Interim President discusses future of SIU - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Interim President discusses future of SIU

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois Board of Trustees will decide on Thursday whether to approve a new interim chancellor for the Carbondale campus. 

Interim President Dr. Kevin Dorsey announced Tuesday John M. Dunn, PhD has accepted the opportunity. Previously, Dunn served as SIU's provost and vice chancellor 2002-2006, and he served as interim chancellor from 2006-2007.

Dorsey says he is happy the Pinckneyville native and former Western Michigan President could return to help his home region.

News 3's Emily Manley spoke one-on-one with Dr. Dorsey Tuesday about the future of SIU. Dorsey says SIU is one of the many state schools in Illinois struggling with enrollment and money.

"You notice as you walk around campus, the declining enrollment," Dorsey said. "You used to see herds of students and it's not that way anymore."

And like more universities in Illinois, SIU is in recovery mode. 

"Part of it is trying to catch up because we took a beating during the budget impasse," Dorsey said. 

Dorsey has been interim system president since July. He says SIU is asking for a 7 percent increase in the general revenue fund for Illinois' Fiscal Year Budget 2019. If granted the money, the SIU system would receive $195 million. 

"I think the state legislators are recognizing the impact that underfunding the state university's has had over the past several years and the budget impasse really was devastating and pushed everyone over the edge," Dorsey said. 

Enrollment is also a struggling factor. Students like Brandon Lathrop says the university needs to make themselves more marketable. 

"I think they need to do a little bit more research based on their audience and know who they are selling this to. It hurts my social life, it hurts everyone's social life on campus," says Lathrop.

Dorsey agrees with Lathrop, "Enrollment is everybody's business. How we treat students, AKA customers, is important. So our customer relation has to be first rate."

4,200 seniors are set to graduate this year. Dorsey says enrollment looks great for next year's incoming freshman class, but numbers won't match up. 

"Clearly the goal is to continue to increase enrollment, but I can't produce students out of thin air," said Dorsey.

Dorsey says the university doesn't want to lower standards to bring in more students. Thursday is the last SIU Board of Trustee meeting regularly schedule this year. Dorsey says the next board meeting in the spring will have new faces. 

Currently SIU is searching for a permanent replacement to fill Dorsey's position. Once the system has a president, they will being the search for a chancellor, with hopes of both positions filled by next December. 

You can watch the full interview below.

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