November 07, 2019

Media Advisory – SIU hosts annual Simon Leadership program this weekend

A retreat at Southern Illinois University Carbondale that welcomes young African American men from the Metro East area to participate in events that foster leadership development and civic engagement discussions returns to campus this weekend. 

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute holds the Metro East Youth Leadership Weekend, now in its 17th year, on Saturday and Sunday. The theme for this year’s event, “Leadership and Civic Engagement: Preparing Young Men for Success,” will bring 44 high school students from the Metro East. 

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the leadership weekend activities. For more information on events and times, contact Linda Renee Baker, Institute/university professor and project director at 217/553-6660 or by email at

Former Leadership Weekend chaperone will deliver a keynote 

Illinois State Sen. Christopher Belt, D-Centreville, presents the keynote luncheon message at 12:30 p.m., Saturday in the Student Services Building, Room 150/160. Belt, who represents Madison and St. Clair counties, has attended previous Leadership Weekends as a chaperone. 

“The Metro-East Leadership weekend is an important component of the Institute’s outreach efforts to encourage students to learn about current affairs and develop leadership skills.  This program has been successful for many years and this year we are especially delighted that one of our past volunteers is coming back as a featured speaker,” John T. Shaw, Institute director, said. 

“State Sen. Christopher Belt’s keynote address on leadership and civic engagement will be a compelling demonstration of the success of this program.  Senator Belt has made many contributions to this program as a chaperone.  His success story shows how important the Institute’s mentoring and outreach programs can be — for students and mentors,” Shaw said. 

Numerous activities planned over two days 

Saturday’s schedule, with locations, include: 

  • 10 a.m. – Resource Fair offered through Undergraduate Admissions; Banterra Center.
  • 11 a.m. – STEM-related activities involving concrete, and the biomechanics of cancer; Engineering Building.
  • 12:30 p.m. – Keynote address by Illinois State Sen. Christopher Belt, D-Centreville; Student Services Building, Room 150/160.
  • 2 p.m. – Saluki football game vs. Missouri State, Saluki Stadium.
  • 4:15 and 7:45 p.m. – Team building exercises facilitated by the Touch of Nature Environmental Center; University Hall.
  • 6 p.m. -- Dinner/discussion on several topics with university staff; Trueblood Hall.
  • 8:45 p.m. – “Student Experience at SIU: The Pathway to Success.” Several SIU students will participate in panel and small group discussions on keys to academic success; University Hall.
  • 10:30 p.m. – Saluki Step Show, featuring the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority; University Hall.

Sunday’s schedule, with locations, include: 

  • 9 a.m. – High ropes course, Touch of Nature Environmental Center.
  • 12:15 p.m. – Keynote speaker, Marc Morris, interim director and associate professor, SIU School of Accountancy; Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Morris is also an SIU Carbondale alumnus.
  • 1:15 p.m. – Remarks and presentation of 2019 Paul Simon Leadership and Character Award by John Shaw and closing remarks by Linda Baker. 

Baker notes that Morris, Sunday’s keynote speaker, earned both his undergraduate and MBA degrees from SIU Carbondale and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. 

“We are grateful that so many SIU students and prominent members of the faculty and staff have volunteered to the share their experience with these future leaders,” Baker said. “Our weekend presenters will challenge the participants and push them to exceed their expectations.” 

The late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, who founded the institute, then-associate director Mike Lawrence and Baker established the program in November 2003. Simon participated in the inaugural event in 2003 shortly before his death a month later.