About SIU Carbondale

Basic facts about SIU Carbondale, including its history, academics and notable alumni.

The SIU System: SIU Carbondale is part of a multi-campus system that includes a School of Medicine based in Springfield, Illinois., and SIU Edwardsville based in Edwardsville, Illinois. The system president is Daniel F. Mahony.

Campus leadership: Chancellor Austin A. Lane started on July 1, 2020.

Founded: 1869; the university celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Mission: SIU embraces a unique tradition of access and opportunity, inclusive excellence, innovation in research and creativity, and outstanding teaching focused on nurturing student success.  As a nationally ranked public research university and regional economic catalyst, we create and exchange knowledge to shape future leaders, improve our communities, and transform lives.

Enrollment: 11,359 in fall 2023; SIU students come from all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, as well as many foreign countries.

Faculty and staff: 4,795

Programs: More than 200 majors in agricultural sciences, applied arts and sciences, business, education and human services, engineering, law, liberal arts, mass communication and media arts, medicine and science.

Athletics: NCAA Division I, Missouri Valley Conference (most sports)

Mascot: The Saluki; learn about the Saluki and how it became SIU’s unique mascot.

Notable alumni:

  • Joan Higginbotham, mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Discovery’s mission to the International Space Station in 2006 and Kennedy Space Center payload electrical engineer/lead for Orbiter Experiments on Space Shuttle Columbia
  • Bob Odenkirk, actor, comedian, writer, director, producer who has starred in “Breaking Bad,” Saturday Night Life” and other productions and won an Emmy.
  • Melissa McCarthy, television and motion picture actress.
  • Darryl Jones, bass guitarist for the Rolling Stones
  • Dick Gregory, actor, author, comedian, civil rights activist and philosopher
  • Dennis Franz, actor who has won four Emmy awards, played a leading role in “NYPD Blue” and has starred in numerous movie and television roles.
  • Walt Frazier, NBA star drafted by the New York Knicks in 1967 and had a 13-year career with the New York and Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Richard Peck, author and winner of the Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”
  • Mark Victor Hansen, co-author and mastermind (along with Jack Canfield) of the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series.
  • William Freeberg, who worked with the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation and Eunice Kennedy Shriver to establish Special Olympics
  • James “Jim” Belushi, comedian, actor, former member of the Saturday Night Live cast
  • Connie Price-Smith, four-time Olympian and the only U.S. thrower (male or female) to win four double national championships in shot put and discus
  • William Norwood, the first African American quarterback at SIU and the first African-American pilot (1965) and captain for United Airlines
  • Walter Rodgers III, broadcast journalist work worked for CNN, appeared on ABC’s World News Tonight and was White House correspondent for Associated Press Radio.
  • Kathy Best, editor at the Seattle Times and part of the newspaper team that won the 2015 Pulitzer prize for breaking news reporting on a March 2014 landslide
  • Jim Hart, SIU quarterback and 19-year NFL star for the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Redskins
  • Chris Bury, former ABC news correspondent, substitute anchor for Ted Koppel on “Nightline” and triple Emmy winner
  • Richard Roundtree, television and movie actor best known for playing John Shaft in the “Shaft” movie franchise