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Tuition Freeze and New Programs Discussed by SIC Board

January 28, 2020

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, Jan. 21, in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room to freeze tuition and learn about new programs, recent donations, and cost-saving measures to ensure fiscal stability.

The board voted to keep tuition the same at $106 per credit hour for the academic year 2020-2021. However, a $1 increase to both the technology and facilities fees passed, making them $13 and $15 respectively.

“We know we must remain affordable for our students,” said board member David Dennison. “That is a commitment of this Board.”

The criminal justice program is going to be revised according to feedback from incoming students and the advisory council made up of law enforcement officers. More face-to-face courses are being requested and an increase of local internships are in the plans.

“We’ve had great interest in this program since the State Police only require an associate degree now,” said Executive Dean for Academic Affairs Gina Sirach.

Other academic and workforce training options include a new hemp course, hazardous waste operations and emergency response training, and open shoot classes for those who have already completed concealed carry courses.

The college added four new faculty positions last year in Cosmetology, Psychology, Library Science, and Nursing and is looking at the possibility of a new one in the future for new programs.

“We were glad to bring back and create these four full-time faculty positions,” said President Dr. Jonah Rice.

Adding to increased full-time instruction are the costs of new program equipment and scholarships which will place the college’s budget in the red unless mitigation strategies are engaged.

Administration met with multiple faculty regarding some programs with anomalous drops in enrollment and/or small class sizes. These meetings were to brainstorm ideas and begin a discussion to enhance enrollment in those areas and ensure fiscal stability for the programs and college.

Officials say mitigation strategies are needed to offset increases in other areas, including new positions, new program costs, and deferred maintenance as examples. They also noted, however, due to enrollment challenges, two reductions in force will be engaged and a program elimination will soon occur, with enrollment and fiscal constraints being the reasons.

The college will also not fill many positions using attrition to reduce costs for next year. More cost saving measures will be taken to ensure a sustainable budget.

Rice noted that state officials will begin hosting regional meetings across Illinois to discuss enrollment as this is a challenge statewide and even in most of the Midwest, particularly in rural America. Succumbing to a national trend, the Illinois Community College System has lost enrollment. In Illinois, much of that is due to outmigration of students, general population loss, and the economy.

The board also heard about a recent donation by the Lake of Egypt Fire District – a ladder truck to the Fire Science Program at SIC. This is the second firetruck donation they have made to the college in less than a decade. Such equipment makes a huge impact on training.

In other news, the college will realign a career and technical education program to adhere to the statewide agreement as some students that are out of district should be enrolled in their home college districts. College administration said state officials said that, in essence, this type of situation both reduces enrollment for other colleges in the same programs and also ends up using local tax dollars to subsidize northern colleges that have the programs in the first place.

SIC is working with those colleges and has had detailed outreach with the Illinois Community College Board and respective college presidents to ensure compliance. Officials state SIC will continue to serve local students and any local businesses that require those services after the alignment with state requirements is complete.

President Rice also unveiled his “Pillars of Success 2025,” a vision casting for the college that will help ensure “fiscal stability, collaboration, optimum efficiencies, and student success.”

“These Pillars should help shape our planning initiatives, help steer our assessment, help guide our fiscal modeling,” said Rice.

The board also approved minor revisions to multiple policies including ones on sexual harassment.

In personnel, the board approved the hire of Lori Olson as the grant accounting manager/ accountant effective Jan. 27 and Mariah Holder as the TRIO/Support Student Services retention specialist effective Jan. 6. The board also approved the transfer of communications and relations specialist, Melody Bryant, to curator of the Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum of Regional Art and events professional, as well as the retirement of Randy Daniels, Learning Commons media/graphics technician effective May 15. A number of adjunct faculty were also approved.

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, Feb.18, 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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