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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville makes history with its first Black chancellor

 James T. Minor will be the 10th chancellor of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His tenure starts March 1.
Brian McCarthy
James T. Minor will be the 10th chancellor of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His tenure starts March 1.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by The St. Louis American, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio, before Minor was officially approved as SIUE’s next chancellor Thursday. The story has been updated to include that information.

Southern Illinois University President Dan Mahony has named James T. Minor as the 10th chancellor of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

The selection was formally approved by the SIU Board of Trustees on Thursday. Minor will assume his duties on March 1. A sociologist by training, Minor joins SIUE after a decade and a half in higher education, most of that time spent in administration.

“Dr. Minor is a straightforward and innovative leader who has the vision to maintain a positive trajectory for the entire SIUE community,” Mahony said. “Those are qualities we heard repeatedly from individuals at the previous institutions he served as well as students, faculty and staff in Edwardsville as we performed our due diligence to find the best leader for SIUE.”

Minor most recently served as assistant vice chancellor and senior strategist in the Office of the Chancellor at California State University, which recently posted the highest graduation rates in its history. He has successfully advocated for hundreds of millions of dollars supporting graduation initiatives and served as principal investigator for $7.5 million in funded programs and research.

Before his post at CSU, Minor served as deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, where he administered more than $7 billion in federal higher education programming.

He has also served as an educational leader in the government sphere. In 2014, Minor was appointed by the Obama Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education, initially under Secretary Arne Duncan, then under Secretary John King Jr. until 2016.

Minor will now be bringing that experience to SIUE, one of the area’s major educational institutions. In his role as chancellor, he will be leading a university that educates over 13,000 students each year.

“I am truly honored and excited about the opportunity to serve as the 10th Chancellor at SIUE,” Minor said. “The institution has made tremendous strides but is also well-positioned to extend its reach and impact. As we emerge from perhaps the most challenging season of our lifetime, I believe that SIUE will rise to advance its mission in new ways to serve the region, state and nation.”

A Detroit native, Minor went South for college and received his B.S. in Sociology from Jackson State University. In this environment, he credits his interest in serving students from diverse backgrounds and students who are the first in their families to attend college.

After his time at Jackson State, Minor received a master’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

SIUE Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Jessica Harris, served as the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee Chair, leading a 28-person committee including faculty, staff, students and community stakeholders. Executive search firm WittKiefer assisted the search committee.

“Dr. Minor is a recognized thought leader in the field of higher education,” Harris said. “He is a collaborative, mission-driven and equity-minded change agent who will lead SIUE in its response to a number of higher education’s most pressing challenges; in particular, the persistence of inequities.”

She added that Minor’s appointment represents growth for SIUE. “Much progress and growth has occurred at SIUE these last several years; however, challenges remain,” Harris said. “I am confident that with Dr. Minor’s leadership, the best is yet to come for SIUE and I look forward to his arrival.”

Sophie Hurwitz is a reporter with the St. Louis American, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.