Meeting update

First another thanks to all the, faculty, students, and staff who attended our meeting on Monday. I’ve received positive reviews from people with rather different takes on the issues discussed, which I (Dave Johnson) take as a good sign.

The most pressing thing right now is what to do if you are among the people who believe that the restructuring process is off course, and is doing SIUC more harm than good. After the break, arguments worth making, goals worth pursuing, and means to achieve those goals. 

Some arguments worth following up on.
  • It is foolish to impose structures against the will of the very faculty who are going to have to make those structures work.
  • An interim administration should not impose permanent structural changes against the will of faculty and students–and particularly not without full review by the Board of Trustees.
  • Administrators say they will respect the ability of faculty to control curricula and research, and thereby to exercise academic freedom, within their own disciplines. But this is rather hard to square with the administration’s insistence on structural changes that will rob faculty of the institutional authority to protect their academic freedom.
  • Faculty have been working on alternative ways of achieving the goals of restructuring: promoting cooperation, synergy, and innovation. These efforts include proposals for a College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CoSSH) and a College of Arts and Media (CAM). But administrative responses have been less than supportive. They have effectively shut down the CoSSH proposal and are insisting on changes to CAM.
  • Enrollment is the thing we all need to be working on. But shuffling units around makes this harder, not easier.
  • A long transitional phase during which SIUC will be operating without a functional college structure is going to undermine our efforts at recruitment and retention, and impair the basic administrative functioning of the university.
  • SIUC should move forward now with elements in restructuring that faculty and students support, and wrap up the restructuring process, rather than drawing out the confusing and divisive process in order to impose changes that lack support.
  • With morale at a record low, faculty departures accelerating, and enrollment projected to continue to decline, the last thing SIUC needs is more self-inflicted wounds in pursuit of a controversial new organizational structure which will do nothing to address our immediate concern: enrollment.
Just what do we want the SIU administration to do?
  • A decent respect for the opinions of faculty, students, and the entire SIUC community ought to require public meetings of the sort that late Chancellor Montemagno held during his tenure, if the Interim Chancellor and Interim President are going to claim that it makes sense to impose restructured schools faculty oppose. Such meetings should include adequate time for questions and comments from those in attendance.
  • The full Board of Trustees should formally review all plans that do not have support from faculty.
  • If the Board is not satisfied that the arguments and evidence presented by the administration should be allowed to trump the votes, arguments, and evidence presented by faculty, they should require the administration to go back to faculty and work out alternative ways of achieving our shared goals–above all increasing enrollment.
How do we go about getting these things to happen?
  • Individuals can write and call decision makers (contacts below).
  • Groups–departments, student and faculty representative bodies, etc.–can make their views known to the administration and the wider community. If they have lost confidence in the administration, they should consider a formal vote to say as much.
  • Both individuals and groups can share their views via the media–both through informal social networks and more traditional means (letters to the editor, op-eds).
  • If you have concerns, reach out to friends on campus and in the community to share them. Word of mouth, in a small community, is still among the best ways to shape public opinion.

No one argument, letter, conversation, or vote will turn the tide in itself. But together our voices and our actions can make a difference.

Contacts, links to more information, media reports, etc. 


Interim President Kevin Dorsey

Board of Trutess: Contact via Board Secretary Misty Whittington

Southern Illinoisan



More info on the schools currently under debate can be found here:


I wrote a letter on behalf of the FA to the BOT, asking them to formally review all the controversial school proposals.

FA to BOT 9 April 2019


My slides from the meeting can be found here:


Our meeting received some press coverage; here are some links.


WSIU also has an interview with the Interim Chancellor (which was recorded before our meeting).


Sajal Lahiri of Economics will be interviewed on WSIL this evening (4/10).

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Among other things.

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