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Tuition Freeze with Steady Enrollment at SIC

January 23, 2019

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Jan. 15 to discuss a tuition freeze, steady enrollment, a partnership for an accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing, retention rates and more.

The board voted to freeze tuition for the upcoming academic year to remain one of the most affordable colleges in the tristate region.

“SIC provides the highest quality education for a fraction of the cost of other institutions,” said longtime Board Chair Dr. Pat York. “And we must do our best to keep it that way for our community families.”

Keeping tuition down helps keeps enrollment numbers up. According to Executive Dean of Student Services, Dr. Chad Flannery, SIC is reaming steady with credit hours compared to last year with an uptick in headcount.

“New recruiting initiatives for special academic programs and unique student life activities are bringing more students from neighboring states to SIC,” said Flannery.

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Karen Weiss added, “For example, we have 13 enrolled in our new taxidermy class, including residents from out-of-state.”

SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice surmised this report and evidence show that the college’s enrollment mitigation strategy is working.

A new initiative that has been in the works since last fall is moving forward. SIC is working with a university partner to deliver an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for interested students.

“Details are still being worked out, but the proposal we advanced in a discussions with a senior institution partner who wanted to help us get to the next level is all but done,” said Rice.

“Our students who know they want to move forward from day one for a BSN will be able to do that from right here—taking essentially three years at SIC and one year at the senior institution all online,” said Gina Sirach, Executive Dean of Academic Services.

Scholarships for the BSN may be available as well.

“We can’t wait to release the details. It’s going to be a great partnership that’s built on real action and trust—all for the good of the student and our support of regional health care,” said Rice.

The partnership will be formally announced once the agreement is finalized. Other similar partnerships are also in the works but not ready for release at this point.

An update was also given regarding the upcoming Outdoor Wildlife Management program, set to begin this fall, as well as the vacant shooting coach position. Interviews for both positions are underway.

“We already have recruits for the Outdoor Wildlife Management program from as far as Virginia on campus already, and the program doesn’t officially begin until fall,” said Sirach. “There is a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding our outdoor programs, and we couldn’t be more excited about offering them.”

SIC’s overall retention rate for fall 2018 is on the increase from the previous year moving up eight points to 52 percent for degree/certificate seeking students. 

In the area of achievements, the board saw a draft copy of a new marketing brochure celebrating the many achievements at SIC since the college’s last reaccreditation visit 10 years ago.

“It’s amazing what we have done in terms of academics, facilities, national championships and so much more,” said Rice. “I would wager we have more national championships on the whole than any college around.”

“SIC has had multiple national champions in competitive speech, debate and archery. And we’ve had state champions in Model Illinois Government, plus so much more,” said Flannery.

The board heard updates from the administration about a great working relationship with local law enforcement, particularly concerning a new memorandum of understanding agreement among multijurisdictional law enforcement agencies.

“This is a unified effort with our great local law enforcement to enhance safety and security,” said Executive Dean of Administrative Services, Lisa Hite.

Hite said she is working with law enforcement officials in ways to support their own safety training.

“We appreciate the dedication and support of these agencies and want to provide any support we can in return,” said Rice.

In action items, the board approved the closeout of documents for past Protection, Health and Safety (PHS) bond work on campus; approved an institutional research policy; approved upcoming PHS projects on the campus; and accepted multiple budget transfers in departments.

In personnel, the board approved Travis Bond as the new Learning Commons Paraprofessional, Ricky Sauls as CTE and Special Projects Coordinator and a number of adjunct faculty. The board also approved a new contract for President Rice that extends from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2023, with an annual salary increase of 3 percent the first two years and zero for the last two.

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC. More information about SIC can be found at www.sic.edu.

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