Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Campus Tour

Ok, from my secure undisclosed vacation I've been able to access stirring video of the campus tour from July 1 here:


http://thesouthern.com/vmix_98e3b050-a465-11e0-bbbc-001cc4c002e0.html


I paste in the text of the tour after the break.  The tone is obviously tongue in cheek but the facts are, well, facts.  

Show Me the Money Tour    July 1, 2011

On today, July 1st, the first day of a brand new fiscal year, it is my privilege to share with you some of the outstanding new directions our campus is taking.  Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a 21st century institution with the priorities to match.  Here at SIUC, we aim to give the word "education" a whole new meaning.  We are doing so through our commitment to excellence: excellence in administration, excellence in athletics, and excellence in the construction of new buildings. 

Library

We start our tour with a building I, following the vision of our campus leaders, prefer to call the Morris Campus Center. While still informally known as Morris Library, the term "library" is a pale reflection of the centrality of the New Morris to our campus.  For the mission of the New Morris is not to house dusty old books, but to be the Campus Center.  And it brilliantly fulfills this function as it is indeed a building located at the center of the campus.

The New Morris features an improved fountain, an improved traffic flow scheme which allows students to exit the building much more quickly, new furniture, and the finest coffee shop to be located in a library on campus.  Thus students may now doze on the comfy new furniture located throughout the library, and then dose themselves with caffeine to prepare themselves for a safe walk or drive home. 

The $58 million renovation was carefully targeted to 21st century priorities like these, and thus did not include $1.5 million to return books to campus.  For any who would like to see books, I believe some can be found on the 5th floor.  This is the highest floor currently in use, and thus makes the books easy to avoid for those with other priorities.  If anyone is interested in the million or so books removed from the library and never brought back, for your convenience they have been placed in a giant shed out past the Poultry Center, where one can access them, I am told, for four hours a day on most weekdays.

Woody Hall

Woody Hall began, humbly, as a girls dormitory and cafeteria, but has evolved over the years to house things far more important things than students: admissions, records, financial aid, and the bursar's office.  Here at SIUC, we recognize that dealing with such matters can prove stressful for students and their families. Thus we have packs of special counselors roaming the halls of Woody, who introduce customers to a stress-killing activity known across campus as the "Woody Shuffle". 

There's nothing like doing the shuffle to take your mind off the fact that tuition has gone up some 55% over the last 8 years, and fees a truly stellar 123%. And thus as you go from one office to another, then back to the first office, then to a third office in the basement and then back to the second office, oops, sorry, that's the first office you need to go back to, too bad the line's gotten just a bit longer--the Woody Shuffle keeps you stress-free, slim, and happy. 

To improve the happiness and efficiency of our campus still further, though, I'm happy to announce that initial construction work has begun on a new, $32 million Student Services Building to replace the old Woody.  As part of the transformation, we will abandon the old Woody Shuffle and replace it with the Student Services Shimmy.  At SIUC, we recognize that the way to keep students and staff happy is to build new buildings. To help fund construction of the new student services building, SIUC has been right-sizing the unionized civil service staff for years now, reducing their numbers by almost 20%, and has instituted a regimen of furlough days.  This ensures that remaining civil service staff are plenty happy to have any job at all, thank you, and so have the sky high morale and commitment to SIUC required to provide their customers with high-quality, friendly service. 

Faner

Faner hall is one of our campus' architectural jewels, and is a splendid example of brutalism, the most important architectural style of the 20th century.  The term brutalism derives from b├ęton brut, French for "raw concrete", but in Faner hall brutalism isn't merely a superficial matter of raw concrete, though Faner's concrete is plenty raw.  No, here architectural style is married to daily use in a truly profound synthesis of form and function. 

For every day students are humiliated when they cannot find classrooms or offices hidden deep within Faner; those lucky few who find the proper rooms arrive browbeaten and depressed--brutalized, in a word, as is most fitting and proper in a building of this style.  And once in the classroom they will not be soothed by any of the sorts of modern conveniences they may have met with in their elementary school classrooms.  No pretty powerpoint pictures here, no internet access; just good old-fashioned chalk dust.  To maintain Faner's architectural purity, campus regulation forbid the introduction of any office furniture or classroom technology manufactured since 1977, meaning that most chairs, desks, and computers in faculty and departmental offices have landmark status.  Indeed, it gives me a certain thrill to know that a long string of faculty members have used my office chair over the past 35 years, and if I am tempted to forget this, the absence of padding on the seat and wobbly arms of my chair remind me of this fine if at times somewhat uncomfortable Faner tradition. 

In an inspired piece of decision making, it was decided that Faner Hall should house the college of liberal arts.  The brutality of the building is brilliantly designed to help ease liberal arts majors out of the coddled, insubstantial reveries of their silly academic disciplines and introduce them to the cold, hard, concrete reality of the world outside the ivory tower. 

Anthony Hall

Anthony Hall is the proud home of our campus CEO, Rita H. Cheng.  Indeed, over the past four years Anthony Hall has been the proud home of five different Chancellors, and SIUC now boasts the highest number of ex Chancellors on campus of any second-tier state university with both a compass direction and a city name in its official title. Chancellor Cheng is our second woman chancellor, and the first to last more than one year in office.  She has already presided over a brave new era including highlights such as her brave decision to take four six furlough days herself.  This meant the chancellor gave up almost $8000 in salary for the sake of the fiscal health of this institution, reducing her overall salary, housing allowance, etc., to a mere $353,000. Other sacrifices for this institution included her willingness to undergo a public coronation ceremony, the first ever held for an SIUC Chancellor, despite some riff-raff protesting outside the building.

Nor does SIUC's commitment to administrative excellence stop with our Chancellor.  From 2000 to 2009, the number of full time faculty at SIUC increased by a little less than 5%.  But the number of employees classified as "Executive/Administrative/Managerial" or "Professional Non-Faculty" increased by 27%.  And while our peers spend, on average, a mere 17.5% of their budgets on administration and support, we spend 29%.  That means that we have successfully reprioritized roughly $59 million that a peer institution would squander on some other priority, directing it to crucial spending on administration.  Here at SIUC, we realize that excellence in administration doesn't come cheap. 

Old McAndrew

We are now at a place where one can see the transformation of our campus underway.  There once stood here a football stadium with years of tradition behind it, built by the WPA during the great depression and home, especially during its last few years, to a terribly successful football program. Thankfully that stadium, McAndrew Stadium, is here no more, replaced by our new football stadium, Corporate Field, to be named after a corporate donor, should one appear.  Corporate Field is part of the visionary Saluki Way building project, a project devoted to this university's central mission to provide the best college athletics program that money can buy.  Some $76 million dollars have been spent on this project, and very little of that money has had to come from state appropriations or private donations, as more than half has come straight from student fees. 

In addition to the new football stadium, we have remodeled our basketball arena as well, and the results are clear for all to see.  On the football side, after winning all eight games against our conference rivals in 2009, in 2010 we added balance by introducing four losses.  And fan attendance at the new Corporate Field varied as well, from over 15,000 during the opening day victory over the Division VI powerhouse Quincy to about one third as many by the end of the inaugural season.  Results in basketball were even more striking; suffice it to say that while home attendance in the old arena had averaged well over 6000 since the 2000-2001 season, last year it was well above 4000. 

And Saluki Way does not begin to tell the story of our campus' commitment to spending on athletics.  Despite cuts to state funding, a hiring freeze on campus, furlough days, threats of layoffs, and standoffs with pesky unions across campus, our athletics budget went up a quite respectable 121.6% during the last five years, more than all but two of the 125 schools in the Football Championship Division.  Not to worry: the schools that raised funding at a faster pace have puny budgets compared to our own; in fact, our $23.2 million outpaces our nearest rival in the Missouri Valley Conference by some 5 million dollars.  In athletics, excellence is our goal, and we are determined to achieve it.  Our basketball coach, Chris Lowery, is paid $750,000 annually, meaning that his salary is higher than those of most coaches whose teams actually made the NCAA tournament last year.  And, once again, we do not soak our athletic program by demanding that our athletic supporters raise their own funds through ticket sales or outside contributions; some 60% of our athletics budget is paid for through student fees and direct or indirect institutional support.  Our commitment to excellence in athletics is rock solid.  

4 comments:

  1. Is there anything you like about this place Dave?

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  2. Sure. I even like the architecture of Faner, truth to tell; it has grown on my over the years. But you raise a good question. I've posted a couple of good news stories--not, I concede, good about SIUC in particular, but in defense of higher ed versus the current meme attacking its value. They don't seem particularly popular, however, winning zero comments and fairly few page views so far. That's the news business for you.

    I suppose my favorite thing about SIUC is our (quixotic?) mission of bringing a research university education to first generation college students. Positioning ourselves somewhere between UIUC and SIUE, with the promise of giving SIUE caliber students more of a UIUC education. That's the message I'd be trying to "brand" were I in the flag-waving unit.

    Satirists are generally repressed moralists, you know. Or maybe you don't. You don't get angry if you don't care. You don't lavish energy on White Papers or Mock Tours if you don't care. Don't get me wrong: there are other ways of caring. And there is the Power and Glory I'm earning thanks to my gadflying.

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  3. Anonymous does seem to be falling into that reductive binary oppositional mindset of "My country (SIUC) right or wrong" or the old clarion call used against Vietnam War demonstrators - "My country, love it or leave it." Unfortunately, for those who blind themselves to the corruption affecting SIUC, we are not going to go away but speak out against what is going on, especially the listing of SIUC spending on athletics as 3rd in the nation (121%) while money needed for higher priorities to do with real education get used for administrative pet building projects. Dave has made a very good case above.

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  4. Dave, Excellent presentation. I was not able to attend the grand tour but accessed the extracts on video and was glad to read the full text. This emphasis on administration and athletics is appalling and really detrimental to the students SIUC should be geared towards.

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I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.