SIU President Delivers His "State of the System" Address and Talks About SIUC Chancellor Search

Oct 17, 2016

The SIU system is taking a broad approach to its strategic plan moving forward as it waits for direction from the state.

In his "State of the System" address Monday, SIU President Randy Dunn says he's had to take a different approach to strategic planning because public universities don't know what type of support to expect from the state without a full-year budget. Instead of dozens of goals, Dunn says, he is pushing a few big themes on the system's future direction.
"You look for things that present themselves that you can grab onto and invest in. The biggest challenge that we have is setting up a whole set of things that we either don't have the financial capacity, or people, or interest, or capability to do."
Some of those big themes include setting SIU apart from the competition, while at the same time learning from competitors; meeting unmet market needs and focusing more on relationships with students.

You can read a draft of the strategic plan online here.

Dunn says Illinois public universities may need to prepare for a grand re-shaping of its relationship with state government.

He stressed no one knows how the covenant will change, but he says it almost certainly will once Governor Rauner and legislative leaders agree on a full-year budget.

Dunn says part of it could involve how many public universities remain open after the budget stalemate ends.
"Nobody wants to see anyone close, and I put myself in that group. But, I do think there is this kind of tacit policy, huge policy question right now out there in the State of Illinois, do we need to have all of these state institutions?"
Dunn stresses SIU is not going to close, even though he admits the budget impasse has been traumatic for higher education in Illinois.

Dunn says SIU has been opposed to trying new things in the past, but he says that will have to change for the system to remain viable in the future.

Despite all the budget challenges, Dunn says SIU continues to do the best it can with what it has available.
"If you think about the academic programs, the research that takes place, the critical student services, I daresay even the public service work we do, everyone is trying their hardest - and I don't just mean administrators, I know all of us are - trying our hardest to hold that center together."

Dunn says he must be forward thinking, strategic, and working on prioritizing in difficult times. He admits the state's budget crisis has had a human cost:
"We've tried to hold the center together, we've tried to stay away from layoffs, not do furloughs, keep people employed. But this has cost people jobs - particularly our non-tenure track faculty, particularly our people who are on grant dollars from the state of Illinois, other contracts - and we have lost them."

Dunn pointed out that administrative turnover has in some cases made the university lack focus.
"We chase a different rabbit out of the field every time we turn around. We've got to stop it. We've got to decide what the strategies are to work, to invest in, to make real change - and then stick with them long enough to see if the darn things work."

Speaking of administrative turnover, just before delivering his "State of the System" address Monday, Dunn named an 18-member committee to begin the process of selecting the Carbondale campus' next permanent chancellor.

Without giving the committee a deadline, he wants the group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members to move as quickly as possible. He says SIU-C can't move forward as it must with an interim chancellor at the helm.
"You have to have a permanent chancellor there for some of things I think we're going to be dealing with, some of the decisions that are going to have to get made. The calls that are going to have to get made, it takes a permanent chancellor to have the authority, to have the imprimatur of the position to be able to guide that work."
With six chancellors at SIU-C since 2006, Dunn says he wants the committee to look for candidates who are willing to invest in the campus for a good number of years.

Dunn anticipates naming between two and four finalists to bring to the campus for interviews and open forums sometime during the spring semester.

When Brad Colwell took over as interim chancellor one October 1, 2015, it was with the understanding that he would serve up to two years, prior to the conclusion of a national search.

Members of the committee are:

  • Laurie Achenbach, chair; dean, College of Science
  • Jason Bond, professor, Plant, Soil, & Agricultural Systems
  • Daniel Booth, principal, Carbondale Community High School
  • Nate Brown, alumnus, Belleville
  • Deborah Burris, clinical associate professor, Office of Teacher Education
  • Judith Davie, associate professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Wayne Glass, director, Office of Sponsored Projects Administration, A/P Staff Council
  • Ben Handler, vice president, Undergraduate Student Government
  • Andrea Imre, associate professor, Morris Library
  • Vicki Kreher, senior lecturer, Journalism
  • Segun Ojewuyi, associate professor, Theater
  • Julie Partridge, associate professor, Kinesiology
  • Barbara Shiplett, coordinator of physical therapy services, Student Health Services, Civil Service Council
  • Matt Solverson, SIU Foundation Board of Directors
  • Naomi Tolbert, student member, SIU Board of Trustees
  • Tomas Velasco, associate professor, Technology
  • Xiaoxin Wang Beardsley, associate professor, Finance
  • Brandon Woudenberg, president, Graduate and Professional Student Council

Non-voting Staff to the Committee:

  • Matt Baughman, assistant to the chancellor
  • Penny Moon, President’s Office