INA, Ill. – If it wasn’t for photos of him on the tables and programs headlined with his name, unaware guests may have been hard pressed to pinpoint exactly who was the man of the hour Tuesday night in the Rend Lake College Student Center.
Prior to their regular monthly meeting, the RLC Trustees joined college administrators, staff and faculty, and RLC Foundation Directors in celebrating the unprecedented tenure of RLC’s longest-serving Trustee, Marvin W. Scott.
With unassuming tact, the 80-year-old Scott stood with a small group in the center of the room, undoubtedly bartering his latest Buck knife and catching up on the news around campus. And true to form, after RLC President Charley D. Holstein and Board Chairman Bryan Drew unveiled a plaque designating the “Marvin W. Scott Executive Board Room” on the second floor of the Student Center, Scott modestly said, “I appreciate this, but that’s not what I’ve been here 33 years for.”
RLC was established 45 years ago. In that time only a handful of facilities have been named after an individual or entity. There’s the Allen Y. Baker Administration Building, James Waugh Gymnasium, Wayne Arnold Fitness Center, Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus and the Mark S. Kern Applied Science Center.
Scott’s service on the board – of which he receives no compensation –has lasted longer than most careers. He has served RLC District #521 for an unparalleled 33 years. He has represented the college on the Illinois Community College Trustees Association Executive Board for more than a decade. He started attending ICCTA meetings and conventions with former RLC Trustee Allan Patton. As RLC’s ICCTA Representative, Scott goes to meetings and seminars on the regional, state and national levels throughout the year and reports back to the full board about what he learned. In 2009, he received a 30-year recognition from the association and his fourth ICCTA Trustee Education Award recognizing achievements in trusteeship development. His name appears seventh on the list of the longest-serving community college trustees in Illinois history.
The room was filled with Scott’s family and friends, some of whom travelled quite a distance to step up to the podium and congratulate him. ICCTA representatives included Jim Ayers, Lin Warfel, Mike Sullivan, Mike Monaghan and Don Patton. Illinois Community College Board President and CEO Geoffrey Obrzut was there, as well as John A. Logan’s Bob Mees, John O’Keefe, Jake Rendleman and John Sanders.
“In this world there are never too many gentlemen and it’s always a pleasure to meet a gentleman. That’s Marvin,” past ICCTA President Warfel said. “It’s been a real pleasure and honor to sit at the table with a real gentleman.”
Scott and his wife, Vivian, live in Belle Rive where they have owned and operated Hamson Feed Store for 57 years. As a member of the RLC Board since 1978, Scott has been a part of giving the gift of education to thousands. But he never went to college himself. He married Vivian when he was 19 and she was just two weeks out of high school. They worked together at a factory in Rockford for a while and he served two years in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, spending 18 months as a personnel office clerk in Germany. They bought her father’s part of the feed store after he was discharged.
Vivian was there Tuesday night to watch her husband be honored.
“He really cares about people getting a better education, that they might be better off economically and have a better life,” she said. “We’ve been married 61 years and I could not ask for anyone better. We are probably more in love now than when we got married – if that’s possible. God has really blessed our family.”
“Most successful people have pretty good helpers,” he said when asked what it’s been like working side by side with her for all these years.
Their children are Diane Catalfamo, Delores Daniels and David Scott – all teachers. Marvin and Vivian have seven grandchildren and an 18-month-old great-granddaughter.
“We’re very much into education at our house,” Vivian said. Their daughter Diane helped start the culinary arts program at Rend Lake, and David and two of their grandchildren are RLC graduates.
In addition to representing RLC on the ICCTA Executive Committee, Scott formerly served several terms on the Belle Rive Village Board, 15 years on the Hamilton County Telephone Cooperative Board and multiple terms on the Jefferson County Board. He is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and served many years on the Belle Rive School Board. He also served on the Belle Rive Saddle Club Board, Mt. Vernon Township High School Agriculture Advisory Board and is a former USDA Farm Service Director. He has served nearly two decades with the Southern Illinois Baptist Foundation, and is a deacon who teaches an adult Sunday School class at Belle Rive Missionary Baptist Church where they faithfully attend.
“I’m community minded,” he said, pointing out their appetite for staying active. “We don’t watch much tv every night. I’m 80 and I got up at 4:30 this morning.” He joked, “But sometimes I might fall asleep on the meetings, but you know...”
Scott got involved with the RLC Board when Dr. Clyde Funkhouser had to resign before his term was complete. Scott said former members Joe Scrivner, Rich Herrin and Chairman Richard Simpson paid him a visit in Belle Rive to ask if he would consider filling the seat. Seven consecutive terms later, he said his goals as a trustee are the same as when he accepted the offer 33 years ago. Scott’s mission is to help people go to college and get an education.
“I think we’ve improved our options over the years,” he said. “Things have changed for the better. Education is changing for the better.”
He thinks one of the most notable changes at RLC was when leaders decided to build the administration building. It provides one location where students can sign up for classes, meet with a college counselor, pay a bill, apply for financial aid and take advantage of many other student services.
“I thought that was a great improvement, the admin building,” said Scott. “Now we have the agriculture building and the mining building.”
Buildings are fine, he said. However, RLC’s core strength, according to Scott, will always be who’s inside.
“We’ve got some dedicated people. I see some real hard dedication in our teachers who do the job over and above. Just look at our maintenance [department]. I tell people, you go [on campus] and just stand still for a while. One or more of them will end up going by you. If they are going to give their time and extra effort, so am I. A good board has to do its job.”
Scott’s extra effort as the ICCTA Representative is noticed. The role requires him to invest time in meetings and travel.
“It takes some time and I have the time,” he said. “It’s hard [for other board members] to go, be regular and have the time. And I’m not the only one who goes all the time. Other board members go and Charley goes. I don’t always have to give a full report. It’s nice to know what the ICCB and the universities are doing. You just learn. You don’t always have to be speaking to learn and carry those good things and bad things back home.”
Holstein said Scott is the voice of reason.
“He listens more than anyone I know,” Holstein added. “He once told me, ‘You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from just listening.’ But after listening, he provides direct and clear guidance, always with the motive of taking care of students and employees, reaching opportunities and ensuring people are treated fairly. Marvin has, in one way or another, played an integral part in helping to develop our area.”