INA – Charley D. Holstein is officially the sixth President of Rend Lake College.
A unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees during a special meeting Wednesday night ushers in new leadership at the comprehensive two-year college, located on the east shore of scenic Rend Lake in Southern Illinois. As President, Holstein is in charge of approximately 600 employees, 13,500 students, three campuses and a budget of roughly $38 million.
Board Chairman Bill Simpson congratulated Holstein and expressed great confidence in the Board’s decision.
“Charley brings many great leadership skills and other strengths to the college,” Simpson said. “We have seen these at work over the past nine months he has served as interim president and we have witnessed other strengths emerge as he took on the role with enthusiasm and integrity.”
“I am extremely excited about this opportunity,” Holstein said. “I want to thank the Board of Trustees for their support and confidence in my abilities to lead this great team and I want to thank the faculty, staff and administration for their overwhelming support, not only during the period I have served as interim president, but also throughout the application and interview process.”
Holstein, 45, has been a key part of many accomplishments over the past year at the college. Some of these include RLC being awarded the maximum 10-year accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, successfully negotiating a multi-year faculty contract, breaking ground on the new 20,000-square-feet coal mining training center, guiding creative finance opportunities to help offset funding shortages for a new state-of-the-art welding laboratory, and securing $100,000 in donations from local industry for the coal mining training center. He has also reached out beyond the college’s borders by initiating a peer-to-peer process where upper-level administrative members of his cabinet visit their counterparts at neighboring colleges, and vice versa, to identify best practices and determine if they could be used at RLC.
When talking about Holstein’s strong points, Simpson pointed to the new president’s knack for creating and fostering working relationships with partners in the community, as well as those on campus.
“As a visible, proactive leader, he has demonstrated an ability to bridge communication across campus as well as create and maintain dialogue between the college and the community,” Simpson said.
Simpson offered a few examples. He said in meeting with members of Congress in Springfield and governmental agencies, Holstein has shown that he knows how to speak their language and can serve as the college’s voice on legislative matters. Together, they recently met with the assistant warden at Big Muddy River Correctional Center, where Holstein played a big part in that meeting being positive and leading to a good working relationship with RLC’s neighbor. His biggest strength, according to Simpson, is his rapport with the faculty, staff and administrators he works with every day.
“While serving as the interim President for the past nine months, I believe I have proven my competence and capabilities to productively serve Rend Lake College as its next president,” said Holstein. “I have drawn from the institution’s strengths, helped to overcome challenges and obstacles, and have set realistic goals – all with the help of a smart and innovative team who truly are committed to our students. I think we are all ready to move the college forward.”
Groups made up of instructors, staff members and administrators were asked by the Board to take part in the selection process by interviewing each candidate and returning their recommendation to the Trustees.
“The response was unanimous,” Simpson said. “Each group came back with Charley as their choice.”
“One thing I hope I have brought to this campus is a sense of fairness and equality,” said Holstein. “My door is always open and I am excited to see what our outstanding college can become when we all work together to accomplish the mission.”
Holstein holds dual master’s degrees in management and human resources from Webster University in St. Louis, a bachelor’s degree in pre-law and administration of justice from SIUC, and is currently pursuing his PhD. A graduate of the Army’s prestigious Command and General Staff College – and a first-in-class, distinguished military graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at SIUC – he led troops in Alaska, South Korea, New Mexico and for two years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bronze Star recipient retired from the Army in 2007 after more than 20 years of service. He lives in Fairfield with his wife, Michelle, and their three children, Emily, Eric and Nathan.
Previous RLC Presidents are Dr. James M. Snyder (1967-75), Dr. W. Travis Martin (1975-78), Dr. Harry J. Braun (1978-89), Dr. Jonathan M. Astroth (1989-91), and Mark S. Kern (1991-2008). The Board began its search for Kern’s successor prior to his retirement in July. Nationwide searches produced hundreds of applicants and numerous interviews.
“I realize there were many highly-qualified candidates, but I truly believe I am the best fit for the culture and organizational structure here at RLC,” Holstein said.
Simpson agreed, saying, “Our extensive search has allowed the Board to be very deliberate in our quest for the best possible president. I can speak for all of us when I say that we take our responsibility as the governing board of Rend Lake College very seriously. We are all here for the betterment of RLC students. From planning the initial search more than a year ago to reinstating it this January, we aimed to identify who is the best fit as this institution’s next president. We feel we have done that tonight.”
“The college’s history of quality, affordability, responsibility and accessibility is worthy of our continued best efforts and I will give my full attention to keeping Rend Lake College a close partner with the communities we serve and a champion of student learning here in Southern Illinois,” Holstein said.