July 29, 2009

SIUC: 140 years of great teaching, research, service

by SIUC University Communications

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale has been helping students realize their academic and career goals and improving the lives of the region’s residents for 140 years. From its first days as Illinois’ second teacher’s college to its place today as one of the nation’s comprehensive research institutions, SIUC continues to play a critical role in the region, the state and, increasingly, in the global community.

There isn’t sufficient space in one article to list all the many accomplishments of SIUC faculty, students and alumni over the past 140 years. Salukis can be found on every habitable continent in positions of political and business leadership, or conducting research in the field or laboratory. They make names for themselves in Hollywood and in space. They are in the classroom and in the community as educators, healers, policy makers, engineers, civic leaders and innovators.

Students are the beneficiaries of the University’s focus on excellent teaching, service and research. SIUC offers extensive research opportunities to undergraduates to promote scholarship and curiosity in addition to providing valuable hands-on experience. These opportunities include the Saluki Research Rookies Program, University Honors, the McNair Scholars Program and the Research-Enriched Academic Challenge. These research opportunities can begin for students as early as their first semester on campus. Research includes creative and intellectual projects in addition to the more traditional scientific research many people envision.

Here are just a few highlights of the accomplishments of SIUC students over the past year:

• Three SIUC students were named to the prestigious 2009 All-USA College Academic Team, selected and published by USA Today. Only 60 students nationwide make the team, with another 20 selected for honorable mention. SIUC has two students on the second team and one receiving honorable mention. SIUC students honored are: Lisa Furby, a junior in mechanical engineering from Carbondale, second team; Sean Goodin, a senior majoring in physiology and philosophy from Red Bud, second team; and Joe Batir, a senior in geology from Channahon, honorable mention. SIUC is one of only five universities nationally with three students on the team; the others are Florida State, Harvard, Louisiana State, Alabama and the Naval Academy. All three students were involved with undergraduate research options and the University Honors program.

• Joe Batir also earned a Fulbright Scholarship. He will study geothermal energy resources at the School of Renewable Energy Science in Akureyri, Iceland. The school is tops for geothermal studies.

• Accounting student Ashley Gibson is the lone 2009 recipient of the Stuart Cameron and Margaret McLeod Memorial Scholarship. She was one of 4,000 eligible applicants in the national Institute of Management Accountants competition.

• Another SIUC student, Andrew Dennhardt, a senior in zoology, presented his research on the peregrine falcon on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in early May. He was part of an elite group of young scholars invited to participate in the annual Posters on the Hill competition. Out of 440 applicants, he was among just 60 undergraduates nationwide selected to present their research.

• The Saluki Debate Team has made other universities across the country sit up and take notice with its impressive back-to-back seasons. This year, the duo of Kevin Calderwood and Adam Testerman finished second at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, the debate equivalent of the NCAA basketball championship game. Last year, Calderwood and Kyle Dennis, now graduated, won the tournament. The senior team wasn’t the only duo to distinguish itself. The junior team of Katie Thomas and Christopher Neill finished sixth in the nation at the tournament.

• Also continuing its winning ways was alt.news 26:46, the student-produced half-hour alternative TV news magazine. The program garnered another national student Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences College Television Awards. This is the program’s fourth national Emmy.

• A team of SIUC engineering students won the National Association for Industrial Technology robotics competition. This is only the second year SIUC has fielded a team. The team’s robot, built and created just for this event, was able to complete assigned tasks more quickly and efficiently than robots presented by other universities.

• The SIUC Wind Ensemble debuted at Carnegie Hall last year. This year, the ensemble and SIUC Concert Choir toured China as part of a concert tour and cultural exchange. SIUC School of Music leadership stated that international travel was the next logical step for a music program that continues to gain in prestige and name recognition. SIUC composer Kathleen Ginther wrote an original piece to debut in China as part of the tour.

• Kelly Kealy-Mayton, a fashion design and merchandising alumna, is “Dancing with the Stars” -- or at least dressing them -- after winning Macy’s Design a Dance costume contest. Her design appeared on a dancing couple on the show in November 2008.

• SIUC graduate student Amanda D. Drawve won the William N. Wasson Student Leadership and Academic Award for 2009 from the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association. The organization includes 700 member universities and other organizations.

• Beyond the classroom, the rehearsal room and the laboratory, SIUC students demonstrate a firm commitment to serving others. Between August 2008 and July 2009, students contributed more than 38,200 hours in community service through the Saluki Volunteer Corps. More than 5,600 students volunteered their time and talents, helping more than 60 non-profit organizations in the region. Also, the 13 members of the Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps chapter contributed more than 10,000 hours of tutoring and mentoring during the last school year. They helped children in the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale and in the Unity Point, Du Quoin, Carbondale elementary and Murphysboro school districts.

SIUC faculty members are leaders in the classroom and in their respective fields. They travel the world as Fulbright Scholars, visiting professors and honored guests, they garner awards and honors for their scholarly pursuits, and they not only publish in but also edit national scholarly journals and book series. SIUC’s scholars and researchers bring millions of grant dollars to the University. Research and training awards processed in June totaled more than $10 million, bringing the fiscal year total to slightly more than $62 million.

Here are some highlights of faculty accomplishments over the preceding academic year:

•Dr. Andrzej Bartke, professor and SIUC distinguished scholar of internal medicine and physiology, securedthe largest National Institutes of Health grant ever received at the School of Medicine. This five-year grant is from the National Institute of Aging, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The $8.6 million award will fund a study of the effects of growth hormone on aging and longevity. The research will study mutant mice that live longer than normal mice. Bartke is the principal investigator for the project, which includes collaborators at four other institutions: Ohio University in Athens; University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. This is the 15th grant Dr. Bartke has received at SIU for his research on longevity. His research funding totals $19.4 million.

• Maria de las Mercedes Calbi, associate professor of physics in the College of Science, received White House honors as a winner of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The PECASE award is the highest honor given by the U. S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers at the beginning of their careers. She is the first SIUC researcher in the University’s history to receive such an award. She and the other award winners will be honored at a White House ceremony this fall.

• The College of Engineering’s Shaikh Ahmed, assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering, is one of four researchers nationwide included in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s first High-Performance Computing Grants Competition. He will use the “Jaguar” super computer and other top-end computers on site at the national laboratory. The competitive award also presents opportunities for Ahmed’s graduate students, some of whom may accompany him to the laboratory.

• Another engineering professor, Yoginder Chugh from the Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering, is a member of the China Council Task Force on Sustainable Use of Coal. He joins scientists and engineers from France, Canada, Denmark and China in studying the country’s current and future approach to coal-based energy.

• Kimberly Kempf-Leonard, professor and chair of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was a guest of the Ministry of Justice in Japan, where she lectured as an honored guest and conferred with top officials about criminal justice policies in Japan. SIUC and the Correction Bureau of the Ministry of Justice in Japan have a long history of cooperation, with the Ministry of Justice sending at least one student here a year for advanced studies.

• Philosophy professor Randall E. Auxier made national news with the publication of the book he co-edited with Phil Seng, an SIUC alumnus, “The Wizard of Oz and Popular Culture.” Auxier is the editor of the Library of Living Philosophers and a contributor to the Open Court Publishing Philosophy and Popular Culture series. This book, however, caught the popular imagination in a way not usually seen with books of philosophy. As a result, Auxier appeared in national media on the radio and newspapers and also as a keynote speaker at a national conference.

One of the secrets of success for SIUC is and always has been diversity. The magazine “Diverse Issues in Higher Education” recently published its annual list of top degree producers for 2009, and once again the rankings reflect the University’s longstanding commitment to inclusion and diversity. SIUC ranked first in the number of bachelor’s degrees in education awarded to African American students. SIUC has ranked among the top five universities in the country in this category since 1997. In addition, SIUC ranked third in the number of bachelor’s degrees in education awarded to all minority students. The magazine ranked SIUC 32nd in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to African American students in health professions and related clinical sciences. And, the University ranked 44th for undergraduate degrees awarded to African American students when all disciplines are combined.

SIUC adjusts to meet the needs of the times, recently adding programs and opportunities for veterans of the Iraq wars, including those who are now disabled. The University also seeks to keep military personnel in the college loop even when duty takes them away from campus. Military Advanced Education magazine lists SIUC as one of the nation’s top 20 military friendly colleges and universities in the nation.

New this fall will be a regional nursing program on the SIUC campus, a collaborative effort between the University and the SIU Edwardsville School of Nursing. This will help address the statewide nursing shortage and offer an excellent career path. Nursing faculty from SIUE will teach classes here, while other select classes will be offered via tele-education between the two campuses. In addition, nursing faculty will provide clinical supervision of the nursing students in the Carbondale area.

Another advantage at SIUC is the blending of big school presence with small school atmosphere. SIUC offers more than 200 majors, minors and specializations as well as study-abroad options in every college and to every populated continent. Yet, the student-teacher ratio is a low 17 to 1, and a high percentage of classes contain fewer than 20 students.

A recent alumni survey indicated that 96 percent of SIUC alumni would recommend SIUC as their choice University for higher education.