Kevin Weston, Rend Lake College Architectural Technology Professor, was the lone representative of southern Illinois community colleges to be named Aug. 28 to a joint task force of the Illinois Community College Board.
The Joint Task Force on Community Colleges was created in the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session by a House Joint Resolution backed by bipartisan support. Its purpose is to review the community college system and make recommendations to state legislators regarding the demands on the system and the role it will play in the future, according to information from the ICCB and its Chairman, Guy Alongi, Executive Director and CEO of the Perry County Housing Authority.
“I am pleased and excited to continue serving the Illinois Community College system and Rend Lake College through my appointment to the joint task force,” Weston said.
He has been appointed to the Finance and Resources Subcommittee for the task force.
According to him, the Finance and Resources Subcommittee will be “looking at any possible changes to funding formulas, the current funding formulas and how they can impact different college districts.”
Since the formation of the community college system, there has not been enough research into how the system is funded, he said. One reason the task force came about is to investigate how community colleges are responding to the increased demand on the system since its inception 30 years ago.
In addition to Co-Chairs Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) and Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines), Weston will be serving on the task force with 11 representatives of community colleges and organizations throughout the state.
They include Wilbur Wright Community College President Charles Guengerich, Danville Area Community College President Alice Jacobs, College of Lake County Trustee Richard Anderson, City Colleges of Chicago Trustee Albert Tyson, College of DuPage Trustee Kathy Wessel, Bill Naegele of South Suburban College, Todd Rauch of Lake Land College, Brian Savage of Joliet Junior College and former American Association of Community Colleges President David Pierce and President and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers Association Gregory Baise who have been appointed by Alongi. Another community college president has yet to be named to the task force, according to the ICCB.
Republican spokespersons are Sen. David Luechtefeld of Okawville and Rep. Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn.
Comprised of 48 community colleges in 39 districts - all governed and coordinated by the ICCB - the Illinois Community College system is the third largest in the U.S., and annually serves approximately one million students with college transfers courses, workforce development, continuing education an adult education programs, according to the ICCB.
“Nearly one million students annually expect our community colleges to be adequate resources in providing them the opportunity to help themselves toward a better life,” said Illinois Community College Board President and CEO Geoffrey Obrzut in testimony before the task force. “We cannot afford to lower that expectation.”
The Joint Task Force first convened Sept. 6 and additional meetings are scheduled for Oct. 4 and Nov. 14 in Springfield and Dec. 13 in Chicago.
Following the December meeting, the task force will generate a report for the General Assembly on changes or modifications that need to be made, Weston explained.
At their first meeting, task force members heard testimony from several groups representing community college and private interests. They heard testimony from representatives of community college students, trustees, presidents, faculty and others.
According to information from the ICCB, witnesses highlighted concerns over the rising cost of tuition, textbook expenses, the ability to transfer community college course credits to universities, funding needs, the education of “nontraditional” students, the importance of community colleges in the Illinois educational system and graduates leaving the state for better jobs.
Other committees, in addition to Finance and Resources, were formed to address student affairs, academic affairs, workforce development and adult education.
Originally from Zeigler, the 15-year instructor at RLC now resides in West Frankfort. Weston is on the ICCB Finance Advisory Committee and is current President of the Illinois Community College Faculty Association that advises the ICCB on issues concerning the 20,000 full- and part-time faculty members of state community colleges. He served on the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Illinois Articulation Initiative, or IAI, which is a steering panel that regulates course transferability from community colleges to four-year institutions within the state. He was President of the RLC Academic Council for two years, has been a member of various campus committees at the college and currently serves as the Architectural Technology and Surveying Technology program’s Academic Advisor as well as the an advisor for RLC’s Skills USA Chapter.
An on-line version of this story, with a photo of Weston, is available at www.rlc.edu/pressroom.<