SIC Board of Trustees Hears News of Major Tourism Lure for Region

February 23, 2015

Harrisburg, Ill. (Feb. 20, 2015)-- The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, Feb. 17 and heard reports including news of a major tourism draw for the region, exceptional nursing pass rates, and financial modeling in addition to passing numerous action items including one on tuition.

The Board learned that SIC’s petition to attract the United States Collegiate Archery Association (USCAA) National Tournament to the district is one step closer to becoming reality.

“The USCAA Board Director Gary Holstein fell in love with our region and the Sahara Woods outdoor recreation area,” said SIC President, Dr. Jonah Rice.

The vote by the USCAA Board was unanimous to relocate from their current location at University of Missouri (Mizzou) to Sahara Woods with SIC and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as hosts.

“This event will bring in hundreds of people to the area, eating in local restaurants, staying in local hotels, shopping in local stores.” said Rice.
Once the IDNR can commit to the agreement, SIC officials said the archery coaching staff and officials will begin planning for the event to be located here for up to a 10 year commitment.

“This is the type of economic and tourism activity that really helps showcase the value that SIC has for our community,” said Board Trustee, Debbie Hughes.
Board Trustee, Jim Ellis added, “We are excited to help foster tourism for the region.”

College officials, including archery coaches Archie Blair, Roger Snodgrass and Darin DeNeal, as well as SIC administrators such as Dean for Student Services and Enrollment, Chad Flannery and President Rice, along with IDNR and local legislators, including State Representative Brandon Phelps and IDNR Officer Eric McClusky, worked with USCAA officials on the project.

The Board also heard reports that the SIC Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) and Practical Nursing (PN) programs had some of the best pass rates in the region and State.

“Our ADN scores were 100 percent-- one of only three active pre-licensure programs in the state to achieve that standard,” said Dean Gina Sirach.
PN scores stood at 98 percent and topped most other programs in Illinois.

“We are very proud of all the instructors and students for this phenomenal showing,” said Vice President for Academic and Student Services, Dr. Dana Keating.

Rice added, "The nursing program is so vital to our region and supporting healthcare business. These superior scores serve as testament of the quality that goes into the program and the quality that goes out.”

Administrators also presented the fiscal outlay for the next five years based on general assumptions about state funding, enrollment, expenses, and related variables to the Board.

Even with essentially flat state funding, many colleges especially in the south, will see reductions because of the way the funding formula works for distribution. Combined with shrinking enrollment statewide and increased expenses, SIC can anticipate a tight budget for next year and the following four years.

“With continued conservative management, we believe we can again deliver a black budget for next year--assuming the State doesn’t hand down any draconian reductions in the coming months of budget construction,” said Rice.

In order to meet the Board subcommittee goal of achieving a black budget, the College will take a number of counter measures.

Administrators will freeze an open graphic design position and not fill it to conserve funds. Other departmental efficiencies will be engaged in the coming months in budget hearing discussions.

A payback from the local collegiate consortium will result in a one-time revenue source that will help close the budget gap for fiscal year 2016.
The Board also passed a tuition increase of $2 and two different fee increases for facilities and technology.

“SIC still has one of the lowest tuition rates in the State,” said Chief Financial Officer, David Wright. “We will need the revenue and also will need to keep pace with regional colleges and the funding formula.”

Many colleges in the region passed or are expected to pass similar increases.

The Board also took action on an acceptable use policy revision and a modest Early College Program fee.

SIC Foundation reported new funds for the endowment, a new estate gift deposit of over $100,000 and the completed, successful audit.

Action was also taken to begin the approval process with the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) to issue up to $1.5 million in protection, health and safety bonds to pay for qualified projects in SIC’s Master Facilities and Improvement Plan.

In personnel matters, the Board accepted the resignation of the food service manager, a student services support specialist, and a music instructor. The Board also passed two reduction in force positions due to diminished grant funding.

The Board approved the employment of Robert Workman as a full-time custodian, Madison Burklow as a financial aid specialist, Ben Ross for the grant-funded Building Illinois Bio-economy Project Coordinator, Britt Pavelonis as the part-time small business specialist, and multiple adjunct faculty. The Board also reemployed numerous tenure-track employees.

The next SIC board meeting is March 17 at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J Brenner Board Room.