INA – Thursday was the last official day in Bob Carlock’s distinguished career as Vice President of Finance and Administration at Rend Lake College.
Carlock, a veteran of creative finance and marketing for the College, has retired after serving 22 significant years at RLC. As VP of Finance and Administration for the past 17 years, just a portion of his responsibilities included accounting for a $20-million budget, managing both the college health and property casualty insurance, overseeing management of the RLC MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon, and supervising many employees in various departments such as the business office, bookstore, marketing department, security, physical plant, fitness centers, public information, and Small Business Development Center at the RLC MarketPlace. His successor is Larry West, a Pinckneyville native and former Dean of Budget and Finance at a branch campus of the University of South Carolina.
Carlock’s creative, “outside the box” method of managing brought about a number of initiatives which contributed greatly to the momentum RLC thrives on today. Community College Week – a journal targeted at community, technical and junior colleges across the nation – named RLC the fastest growing community college of it size in the nation for 2006. The College has continued to realize consecutive semesters of record enrollment.
“The one thing I thought this administration brought to the college was that we set a very aggressive tone to build new buildings and increase enrollment,” Carlock said.
He pioneered the college’s textbook rental program, which made a large portion of textbooks available to students for $28 each rather than the purchase price of $75 to $100 for the same book. This endeavor – largely considered to be counter-productive for educational institutions – has been highly successful at RLC and is a model for the refashioning of textbook systems at other colleges.
He worked with college administrators to purchase the former Jent Outlet Mall and transform it into the RLC MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon. What was once a declining outlet mall on the verge of becoming a severe eyesore in the RLC district’s largest community is now a thriving community all its own, which soon could be adding hundreds of thousands of dollars each year into the college’s coffers – meaning RLC will be able to fund projects a college its size normally wouldn’t be able to handle.
“The MarketPlace ... of all the things we’ve done, I’m most proud of it,” he said.
The revenue generated from rent paid by various state agencies, grant programs and individual businesses at the MarketPlace will be able to be added to the regular revenue stream for the college in less than a decade. This could mean $600,000 or more each year for RLC.
A number of new and expanded educational programs were made possible by the creation of the MarketPlace. One of these programs, the Studio RLC Paul Mitchell Partner School, made RLC the first public community college in the nation to be affiliated with Paul Mitchell Systems. Carlock and Vice President of Instruction Dr. Jim Hull played key roles in making this partnership possible.
He also made RLC the first community college in Illinois to establish a supplemental loan program for students who had difficulty finding short-term money for college needs.
Carlock developed the establishment of a $5 million insurance reserve fund which allows RLC to have available insurance coverage in the event of a liability that goes beyond the general insurance coverage. In addition, the fund provides interest of $150,000 per year for tort liability purposes. This fund provided $1.3 million for the addition and renovation of the Administration Building on RLC’s main campus in Ina.
He established the Section 125 Cafeteria Employee Benefit Plan, which allows employees to take advantage of pre-taxable benefits for medical and day care expenses. He initiated the Illinois Community College Insurance Consortium where a partially self-insured health insurance program formed by RLC and seven other community colleges works efficiently and economically with a premium raise of only 6.5% in 2006.
In 2006, he received the Bronze Major Gift Award for contributing more than $10,000 to the Rend Lake College Foundation. Before becoming a Vice President at RLC, he was Director of the RLCF from 1988-1991. He served as Director of the Center for Business and Community Services at RLC from 1986-1991. In this capacity, he was responsible for providing business services to the local community, developing business plans, assisting with economic development and presenting at local community business seminars.
With a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance and a MBA from Eastern Illinois University under his belt, Carlock’s work experience before RLC was in-line with a transition to college financial officer. An early ingredient in his management style was created at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. As a personnel specialist with the U.S. Army, he interviewed incoming recruits to determine their job classification. He was an adjunct instructor in marketing, management and finance at McKendree College from 1978 to 1983 before taking a role as Division Chairman for Business and Social Science at Tarkio College from 1984-86. While at both colleges, Carlock owned and managed Carlock Distributing Company, based in his hometown of Hillsboro. The wholesale specialty food firm sold to retail grocers and honed his skills in marketing, inventory purchase and control, forecasting market trends, and budgeting.
In addition to recognition for his efforts at RLC, Bob Carlock became a name in local, statewide and national community service and development. He associated himself with various civic organizations, including the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, of which he is a former president; Franklin County Chamber of Commerce; former president for two years of a statewide Community College organization of Chief Financial Officers; the Illinois Community College Board Economic Development Association; National Council for Resource Development; and the Jefferson County Certified Cities Program on which he served as chairman; among others.
From here, Carlock said he will be enjoying retirement while weighing any options for future endeavors. One thing is for certain, the avid golfer will be frequenting the links once golf season is in full swing.
“I’ll miss all the people I’ve worked with and the challenges of the job,” he said. “I want to emphasize that any accomplishments during my tenure were the result of the Rend Lake College team and not just myself.”
His absence from that team will surely be felt by the College, those employees who reported to him and administrators who worked side-by-side with him. His are most definitely some big shoes to fill.