EDWARDSVILLE — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Chancellor Dr. Randy Pembrook on Thursday focused on recent and historical successes as building blocks toward continuing positive momentum for the institution during his inaugural chancellor’s address to the campus community.
The first-year chancellor spoke for more than 30 minutes in a crowded Meridian Ballroom in the Morris University Center.
SIU President Randy Dunn introduced Pembrook.
“We are excited about Dr. Pembrook’s leadership because he has integrated himself in all that’s going on at SIUE in a fantastic way,” Dunn said.
Pembrook described his decision-making philosophy in a nutshell: “My North Star is what is best for the students … what’s the benefit for our students.”
He acknowledged that after reviewing previous chancellor addresses covering the past decade that one theme rang through — the budget is the biggest challenge.
“But despite the budget problem, look at how much SIUE has accomplished,” he said, while noting achievements in overall campus growth, academic prowess and blossoming enrollment. “Some other challenges include having responsible conversations to create structured responses to the budget challenges, working through accreditation reviews that are ongoing annually, improving national rankings, and retaining talented faculty, staff and students.
“Despite these challenges, SIUE will provide a great education.”
Pembrook also advised being wary of actions that hinder progress.
“We need to avoid hunkering down in difficult times and no longer thinking of the big picture,” he said. “We cannot lose faith in our ability to overcome. The most creative ideas come from within the organization, so keep those ideas coming.”
Pembrook noted strengths that SIUE needs to play to its advantage.
“Our location — we are in the right place,” he said. “We’re agile and have the ability to move quickly. There’s a youthful, can-do spirit on this campus, and we have an amazing quality of life. With 2,600 acres, we have the ability to expand.
“We have the right mission at the right time — shaping a changing world meets students’ requirements.”
Although admitting that he’s been on campus less than eight weeks, Pembrook pointed to short-term strategies.
“We need to follow through on the SIUE Congress recommendations, generate new programs and more online offerings and stabilize economics,” he said. “We need to move forward with new leadership searches for open positions. The SIUE/Community Task Force will provide joint support for academic experiences. Space and funding for a faculty center needs to be determined.”
In regard to longer-term strategies, Pembrook looked at transitioning to a new budget model, a new plan for University Park, the vision for higher education at the East St. Louis campus and high-impact community engagement practices.
In closing, Pembrook assured the assembled faculty, staff and students “great things are inevitable if we work together.”