Monday, September 26, 2016

Response to SIUC Post

In response to my post last week on my thoughts regarding the reasons for the drop in attendance at SIUC, I received the following email, reposted with permission:

I agree that SIUC grew larger than can be sustained, but I believe you’re considering primarily it’s ability to serve the undergraduate needs of the region, as SEMO does. SEMO offers very few graduate courses, and no PhDs that I’m aware of. It’s a very different animal than SIUC.

SIUC is not only a nationally recognized university, but an internationally recognized one. Its graduate programs - particularly at the doctoral level - bring in a great deal of research money (or did until the previous administrations instituted unacceptably strict line control and other regulations that drove off many of the university’s top grant-generating scholars). These programs contribute a great deal to the region through graduate research and internships in many sectors, from social services to environmental and agricultural issues to new technologies. A primarily undergraduate institution like SEMO has very few of these synergies with the region. 

SIUC is also the only university in the state that has both a law school and a medical school (UIC manages the University of Illinois medical school; UIUC manages the system’s law school). 

While SIU is a regionally focused system, it is the only such system in the state, with campuses in Edwardsville and Carbondale. Edwardsville is more comparable to SEMO as it has few if any doctoral programs and primarily services the region. Carbondale is more comparable to UIUC - although you’re correct in noting that it’s fallen behind its ambitions to achieve something close to parity with the state’s flagship Land Grant university. Nonetheless, UIC is the only regional university in the state that ranks ahead of SIUC in doctoral degrees and, until the revision of Carnegie standings, Carnegie status, which is based largely on the number of doctoral programs and research productivity.

SIUC’s long strong suit for many years has been its environmental and natural resources focus, which crosses departments and colleges. Unfortunately, it lost its leading professor due to the previous administration - he took a chairmanship at another university. Hopefully, once the state gets its act together, the current leadership will be able to rebuild this pioneering multi-disciplinary program, as well as rebuild the universities’ other premier programs and its library. SIUC has a hard-earned global reputation; it shouldn’t squander that.

I expect that SIUC should reduce some of its doctoral offerings in deference to increasing quality, but without doctoral programs, the overall ability of the university to thrive and grow will decline.

Friday, September 23, 2016

New BBQ Place?

Keep hearing rumors of a new BBQ place opening in Carbondale called Carbondale Barbecue or C'dale BBQ. Supposedly in the downtown area but cannot find out any more specifics than that. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

SIUC Attendance Decline

I have said for years, and will still keep saying, that SIUC's problem is that the university is too large for the area to support it. Consider that the entire 13 county area normally referred to as Southern Illinois totals just over 265,000 in population, while the university peaked at about 24,000 back about 1990. Consider that Southeast Missouri State University, which pulls from the equally sparsely populated Bootheel region only has about 12,000 students currently, but has trended upwards over the past 2 decades, compared with SIUC which has slowly trended down over the same time period.

I give the credit for the disparate size of SIUC to the 22 year tenure of Delyte Morris and his single minded focus on growing the university into a nationally recognized institution. He did such a good job that the institution could coast on what he had built, despite the lack of focus that he provided (John Guyon wanted SIUC to become a graduate focused research institution in the 1990s while Walter Wendler shifted the strategy to "Southern at 150" during his tenure). for the next 20 years until inertia finally took over and is slowly bringing back SIUC's size to something more in line with the region it serves.

Can this trend be reversed? Of course. Morris was able to do just that. Unfortunately, in today's academia, Delyte Morrises are few and far between

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Video Gaming Cap

The city council voted last night to cap the number of video gaming/gambling terminals at 100. If the remaining applications are approved , the city would have 94 terminals within city limits.

On one hand, I can understand the city's desire to limit the number of these establishments within the city. Much like vape shops, a surprising number of them have sprung up in the past couple of years and they do not enhance the image of the city such as more upscale retail shops would.

However, they do occupy empty retail space and we are likely would reach a saturation level without the cap. I listened to a presentation on casino gambling on Monday and one of the things brought out was the high level of payout required in order to operate legally within the state. Video terminals, if Illinois is similar to Missouri, are required to pay out an average of 89% of the money taken in, meaning that the establishment, unless it has other revenue sources, operates on an 11% gross margin. Not very big when you consider the expenses, even something as minimal as a video parlour, must cover. I would expect, if the city raised or eliminated the cap on the number of licenses, to see an influx of parlours opening up as people sought to get rich quick on them, followed by a quick shake out as the more poorly operated ones closed.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Birger's Pub

According to the agenda for Tuesday's LCC meeting, it looks as if a new bar, Birger's Place, plans to open in the 200 block of East Main. Reema's Indian Cuisine is also applying for a liquor license to go along with its new patio dining.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Poshard on JALC Board

Making the rounds of collegiate administrations in the area, Glenn Poshard has been named to the BOD of John A. Logan College. My guess is he will serve there for 2-4 years, retire for  a couple of years and then move onto the board of either Rend Lake or Southeastern Illinois College.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Meet the Candidates

No, not Trump, Clinton or Johnson but if you would like to speak with any of the candidates for the state legislature or the House of Representatives, the Carbondale and Murphysboro chambers have you covered. I assume the locations are forthcoming:

 The Carbondale and Murphysboro Chambers of Commerce will hold a series of events to give Jackson County business leaders an opportunity to meet and hear from candidates for legislative offices before the Nov. 8 general election.
                The Chambers are partnering for two “Coffee and Candidates” events to be held at the Carbondale Civic Center. The first, set for Wednesday, Oct. 5 with feature Republican candidates for the state house and Congress. Democratic candidates will be featured on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
                “These are very important races for Southern Illinois businesses,” Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bruce Wallace said. “We, as Chambers, are thrilled to provide our members with opportunities to share their concerns with candidates and learn about each of them before casting their ballots.”
                Coffee will be provided at the two events and each candidate will have 30 minutes to present remarks, answer questions and meet voters. The Oct. 5 Coffee and Candidate event will include State Rep. Terri Bryant at 8 a.m.; Paul Schimpf, candidate for State Senate at 8:30 a.m. and Congressman Mike Bost at 9 a.m. The Oct. 12 schedule features candidate for State Representative Marsha Griffin at 8 a.m., State Senate candidate Sheila Simon at 8:30 a.m. and Congressional candidate C.J. Baricevic at 9 a.m.
                While designed for members of both Chambers, the events are open to the public.
                More information on these legislative events is available by calling the Carbondale Chamber at (618) 549-2146 or the Murphysboro Chamber at (618) 684-6421.