Monday, July 14, 2008

John Simon Obituaries

Did anyone else notice that the obituaries for John Simon in both the DE and the Southern failed to mention the problems he was having with the university in the last few months of his life? It took a less local source to bring up the dispute he was having with SIUC and that the Ulysses S. Grant Association had voted to sever ties with SIUC in support of Dr. Simon:

In the last months of his life, Mr. Simon was embroiled in a campus controversy when he was accused of verbally harassing three women employed by the Ulysses S. Grant Association and the university library, where the association has its offices. Mr. Simon was the executive director of the association, which seeks financing for historical research and provides research services for the Grant project.

He disputed the accusations, and in support of him, the association’s board voted to sever its ties with Southern Illinois and seek another university partner. A reconciliation that would have allowed Mr. Simon to return to teaching at Southern Illinois was being negotiated at his death, said the association’s president, Chief Justice Frank J. Williams of the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

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Anyone remotely familiar with the history of SIU-C over the past 40 years knows that the University has not been particularly supportive of persons of accomplishment. From the lack of support for Bucky Fuller, to the present, the University seems to have sought to establish a sameness of mediocrity throughout the institution. The essence of this institutional mediocrity reaches it's acme in the quality of leadership that has come to define what was once described as the "second jewel" in the crown of public higher education in the state of Illinois.
I saw the NYT article via Gregorian Rants yesterday-- I think the author made a good choice as far as not speculating about who was right or wrong, and simply stated the facts.
The obits come from the funeral home, not generated from within the Southern. So the obit page is free from the editorializing found in the rest of the Southern. Granted, there should be lots of fingers pointed at that paper, but on the obits page? Come on.
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