Saluki Takeover Tour: Join the celebration Saturday at Walker’s Bluff

Southern Illinois Celebration, 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Walker's Bluff Casino Resort

Event is free and open to the public

By Jeff Wilson

CARBONDALE – After traveling to each of Illinois’ 17 southernmost counties, including more than 20 school visits, the Saluki Takeover Tour of Southern Illinois will close with the Southern Illinois Celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort.

Hosted by Chancellor Austin Lane, the event will recognize incoming SIU students. There will also be SIU Day of Giving trophy presentations, a celebration of the university’s recent successes, and a chance to thank our local partners. Many representatives from SIU will be in attendance, including new Saluki Men’s Basketball coach Scott Nagy.

To register, visit Attendees will receive two complimentary drink tickets, and hors d’oeuvres will be served. This is your chance to join with SIU’s leaders, Saluki alumni and friends, current and future students, and many others for an evening of Saluki pride.

“Saluki spirit is evident everywhere we go, but it has its roots right here in Southern Illinois,” said Chancellor Austin Lane. “These takeover tour events are a terrific opportunity for our local alumni and friends to engage with our leadership and share their Saluki experience with others.”

Lane and many others traveled to local high schools in Anna Jonesboro, Benton, Cairo, Carbondale, Carterville, Carmi-White County, Chester, Cobden, Du Quion, Gallatin County, Hardin County, Harrisburg, Johnston City, Joppa, Marion, Massac County, Meridian, Mount Vernon, Murphysboro and Vienna, meeting with administrators and visiting with students who have committed to attending SIU in the fall. There have been visits to John A. Logan Community College and Southeastern Illinois College.

Alumni and friends have gathered for five Chancellor’s Receptions at The Granada Theatre in Mount Vernon, Morello’s in Harrisburg, St. Nicholas Brewing Co. in Du Quoin, Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass and Fat Edd’s Roadhouse in Metropolis. Dozens of Salukis have come to each event to meet Chancellor Lane and other SIU leaders.

“We want students to know they can come from Mount Vernon, Benton, Carmi-White County, or anywhere else and launch to the world,” said Lane at The Granada Theatre in Mount Vernon. “You don’t have to leave and go anywhere. We have an advantage right here in our backyard.”

“I don’t know the last time we’ve had an event like this with boots on the ground, going and seeing high school students, giving out scholarships. That’s what it’s going to take,” said Saluki Football coach Nick Hill on Friday, April 26, at St. Nicholas Brewing Co. in Du Quoin.

The Office of Innovation and Economic Development at SIU and the Small Business Navigator Program partnered with local organizations to offer Business Resource Meet Ups. These events provided valuable insights into the Advantage Illinois Loan Program, along with detailed information on the services of the Illinois SBDC and the Illinois APEX Accelerator program at SIU. Events have already taken place at Innovation Hub in Mount Vernon, MAN-TRA-CON in Marion, Morello’s in Harrisburg, Alongi’s Italian Restaurant in Du Quoin, First Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo, Vienna High School, and Carbondale Civic Center.

“We’re preaching pride in the region. We’re preaching legacy. We’re preaching accessibility,” said Chancellor Lane on Monday, April 29, at Alto Vineyards. “All of those things are keeping our students here at home. We have some wonderful Salukis coming in.”

For more information, call 618-453-4900 or email

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