After 34 years serving at SIUE in various positions over the years, Vice Chancellor for Administration Rich Walker has announced his plans to retire.
Walker said he will continue to stay involved with the university after his retirement.
“I obviously love SIUE, we love Edwardsville, so we want to stay connected … I still plan on staying in the area, and I still plan on helping the university in any way that I can,” Walker said. “There’s going to be a variety of volunteer opportunities that I can do for the university, like serve on various boards, for example.”
Assistant to the Provost for Human Resources Mark Bacus had a long working relationship with Walker that dates back to the 1980s where they were both students together in the public administration degree program here at SIUE.
“When he and I were kind of new here, I could tell that Rich was going to serve this university fully. He was not passing through. He may have thought so when he first got here, but I knew he would set down roots here and that he would become so immersed in, not just the university community, but the actual Edwardsville community, and he has,” Bacus said.
An example that really stood out to Bacus was Walker’s efforts to restore the old Wildey Theatre in Edwardsville.
“That place used to just be an empty barn, and he breathed life into it, it was him specifically. I remember him driving up behind Rendleman and ask me if I had time to go with him to take a look at a space, and it looked almost like a haunted house. He said, ‘Here’s my vision for this place,’ and he made it happen,” Bacus said.
Bacus gave Walker partial credit for shaping SIUE into what it is today.
“His desire to make this university an actual living place has been remarkable to me, because it wasn’t always that way,” Bacus said.
Bacus said in his earlier years, SIUE was considered a commuter campus.
“There was no sense of ‘this is a living space,’ and it’s been under his guidance and leadership that he’s transformed this into a living place,” Bacus said. “It’s like a mini village.”
Walker has been a strong asset to the institution, and will be deeply missed, according to Chancellor Randy Pembrook.
“The thing, I think, that is so admirable about Rich, and something that we’re going to miss, is that he has been in this environment in Edwardsville since the 1980s,” Pembrook said.
He said that this has allowed Walker to have a wider knowledge base than just his job, but to be extremely knowledgeable about the community as well.
“He knows a lot about the relationships between the university, the city council, county clerk, county board chair. His knowledge of how processes work, it just amazes me every time that I talk to him,” Pembrook said.
Walker would like to leave the students at the university with a final piece of advice.
“Good luck to everyone; keep studying, keep learning, and don’t let this be the end either for students,” Walker said. “Let your time at SIUE be the beginning for you as well, because the students won’t experience retirement for a while, but they will experience a change like this.”
He hopes students will stay involved with the campus even after they leave, just as he plans to do.
“They’re going to be leaving SIUE in the foreseeable future, but don’t let that be the end of their relationship with SIUE either, because it’s a pretty terrific place,” Walker said. “Whether that means getting another degree of some type, or volunteering, or working with the Alumni Association. Don’t lose your connection to the university; I won’t.”