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SIU Trustees praise "System-ness," approve new sustainability proposals

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Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University

Trustees met in Carbondale Thursday

SIU Board Chair Phil Gilbert says the current leadership, along with new administrators from the System level down to the campuses, have brought dramatic change to the university.

"It has resulted in an increase in freshman enrollment, also has resulted in an increase in retention. Even in Springfield, with what the Medical School's been doing - especially in this pandemic. I think that because of this Board, this University and this System has come through this pandemic better than most universities in the entire country."

Gilbert, who has served on the Board for nearly a decade, says there were times over the last several years that he wondered about the future of the system. Now, he says he's excited for the future - and he welcomes input from all of SIU's stakeholders in what's to come.

SIU's Carbondale campus is taking the first steps toward some big projects aimed at energy conservation and sustainability.

University trustees on Thursday approved plans to explore replacing aging infrastructure - like boilers and chillers - and include more solar in the campus power supply.

Chancellor Austin Lane says the plans - which are still in the very early stages - all come from campus surveys and the strategic plan.

"All of those stakeholders, that really wanted us to focus more on sustainability - that's what you saw today. Inside of our Imagine 2030 plan, that pillar of sustainability, we're also digging down, and for us, it's going to be a part of the campus Master Plan."

The plans, which also include electric vehicle charging stations and more, would likely cost more than $100-million, so leaders say they're already working on ways to find funding for them.

You can find more about the campus strategic plan - Imagine 2030 - at imagine2030.siu.edu.

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