Big Changes Proposed At SIU

The chancellor at Southern Illinois University's main campus is doubling down on his plan to change the school and hopefully reverse years of declining enrollment and lost money. 

But the faculty senate at SIU Carbondale doesn't like Chancellor Carlo Montemagno's plan to restructure the campus. They say his plan is too sudden, too broad, and will close too many programs or departments. 

Montemagno last week said that doesn't matter. He said SIU cannot continue to hemorrhage students and their tuition dollars. That means campus bureaucracy must go. 

"We are spending too much time and money on administration, and not enough on teaching and research," Montemagno said in a video message to campus last week. "[Adding] to this challenge is outdated ways in which our departments function, limiting innovation and collaboration."

At SIU Carbondale, just 1,354 of the school's 4,795 employees work in a classroom. The budget for the school was more than $488 million last year. As a result, Montemagno said, the school is stuck in a downward spiral. 

"We have lost 50 percent of our freshman class over the past three years alone," Montemagno said. "The nearly nine percent drop in enrollment this year reflects a $9.4 million loss in tuition revenue. We have 6,000 fewer students than we had just 10 years ago."

Montemagno said he knows that new programs, a new focus on students, and an effort to bring SIU Carbondale out of its entrenched ways can turn the school around. 

"We cannot continue to do what we've always done and expect a different outcome," Montemagno said. "We must change."