SAN DIEGO – Rend Lake College’s Emerging Leadership Institute has focused on growth from within since it was created and implemented last year. Lately, however, the Institute has been looked at and praised by outside organizations.
Representatives of RLC presented the unique ELI to attendees of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Annual Congress held recently in San Diego. Subsequently, the college was informed this week that their presentation is in the running for a prestigious honor called the Bellwether Award.
RLC President Mark Kern, RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern, State Farm Insurance Agency Field Executive Robert Bornheimer and Mary Bornheimer, former RLC Dean of Student Services and creator of the ELI, all had a part in showing the ACCT how the college is working to grow its future leaders from within.
The 2007 Community College Leadership Congress explored the challenges and opportunities confronting the nation’s community college trustees. The Congress focused on strategies to enable colleges to gain greater effectiveness in helping secure future economic prosperity for their communities. The Bellwether Award is presented annually at the Community College Futures Assembly which is held to recognize outstanding and innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future. The 2008 assembly is scheduled for Jan. 26-29 in Orlando.
RLC’s team of representatives – backed by Board of Trustees members Marvin Scott, Randall Crocker and Dave Edmison who were also in attendance – presented RLC’s Emerging Leadership Institute as a way to strengthen a college from within while improving the community it serves.
The ELI’s initial group of RLC faculty and staff members who were chosen for the honor wrapped up their nine-month leadership training in March. Their training included motivational presentations from experts in leadership, studies of renowned books on the topic and hands-on workshops that will help them lead the college into an even brighter future.
A new group of ELI members were selected by the President’s Cabinet in April and began with a kick-off installment of the ELI called “A Crash Course In Leadership” on Aug. 2. Their training utilizes the same tools introduced to the inaugural group.
Bornheimer, who is now the Director of Institutional Research and Planning at McKendree University, came up with the ELI to combat instances of college personnel leaving for employment in the private sector and to prepare current RLC employees for advancement when their leaders reach the age of retirement. Mark Kern pointed out that the ELI training also provides good tools for members to use in their current positions at the college.
Mr. Kern’s presentation in San Diego was about his role in the leadership training process and included a summary of what worked, recommendations for success and some unexpected benefits that arose from the initial ELI training. He said some of the best practices RLC used with both groups included choosing employees who come highly recommended, issuing a personal invitation from the President to join the ELI, scheduling speakers from inside and outside the college, and eating lunch together.
He identified two unexpected outcomes from the first ELI.
“It created a type of ‘esprit de corps’ among those who participated,” he said. It also revealed that there are employees who are comfortable in their current position and do not desire promotion.
“And that is perfectly OK,” he added. “They still benefited from the training.”
“Presenting the Rend Lake College Emerging Leadership Institute to higher education administrators was a privilege,” Mary Bornheimer said. “Presidents and Board Members from across the country were excited about the opportunity for leadership training within their college. Many colleges are facing the same challenges as we are and sharing this innovative solution was appreciated by the administrators. Many requested additional information and I suspect our Emerging Leadership Institute will be replicated in some form at colleges across the nation.”
The ACCT is a nonprofit educational organization of more than 520 governing boards and 6,500 trustees who govern public and private community, technical and junior colleges across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Its leaders recognize the role community colleges play in keeping communities and the nation economically strong and prosperous. The ACCT realizes the economic challenges of global competition, as well as the value in creating critical partnerships with businesses, educational leaders and policymakers who operate in that global environment.
Regarding the Bellwether Award, college administrators have until Nov. 1 to officially accept the nomination. On Wednesday, Kern said, “We made the decision yesterday to accept.”
According to Deborah Douma, program director from the University of Florida, Bellwether Award finalists will be competitively selected an invited to present at the Community College Futures Assembly in January at the Hilton Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.