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

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

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

Illinois State tuition to increase 3.75 percent this fall

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Tuition will increase 3.75 percent for new undergraduate students entering Illinois State University this fall term.

The hike comes after approval from the school’s Board of Trustees on Friday. Students will pay about $385 per credit hour. The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports that the new rate only applies to incoming students and is guaranteed through summer 2022.

Mandatory student fees will increase about a half-percent. Overall the new rates represent a 1.9 percent increase over previous year’s cost. Total cost of attendance is about $24,400. Trustees didn’t approve any increases last year.

Dan Stephens is Illinois State’s vice president for finance and planning. He says the increases in tuition and fees are expected to bring in an additional $2.2 million to the university.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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May 11, 2018 at 01:27PM

Illinois State tuition to increase 3.75 percent this fall

At Southern Illinois University, a growing Edwardsville campus flexes its muscles

For years, there was a natural order to life in the Southern Illinois University system: The flagship campus in Carbondale had the higher enrollment, the bigger budget and the storied men’s basketball team while Edwardsville, established nearly 90 years after Carbondale, worked to build up its cachet.

That was before enrollment began a long decline at Carbondale while Edwardsville gradually found its niche in Greater St. Louis, the second-largest metro area in Illinois.

Now enrollment at the two schools is nearly identical, and Edwardsville officials say it is time that the two-campus university system reassess how it divvies up its funding. And some area lawmakers are renewing a push to sever the two campuses.

“To be fair to our great students and their families and to the amazing individuals who make up our faculty and staff, we need to admit that some parts of SIU are doing better than others and we need to make decisions that maximize the investment we receive from the state,” the SIU board’s chairwoman, Amy Sholar, wrote in an open letter this month. “If we’re going to remain a system, we need to accept that we are continuously evolving and that we can’t stay in our silos forever.”

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May 10, 2018 at 05:51AM

At Southern Illinois University, a growing Edwardsville campus flexes its muscles

SIU system faces potential split as campuses clamor for funds

EDWARDSVILLE • Mathematics professor Marcus Agustin spends a lot of time inside the student fitness center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, but he’s no gym rat.

Agustin and other faculty have been crammed in the gym facility for four years while waiting for construction on new classrooms and offices to be finished. The process was supposed to take two years, but Illinois state budget cuts doubled the time frame.

“But the good thing is our group is the most athletic faculty now,” Agustin said.

That cramped feeling in Edwardsville, made possible by its steady growth, is conspicuously absent at Southern Illinois University’s flagship campus in Carbondale, where student enrollment has dropped by thousands over the last decade. Consecutive years of state budget cuts mixed with student disenchantment, high administrative turnover, and a successful sister campus to the north seeking more resources gives Carbondale the feel of a campus under siege.

“It’s been a perfect storm kind of thing,” said Ahmad Fakhoury, an associate professor in Carbondale’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Talk of splitting the two campuses into independent universities has come and subsided in the past, but a recent SIU Board of Trustees decision not to allocate Edwardsville a bigger piece of the state funding they share may have just pushed the system to a tipping point.

The board last month narrowly rejected a proposal to take $5 million from Carbondale’s budget to give to Edwardsville. It means SIU Carbondale will continue with about 60 percent of the system’s share of state funding, despite having just slightly more students than Edwardsville, after enrollment dropped nearly one-third since 2001.

SIUE’s enrollment hasn’t boomed in the way Carbondale’s enrollment has imploded, but steady growth over time has put Edwardsville in a position to eventually overtake Carbondale. In 2000, fall enrollment at Edwardsville was 12,193 compared to 22,645 at Carbondale (excluding the School of Medicine in Springfield) — a difference of 10,452 students. In 2017, fall enrollment at Edwardsville was 13,796 compared to 14,184 at Carbondale — a difference of just 388.

Now the Illinois Legislature is mulling a bill to split the universities, which Edwardsville leaders are outspoken in supporting. SIUE Chancellor Randall Pembrook said the proposal would also shake up the state funding formula, potentially getting Edwardsville four times more than the $5 million they asked for from trustees.


Dr. Randy Pembrook became the ninth chancellor in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s history on Aug. 1, 2016. (handout photo)

“I think the most important thing is for SIUE to be recognized for the good things that are happening here,” Pembrook said. “The current situation is not equitable.”

Splitting the universities would not only change the funding structure but, as in divorce, could result in a change of custody. The SIU School of Medicine in Springfield is part of the Carbondale university but would fall into Edwardsville’s sphere along with the schools of pharmacy, nursing and dental medicine, under the House proposal.

This prospect is especially concerning to Carbondale leaders, who say the medical school is “deeply interconnected with the Carbondale campus,” according to Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.

“The medical school is an integral part of SIU Carbondale and must remain so,” Montemagno said in a blog post.


Carlo Montemagno, a professor of engineering, became chancellor of SIU Carbondale on Aug. 15, 2017. (handout photo)

Carbondale leaders have asked for patience and more time to right the ship. There’s also a sense of enmity against SIUE for how it sought to change the state funding distribution.

“The Carbondale campus didn’t see any details about the rationale for the funding at all until it was released to the public,” SIU Carbondale spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said. “What we saw was a proposal that had been developed by Edwardsville using Edwardsville’s interpretation of data without the help of an external consultant.”

Goldsmith also said the funding change would have taken effect July 1, leaving Carbondale little time to adjust to the change. After having nine chancellors since 2000, the university hired Montemagno in August 2017. Goldsmith said having a permanent hire in leadership is allowing Carbondale to finally do long-term planning that had been delayed.

“It would have had a significant impact on the institution and the community,” she said. “Losing the funding at this point while trying to turn things around, which we’re hard at work on, is also an issue for us.”

Edwardsville leaders say they’ve been good partners with Carbondale but aren’t seeing that reciprocated now as they challenge what they call an outdated funding distribution. Last year, SIUE leaders approved loaning up to $35 million from its reserves to the Carbondale campus while the Legislature remained deadlocked over the budget.

Carbondale eventually only loaned $16 million and paid it back after the state approved a budget. Johnathan Flowers, president of Carbondale’s Graduate and Professional Student Council and an outspoken critic of the administration there, said the loan at the time felt like a sign of things to come.

“Edwardsville has been planning strategically for its future, and Carbondale has been unable to do that,” Flowers said.

Montemagno’s administration is working on a restructuring of academic programs and other elements of campus life under a plan called “Vision 2025.” Whether the two campuses are part of the same system by that time and what effect the split has on Montemagno’s plans is anyone’s guess.

Plans remain tentative for the Board of Trustees to hire an external consultant to examine the funding distribution, even as the Legislature considers rendering the process moot. Democratic state Rep. Jay Hoffman of Swansea, sponsor of the bill to split the campuses, said he thinks both campuses would benefit from having their own board of trustees.

“They could focus on the strengths of the individual campuses and provide better governance for both,” Hoffman said.

But Hoffman didn’t shirk from describing the relationship between Edwardsville and Carbondale as one full of “parochial disputes where one campus (Edwardsville) is suffering at the expense of the other.”

The legislative proposal awaits action in the Rules Committee. The Legislature’s spring session ends May 31. Hoffman said the bill could be revisited in the fall if no action is taken this term.

The bill is House Bill 5861.

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May 5, 2018 at 10:48AM

SIU system faces potential split as campuses clamor for funds

Opinion | Voice of The Southern: Enrollment should be the priority at SIUC, and it should be united

The numbers are startling.

In the fall of 2011, Southern Illinois University Carbondale had an enrollment of 19,817 students. Last fall, SIU listed its enrollment at 14,554. In raw numbers, that’s a decline of 5,263. That represents a drop of 26.6 percent.

Those numbers have significance beyond the pure math. With Tuesday’s announcement that Jennifer DeHaemers had been hired as associate chancellor for enrollment management, the university also noted the position had been vacant since 2014. And, there had not been a full-time person in the position since 2011.

The obvious question goes beyond why. The real question is WHY?

SIU Carbondale has been hemorrhaging students since 2011. SIU administrators, SIU Board of Trustees members, SIU faculty members and citizens of Southern Illinois have been wringing their hands over the steady decline for more than a decade only to learn the university has been without a full-time recruiter for seven years.

That fact falls somewhere between mind-boggling and breathtaking. The numbers clearly indicate SIU’s enrollment decline became more precipitous after then the last full-time enrollment manager left.

Is there a cause-and-effect relationship? Is it coincidental? Reality suggests it’s a combination of both, but having someone in that role likely would have mitigated the decline.

Granted, there have been a lot of distractions since 2011. The State of Illinois went without a budget for more than two years. There was an open civil war on the SIU Board of Trustees for a couple of years. And, in recent months the campus has been embroiled in a seemingly endless debate over the school’s internal organization.

Through it all, there has been one constant. Enrollment numbers are dropping with stunning regularity. In the last three years, freshman enrollment numbers have dropped by 21.55 percent, 26 percent and 18.13 percent, respectively.

Surely, someone at some point in the last three years would have thought, “Maybe we need an enrollment guru.”

The appointment of Ms. DeHaemers is a small, but important step, in the right direction.

At this moment, SIU Carbondale needs an infusion of leadership and direction. There is nothing more important to the future of SIUC than recruitment and retention of students.

We enjoy a thought-provoking philosophical discussion, but at the moment, getting students interested in pursuing an education in Carbondale is more important than whether the university is divided into schools or departments.

If you’re down by two touchdowns and the opponent is driving, your first priority is to get the ball back. Once the ball is in your hands, you turn your focus to scoring.

Turning the enrollment decline around is not going to be simple. There are many variables at work here. But, it’s pretty clear the university is going to have to help itself. Setting priorities to recruiting students and giving them the tools they need to succeed is a necessary first step.

The Board of Trustees, the administration and faculty needs to put forth a united front on recruitment, and do it now. There is nothing about a divided, tumultuous campus that is appealing to prospective students.

We would also like to see the Board of Trustees and administration take a stand against the dissolution of the SIU system.

When President Randy Dunn takes a neutral position on the legislation introduced by Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, to separate the two Southern Illinois University campuses, it is not truly neutral. It is a tacit approval of the action.

That certainly seems it would have a chilling effect on students and their parents who are considering SIU Carbondale for their undergraduate degree.

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April 29, 2018 at 05:02AM

Opinion | Voice of The Southern: Enrollment should be the priority at SIUC, and it should be united