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SIC Board Discusses Future Plans and Awards

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, April 24, to discuss future library and museum plans, bids for services, top awards for the college, lobby day and higher education in the state of Illinois.

The board considered an idea to reinvent the Melba Patton Library in the future to a more open, inviting space for student communication and collaboration with digital technology.

“The learning commons concept is the new model for what students need for learning resources and support,” said President Dr. Jonah Rice. “Staff and I have had initial discussions about the commons concept and will engage stakeholders and external research about how to proceed.”

This initiative is part of the master facilities and improvement plan for the college. Various funding resources are being examined, including external donations and/or grants for the project.

The Hise Museum project is scheduled to have new bids submitted by April 30. The board hopes to vote on the successful bid submission in mid-May. The project should begin this summer.

The board heard an update on the dashboard and benchmark project, which shall be solidified in the coming weeks.

“This project will enable us to quickly and regularly monitor key performance indicators (KPIs), including the factors that led to SIC being named a top 10 percent community college in the  country by the Aspen Institute,” said Rice.

The board heard updates from academic leaders that the new PowerSports and Taxidermy programs will launch this coming year.

“PowerSports will begin in the fall term, while the taxidermy program will start in the spring of next year and be held at night,” said Vice President Dr. Karen Weiss.

Weiss complimented faculty, staff, and Executive Dean Sirach for all the work they have put into the program.

Board Chair Dr. Pat York said these types of new programs are vital to the mission and benefit of the college.

“These programs are central to our region and our residents,” he said.  “SIC is proud to respond to these needs.”

The board was also presented with a list of awards recently earned by the college, including the top 10 percent community college in the country, number one nursing programs in the state, a top 20 national online college, number one welding school in the region, number two speech team in the country in individual events, state award winning Phi Beta Lambda business team, second in the state Model Illinois Government team, national award-winning 3D archery team, fourth indoor archery student in the nation, number 10 Gateway credentials program in the state for early childhood education, and twelfth most affordable online college in the nation for Associate in Business degrees,

The board also heard that the women’s basketball team ended third in Great River Athletic Conference action this year out of 10 teams, and the baseball team is currently third in conference this spring.

Rice reported on a state presidents’ working group he attended with two other community college presidents, and three university presidents to discuss strategies for Illinois Higher Education.

“This group is meeting to respond to the need to be self-reflective and about the future of higher education in Illinois. I look forward to working with this group,” said Rice.

The board also took action on a number of items, including bids for sewage lagoon and security services for the college. KRB Excavating, Inc., received the lagoon bid, while Securitas received the bid for campus security. The college will have 24-hour armed security beginning April 26.

The board also heard non-action updates on the upcoming reaccreditation visit as well as first readings on minor updates to board policies on position descriptions and organizational charts.

Dr. Frank Barbre, vice chair and Illinois Community College Trustees Association representative, reported on the recent lobby day in the state capital.  He and trustee Jim Ellis along with Rice met with local legislators to discuss budget and pending legislation.

“The meetings went very well with our legislators, and they are real advocates for community colleges,” said Barbre.

“They know the importance of community colleges like SIC in our district,” added Ellis.

In personnel, the board approved the employment of Erica Griffin as director of business services effective April 30, Davis Phelps as Saturday range manager at the Indoor Archery Center effective April 7, Nancy Sutton as part-time “as-needed” clerical at the David L. Stanley White County Center, Arla Murphy as business development specialist, effective May 10, and a number of adjunct faculty.

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, May 15, at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC.