Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Community Development Service. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
The Community Development Service at Southern Illinois University Carbondale was initially a unit within the Division of Area Services and was created in 1953. Area Services had been established in 1952 with Baker Brownell appointed as Acting Director. The purpose of the Division of Area Services was to increase the profile and impact of SIU on the Southern Illinois region through untraditional academic services. Brownell previously led the 3-year Montana Study, funded by the University of Montana and Rockefeller Institute, which was a revitalization initiative targeting rural communities in Montana. Brownell submitted a proposal for the Area Service program at the November 7, 1952 meeting of the SIU Board of Trustees. He was named Director of the Division of Area Services on July 2, 1953. William J. Tudor was named Assistant Director. Upon his recommendation the Alumni Office, Information Service, and Placement Service were units within Area Services.
The Community Development Service (sometimes seemingly called Community Services) was created in 1953 and Richard Waverly Poston was named its Director on April 27, 1953. Its purpose was to help revitalize rural Southern Illinois communities by facilitating self-studies to address challenges of economic hardship, and develop plans to address these challenges. This service to the region was in response to many young residents leaving their home towns for better economic opportunities, a problem often driven by the major employers such as coal mines shutting down. Poston had been connected to the Montana Project and published Small Town Renaissance in 1950 that summarized the project’s results. He had also been the head of the Bureau of Community Development at the University of Washington.
To utilize the Community Development Service, regional communities were required to first contact CDS to initiate a community study. CDS staff led study groups and committees within the communities to examine the challenges specific to industry, education, healthcare, government, recreation, churches, and town beautification. The committees would draft a reports and the townspeople would meet to discuss projects that could address the issues noted in the reports. The first project began in late 1953 in Eldorado, Illinois and became known as Operation Bootstrap. Baker Brownell retired from the Division of Area Services in 1954 and William J. Tudor became the division’s Director.
The growth of the Community Development Service led to increasing demand for qualified personnel to undertake community development work. In response, the Board of Trustees established the Community Development Institute at its June 29, 1956 meeting. Unlike the Division of Area Services and its Community Development Service, the Institute was a degree granting academic program. By 1958 the Institute offered an undergraduate minor, and in 1962 the Board approved Master of Science program. The institute also trained for community leadership and conducted research on community process and social change. Richard C. Franklin was named the first Director on September 1, 1956. At first the Institute reported to the Vice President for Instruction. In 1964 it reported to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and in 1966 it was transferred to the State and National Public Services Division within the Division of Area Services.
In 1964 the Division of Area Services was placed under the Vice President for Student and Area Services. On July 1, 1973 the Board of Trustees established the College of Human Resources as a response to pressure on the University for programs with a broad commitment to society. At this time the functions of the Community Development Service and the Community Development Institute merged into a new Community Development Service unit within the College of Human Resources. The College was reorganized in 1977, and Community Development was organized into the Division of Social and Community Services which also included the departments of Black American Studies, Social Welfare, Rehabilitation Institute, and the Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency, and Correction. The College of Human Resources was abolished by the Board of Trustees on July 1, 1989. Community Development then transferred to the College of Liberal Arts and was then merged with the Department of Geography on July 1, 1993.
Plochmann, George Kimball. The Ordeal of Southern Illinois University. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1959.
Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. Annual Report of the Board of Trustees, 1952-1953. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University.
Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. Annual Report of the Board of Trustees, 1953-1954. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University.
Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. Annual Report of the Board of Trustees, 1954-1955. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University.