INA – Rend Lake College recognized its own during the annual Board, Faculty and Staff Dinner held at the Rend Lake Resort Conference Center.
Among those awarded were this year’s RLC Foundation Outstanding Staff Member and the 2008 RLC nominee for the Illinois Community College Trustees Association Faculty Excellence Award, as well as President Mark Kern who is retiring June 30 after 40 years of service to the Illinois Community College System.
Kern spoke briefly about his upcoming retirement but at length about the growth RLC has experienced in the last year alone.
“You’ve heard me say it many times,” Kern said. “It is not about one person.”
And so, Friday night, college officials honored the many. One of those was Bonnie Tolbert.
Tolbert, an associate professor in RLC’s Licensed Practical Nursing program, is this year’s nominee for the 2008 state Faculty Excellence Award.
In a letter nominating Tolbert, her coworkers stated, “Bonnie has dedicated most of her adult life to the education of young men and women who are interested in the health care of others. She is a unique instructor who is, at the same time, tough and gentle with her students. ... Bonnie is the example of professionalism to which we want all of our students to aspire.”
One student wrote, “... there is a very small number of individuals that have made a tremendous impact on my life. ... Bonnie Tolbert, or Miss Bonnie as many of us affectionately call her, is one of these select people.”
Tolbert explained that an unexpected phone call 31 years ago put her on the rewarding journey of helping others to fulfill their dream of becoming a nurse. Since then, she has learned a lot from her coworkers and mentors, she explained upon receiving the award from RLC Vice President of Instruction Jim Hull at the dinner.
“... Thank you for this and especially to my allied health nursing team,” she said. “They are very special and help me a lot. So, this is for you.”
Cheri Rushing, a financial aid advisor at RLC, was chosen by her peers to receive the 2008 Outstanding Staff Member Award. She is a member of the RLC Emerging Leaders Institute and has worked for the past eight years in the office of financial aid at the college. Rushing is active in the college’s reaccreditation process through the Higher Learning Commission, student orientation, Staff Clock Tower fundraising, Phi Theta Kappa, and in her hometown of Pinckneyville.
“I am truly honored,” she said after being presented the award by RLC Vice President of Student Services Charley Holstein. “There are so many people who deserve this. I am just truly honored. Rend Lake College is such a great place to work.”
Kern spoke about the changes and growth the college has experienced in the past year. His list included the creation of a radiologic technology program, expanding Associate Degree Nursing to serve 80 students, Licensed Practical Nursing graduates achieving a 100 percent pass rating on state licensure examinations, becoming a long-term partner with global ag leader Syngenta, renovating the Culinary Arts facilities to serve more students in a second teaching lab, turning the former retail store space into a meeting and dining facility for culinary arts training, renovating the Learning Resource Center and North Oasis, creating a Pre-K Center at the RLC MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon, building a short-range golf facility on campus, renovating the RLC Theater, four-night sellouts of RLC Theatre productions Grease and Cinderella, the addition of two new Vice Presidents in Holstein and VP of Finance and Administration Larry West, $1.072 million in state coal development funds for a new mining technology training center on campus and $1.6 million in federal community job-based training grants for the educating of a mining workforce.
He added that 5,000 students this year enrolled in 12,700 tuition-free hours of dual-credit which saved students and families of the district more than $880,000 in RLC tuition. The college is on track to exceeding 80,000 credit hours this year as it has set record enrollment in five out of the past six years. The south side of the Advanced Technology Center is getting upgrades and the vantage point to the campus from Interstate 57 has been greatly improved, thanks to major landscaping by RLC physical plant personnel and Director Randall Shively.
The new Olympic-size running track most recently received 800 bleacher seats, competition and practice fields are awaiting development to serve the soccer program in its first season this fall, the men’s and women’s track and field teams are national champions, RLC hosted the national cross country championships in November with Warrior runners winning the men’s and women’s individual championships, and the Walls of Fame and Honor are finished and are awaiting some new names.
Two of those, Tolbert and Rushing, will be added to the Walls of Honor located near the Clock Tower on campus.
Employees who hit milestone levels of service to the college were recognized at the annual dinner, including those who retired or will retire this year - Kern, Community Education Director Dawn Gibson and retired Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Carlock.
The college recognized Liberal Arts Administrative Assistant Cathy Cross for 25 years of service and Physics Professor Dr. Linda Denton, Computer Networking Professor Martha McCreery, Workforce Investment Act Coordinator Paula Myers, Career Resource and Assessment Specialist Gloria Oliver, Counseling Center Administrative Assistant Pat Dietrich and Child Care Resource and Referral Subsidy Assistant Connie Sample for 20 years.
For 15 years of service, the college recognized Math, Science and Education Division Chair Barb Davenport, Construction Occupations Instructor John Duncan and English Professor Rob Little. Groundskeeper Frank Hughey, Theatre Director Tracey Webb, Accounts Payable and Purchasing Specialist Sue Scattone, Payroll and Benefits Accountant Glenna Maxwell, Computer Networking Associate Professor Ricky Robinson, Custodian Kelly Eubanks, Counselor Nikki Bowlin, Early Childhood Education Associate Professor Brenda Heinzmann, Big Muddy River Correctional Center Administrative Assitant Cheryl Glover, BMRCC Food Service Instructor Charles Followell, CCRR Subsidized Child Care Specialist Rita Busby, CCRR Subsidized Child Care Specialist Kathy Byars, and CCRR Data and Technology Specialist Trinda Heitmeyer were recognized for 10 years of service.
Learning Resource Center Administrative Assistant Arvella Waugh, Campus Police Chief Gary McGill, Developmental Math Associate Professor Kay Shaw, Director of Marketing and Public Information Chad Copple, RLCF Children’s Center Head Infant Teacher Michelle Allen, Truck Driver Training Associate Professor Rodney Summers, Center for Business Services Director Kathy Craig, Pinckneyville Correctional Center Food Service Instructor Murray Alford, Adult Education and Literacy Program Development Coordinator Yvonne Hallam, CPR Associate Professor Leslie Hodge, PCC Horticulture Instructor Richard Nowakowski, and BMRCC Automotive Mechanics Instructor Rusty Tolley were recognized for five years of service to the college.