Metro-East News

SIUC chancellor dies after short tenure marked by controversy

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The relatively new chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, who hired family members and introduced a drastic reorganization to the university, has died.

Carlo Montemagno was appointed as chancellor in August 2017. He was an internationally-recognized expert in nanotechnology and biomedical engineering, according to university system officials.

Interim SIU President J. Kevin Dorsey announced Montemagno’s death Thursday morning.

Dorsey asked the board of trustees to arrange a special meeting as soon as possible to appoint a temporary chancellor for Carbondale, according to his message to SIUC, which was shared on social media.

By 9:30 a.m., the post had been shared more than 200 times, and several people left comments.

“He was as real as they come. He would sit down and talk with anyone, he truly wanted to know from a grass roots level what was wrong at SIU. Nobody was below him. I fear that we have lost a truly GREAT leader to move SIU forward,” Matt Denny wrote.

Others offered prayers and sympathy.

“On behalf the City of Murphysboro, and personally, I extend prayers and sympathy to the Montemagno and University family,” Will Stephens wrote.

From the sister school in the metro-east, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Chancellor Randy Pembrook sent his condolences in a statement provided to the Belleville News-Democrat.

“My deepest sympathies go to the Montemagno family as they mourn this tragic loss,” he wrote. “On behalf of SIU Edwardsville, I also extend our sincerest condolences to the SIUC campus community at this very sad time.”

Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) released a statement Thursday afternoon.

“I was surprised and deeply saddened to hear of Dr. Carlo Montemagno’s passing this morning. During his short tenure as Chancellor of SIUC, Dr. Montemagno demonstrated visionary leadership and dedication to the well-being of all of Southern Illinois. Carlo will be missed terribly, but we will honor him by continuing his work to revitalize the university we love,” he wrote.

Montemagno announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer in a June blog post. He is survived by his wife, Pam, two children and five grandchildren.

Montemagno hired his daughter and son-in-law within weeks of his starting at SIUC, which he said was part of his negotiations for his employment.

In December, he announced a plan to reduce the number of colleges to five from eight, and combine 42 departments into 20 schools as a part of his effort to turn around falling enrollment, he told The Daily Egyptian at the time.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535, @MaryCooleyBND
Reporter Lexi Cortes contributed to this report.