Rend Lake College Board of Trustees -- Feb. 12, 2013, Meeting Highlights

Tuition set at $95 per credit hour
Beginning with Summer Term 2013, in-district tuition will be $95 per credit hour, an increase of $2 per credit hour. The increase was approved in order to meet the budgetary needs of the college in light of the fact that RLC is expecting to receive decreased amounts of funding from the state, and to allow the college to maintain non-deficit spending. The increase allows us to remain competitive with our peer schools and to maintain our stature as one of the most affordable community colleges in the state.

Ed Cunningham, vice chair of the board, said the college has done everything it can to keep costs down, but with the uncertainty of the state funding situation, the board has to look to the future. Bob Carlock, vice president of finance and administration, said this is the smallest reported tuition increase among community colleges statewide this year. He added that in addition to working to keep the tuition rate down, the college has averaged a property tax increase of only 2.3 percent over the past two years, helping keep the cost to taxpayers down as well.

In terms of state funding, the state has paid $500,000 of the $4.6 million currently due to the college.

Out-of-district tuition will be set at a later date, and out-of-state and out-of-country tuition was set at $150 per credit hour.

College withdraws from Federal Direct Student Loan program
The board approved Rend Lake College’s withdrawal from the Federal Direct Student Loan program effective Summer 2013. According to administrative rationale, it is in the best interest of the college and its students for the Financial Aid Office to focus on assistance for available gift aid and alternative loans due to changes in Federal Direct Loan policy. In 2009, the Department of Education began tracking the repayment of Federal Direct Loans for three years instead of two. The implementation of three-year cohort default rates has significantly increased default rates at many institutions, including Rend Lake College.

A Default Management Team was formed in response to these new regulations. Severe consequences will be imposed in 2014 for institutions with high default rates. The most severe ramification is loss of all Title IV eligibility, which includes the federal Pell grant. Loss of Pell funds would have affected 1,647 Rend Lake College students during the 2011-2012 academic year.

The team researched available options for lowering default rates, hired Wright International Student Services to assist delinquent borrowers and created the position of Financial Aid and Admissions Coordinator. The team also analyzed and identified the characteristics of the defaulting borrowers to better understand the problem. The Default Management Team has concluded that Rend Lake College should begin processing alternative loans instead of participating in the Federal Direct Student Loan program.

“We think it’s critical that we remove ourselves from this program to help most of our students the best way we can,” said Cunningham. “The new rules that have come down, which could take away our Pell grant if we continue with it, we believe will have a much bigger impact on our students, the college and what we can provide for the community. It’s a hard decision, but we have to do the right thing for our students.”

“We will still be Pell-eligible and provide student loans … through alternative lenders,” added RLC President Terry Wilkerson. “Everything for our students, for the most part, is not going to change. We are just not going to participate in this particular program.”

“I want to make sure everyone understands this is not something we wish to do,” Cunningham said, “but we believe, with the changes in laws, we are forced to do for the betterment of our students.”

Several new courses approved, submitted to ICCB
The board approved seven new courses and authorized their submission to the Illinois Community College Board for action. Four of the new courses are in the Graphic Design curriculum: Drawing for Communication, Creativity, History of Graphic Design, and Digital Illustration. Other classes approved include Health Care Basic Skills, Special Topics in Music, and Clinical Education for Technologists (part of the Radiologic Technology curriculum).

Additional institutional funds committed for Art addition project
The board committed an additional $150,000 as matching funds to the Art Studio addition project. The architects estimate that the total project cost will be $751,029. Previously, the college committed $159,800 from local funds as the required match for this Capital Development Board project. Due to the length of time between initial project estimates, approval of the project, and the release of funds, the cost of the project has increased. In order to ensure its completion, the college needs to commit the additional $150,000 in local, institutional funds. This is a high-end estimate of the funds needed and does not mean the college will in fact have to commit the total. Bids have yet to be submitted and the estimate contains a 10 percent contingency which may not be needed.

Four instructors receive tenure
Four instructors received tenure, earning the designation of Associate Professor, effective Aug. 19.

  • Sarah Draper, Sociology Instructor – According to her supervisor, Henry "Buster" Leeck, Dean of Liberal Arts, Draper is an effective instructor who actively contributes to the enhancement of the Sociology curriculum and the institution as a whole. This is evidenced by her development of online courses, participation on faculty committees and maintenance of her Licensed Social Worker credentials. "Sarah's optimistic attitude and excellent work ethic have earned her the respect of coworkers and students. Sarah is a leader in the Liberal Arts Division and a true asset to Rend Lake College," Leeck wrote.
  • Mark Jornd, Business Instructor – Jornd has proven himself an effective instructor and an active contributor to the college and the business curriculum. He has been instrumental in assisting with the development of an online degree in business, and has become involved in the business community. "Mark has proven himself to be a solid, well-rounded instructor who is respected not only in his own division, but also in the Rend Lake College community as a whole," said Jornd's supervisor, Andrea Banach, Dean of Math and Sciences. "Mark is accessible to students outside of class and encourages student tutor sessions, as well as implements real-world examples to promote student understanding of business topics."
  • Ronald Meek, Criminal Justice Instructor – Meek has shown himself to be a dedicated teacher and an excellent faculty member, said his supervisor, Chris Nielsen, Dean of Applied Science and Technology. Meek has been involved in revising the Criminal Justice curriculum and bringing his vast amount of knowledge and experience to bear in the classroom. Nielsen also noted that Meek successfully organized and held a first-time fund-raising effort for scholarships for Criminal Justice students, working with various community officials in the process.
  • Zach Vahlkamp, Heavy Equipment Instructor – Vahlkamp "has shown himself to be a good instructor based on my observations and student surveys," said Nielsen. "He is knowledgeable of his subject material and his students benefit from his dedication to their learning." Vahlkamp has made a priority of organizing and rearranging the lab facilities to maximize student learning. Vahlkamp "is a positive asset to Rend Lake College, the Applied Science and Technology Division, and the Heavy Equipment Technology program area," said Nielsen.

Retirement for two veterans
Accepted with regret the retirement resignations of two long-time RLC employees:
Sharon Richardson, Child Care Resource and Referral Specialist, effective April 30. Richardson has been with RLC full-time since July 1989. "Thank you for the opportunities for professional and personal development you have provided me over the last 24 years," wrote Richardson in her retirement letter.
David Warner, Director of Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps, effective Jan. 1, 2014. Warner also has been with RLC full-time since July 1989. "I've been working with college students since I first was one myself over 45 years ago," said Warner in his retirement letter. "I'm looking forward to a new chapter in my life, spending more time with my family. However, it will be quite difficult leaving my 'second family' after more than 26 years, mostly on this RLC campus."

Phillips becomes Director of MarketPlace
The board created the position of Director of the Rend Lake College MarketPlace, approved the accompanying job description, and appointed Corey Phillips to fill the position effective March 1. This position is needed due to the increasing needs of the MarketPlace and the increased responsibilities of the Dean of Community and Corporate Education, which administers many of the educational programs at the facility. The position is warranted to increase revenues and enrollment. Phillips currently works for the college as RLC Golf Outlet Manager, and he will continue to manage and oversee the operations of the Golf Outlet as part of his new duties.

The MarketPlace is located on Potomac Boulevard in Mt. Vernon. It houses the Nurse Training Center, American Heart Association Training Center, Studio RLC Cosmetology School, and the Massage Therapy program, as well as classroom and computer lab space for various classes. It also is home to Project CHILD (Child Care Resource and Referral), the RLC MarketPlace Fitness Center, and the State of Illinois One-Stop offices. In addition to the RLC Golf Outlet, other retail facilities at the MarketPlace include Shoe Stop, Bon Worth, Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon, and the Gourmet Coffee Shop.

Schenk moves to IT staff
The appointment of Gina Schenk as Coordinator of Technology Integration and Training was ratified by the board, effective Jan. 16. Schenk previously served as Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness. She holds two Associate in Applied Science degrees in Office Systems Technology from RLC.

College seeks additional Mining Tech Instructor
The board granted permission to advertise for an additional full-time Mining Technology Instructor and ratify the hire at the March board meeting. The position is needed to meet demands due to the recent resurgence of the mining industry in our district and the surrounding area, according to administrative rationale. Cunningham said the increased demand "speaks highly of the mining program we've put in place."

In other business, the board ...

  • Approved revisions to board policy concerning sick and personal leave (second reading) and the tenured / tenure-track faculty and staff seniority list (first reading).
  • Approved revisions to board procedure concerning fees and job descriptions.
  • Approved a side letter to the agreement between the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 1197, and the RLC Board of Trustees.
  • Approved the notice of election for Student Trustee.
  • Approved the statement of final construction compliance for the pedestrian and bike path lighting upgrades (a Protection, Health and Safety project) and the room upgrades and partial roof replacement (a Capital Renewal Grant project).

Mark your calendars …

  • Visiting Artist Series: Dr. David Brewer and Kris Killman, Jan. 18-Feb. 28, RLC Theatre Lobby.
  • Homecoming, Wednesday Feb. 20, 2013; 5:30 p.m. Women's Game, 7:30 p.m. Men's Game, Waugh Gymnasium.
  • Art Demonstration: Jerome Wisehart, 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, RLC Theatre.
  • RLC Student Homecoming Dance, 6-10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, Waugh Gymnasium.
  • "Into the Woods," RLC Spring Musical; 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, March 21-23, 2 p.m. Sunday, March 24, RLC Theatre.
  • Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony, 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, RLC Theatre.
  • Student Art Show, March 28-May 3, RLC Theatre and Lobby; reception 6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 28.
  • HLC Substantive Change Request Visit, Monday-Tuesday, April 15-16.

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