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61 3. Groundwork for the Future The1949GeneralAssemblysessionofferedpromiseforoutcomes,especiallyforDemocrats .Forthefirsttimeinyearsthepartycontrolled the House, Paul PowellassumedthepositionofSpeaker,andaDemocrat was governor. However, it would be no runaway for Democrats because Republicans controlled the Senate. When the session ended, downstate interests had done well, especially those connected to Southern Illinois University (SIU) and horse racing. Neitheroftheoutcomeswastheworkofoneman,oneparty,orthegovernor . Having a maestro—Powell, in this case—helped, but the achievementsresultedfromcreativecoalitionsthatcutacrosspartiesandregions . Measured on a scale of importance, 1949 results on both subjects were modest. However, each opened a door to larger and more significant successes in following sessions. SIU: Growing Up in Stages Responsibility for the rise of SIU from little-known teachers college to widely recognized major university rested primarily in the hands of a few individuals, although hundreds or more dreamed of the day and added moral support. Well before achieving the leap to major university status with two campuses, a handful of leaders started the ball rolling. They included the following: 62 Groundwork for the Future • Powell, in 1943, supported a bill in the House to change the name Southern Illinois Normal University to Southern Illinois University . The bill did not pass.1 He helped pass a bill in 1947 changing the school’s name to Southern Illinois University and permitting the school to offer a degree in liberal arts. • Delyte Morris became president of SIU in 1948 and immediately put on a full-court press to elevate the school to university status and have its own separate board of trustees.2 His energy and personality lighted up every SIU effort. • State senator Robert G. Crisenberry, Republican from Murphysboro , had long been a promoter of increased significance for the school, and in 1949 he introduced a bill in the Republican-controlled Senate that put SIU in direct competition with the University of Illinois (U of I). • Dr.LeoBrownofCarbondale,anavowedactivistforSIUandgraduate of the teachers college in 1932, pushed and prodded elected officials and rallied local citizens to apply pressure. They formed the volunteer team that brought SIU out of the higher education darkness,althoughBrownneededtheassistanceofPowell,Morris, and Crisenberry.3 The catalyst that put SIU on the legislative agenda in 1949 was the election of Powell as Speaker of the House. In an uncharacteristically modest comment, he said later, “I was in a position to guide Senate Bill 41 and 42 through the House, creating the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University.”4 The Senate side was anchored by Crisenberry. He had entered the General Assembly a session before Powell and had been in the Senate since the session of 1937. Although Democrats swept state executive offices and reached a majority in the House as a result of the 1948 election, the state Senate remained in the control of Republicans. U of I supporters protected the school’s interests in the Senate, but Crisenberry had significant seniority and a reputation for getting his way on southern Illinois issues. He began a career in education as a high school teacher in 1903 and in 1915 retired as superintendent of Carterville schools.5 He became editor and publisher of the Williamson County News in Johnston City and in 1926 began his political journey as chief deputy sheriff Groundwork for the Future 63 of Jackson County and federal court bailiff. In 1932 he was elected to the state House. In the case ofSIU,politicalstrengthintheHousemeantlittlewithout a Senate partnership. The political challenge was crossing the partisan aisle and working on enough senators to pull the House into play. Having a senior member of the majority party in the Senate from southern Illinois meant potential public policy momentum. If Crisenberry could work his magic in the upper chamber, then Speaker Powell could take it from there. In that chamber Powell had moved quickly to get others loyal to him in critical places. For example, Clyde Lee sat on the House Education Committee. While junior in seniority, he could be eyes and ears for Powell and help generate support among others from the region. Momentum forlegislationto changethegovernanceofSIUincreased substantially in the wake of November 1948’s general election returns. Having one of the two legislative chambers controlled by Democrats broke a stretch of Republican General Assembly domination dating back to 1939. Duringthattimeeffortsto adjusttheinstitution’sstatusfailedto get out of committees. Friends of the university and the alumni association were in high gear before January 1, 1949, when focus would be on the selection of a new Speaker and governor. AlthoughSIUgained“university”statusandauthoritytograntaliberal artsdegreethroughlawspassedin1947,supportersoftheuniversitychafed under an assortment of governing boards and committees that slowed implementation of decisions and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780809334759
Related ISBN
9780809334742
MARC Record
OCLC
946887802
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-25
Language
English
Open Access
No
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