Posted by: Pam Hackbart-Dean | March 4, 2015

SIU University Objectives

Elizabeth Hartman, curator of exhibit.

Elizabeth Hartman, curator of exhibit.

“To advance learning in all lines of truth wherever they may lead, showing how to think rather than what to think, assisting the powers of the mind in their self-development.” Charles D. Tenney, “University Objectives,” 1956.
A new exhibit in Morris Library’s Hall of Presidents and Chancellors explores the hall’s University Objectives, the towering invocation on marble that has inspired generations of students and visitors since it was installed in 1958. The exhibit, mounted by The Special Collections Research Center, will occupy the hall’s west wall through the end of April 2015.

Three exhibit cases cover three main ideas. The first examines the general concept of institutional objectives and our relation to them. The second documents how the objectives were written. And the third case profiles Charles D. Tenney, author of the University Objectives, whose 42-year career at Southern Illinois University ranged from tennis coach to Vice President.

After World War II Southern Illinois University radically reconfigured itself from a mid-sized teacher’s college to a full-fledged research university. In 1955 the university set in motion a process to review this transformation and devise a mission statement of core values to guide future growth. The outward result was the poetic exhortation to “exalt beauty,” “forward ideas and ideals” and make the campus “a center of order and light.”

The University Objectives exhibit captures the spirit of the fast-growing university through contemporary articles, correspondence and reports, illustrated by photographs from the University Objectives pamphlet, recently rediscovered in the University Archives. All materials for the exhibit are from the Charles D. Tenney Collection, available for research in the Special Collections reading room. The University Objectives exhibit was curated by Elizabeth Hartman, Research Assistant to the University Archivist.


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