BOARDS HONOR PAT KERN FOR HER MAJOR GIFTS
INA, Ill. – The Rend Lake College Foundation Board joined the RLC Board of Trustees Thursday night in two big announcements celebrating the illustrious career of retiring RLCF CEO Pat Kern.
Members revealed to Kern at the RLCF Annual Dinner Meeting in Mt. Vernon that a $20,000 scholarship endowment has been established and a room on campus named in her honor.
Kern will serve her last day as CEO on Dec. 31 and will return to the Foundation as a consultant next year. She will have worked more than 14 years as CEO and almost 20 years with the Foundation when she retires. Current RLCF Assistant Director Shawna Hall of Mt. Vernon has been named Kern’s successor as CEO.
Ed Cunningham, who sits on both the RLC and RLCF Boards, presented Kern a plaque on behalf of the trustees.
“The sign of a true leader is someone who brings people together from all walks of life, different ambitions, different goals and gets them all working the same way all together in one direction to make something good and Pat has done that for 14 years,” Cunningham said. “Look at what the college has done and look at what the Foundation has done for the college. ... How many kids do you think this has touched? And how many do you think it will continue to touch for the future?”
The plaque – a replica of what will be placed in the Pat Kern Private Dining Room, located inside the campus’ student center – features her likeness and reads “In appreciation for her dedication and devotion to the Rend Lake College Foundation.” Kern said it is her favorite room on campus because of the tributes to college trustees, RLCF board members and major contributors that line the walls.
“You couldn’t have given me anything that I could have appreciated more,” Kern said.
RLCF Board Member Hunt Bonan announced that members of the board pooled their resources to establish a $10,000 endowed scholarship. Later, Steven Beal, a RLCF Board member from Mt. Vernon, furthered what he had already committed by personally matching the $10,000 endowment for a total of $20,000. The Pat Kern scholarship, according to Bonan, will be awarded to a student of her choosing.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m completely surprised,” Kern said. “I can’t think of a more wonderful gift to receive than a scholarship. My dad said ... to me ... ‘You don’t live unless you give.’ And I’ve thought of that many times. I want to thank everyone who donated and everyone who’s behind this. ... The best part of this job has been meeting all the people who are in this room who have given to the Foundation. ... You become very, very good friends. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this gift.”
Bonan mentioned a number of important projects the college has been able to complete through the Foundation under Kern’s guidance and dedication. They include the campus children’s center, aquatics center, clock tower, Walls of Fame and Walls of Honor, countless equipment donations, the satellite campus in Pinckneyville and its expansion this year. Paramount, Bonan said, has been the increase in scholarship giving from $45,000 two decades ago to more than $500,000 this year, for a total of more than $4 million throughout the years. The Foundation's net assets have more than doubled in a decade and total donations since establishment reached $11.5 million this year.
“Many of you in the room tonight have worked with Pat to make these things happen,” said Bonan. “So perhaps Pat’s greatest achievement for these last many years has been to bring people together for a common purpose. The opportunity for a quality education is the common purpose and Pat, working with all of us through the Foundation, has made it possible for someone who has the desire for a college education to have that opportunity to get that education, regardless of their economic circumstances, at a first-class community college right here in southern Illinois.”
Pat Kern assured everyone she won’t be far from the college when 2012 rolls around.
“I’m coming back to work one day a week,” she said. “It will be good for me. It will be good for Shawna. It will be good for the organizations. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to help the Foundation whenever I can. I want it to succeed and I know Shawna has all the qualities she needs to succeed, and I’m here to help her do that.”