Mortuary Science planning the next step

CASA Mortuary Class and Lab

By Jeff Wilson

At SIU, students studying in studying mortuary science are preparing for a profession that requires compassion for others as well as expertise in psychology, anatomy, policy and management.

The university’s mortuary science program is one of only seven in the country to offer a bachelor’s degree, and it’s the only one of its kind in Illinois. With about 100 on-campus students and a growing online presence, the mortuary science program is thriving.

Through the Forever SIU fundraising campaign, those in charge of the program hope to take it to the next level and add more value by building an on-site crematorium.

“We would be one of the few schools in the country to offer one,” said Anthony Fleege, associate professor of mortuary science.

There would be many benefits, she added.

Students would receive hands-on training and be able to become Certified Crematory Operators, which currently comes at the extra cost of a two-day course at another location. Certification is required to continue in the profession after one year.

An on-site crematorium would also give the university a place to handle the removal of medical cadavers.

Plus, community and local coroners would benefit. More and more often, the cost of cremating the bodies of indigent people is falling on local government. The university could become the place to send those remains, providing valuable services as well as learning opportunities for students.

While the idea of a crematorium built onto the College of Applied Science and Arts building may not sound appealing, no one but those inside would even know it was there.

“There would be no smoke, no ash,” Fleege said. “It would be designed to fit in with the current building.”

All the planning is done, and building could begin once the funds are raised, Fleege said. The $250,000 sought by the college would cover building costs, equipment and long-term maintenance.

To learn more about the Mortuary Science program, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, visit

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