This summer proved to be everything but business as usual for the SIU system Board of Trustees. Much of the summer was spent preparing for upcoming system changes, including the presidential search and funding allocations, on top of new legislation.
Presidential search happenings
The board made it clear this summer it hopes to have a new system president announced by the end of the calendar year. Witt/Kieffer Leadership Consulting is tasked with bringing the job description to the marketplace and finding candidates, according to their senior partner Dennis Barden. Then, the presidential search advisory committee, led by Board Vice Chair Ed Hightower, will conduct the presidential interviews.
Hightower said throughout the process, the committee must keep in mind benefiting the system as a whole while still keeping in mind the needs of each individual campus.
“Everything that we do will be to enhance and move the SIU system [forward], but not taking away the autonomy from each campus to do the kinds of things necessary to address their local interests and local needs,” Hightower previously told The Alestle.
Funding splits a topic of ongoing discussion
The SIU system received a 5 percent increase in state appropriations for FY 20. At July’s meeting, the board decided to traditionally allocate these extra funds to the School of Medicine and System Office, and then evenly split the remaining funds between SIUE and SIUC.
Board Chair Phil Gilbert said this was a small step toward addressing the need for a new funding allocation model for recurrent state funds, as the traditional formula awards Carbondale roughly 60 percent and Edwardsville 40 percent of the funds.
For many members of the SIUE community, conversations surrounding fair funding are nothing new. In April, Carol Cartwright, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges principal adviser, interviewed several SIU system stakeholders. At June’s special board meeting, she presented key findings from these interviews, and many had mentioned the need for an ongoing fair funding allocation model between SIUE and SIUC.
Gilbert and other board members expected AGB Consulting to provide a specific formula for these recurring fund allocations. However, it became clear at July’s meeting that it would be left to the board to come up with such formula.
“They gave us the framework for it, but I was hoping for more from them,” Gilbert previously told The Alestle. “We didn’t get it, so as I said in the meeting, we are going to take the bull by its horns and finish this job.”
In response, the board set out to create a group with representatives from Carbondale, Edwardsville and the system as a whole to examine recurring state funding and present a recommendation for a new allocation model by December, according to SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook.
Both student trustees now have a board vote
On July 30, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Rep. Katie Stuart’s HB 2239 into effect, granting both the SIUE and SIUC student trustees votes on the board. Previously, only one student trustee would have the vote, at the discretion of the governor.
Pritzker said at the bill signing that the bill is important, as it shows a commitment to giving students a voice.
“Student voices matter,” Pritzker said. “That’s why this bill is so important: student voices matter. That, at its core, is why we are amplifying the student voice on the Board of Trustees.”
Within the past year, SIUC student trustee Brione Lockett and former SIUE student trustee Molly Smith would communicate on important issues, as Lockett had the vote. However, Stuart said she knows this might not always be the case, adding even more importance to the bill.
“My understanding is that in the past our student trustees always had very good working professional relationships, but there is not always the guarantee that there is not going to be animosity between the two,” Stuart said.
System unity was a key issue
In all the new endeavors, the board recognizes it must hone in on system unity and put talk of separation to rest once and for all. This topic has been frequently brought up in meetings.
Hightower mentioned in June’s special meeting that the idea of campus superiority perpetuated the idea of separation. He told The Alestle that in order to move past this, campuses should capitalize on their niches.
“I believe that you should be the best that you can be, but by the same token, we are a system and we have to make it clear that we are not going to have duplication of services,” Hightower said in June. “What we are interested in is making the system stronger, and everything is system-driven, but if SIUE has a special niche, if the medical school has a special niche, if Carbondale has a special niche, then you be excellent in those areas.”
The next board meeting will be Sept. 12 at SIUE. For more information on this summer’s board happenings, view meeting minutes and audio files on the BOT website.