INA – At a special meeting today, the Rend Lake College Board of Trustees named Ed Cunningham to fill a seat on the board left vacant by the resignation of long-standing member Norma O’Daniel early this year.
Cunningham was unanimously approved for the seat by Board President Bill Simpson, Vice President Dave Edmison, and members Marvin Scott, Randall Crocker, Hunt Bonan and Bryan Drew.
Cunningham said he sees RLC as an important resource in the local area, one of the most interesting parts of Southern Illinois and a great driving force of so many things in the communities the college serves. He hopes his background, knowledge and diverse resume will be an asset to the Board and the College.
“Anything I can do to help the college continue to grow and continue to be a great asset to these communities, I will,” he added.
O’Daniel is the wife of former State Senator William “Bill” O’Daniel. In the 2005 RLC District 521 Board election, she garnered more votes than anyone in Wayne County, ran second in four of the five other counties where votes were cast and compiled 9,208 total votes.
As of Jan. 1 – the effective date of her resignation – O’Daniel would have had three years and three months left in her term. However, law requires that Cunningham run and be elected in the 2009 RLC District 521 Board election to retain his seat. District 521 encompasses all or parts of Hamilton, Jefferson, Perry, Wayne, White, Washington, Williamson and Franklin counties.
Cunningham has been a member of the RLC Foundation Board of Directors for the past three months, but has ties to the college that go back two decades or more. Living in Mt. Vernon – where he runs Crossroads Community Hospital – and going to church in Benton, Cunningham has established connections that span the RLC District. He has been married to Jill Cunningham for more than 26 years and they have three children and a grandchild. He and his wife recently moved back to the area.
“My wife and I are planning to make this, hopefully, our career-ending move,” he said. “It’s a great place to live.”
He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and has led a successful career in hospital administration for approximately 25 years. He has held various positions in hospital administration, serving in capacities including Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Operations for various large healthcare organizations. In these roles, Cunningham has been employed at hospitals ranging in size from 55 beds to 250 beds. As a regional executive, he was responsible for as many as 12 facilities within a region.
He has worked in both short-term acute care hospitals and speciality hospitals. Known throughout his career as an executive who can handle both the financial and operational administrative areas of a hospital, he has opened one short-term acute care hospital from inception and turned around eight facilities which were in financial turmoil. He has also opened seven long-term acute care hospitals.
“I think if anything was to happen to Rend Lake College it would be detrimental to this area,” Cunningham said. “... look at its growth over the last 20 years. I have to commend the people who have directed it.”