SIC Swears in New Board Members, Boasts High Completion Rates and Remains Affordable

May 14, 2015

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, May 5 at 6 p.m. in a special organizational meeting to swear in new members and elect officers. Following the special meeting, the Board held a regularly scheduled meeting to approve several protection, life, and safety projects as well as accept the retirement notice of a long-time college employee.

Four board members were sworn in after election results were declared. Six-year office holders include Richard Morgan, Blake Bradley, and David Dennison and two-year office holder includes Debbie Hughes.

Officers elected by the board include Chair Dr. Pat York, Vice-Chair Dr. Frank Barbre, and Secretary Jim Ellis. Alternates were selected, as was the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) representative, Dr. Frank Barbre.

In the regular board meeting, trustees heard from national and state championship student groups as well as updates on the State budget and current legislation.

Model Illinois Government, the Speech Team, and the Archery Team began the meeting by presenting to the board this past year’s state and national achievements, including multiple first place finishes.

As for the fiscal year 2016 budget, the board learned it will be very tight and the following year’s budget looks to be even more challenging.

Conservative budgeting, early retirement incentives, and ongoing initiatives will be engaged to control costs in a time of dwindling resources for higher education, according to college officials.

“Cumulatively, our past five-year composite financial index score is about a full point above the prior five years,” said Dr. Jonah Rice, SIC President. “That is an important number to our accrediting agency and demonstrates that we are on solid ground. It hasn’t been easy to get to this point but necessary to remain stable and provide vital services to our students and community.”

The board also received tuition comparison information, demonstrating that SIC can be as much as a tenth of the cost of some regional colleges.

“We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars a family can save by coming to SIC,” said Dean of Student Services and Enrollment, Chad Flannery. “Given that one out of five Americans believe higher education is too expensive, SIC is a model for cost containment that translates into real dollars for families.”

The board heard that SIC has increased its completion rates nearly 20 percent between fiscal year 2012 and fiscal year 2014, an accomplishment Rice attributed to the entire campus as completion is a group effort.

Enrollment data showing SIC average spring enrollment is less than the state average drop was shared. SIC had the smallest dip in enrollment compared to regional cohorts in a five-year period.

The board approved nine public, health, and safety (PHS) bond authorized safety projects including roofing, tuck pointing, abatement work and lighting, among others. Two other PHS projects will be brought to the Board in the future, including plans for the theatre and water tower.

“Much of this work is deferred maintenance work as well as preventative measures to avoid substantial repair in the future,” said Dean of Administration and Business Affairs David Wright.

The board also approved six new members for the Alumni and Friends Association.

A retirement letter was accepted by the board from long-time employee and Vice-President Dr. Dana Keating.

“Dr. Keating is a cornerstone of SIC,” said Rice. “She has been my left-hand and being left-handed, that means more than saying she’s my right hand. She will be greatly missed by the College as she’s always put the interests of others and the entire College first. She is a true servant leader.”

Holding a variety of positions at the college, Keating has gone from part-time employment when she began her career at SIC to registrar, Dean of Career and Technical Education, Acting President, and Vice-President, her current position.

“I am so blessed and thankful for having been given the opportunity to spend my career at Southeastern Illinois College,” Keating said.

In personnel items, the Board approved the retirement of Dr. Dana Keating, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, effective May 31, 2016; accepted the resignation of Angela O’Hara, Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Career and Technical Education, effective May 8, 2015; approved the employment of Art Fitz-Gerald as the part-time TRIO Counselor; approved Michele Intravaia as the food service manager; approved the employment of Terri Absher as a part-time, as needed, receptionist for the David L. Stanley Center in Carmi, IL; approved an Early Retirement Incentive (ERI) for exempt employees; awarded tenure to Maggie Calcaterra and Jeremy Irlbeck retroactive to February 2015; approved several advisory council members and adjunct faculty.

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be Tuesday, May 26 at 6:00 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Boardroom on the Harrisburg Campus.