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SIC’s Powersports and Taxidermy Programs Approved by IL Board, Will Begin in August

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, March 27 regarding updates on new programs, population concerns, and positive financial index scores.

The board learned that the Illinois Community College Board has officially approved Powersports Technology at SIC as a one-year certificate program with plans for the associate degree for next year. The Taxidermy certificate program will run in the evenings to accommodate both traditional students as well as hobbyists.  SIC received praise for novel program development in both categories from State officials.  Both programs will begin in August.

Additional future plans for Powersports Technology, which will train workers for ATV shops, include expansion to a full two-year associate degree program. To this end, the college is hoping to work with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at Sahara Woods on a possible partnership. Meetings for that partnership are forthcoming.  The two already work together successfully on a national 3D archery competition each October.

The board learned more about the shrinking regional enrollment in higher education, chiefly due to smaller high schools.  College officials examined state data and reported that the college has held its own with strong mitigation of population loss in the area.

SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice explained that mitigation strategies are working for SIC in terms of college-specific initiatives, such as new programs, new student activities and retention efforts.  The college is also enrolling students across state lines, as well as from more northern counties, particularly in online classes and new programs.

SIC experienced less of a drop in enrollment than all but one other regional college, and that is Rend Lake College (RLC).  

“SIC and RLC are very close in how we have weathered this storm, and part of that has been our strong partnership,” said Rice.

Rice and RLC President Terry Wilkerson present next month at the Higher Learning Commission in Chicago on their unique partnership and how they have weathered the enrollment drops better than others in the region.

The board also discussed options to work with the Saline Valley Conservancy District on a joint water delivery project.  The SVCD has requested use of the College water tower for pressure needs for water deliver for communities in the College district.  The agreement is being finalized soon.

SIC’s Composite Financial Index (CFI) score increased by three points over last year, chiefly due to assertive steps in ongoing fiscal planning. The Higher Learning Commission requires colleges to report financial conditions on an annual basis to determine the financial health of each institution.

“The CFI score is based on four component financial ratios and computed through an additional process, but it’s easy to say that SIC weathered the budget impasse due to sound fiscal management,” said David Wright, Executive Dean of Administrative Services.

“We have had to make some very strategic and prudent decisions in reacting to the state’s fiscal crisis,” Rice added.  “SIC is positioned to continue our work as the region’s leader in higher education.”

In personnel, the board approved the hire of Kerry Jones and Ronald Potts as part-time armed campus security officers; the transfer of Marzel Scates from payroll clerk to assistant to the Executive Dean of Administrative Services; the hire of Caroline McSparin as the Coordinator of the Mary Jo Oldham Center for Child Study; and the employment of adjunct faculty.

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, April 24 at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC.