By VANESSA WELCH
MT. VERNON — During the Rend Lake College Foundation 2008 Annual Dinner meeting, it was announced that RLC has met its goal to raise more than $360,000 for a grant, one year earlier than expected.
RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern said four years ago RLC received a federal Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant also referred to as the Challenge Grant II. The grant was used to create a new associate in applied science degree program and two occupational certificates in wireless communications technology. The grant includes a matching one-for-one endowment option totaling $365,000.
“The Challenge Grant II campaign started on Oct, 1. 2004, and had a five-year goal ending Sept. 30, 2009,” Kern said. “We are excited to announce tonight that we have reached the five-year goal in four years.”
As Kern thanked those who donated to the campaign, she explained how their investment will increase RLC Foundation funds to about $1.8 million in 20 years.
“These contributions plus the match have increased the Rend Lake College Foundation endowment by three quarters of a million dollars, and in 20 years it will be valued at $1.8 million.”
Kern noted this is the second time RLC has received a one-for-one match, and she said she does not foresee the “opportunity of a lifetime” happening again soon.
The meeting’s theme of “A Year of Recognition” continued as RLC Interim President Charley Holstein discussed that the college has once again received recommendation for 10 years of continued accreditation, the maximum amount that can be awarded, by the Higher Learning Commission.
After visiting the campus and evaluating the college’s self-study document, a team of five members from HLC delivered their findings on Nov. 19.
“It’s been a very exciting year at Rend Lake College,” Holstein said. “Two of the five members came up to me and asked my permission to use the RLC self-study document as the best practice example back at their colleges.”
Many attendees and board members also reflected on memorable events of the past year including the groundbreaking of the RLC Coal Mining Training Center projected to be completed in spring 2009 with classes beginning in fall 2009. RLC student Boaz Lalang represented Kenya in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and more than $72,000 was raised to support the RLC Theatre renovation project.
Former RLC President Mark Kern was honored for his service, and Holstein also announced this is the 11th consecutive semester for record enrollment at RLC.
Throughout the meeting, awards were presented to recognize contributions and dedication of the following individuals:
n Randy Rubenacker, co-owner and manager of Rubenacker Farms Partnership in Dahlgren and 4R Equipment, a McLeansboro farm equipment dealership, was awarded Alumnus of the Year.
n RLC student Mallory Brookins was awarded the 2009-2010 Fornear Family Scholarship which is given to a student who will attend Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
The scholarship pays for tuition, books, and room and board.
n RLC Foundation Board Member Mary Ellen Aiken was awarded the Presidential Award which Holstein noted is for individuals who “prove exceptional service, usually over an extended period of time.”
n RLC Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Hunt Bonan received the Hourglass Award, a new recognition for a board member who has “excelled in long, persistent commitment and is a previous recipient of the Presidential Award,” according to RLC Foundation Board Vice Chairman James Kelly.
Overall, Kern expressed gratitude for opportunities RLC provides to students, faculty and administration, and the community as a whole.
“Rend Lake College has, like President Holstein said, a great story to tell,” Kern said.
“I can’t imagine what this area would be without Rend Lake College. There is a high quality of teachers and we have wonderful students. It’s a great feeling.”