Dear Friends and Supporters of the Daily Egyptian:
Let me open by saying that if there is any alumni affinity group that has more passion and enthusiasm for its connection to SIU than the DE alums…then I have yet to meet that group! I have appreciated the opportunity to hear from you over the past couple of weeks as the student media fee came in front of our Board of Trustees for possible adoption.
To all of you, I want to reiterate something I have stated publicly and repeatedly since this issue came to light as I took over as SIU System President on May 1: The Daily Egyptian, with its long and storied history at SIU Carbondale, is not going to go out of business or otherwise cease operations on my watch. Having worked at this campus previously, I know full well the DE’s importance to the University generally…and to the School of Journalism specifically. The challenge has been to ensure it has a viable business model in place going forward.
I know that some of you have received communication from various sources already that details an agreement with the Illinois General Assembly on a plan to get us to that point. For a quick summary, I have taken the liberty of pasting in a link to a story in The Southern Illinoisan from Saturday, May 17, 2014. See http://thesouthern.com/news/local/siu/daily-egyptian-fee-to-be-proposed-again/article_9e77b2d0-3ecf-5c0d-853b-ca930711a871.html
We are very appreciative to the Illinois House for including in their version of the state budget the $70,000 appropriation that would be directed to the J-School to support the DE.
Many of you are also aware that two advisory bodies—the Journalism Advisory Board and the Dean’s National Industry Council—met in October 2013 to analyze the DE’s operations and make suggestions for strengthening the business model. I want to additionally extend my thanks to each of the individual members of those groups who initiated the work of creating a path toward financial sustainability for the newspaper. As our SIU Board valued those important efforts, the Trustees also desired some follow-up information regarding ad pricing and printing costs. William Freivogel, Director of the School of Journalism, has agreed to put together a “swat team” of high-level leaders from the newspaper publishing industry to look at those items specifically and add to that research which was done earlier. That work will be accomplished within the next month to six weeks.
In turn, and with this supplementary background information the Trustees requested at their May meeting, the Board’s Executive Committee has agreed to convene for the purpose of taking up the student media fee as originally forwarded for consideration. That Committee meeting will be held in sufficient time to allow any enacted fee to be placed on the first installment of student bills for the Fall 2014 semester.
As you would imagine, our Board of Trustees does not take lightly the imposition of any new fee or mandatory charge to students. However, Board Chair Randal Thomas has also been integrally involved in these discussions, and has personally articulated to all Trustees the importance of a satisfactory resolution to the DE’s funding challenges.
Again—for those of you who have been closely following developments to ensure the ongoing vitality of the Daily Egyptian—little of this may be new news to you. But for those who have taken time to email me with concerns and questions over the past couple of weeks, I wanted to make sure you received at least some communication back from me. The collective voice of the DE’s advocates has been heard clearly and I’m grateful to everyone who has been part of what will be a positive resolution to this issue.
RANDY J. DUNN, PRESIDENT
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY SYSTEM