Southern Illinois University’s Hidden Treasure

I was a member of the Southern Illinois University Family for thirty-two years, three weeks and two days.  All of that time I was a Civil Service employee in the custodial department, Building Services.

During those very enjoyable years our department had upwards of 200 student staff that worked with us.  The student staff worked with our full time staff on over thirty housekeeping crews that were responsible for the daily and nightly cleaning of nearly 200 Campus buildings, including two satellite campuses.

Over those years it was my privilege to see the concern and care that our full time staff took with their precious student colleagues.

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Have you ever wondered what happens to the SIU student who is; shy and homesick, afraid of the large brick and mortar SIU Campus, the student who is insecure and feels left out, the student who desperately needs a mom and dad figure to take an interest in them and care about them individually?

I have personally witnessed many of our Civil Service Staff bring food for their student  co-workers on a nightly basis.  Many of our students are hungry.

Many of our wonderful Civil Service employees take student members, of their crew, home with them on holidays to enjoy the festivities.

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Gerald Davis, a Civil Service member of Building Services began a Thanksgiving Feast that has been celebrated on Campus for over thirty years .  This is a major event for Building Services student staff…from all over the world.  The look on their faces says it all!

Southern Illinois University is an academic institution…until someone bonds with and cares for them…then SIU becomes…in many ways…that caring person.

The great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said, ‘I really do not care how much you know…until I know how much your care about me.’

My friend Elizabeth speaks about her student colleagues as if they were her family…because they are!

My wife, Mary Jane, who is a two degree graduate of SIU, had such affection for her students when she was employed as a Civil Service employee, that she was invited to one of their weddings in Ohio.  We attended and it was apparent to me that this young woman loved Mary Jane.

My son Jonathon is a graduate of SIU.  Students are fond of him because of the time he has taken to bond with them and care about them.  When he was a greeter for the Food Service department…the students that he interacted with him began a fan club for him.

My former Boss and Director told me, when I retired, that he admired me and had endeavored to emulate me in some respects…such as my interest in every student that I encountered as to their major and them personally.  I was humbled by his sincere compliment.

I have spoken with student who were suicidal…they did not commit suicide.

I along with many of the Building Services Staff have talked students out of dropping out of the University.

I saw my dear friend Alfie’s mother yesterday in the supermarket.  She hugged my wife and I…which she always does when we meet her and thanked me for all that I had done for her son Alfie.  Alfie is now a member of the Grounds Department.  He is a roaring success and is loved by his department and his colleagues.  I am humbled by what support I was able to give him when he was a student…and his success remains one of my happiest moments.  I told him that, ‘he was my son but he just would not call me daddy.’  He responded that, ‘he would call me daddy.’  This unique phrase was first used by my beginning boss at the University, Jim Walls, who took an interest in me and was a mentor.  Jim told one of my co-workers, who had given me some minor grief, that,’ Brooks was his son but just would not call him daddy.’  The person knew to leave me alone or incur the wrath of my African American friend and boss…Jim.

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SIU’s Civil Service Staff is the hidden treasure of the University!  There is no member of the full time staff that has more of a career mentality regarding the University.

The value of the Civil Service Staff does not completely show up on the Ledger Sheet.

Civil Service Staff is often the reason that SIU students stay at SIU.

I was a member of the Civil Service Council for fifteen years during my career at the University.  This elected group of representatives of Civil Service employees from across the University…love students.  Everything that they do is with SIU students first in mind!

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Civil Service staff understand the horrible budgetary times that the state of Illinois has placed them in.  They accept, and know, that the not replacing of fellow staff that have left the University or retired is necessary…but please do not outsource their jobs or lay them off.  These employees are the glue that holds the entire institution that is SIU together.

The Civil Service Staff are the Hidden Treasure that the ultimate success of Southern Illinois University relies on…they are the bedrock that the great institution rests upon!

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