The System Connection - September 20, 2017

President's Column


It seems that more and more recently, institutions of higher education are becoming free speech battlefields, with debates raging over exactly what that freedom constitutes on our campuses.

Across the country, we’re watching this controversy play out. White nationalist rallies last month at the University of Virginia and in the town of Charlottesville resulted in injuries and even death. Protests, some of them violent, have taken place on other campuses in objection to the ideologies invited guest presenters advocate. We see cases of nervous administrators and others even rescinding invitations of controversial speakers over not unwarranted concerns for keeping order and protecting students, faculty, staff and campus property.

To aid universities in maintaining the widest berth possible for diverse views – ensuring more speech rather than less – security measures are sometimes put in place. For instance, when conservative writer Ben Shapiro spoke at the University of California at Berkeley earlier this month, concrete barriers and a security perimeter with hundreds of police officers lining it were set up. A few hundred people protested and there were nine arrests but no injuries. However, UC Berkeley estimated the security cost for the event in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This to bring one speaker to campus at a public institution, at the very place where the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s was born! 

It seems that scarcely a day goes by that we're not reading a similar story in the HIED trade press playing out somewhere. Just last week, Harvard University revoked its invitation to Chelsea Manning to serve as a visiting fellow at its Institute of Politics. The move was made over the extreme backlash Harvard received, including the resignation of senior Institute fellow Michael Morrel, the former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency. As most of you will recall, Manning, now a network security expert, served seven years in military prison for sharing classified documents with WikiLeaks before her sentence was commuted by President Obama. 

We're in the midst of a major debate right now as to what constitutes free speech, what constitutes “hate speech," and what is truly dangerous speech that might cause an extreme disruption of the educational process or create a material threat to public safety. Most all of us have heard the story which stems from a 1919 Supreme Court case, Schenck v. United States, in which Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes applied the analogy that stated “the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” (As an interesting aside, the case didn’t involve a theater; rather, it concerned Charles Schenck’s printing of fliers encouraging people to resist the draft – and that case’s legal standard was actually superseded decades ago.)

Since that time, a plethora of court rulings has come down siding in favor of free speech rights, even where inflammatory or what some may view as hate speech is involved, unless it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” (Brandenburg vOhio, 1969.) 

That is not an easy standard...and it's not meant to be. The freedom of speech was seen by the Founding Fathers to be so fundamental to securing all other liberties that it was ensconced in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights for a reason. So it is a high bar which must be met when speech is to be limited. 

Nonetheless, we’re in a day and age where much speech is viewed as controversial and unwelcome; no university – or any social institution, really – is immune to questions of what speech should be allowed and when speech should be restrained. It has even touched us at SIU, as last week the Carbondale campus received an inquiry from the conservative nonprofit free speech advocacy organization FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The group has questioned how SIUC will handle situations where people are perceived to be engaging in hate speech, given student conduct regulations and previous statements attributed to campus administrators. FIRE strongly encourages colleges and universities to uphold students’ First Amendment rights by ensuring that all people can speak freely, without disciplinary action or sanction, to the maximum extent allowed by law.

In my view (and I'm talking here from a national perspective, not just at SIU) today’s students seem much more willing to entertain – even desire – restrictions on speech. I’m evidently not the only one to think this because just this week the Washington Post had an article about a nationwide survey of 1,500 undergraduate students at four-year colleges conducted by John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor. Among the findings were that more than half of the respondents said disrupting or shouting down a controversial speaker is the appropriate response. Likewise, 44 percent incorrectly believe the First Amendment doesn’t protect hate speech and six in 10 mistakenly believe the First Amendment requires that if a public university hosts an offensive speaker someone with an opposing view must be brought in as well.

Others have noted this may be due to the current generation having grown up learning more about harassment, anti-bullying, and holding a greater sensitivity to what we all would agree is inappropriate (as opposed to illegal) speech. Of course, we’re living in a very polarized time and country, and this probably exacerbates the issue as well. 

There are a lot of people I disagree with, and a lot of people you disagree with, and many people who disagree with both of us. But just because we disagree vehemently – or might even take offense – doesn’t mean someone should be disallowed from speaking. 

There are effective, nonviolent ways to protest. I heard about one instance where students objected to a guest speaker so they filled the room and every few minutes, a large group would stand up, turn their backs and leave. Soon, the auditorium was virtually empty. What a great way to show their objections to the words being spoken. 

But the bottom line is this: Universities need to be the guardians of free speech. Sometimes we’ll get our feelings hurt by things we hear. Sometimes it will flat out make us furious. But the best antidote for speech we don't like, even speech we think is abhorrent, is more speech, not less. Let more voices be heard. That's what pushes out "bad" speech, not trying to stifle it...which never works, even in dictatorships. 

Free speech may indeed be at greater risk, but shame on us if today's greatest threat to it is coming from those of us in colleges and universities.

Randy Dunn

Changing Roles at SIU System Office

A few individuals have taken on new roles and work locations at the system level.

Tracey Jarrell, who had previously worked as a data specialist and also supported budget office operations, will be adding responsibilities for project implementation under the SIU Strategic Improvement Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees last year. Tracey, along with Tami Carson, who handles much of our budget work for the system office, will be abandoning their long-time “house-office” at 1205 Chautauqua in Carbondale and relocating to the Stone Center within the next month or so.  

Mary Carroll

In another big change, Mary Carroll (pictured right), who has been a full-time Chicago-based fundraiser for the SIU Foundation, will now go half-time (.5 FTE) each with the Foundation and the SIU System. In the latter role, Mary will have the title of Chicago area liaison and continue to have her work location in Chicago. Over the past three years, Mary has often ended up serving as a representative or liaison in Chicago for the President’s Office, with the attendant duties accompanying that role taking up more time, so Mary’s part-time assignment to the system is intended to be fairer and more equitable for the Foundation.

With her new system-wide responsibilities – including those involving corporate relations, training and development opportunities, media support, and partnerships – she’ll be working in concert with all SIU campuses. So, she will be dedicating some time early on in her tenure to visiting the Edwardsville and Springfield campuses to establish working relationships with personnel who will be key to her future efforts in the greater Chicagoland region.

In other changes, Brian Chapman has been asked to focus even more on regional outreach and deeper partnerships throughout the traditional SIU geographic footprint of the 30-plus counties of Southern Illinois and the Metro East areas, and his job title, executive director of regional outreach and partnerships, now reflects those expectations. 

As such, Mark Kolaz, director of legislative affairs at SIU’s capitol office in Springfield, has been asked to take on a few additional duties to coordinate intergovernmental activities, most of which are centered in Springfield. And finally, Wesley Robinson-McNeese, who recently stepped down from the School of Medicine, will return on a variable-time basis Oct. 1 to provide support for the BOT’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Though working solely now for the system, Wes will remain primarily based out of Springfield.        

Please feel free to reach out to any of these individuals with ideas or questions as you have them, or to assist on projects where you think their insight may be helpful. Directory information for all employees of the SIU System Office can be found at under the “Staff/Listing” link.

Changes Coming to Title IX

As many of you know, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently stated that she intends to rescind USED’s Office of Civil Rights 2011 “Dear Colleague” guidance letter (DCL) that’s had a significant impact on how colleges and universities investigate and resolve cases of sexual violence on campus. 

A series of meetings was held this summer by Secretary DeVos and her acting assistant secretary for civil rights with a range of stakeholders about problems with the current system and potential for establishing a regulatory framework that better serves the interests of all students. (The 2011 DCL was the directive of the education secretary at that time, but was given the force of administrative law, even though it had not been codified as a federal rule or regulation.)     

In a speech on Sept. at George Mason University – after clarifying her belief that acts of campus sexual misconduct are reprehensible and unacceptable – Secretary DeVos shared some background on what she had garnered from the summer listening sessions.

“Here is what I’ve learned: the truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved.  That’s why we must do better, because the current approach isn’t working,” DeVos stated.

At this point, of course, we don’t know where all this will end up or the exact steps the Trump Administration may choose to take toward rescission. 

However, it’s important for all of us at SIU and especially our students – to keep in mind that despite this intended revocation, victims of sexual assault still have substantial legal protections which we will ensure are applied to the fullest extent. Existing federal laws such as the Violence Against Women Act as well as state laws such as the Prevent Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act will continue to guide our campuses’ responses to allegations of sexual assault or violence.

These laws protect individuals who report sexual assault/violence from retaliation and provide a framework for our policies on these difficult issues. Further, these laws continue to require educational institutions, including Southern Illinois University, to provide interim measures and accommodations to survivors, to provide sexual violence prevention and awareness programming to our students and survivor-centered and trauma-informed response training to our employees, and to offer a confidential advisor and other confidential resources to survivors of sexual assault/violence. 

If the last few months are any indication, this issue will play out very publicly through the coming year and many across SIU will be monitoring developments along the way.

QUICK HITS: News to Know

  • Publicity is currently being pushed out to the campuses about the upcoming SIU Board of Trustees’ Diversity Lecture and Excellence Awards. This inaugural event will be held in Carbondale at Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 3, and feature Tim Wise, one of the most prominent anti-racist authors and educators in the country. The evening will begin with a short reception in the Morris Rotunda at 5 p.m. and then Mr. Wise will speak starting at 5:30 p.m. He’ll also be available for book signings following his presentation. This annual lecture is a signature component of the board’s initiatives supporting diversity and inclusion across all of SIU – and part of the BOT’s larger strategic plan for system improvement. For those who can’t make it to Carbondale, the lecture will also be recorded and made available to anyone who is interested. Please note, too, that this event will rotate yearly among the Carbondale, Edwardsville, and Springfield campuses. If further information is needed, please feel free to call 618/453-8696.  
Beth Purvis
  • The traditional fall State of the System address – typically delivered over consecutive days at the three main campus sites – will be handled this year as a YouTube video, posted on Oct. 18 and in lieu of The System Connection for that week. Beyond speaking to the direction and focus of the SIU System for the months ahead, President Dunn will also set aside some time for answering a few randomly chosen questions to close out the brief address. Even though this is a different format from previous SOS addresses, Dunn is always available to meet with a student or employee organization, constituency body, department/unit or the like for dialogue and more in-depth Q&A throughout the year. If you want to submit a question (anonymously or otherwise) for consideration of getting picked to be addressed on the video, send it to Brad Visintin at
  • Dr. Beth Purvis (pictured right), Governor Rauner’s Secretary of Education who has served since the start of his term, resigned from her position this past Friday, Sept. 15. While the SecEd position in Illinois is not one that’s statutorily authorized or required, the governor created the post in his cabinet and rightly put Beth in it to better coordinate and streamline programs and services – not just across  the “Big 4” which includes the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Board of Higher Education, and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission – but also within the 17 state offices, boards, and agencies which have some impact on P-20 education in the state. Throughout 30 months of budget chaos and extreme stress in our state, especially for Illinois higher education, Dr. Purvis was both a calming presence and a stalwart champion for our collective mission…and SIU held a special place in her heart, given her numerous visits to our campuses during her tenure. The hole created by Beth’s departure reinforces even more the need to get an interim or permanent executive director named for the Board of Higher Education, which has been without an individual named to that role for about seven months now.

Second Annual SIU New Administrators’ “Boot Camp” Held

Administrators Bootcamp

On Sept. 7, the system office sponsored the second annual SIU New Administrators’ Boot Camp – a drive-in workshop for administrators new to an SIU campus, as well as for veteran SIU employees new to administrative positions.

In addition to sessions on functional aspects of management within SIU – such as internal audit, legal affairs, contract management, and organizational communication – the day provided an opportunity for recently hired SIU administrators to meet system leaders and network with others currently dealing with new roles, responsibilities, and personnel.

The conference was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Collinsville. As one participant stated on the evaluation form for the day, the boot camp “offered very practical and relevant advice that I can put into practice right away.”

Attendees included the following individuals:   

SIUE - Paula Birke, director, Student Affairs; Courtney Boddie, director, Counseling Services; Diane Cox, director, Graduate School Grants and Research; Mary Ettling, interim director, Educational Outreach; Jack Glassman, chair, Physics; Joel Hardman, chair, English Language and Literature; Jessica Krim, interim assistant dean, School of Health, Education and Human Behavior; Zhiqing Lin, chair, Environmental Sciences; Matthew Maas, director, Environmental Resources Training Center; Vance McCracken, chair, Biological Sciences; Thad Meeks, chair, Psychology; Donna Meyer, interim director, Facilities Management; Kara Shustrin, associate dean, Student Affairs; Douglas Simms, chair, Foreign Languages; Johanna Wharton,director, University Services to East St. Louis; and E. Duff Wrobbel, chair, Applied Communications.

SIUC - Kay Doan, director, Equity and Compliance; Bill Hellriegel, director, Center for English as a Second Language; Jennifer Jones-Hall, dean of students; Pamela Rathe, director, Gift Planning; and John Pollitz, dean Library Affairs.

SIUSOM - Eric Linson, assistant to the chair, Internal Medicine, and Carla Harney, assistant provost for financial affairs.

Faces of SIU

Kelley Brooks

On any given day, you will find Kelley N. Brooks capably handling a wide variety of duties.

In her role as SIUE’s assistant director of admissions for Campus Visits and Outreach, she oversees the countless daily student campus visits as well as group tours. She also coordinates the admissions office’s intern program and the SIUE Illinois Regional College Fair in addition to supervising student employees.

At the behest of Chancellor Randy Pembrook, she created and leads the SIUE Alumni Recruitment Ambassador Program, a new program that connects the university’s alumni with prospective students, and she coordinates the Alumni Student Referral Program, a recent initiative that waives the application fee for students when referred by SIUE graduates. 

“These new programs are a win-win for SIUE and for the students,” Kelley said. “It helps students, involves SIUE alumni, and it boosts enrollment.”

Kelley enjoys her work on behalf of her alma mater, calling SIUE a “special place.” 

She spent her childhood in Chicago before moving to St. Louis and graduating from Hazelwood Central High School in Florissant, Mo. She initially planned to become a doctor but said that after her first college chemistry class, “I immediately changed my mind!”

She’s happy she did though, as she enjoys talking with prospective students and their families, helping them see how SIUE can be the first step toward the future they desire. 

After earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology employment relations, Kelley initially found employment in the corporate world, working in human resources and customer service positions at Sigma-Aldrich and World Wide Technology. She jumped at the chance to return to higher education though. She was initially hired at SIUE as an admissions counselor in 2007, recruiting students in Cook County, Ill., and St. Louis. She subsequently earned a promotion to the position of campus visit coordinator in 2010 and then to coordinator of recruitment in 2011.  She’s been the assistant director for a year now and she’s passionate about what she does.

“I feel that over a 10-year period, my admissions experience in coordinating and creating new and exciting programs for the university has allowed me to contribute to the growth of the student population, especially in the area of under-represented populations, as well as highly desired academic populations,” Kelley said.

Kelley and husband Johnny Brooks, likewise an alumnus of SIU (Edwardsville and Carbondale), met while attending college at SIUE and married in 2001. They and son, Jordan, reside in Edwardsville, where Kelley spends much of her rare free time helping young people through another SIUE connection.

As a college student, Kelley got involved with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and is still active in the graduate chapter, Upsilon Phi Omega Chapter of Edwardsville, Ill. She volunteers her time to mentor young women in high school, getting them involved in community service and helping them prepare for college.

All in all, it makes for good bit of juggling and some extremely busy days, but Kelley said it’s also a rewarding life she leads.

“I enjoy seeing students that I have recruited over the years succeed in their academic endeavors and walk across the stage to get their diplomas,” she said.

Thanks for your dedication to our students and SIU, Kelley.

Other Voices in HIED

How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus.

The Washington Post:
Editorial: Betsy DeVos’s remarks on campus sex assault were right on target.

Chicago Tribune:
Editorial: Illinois’ student exodus should drive a higher ed overhaul.

College textbooks are going the way of Netflix.