August 31, 2009

SIUC honors Chancellor Emeritus John C. Guyon

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A ceremony at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library today (Aug. 31) celebrated the dedication of the John C. Guyon Auditorium and honored its namesake.

“John Guyon brought knowledge and commitment to his roles on campus, as a dean, associate vice president and as our second-longest serving chief administrator (nine years) after Delyte Morris. It is appropriate that we honor his dedication to SIUC and to this region,” said Chancellor Samuel Goldman.

The new auditorium in the renovated and expanded Morris Library now bears the name of the longtime SIUC administrator, praised by colleagues for his leadership and contributions to the University. Guyon, a native of Washington, Pa., arrived at SIUC in 1974.

He was the first permanent dean of the College of Science, a post established through restructuring of academic units. He became associate vice president for research and dean of the graduate school in 1976 followed by posts as acting vice president and then vice president for academic affairs and research.

Guyon’s term as president began July 9, 1987, seven months after being named acting president. At that time, the president was the top administrator for the SIUC campus and the chancellor led the entire SIU system. Later, administrative restructuring changed duties and titles. In keeping with those revisions, Guyon, who led the University until 1996, is chancellor emeritus.

Guyon, 77, led the university through a number of changes and improvements.

“I would describe John Guyon as a good citizen of the University and a very, very good friend of mine,” said Benjamin A. Shepherd. Shepherd, a zoologist, served in a number of teaching and administrative positions at the University, ultimately filling Guyon’s former post as vice president for academic affairs and research when Guyon became president. Shepherd also served as provost for eight years.

“John Guyon took some bold steps as chancellor of SIUC,” Shepherd said. “Some of his accomplishments were exemplary and unprecedented.”

The first campus Clean Air Policy went into effect during Guyon’s tenure and the Saluki Express began transporting students. Shepherd said the bus service anticipates it will welcome its five millionth rider in October. He said the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute got the green light during Guyon’s tenure and the University Core Curriculum was developed and implemented.

SIUC became the first American university offering an off-campus program in Japan in May 1988. Classes at the Nakajo, Japan, campus mirrored American programs and a year later, officials dedicated a new $7 million campus in the seaside community on the other side of the world.

Also during Guyon’s leadership, SIUC launched a distance-learning initiative allowing students in the healthcare field to attend classes via interactive video linkages with the region’s community colleges.

Shepherd praised Guyon for his policies regarding women and minorities. During Guyon’s tenure, the Black Alumni Group was launched, the Black American Studies program got tenure status and the University Women’s Professional Advancement organization formed.

“Not only that. Two of his four vice presidents were African American, including me, and two women were deans of colleges or senior administrators in his administration. SIUC had a virtually unmatched minority profile in the state then,” Shepherd said.

Guyon set forth a minority recruitment and advancement plan for SIUC in the fall of 1987 and created a task force to study the status of women at the University, particularly with regard to female faculty and student recruitment. He named Seymour Bryson, dean of what was then known as the College of Human Resources, to a half-time special position focusing on minority recruitment and awareness. In 1988, Guyon appointed Bryson as the full-time director of the affirmative action and equal opportunity programs. Guyon also emphasized Hispanic student recruitment and assigned an assistant to begin long-range planning in that area.

The Carbondale NAACP presented its first Image Award to Guyon in 1989, recognizing him for making a positive impact on the region’s minority residents. The Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education also honored Guyon in 1989 for bringing black people into policy-making and administrative positions.

Shepherd said the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s “Priorities, Quality and Productivity” initiative in 1991 sought to make education more cost-effective, but initial plans called for elimination of 11 of 29 SIUC doctoral programs, causing much consternation on campus. However, he credits Guyon with leading the University through the process in such a way that the faculty remained cohesive and the University was able to maintain most of its programming as well as its status as a research and doctoral granting institution.

“Give John Guyon a lot of credit for getting us through it and holding the faculty together,” Shepherd said. Shepherd said that although some degree program cuts occurred, fewer were lost than the IBHE originally planned and he said that ensuing years brought additional programs to the University’s curriculum too.

During Guyon’s tenure, SIUC experienced an active time of capital improvement and expansion. Shepherd said several structures were proposed, funded and/or constructed, including: the electron microscopy laboratory, the $6 million Small Business Incubator, an engineering building addition, Life Sciences III, the Center for Environmental Health and Safety and the Transportation Center.

The new auditorium on the library’s main floor seats 200.

Guyon graduated magna cum laude from Washington and Jefferson College in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. While there, he won the Jesse W. Lazear Price in chemistry. He earned his master’s in physical chemistry at Toledo University in 1957 and was an Owens Illinois Fellow. His doctorate, in analytical chemistry, came at Purdue University in 1961, and he was an Eli Lilly Fellow at Purdue.

Prior to coming to SIUC, Guyon, a chemist, taught and chaired the chemistry departments at Memphis State University and the University of Missouri at Columbia. He also worked in industry as an analytical chemist and served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps. His research focus included study of absorption spectroscopy, heteropoly compounds and fluorescence.

The John C. Guyon Scholarship each year provides financial assistance to a freshman student pursuing a career in science at SIUC.

“John had great success at SIUC not only in improving the graduate education and research but in improving the quality of undergraduate education as well,” Shepherd said.

A reception in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors followed the dedication ceremonies for the John C. Guyon Auditorium.