Southeastern Kicks off Leadership Program for Employees

February 6, 2014

Some Southeastern Illinois College instructors and administrators have found themselves on the other side of the desk this semester.  The college, led by President Dr. Jonah Rice, has begun a leadership development program. The guest speaker for the first seminar, a long-time leader in many roles and currently the Chief Executive Officer of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges, was Terry Bruce.

Bruce served as congressman from 1985 to 1993 and served on the Education committee.  As congressman for the 19th District, Bruce represented the eighth largest district in the United States in terms of higher education students.  Bruce was also a former Illinois State Senator.

Rice introduced Bruce as a leader that has trained many college presidents in the state during his career, making him the perfect first speaker for a group of future leaders.  Bruce encouraged the group on a number of topics, including who community colleges are and what function they serve, challenges faced by current and future leaders in terms of economics and today’s students, efficiency and effectiveness, and the overall attributes of a good leader.

Bruce described community colleges as a tool that made college affordable to the masses for the first time in the early 1960s.  According to Bruce, and on average, transfer students can save about $40,000 by going to their community college first.

“We (community colleges) educate half of the students in higher education in the state, but are continually overlooked for new funding,” said Bruce.  “Colleges are continually taught to do more with less.”

All 39 community colleges are run on an amount set in 1998. Additionally concerning, at the end of this year, the state stands to lose up to $7 billion in income-tax revenue unless the income tax is extended, which will have a devastating effect on community college funding in the state.

“Remember you manage in good times and lead in challenging times,” said Bruce.  “As the financial climate changes and student populations change, you have to consider new ways of doing things.”

He explained how reaching each new generation is a challenge in itself.  Moreover, the current trend is that the majority of students are female; less young men are going to college.

Bruce also discussed the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.  He challenged the group to consider how effective they are at getting students what they need.  He explained that efficiency is doing a thing again and again, and effectiveness is doing the right thing – graduating students that can have a job and have an effective life as productive individuals.

In explaining the role of the LeadSIC program, Rice said the need for a leadership program is strong as a “crisis in leadership” will hit colleges in the coming years with the loss of baby boomers, which has already begun.  According to Rice, community colleges in particular will be faced with incredible leadership shortages in the near future.

“Leadership training is a valuable tool for two reasons.  First, it prepares a new generation of leaders to fill the void left by retiring administrators, and second, it helps provide valuable professional development for current and emerging leaders,” said Rice.

SIC’s self-paced, introspective program is modeled after a leadership program that the Illinois Community College Council of Presidents put together about 15 years ago.  SIC’s program has been updated to include a large online component. Faculty and administrators from various areas of the college were invited to participate in the program, facilitated by Gina Sirach, Dean of Academic Services.  Future cohorts are planned. 

The first participants of the class are Tyler Billman, veteran and international student advisor; Andrew Dunaway, media technology and graphic design specialist;  Jason Fitzgerald, biology instructor and math and science division chair; Angela Hale, marketing coordinator; Emily Henson, financial aid director; Allan Kimball, English and theatre instructor and humanities division co-chair; Brent Maguire, Title III criminal justice online program developer; Matt Lees, political science instructor; Robbie Lindhorst, diesel instructor; Lolita Mack, TRiO/ Student Support Services director; Stacy Moore, director of auxiliary services; and Amy Murphy, director of nursing.