, whose tenures date to 1994.

They supported the $5.1 million shift, and added, ”Even adjusting for the greater doctoral level work at Carbondale, the analysis underlying the proposal showed that between $17 million and $23 million needed to be shifted from Carbondale to Edwardsville.”

The chancellors concluded, “SIUE at one time benefited from being part of the SIU System, but that is no longer the case. If the Board of Trustees cannot live up to its fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Illinois and the University at Edwardsville, it is time for a change.”

That’s strong stuff from serious-minded people who offer firm evidence of a big-dollar disparity.

Since dissolution of the Board of Regents and Board of Governors, the Illinois universities they ruled have gotten along just fine. SIUE does not yet enjoy such independence.

It appears to be just too much to expect a single board of trustees to give the prospering SIUE what it deserves while managing the desperation of a faltering SIUC. The kind thing would be to remove the dilemma.

None of the other state universities in Illinois must fight each other one-on-one for money. I think that single fact illuminates the answer.

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May 23, 2018 at 11:36AM

Evolution of control over Illinois universities favors separate SIUE

Discover, NIU announce partnership for new student innovation program

DeKALB – Students soon will have the opportunity to help develop new technologies through a new partnership between Northern Illinois University and Discover Financial Services on NIU’s DeKalb campus.

Starting in the fall, 40 to 50 students will be paid an hourly wage for no more than 19 hours a week to work on and help develop new Discover technologies in mobile-software development, web-application coding and person-to-person direct payment systems through the Discover Campus Innovator Program.

Joel Suchomel, vice president of application development at Discover and an NIU alumnus, said he had the idea for the partnership program a couple of years ago when he visited NIU to speak to the computer science club on campus. He said it’s getting more and more challenging to hire technical people since more companies than ever need that kind of talent.

“We’re all competing for the same tech talent,” Suchomel said.

The program will run through a newly renovated part of “71 North,” the university’s space for hands-on learning and business collaborations centrally located on the bottom level of Founders Memorial Library.

Karinne Bredberg, innovative partnership specialist with NIU, said Discover took more than 100 applications from students for the program and completed interviews before the last semester ended.

Bredberg said NIU has a lot of partnerships with off-campus companies currently. However, she said, the announced partnership between Discover and NIU, which was finalized in March, is unique and will be much larger and more engaging for students.

Bredberg said selected students have the option of receiving internship credit, but the partnership is really about experiential learning for students. She said it’s about encouraging students to think outside of the box.

“It really broadens the scope to what students are learning in the classroom and applying it to business setting,” Bredberg said.

Suchomel said this is the first partnership of its kind Discover has entered into with a university. He said the company wanted to do a program such as this so students can have a large company such as Discover on their resume during their academic career.

“Instead of working at the local pizza place, they’re working at Discover,” Suchomel said.

Students interested in the program for future semesters must have a 3.0 GPA. The program is meant for students who are developing expertise in professional areas such as computer science, computer engineering, telecommunications, networking, informatics, information security and operations management, and information systems.

Bredberg said the hope is to have this collaboration open the door for similar programs.

“It really highlights how our alumni are thinking of innovative ways to give back to the university,” Bredberg said.

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May 23, 2018 at 01:20AM

Discover, NIU announce partnership for new student innovation program

ICC works on workforce development

PEORIA — By July, Illinois Central College will have placed 15 students in a newly revamped apprenticeship for industrial maintenance. The students can earn while they learn, as ICC puts it.

One aspect of Andrew Kerr’s job in the new position of associate vice president of workforce development involves helping ICC develop many more similar apprenticeship programs in health care, information technology and manufacturing.

There’s a simple reason the programs don’t exist already, Kerr says.

“Higher education has been wonderful at building programs that there’s no need for.”

Kerr’s role and other changes represent how the college is reinventing itself to meet the needs of employers, prospective employees, and the economic vitality of the area, according to ICC President Sheila Quirk-Bailey.

Forty percent of adults in the Peoria region have some kinds of post-secondary credential, she says, whether it’s a degree, an apprenticeship or a certification denoting specific skills.

“That means 60 percent don’t,” she continues, “and that percentage is exactly inverted from what you need to have a growing economy.”

Area employers struggle to find skilled workers, particularly in health care, IT and manufacturing. Quirk-Bailey says the three areas are dealing with “major shortages,” forcing local employers to recruit workers from out-of-town.

The skills gap also makes it difficult to attract and retain businesses. Meanwhile, many workers are stuck in low-paying jobs because they don’t have the skills employers need.

In its reinvented role, ICC wants to more responsive to industry needs, Kerr says.

For example, under the old model, the industrial maintenance program was known as mechatronics, which combines skills in electronics, mechanics and computer operations. Students could earn an associate’s degree within two years.

In the new model, renamed industrial maintenance to match industry standards, students go back and forth between intensive classroom training and intensive on-the-job training, applying the skills they learn in class. They’re students, but they’re also paid employees during the 2½-year program, eligible to graduate with an associate’s degree, industry certification and the guarantee of a well-paying job. Employers pay tuition.

The employers who sponsor them are essentially growing a trained workforce at a lower cost than if they used current hiring models to find skilled employees. The students are employees who happen to be taking classes, Kerr says.

Three manufacturing companies, including Caterpillar Inc., have already signed on with the industrial maintenance programs. Kerr and Quirk-Bailey are recruiting other companies.

Kerr estimates 200 to 300 people will apply for 15 slots. He predicts 30 to 45 will be qualified applicants, which leads to the aspect of workforce development he’s most passionate about.

If only 15 people get into the program, that means 185 to 285 won’t.

He wants to make sure the 15 to 30 other qualified applicants know of other options and that the vast majority take steps to become qualified, including passing tests on English and basic mechanics. Applicants must have also have two years of high school algebra and a year of geometry.

“I’m not concerned about getting qualified applicants, I’m concerned about making sure no one is left behind.”

His position coordinates the work of four departments — workforce development, college and career readiness, corporate and community education, and career services. Those departments, as well as the college’s other department, can offer help to students who don’t qualify, such as enrolling in math classes.

An ICC alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University, Kerr worked in adult education programs for 25 years. He says he saw how generational poverty stunted opportunities.

“That opened my eyes to a whole group of people who really want to succeed but don’t have the tools,” he says. “Providing those tools has been my mission for the last 25 years.”

Pam Adams can be reached at 686-3245 or Follow her on Twitter @padamspam.



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May 22, 2018 at 09:14PM

ICC works on workforce development

President Dunn faces furor at SIU

Embattled campus leader clings to job after calling Carbondale critics ‘bitchers’


By Ted Cox

The embattled president of Southern Illinois University is clinging to his job after emails revealed he worked behind the scenes to transfer $5 million to the Edwardsville campus and referred to those opposed to the move in Carbondale as "bitchers."

Professor Kathleen Chwalisz revealed the emails, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request, in an op-ed piece in The Southern newspaper on Thursday. She wrote that President Randy Dunn "actively concealed" his proposal to shift $5.125 million from Carbondale to Edwardsville while he took the public posture of being neutral on the shift — abruptly presented to the SIU Board of Trustees at its April meeting, and just as abruptly voted down, 4-3.

One Illinois had an interview scheduled with Dunn Thursday, totally by coincidence, and when asked about it he immediately granted that he had supported the proposal.

"I made the recommendation to our board based upon the fact that the idea of the system is that there is equal treatment of equals," he said. "And you’ve got a situation now with Edwardsville where, given the enrollments we’re looking at, we would anticipate for the fall of ’18 here in just a few months that we’ll see Edwardsville with as many as 1,000 more new students — first-time freshmen and new transfers — as many as 1,000 more more new students than Carbondale coming onto the campus."

On Monday, however, Chwalisz re-emphasized that Dunn had previously maintained neutrality on the proposal in public, saying, "He had gone on the record — there was an article in the Chicago Tribune — saying, ‘I’m not taking a position on this, I’m totally neutral.’

"There are definitely some things that don’t make sense in how he talks," Chwalisz said.

SIU enrollment has been dropping for years at its Carbondale campus, and it fell below 15,000 last fall. Edwardsville also suffered a loss last fall, to just below 14,000, but according to Dunn it’s projected to surpass Carbondale this fall. (SIU also has a smaller medical campus in Springfield.) He argued that a fair reallocation would have been far more than $5 million.

"If we adjust changed state appropriations support on the basis of enrollment alone, it would have been an additional $20 million to Edwardsville," Dunn said. "You can’t do that to the Carbondale campus, can’t allow that to happen, because it would drown them."

Chwalisz charged that it was the underhanded way in which the $5 million shift was attempted that showed "contempt" for Carbondale, as well as the way Dunn played to Edwardsville factions proposing the campuses be split into separate universities.

According to notes on a meeting obtained in the FOIA search: "Dunn also said this will put ‘Carbondale trustees’ in a spot since voting against it will be used as ammunition by the group that is developing SIUE separation legislation." Such legislation was introduced in the General Assembly shortly after the April meeting when the $5 million transfer was voted down.

Dunn also stated in an email that it would "shut up the bitchers from Carbondale."

That set off a salvo of calls for Dunn to resign in the General Assembly, with state Rep. Terri Bryant of Murphysboro stating on the House floor, "I stand today before you as a loud, proud bitcher." State Rep. Chad Hayes, of Catlin, also called on Dunn to resign, soon joined by state Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, of Elizabethtown.

“I stand today before you as a loud, proud bitcher.”

— State Rep. Terri Bryant, of Murphysboro, calling for the resignation of President Randy Dunn

Dunn held a news conference Friday to say he had no intention of stepping down. In a statement, he apologized for using "a less than complementary (sic) term," and called it "preposterous" that he would seek to have the campuses split.

"Contempt for the Carbondale campus and community?" Dunn said. "I live here. I worked at SIU Carbondale previously. And when I was asked by the Board of Trustees to apply for this job, we were very happy to return to Southern Illinois and home. Contempt? No, not at all. My wife and I own our home here. We are proud and active members of this community. I think if anyone has been denigrated in this situation, it has been me for doing my job and working for the best interests of all the campuses in the SIU System — which I was hired to do. To say that I have contempt for my neighbors, colleagues, friends and co-workers is insulting and is not worthy of being suggested against someone who shares a long history with this institution."

Dunn is not a lifelong academic, but rather said he was the first member of his family to attend college after growing up on a farm outside Rock Island. Specializing in education, kindergarten through high school, he worked his way up as a teacher and principal to teach at Carbondale before accepting a job as head of the Illinois State Board of Education in the mid-2000s. After moving on to head other universities, he returned to become president at SIU, overseeing all three campuses, four years ago.

Chwalisz, however, also charged that SIU suffered its biggest drop in enrollment the following fall, while Dunn was acting as chancellor following the death of an administrator in that post.

"Some of us came to refer to him as the ‘prancellor,’" she said, adding that he got rid of a marketing firm hired by a previous chancellor. "It was an expensive marketing firm, and it was kind of controversial at the time, so I thought, ‘Good, we’re not wasting money on that anymore,’ but he didn’t replace them with anything else. So we went from a lot of marketing to absolutely no marketing whatsoever. And I think that really hurt our enrollment quite a lot."

According to Chwalisz, Eastern Illinois and the Edwardsville campus have both "bounced back more quickly than Carbondale," and she attributed that to publicity pushes. "Both of those campuses put a bunch of money into advertising and marketing," she said. "We did not, by his call. We also haven’t had an enrollment manager since 2011."

Dunn granted that the university had suffered from not filling that position and said it was now being staffed by someone assigned to assist the enrollment process across the board. Blaming SIU’s decline on "a crisis of confidence," he said recovery is a "matter of competence and perception" and that "we’re here and we’re going to be here." But he didn’t have a good answer for how a campus trying to stop the bleeding would be helped with the perception that it was ceding $5 million to its sibling campus.


A "Carbondale Bitchers" T-shirt is available on Etsy.

(Facebook/WTF? Carbondale)

"I’m not trying to get him fired or anything. I just thought the public needed to know," Chwalisz said. She added that the notion of a $5 million reallocation had come up at a Board of Trustees retreat in March, which she attended as one of the leaders of the SIUC Faculty Senate Budget Committee, but that it was then agreed to hire a consultant to study it. When it suddenly appeared on the April agenda for the board’s meeting, without the knowledge of Carbondale Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, she submitted a FOIA to the budget offices at both campuses and the main SIU System.

"I figured there was stuff that I would find," Chwalisz said, "and what I got was shocking."

According to Dunn, the matter is now back to being studied independently, but calls for his resignation have gained their own momentum.

Chwalisz cited a "Carbondale Bitchers" baseball-style T-shirt that’s now being marketed on Facebook through the WTF? Carbondale page. It’s available on Etsy for $15.

The board, meanwhile, has scheduled a meeting May 30, including a closed session on personnel matters. Dunn said he does not believe he’s the topic for discussion.

"Can he remain on?" Chwalisz said. "I don’t know. That’s not my call."

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May 22, 2018 at 04:30PM

President Dunn faces furor at SIU