National Problem of Secondary Students “Going Nowhere” discussed at SIC Board Meeting
The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met July 19 at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room on the main campus in Harrisburg to approve a new policy, discuss the national need to keep young students attending post-secondary education, evaluate enrollment, and discuss new construction, updates, and grants, among other action items.
The board approved a new policy on honorary and posthumous degrees, allowing for special recognition in specific situations with special circumstances.
“This policy allows us to provide closure for families who have gone through loss,” said Dr. Pat York, chair of the board.
The board heard a report on secondary students who do not continue on to post-secondary education. This is the fourth year SIC has tracked this data in its district high schools. The board discussed with cabinet officers how to continue to combat this situation, and noted some improvements in the trend data likely due in part to continued partnerships with local high schools.
“This is a national problem. The need for advanced education in manufacturing, automation, criminal justice, healthcare, education, and so many more professions is great,” said Debbie Hughes, board member.
SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice said, “It’s more than a mission for all of us in education, it’s a dire necessity that we keep young students in particular in a pipeline to success.”
There was some good news in enrollment. Summer enrollment is up in credit hours by nearly 5 percent from last year. Administrators agree that fall looks promising but many more students have yet to register before the start of classes on Aug. 15.
In more good news, construction is advancing on the new Stanford D. Williams Career & Training Center in Carmi, despite a slow-down due to a wait on materials. Work is being done on curriculum, staffing needs analysis, teaching materials, and more.
“This is exciting work as we build a premier workforce and training center for our region,” said vice chair of the board, Dr. Frank Barbre.
The board learned that the updates of the new STRETCH Fitness in the Harry C. Bramlet Center are nearing completion. The updates include all new equipment, renovations, and new programs. New key card entryways will be installed, a new aerobic bike room will be added, and a weight room is planned. New programs for seniors and other groups will be engaged as well as fitness training programs and classes. STRETCH stands for Strength, Training, Recovery, Endurance, Therapy, and Cardio Health.
The board also heard an update on the many grants SIC has secured recently, including multi-million dollar grants for Title III, Upward Bound, Trio Student Success, Tutoring, and state funds for the Carmi Center, with additional major grants expected.
“It has been a phenomenal year for SIC with all these grants. They help provide so many opportunities for students and provide good jobs for the area,” said Barbre.
Multiple grant positions are now open and posted on SIC’s website at sic.edu/employment.
The board heard that the year-end budget should be in the black once all accruals are completed. Government COVID funds helped to buffer expected losses last year, but those funds are now gone. Given some major expenses next year, Rice told the board that he expects a red budget for fiscal year 2023, chiefly due to a drawdown of saved funds for the Carmi construction, as well as other needed construction and maintenance projects on campus.
“It was planned, and we know that we have the funds to cover expected projects. So, we will want to see where we come in when we factor out that drawdown for an accurate portrait of our spending. That will also give us a good indicator of what FY 24 will look like,” said Rice.
The board learned of the success of the new SIC Foundation event Jazz Under the Stars held June 25 in the Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum of Regional Art and Terrace. With nearly 90 people in attendance and many community sponsors, the event grossed $13,000. Banterra Bank was the platinum sponsor of the event. Every dollar raised for the endowment will be matched by the Title III federal grant. The foundation plans to host the event next in Fall 2023.
A new student trustee was inducted to the board for the 2022-23 academic year – Devin Rankin of Carmi, a sophomore on the basketball team who plans to become a teacher.
In personnel, the board approved the resignation of full-time SICEA math instructor, Ashley Launius; information technology (IT) network administrator, Andrew Oxford; and TRIO/Student Support Services retention specialist, Mariah Holder. The board approved the hiring of full-time SICEA math instructor replacement, Jessica Bayer; Title III IT student information support specialist replacement, Damon Whitt; full-time food service assistant replacement, Connie Stevens; and part-time food service assistant replacement, Cyla Stucker.
Additionally, the board approved the re-employment of full-time Nursing and Allied Health Division secretary, Kathy Volkening, and the transfer of adult education student support coordinator Audrey Talbot to assistant director of adult education.
The next meeting of the board will be held Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room on the Harrisburg campus.