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CTE a Major Topic at SIC Board Meeting

December 9, 2021

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room to discuss the Carmi expansion, tax levy, audit, hiring of a social worker, and career and technical training for high school students, among other topics.

SIC formally approved the naming of the new Carmi vocational education building the Stanford D. Williams Career and Training Center as a result of Williams’ half million-dollar donation to the project. President Dr. Jonah Rice said Williams’ gift was a huge investment in the future development of career and technical education (CTE) in the White County region. 

Vice Chair Dr. Frank Barbre said there is much excitement in the White County region for the project and the community support has been outstanding. Construction should begin later in the spring and a ribbon cutting is being planned.

SIC passed a tax levy that should have little impact on the taxpayer as the change from the previous year was minimal. 

The board also discussed with administration the need to hire a full-time licensed mental health counselor for wellness services for students and staff. Administrators note this would be a life-safety position to help individuals with stress, anxiety, and pressures. Many colleges in the region have recently hired the same type of positions due to increased needs. The job will be shared with Rend Lake College as well to complement their existing social services for social work on campus.

“Once students go to college, retention in their chosen academic program is key to their success, but retention is more than just tutoring, for example. We will need a system that links academics and student services for wellness counseling as a student wellness retention effort,” said Dr. Karen Weiss, Vice President of Academic Affairs, who will oversee those operations with Executive Dean of Student Services, Dr. Chad Flannery. 

The 2021 audit accepted by the board was positive, except for some areas in financial aid that will require improved protocols, chiefly with reporting and timing. As a result, the college has engaged a consulting firm and made reorganizational efforts to leverage internal talents to improve procedures.

“These improvements will only ensure our dedication to continuous improvement, particularly in financial aid,” said Rice. 

Other reorganization took place in light of new Title III Grant duties and also improvements planned for program review.

“These shifts have been and are across the organization all in the name of organizational efficiency and improvement,” said Rice. “These shifts also take into account new grants that will more closely align academics and student services.” 

Dr. Tyler Billman will lead the college’s new Title III Grant, a multi-million-dollar, five-year grant that will improve academic services. Executive Dean of Institutional Effectiveness Chris Barr will assume institutional program review, and Executive Dean of Administrative Services Lisa Hite along with Associate Dean of Compliance and Financial Services Erica Griffin will provide oversight in financial aid.

Administrators also anticipate news about a new grant that will provide advising for high school students to seek post-secondary education.

The board also learned from administration about the new Afternoon Academy for Career and Technical Education for local high schools. Dr. Tyler Billman has worked with many local high schools to create exciting opportunities for students to explore both trades and healthcare dual credit courses to meet regional demands. This is a model that should grow and serve as a model for other schools, particularly in the northern part of the district when the new Williams Center is complete.

Administrators also informed the board that the Illinois Community College Board approved the new alliance between SIC and Rend Lake College, and that safety training will be increased in the coming years as the college shifts away from so much COVID mitigation.

Additionally, the board approved health insurance rates for next year with no cost increase.

In personnel, the board approved the retirement for the Associate Dean of the Learning Commons, Karla Lewis, effective June 30, 2023, as well as a number of adjunct assignments for the spring 2022 academic term.

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room on the SIC Harrisburg campus. More information about SIC can be found at www.sic.edu.

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