March 22, 2005

New initiative will move ahead with $3 million fund SIUC looks to expand minority faculty and staff

by Sue Davis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Walter V. Wendler announced today (March 23) that the University is creating a new fund of nearly $3 million to attract a more diverse faculty and staff.

Money for the initiative will come from centralizing 1 percent of the University's salary base, creating a pool of $1.4 million and matching it with tuition dollars.

SIUC, long a leader in graduating minority students, wants future students to find more diversity at the front of the classroom.

"We recognize the importance of recruiting a faculty and staff that more appropriately reflects the larger society in every way," Wendler said during his annual State of the University Address. "For us, for now, my focus is on better reflecting the State of Illinois in its plurality at all levels."

A year a go, SIUC received national media attention when Wendler created a revolving fund of nearly $1 million to encourage a more representative faculty. The second program, announced today, will benefit those academic and non-academic departments that actively seek and succeed at hiring and retaining staff, faculty and students who present "a more accurate picture of our world to those who come calling to Southern seeking first-rate educational opportunity."

SIUC has been diverse since its first class arrived in the late 1800s. Many of Southern's students are first in family to attend college and the University is committed to continuing to provide that opportunity to others.

Details of how departments can qualify for the new hire funding will be worked out in coming weeks.

Last year, SIUC ranked seventh in the nation among traditionally white institutions for total degrees awarded to black undergraduates, according to rankings provided by Black Issues in Higher Education.

When statistics from historically black and traditionally white schools are combined, SIUC ranks second for the number of bachelor's degrees awarded to African-American education majors and third for the number of bachelor's degrees awarded to all minority education majors.

SIUC works closely with African-American and Hispanic communities across the state and is very committed to making sure their needs are met, Wendler said. The University recently created guidebooks for African-American, Hispanic and Asian-American students.

"It is not new for us at Southern, and we are not going to become complacent with our commitments," Wendler said.

While the University works on creating a more diverse faculty, it will also focus on change in the makeup of the student body.

By 2010, SIUC wants to enroll 23,000 – up from 21,387 in fall semester 2003. In shaping its student body, the University will work to enroll 17,000 undergraduates, up from 16,366 in 2003, and 6,000 graduate students, up from 5,021 in 2003.

At the same time the University aspires to increase its undergraduate minority enrollment from 17.5 to 22 percent, with minorities defined as those who identify themselves as African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander. On the graduate side – excluding law and medical schools – SIUC would like to see minority representation move from 23.5 percent to 26 percent.

"If we can achieve this, our University will be stronger and will be closer to reaching our Southern@150 targets, " Wendler said. (Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment is the University's long-range plan for where it hopes to be in 2019 when it celebrates its 150th anniversary.)

To reach Chancellor Walter V. Wendler for interviews, please contact Sue Davis:

Cell 618-521-9391, Office 628-453-1430, home 618-529-2342

Chancellor Wendler will be available for interviews after 4:20 p.m. today.