WIU President Calls for Increased Investment in Public Higher Education – Western Illinois University News


WIU President Calls for Increased Investment in Public Higher Education

November 16, 2017

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Dear University Community,

After a budget impasse that persisted over two years, the state of Illinois passed a Fiscal Year 2018 budget on July 6, 2017. Prior to this most recent budget, significantly decreased state appropriated dollars were allocated to Illinois public higher education institutions for two consecutive years. This lack of adequate funding resulted in a ripple effect that continues to impact our regional public institutions.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the state of Illinois decreased higher education funding per student by 54 percent from 2008 to 2016 (a decrease of $3,479 per student). From 2015 to 2016 alone, Illinois support per higher education student dropped 37.1 percent.

Our leaders in this state must realize the value and necessity of regional public universities. We have done our part and have been frugal and careful stewards of the public funds that we receive. As a result of the impasse and dwindling state support, faculty and staff at Western have weathered significant salary decreases and dealt with the effects of other substantial cuts. We appreciate our employees’ many sacrifices. We all have sacrificed a great deal, from forgoing salary increases to decreasing salaries via furloughs and voluntary pay reductions, to taking on additional responsibilities and workloads to counteract reductions in funding. We have eliminated programs and reduced services across the University. We have done our share to ensure that the limited resources on hand are protected. Without consistent support from our state, we continue to be forced to make decisions to conform to the lack of adequate and predictable funding.

Now is the time for a full state appropriated budget of $62 million for Western to support our students, classrooms, employees, programs, and infrastructure. This funding is critical to maintain the University, including funding for faculty and staff salaries and operations. We must remain competitive in our efforts to recruit and retain world-class faculty and staff, as well as outstanding students. If we want our students, faculty and staff to remain in the state, and if we want to provide exemplary social and intellectual capital to rebuild Illinois’ economy, the state must fund regional public higher education institutions, which provide outstanding educational opportunities and career preparation to students in our region, across the state, and throughout the world.

In addition to our state appropriated budget request, we are requesting full MAP funding of $11 million for our students, $2 million to support student financial aid, $7.5 million for salaries and operations, $4 million for critical deferred maintenance projects, and $357.6 million for capital development projects. These funds are critical in order for Western to remain competitive and to continue to provide optimal services to this region. We will also continue to advocate for the release of the previously approved funding to construct the Center for Performing Arts, for which we have already held two groundbreaking ceremonies.

We are doing our part in terms of raising private support and investments for the University, but we also need the state of Illinois to restore confidence in public higher education by investing in our institution. It is time for Illinois’ leaders to demonstrate to the state, and the nation, that the State of Illinois is willing to invest in the next generation through public higher education. Illinois’ students are this state’s greatest assets and resources. We must invest in our state’s future, and this begins with ensuring access to public higher education, which is a proven path to upward mobility and a prosperous state.

In sum, an increased investment in public higher education is not an option. It is an absolute imperative.


Jack Thomas

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations

WIU President Calls for Increased Investment in Public Higher Education – Western Illinois University News

Editorial: Adult education changing and will impact future jobs


Not everyone can be a rocket scientist and not everyone can be an auto mechanic. But the training opportunities for both — and everything in between — are part of a new focus by the Illinois Community College Board.

A statewide task force on adult education and literacy is expected to complete its report by Jan. 31, looking at what works, what doesn’t, what can be improved and what can be added to the state’s community college pipeline.

And, not surprisingly, some of the changes need to address workplace skills like resume writing, interviewing, communication and time management. Without them, even the best-trained student will find it difficult to land a job in the field of his or her choice. But the task force also is expected to look at public-private partnerships, skills training specific to a local field, and long-term careers rather than just short-term jobs.

Take, for example, a fast-food worker. On-the-job training can provide the knowledge about how to punch a cash register; more training and the ability to communicate, or “upsell” a meal, could mean a better-paying job as a server at a sit-down restaurant. A talented cook might look beyond that to the possibility of working for an upscale caterer, teaching a class, or opening his or her own cafe. Each transition to higher success requires more training in business, math, marketing, human resources and communication in addition to skills for the primary job.

“Adult education isn’t about getting students a high school equivalency certificate anymore. It’s about preparing them for training programs that can get them good jobs,” task force Chairwoman Karen Hunter Anderson, executive director of the ICCB, recently told The Pantagraph.

At Heartland Community College, for instance, the Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System lets students take some academic courses at the same time they are taking preparation courses for their high school equivalency degree.

“The whole culture of adult education has shifted and I think it’s wonderful,” said Kerry Urquizo, director of adult education at Heartland. 

Today’s community colleges offer a wide variety of classes, seminars and training not just for students but for community members of all ages. The colleges work with local businesses to provide specialized help (witness HCC’s veterans program, or its transition program for Mitsubishi workers) and learning for everyone.

The task force report could carry a strong message to state lawmakers, education leaders and the business community. Let’s hope the results pay off sooner rather than later.

Editorial: Adult education changing and will impact future jobs

Illinois’ teacher shortage starts at college


Illinois’ teacher shortage starts at college

The shortage of teachers in Illinois’ high schools and elementary schools has its roots in the state’s colleges and universities.

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November 15, 2017 at 07:04PM

Illinois’ teacher shortage starts at college

Olsen Announces Retirement


A long career in coaching and teaching is about to end. Paul Olson, track and cross country coach at Augustana College, has announced he’ll retire next spring.

He started in 1966 as head coach of the men’s cross country team, and recently concluded his 52nd season. The upcoming track and field season will be his 50th.

Olson is also a professor of English at Augustana, teaching classes in African American Literature and the “Sacred and Profane.” And has been chosen by 15 senior classes to give what’s called the “Last Lecture” before graduation.  

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November 15, 2017 at 11:17AM

Olsen Announces Retirement

IL Comptroller visits SIU to speak on budget


IL Comptroller visits SIU to speak on budget

(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)


The Illinois Comptroller visited Southern Illinois University to talk with students about some of what she’s been able to accomplish regarding the Illinois state Budget.

Susana Mendoza said she’s had a busy fiscal year. Not only has she been using proceeds from the recent General Obligation bond sale to pay down a huge portion of the state’s unpaid bills, she was also able to override Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Debt Transparency act.

“For me I feel grateful having this relief after having worked very hard to convince the governor to finally to finally do it but we are here,” Mendoza said. “Its one step in the right direction, debt transparency another step in the right direction. there are many more steps in the right direction but I’d be happy to lead the way.”

Mendoza has been the Illinnois Comptroller since last year.

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November 14, 2017 at 10:52PM

IL Comptroller visits SIU to speak on budget

JALC celebrates its 50th anniversary with big celebration


CARTERVILLE — His first desk was a card table and his first office chair was borrowed from a funeral home.

But Dr. Bill Anderson — one of John A. Logan College’s first administrators — quickly brought life to the college by hiring faculty and staff who laid a strong foundation, a foundation that has held the college now for 50 years.

Bill Gayer, who had been a counselor at Zeigler-Royalton High School, was one of several hires made by Anderson. Gayer, now retired from the college, was in attendance at the school’s 50th anniversary celebration Friday, Nov. 3, hearing speeches from Anderson, Dr. Bob Tarvin, Logan’s third president, and Harry L. Crisp II, the only surviving member of the college’s charter board of trustees.

Anderson spoke of JALC’s “humble beginnings,” noting that business offices were originally set up in an abandoned hardware store in Herrin where his office desk was a card table and he borrowed an office chair from a funeral home.

Before that, Dr. Nathan Ivey, the college’s first president, set up an office in Motel Marion where Anderson was interviewed before being hired.

“Think about it,” Anderson said, “this college started from nothing.”

Today, Logan — with its state-of-the-art facilities — includes 667,000 square feet of buildings located on 169 acres along Illinois 13 in Carterville between Marion and Carbondale. The institution also has extension centers in West Frankfort and Du Quoin.

What the college had in its infancy is strong leadership, just as it does today, Anderson noted. The college’s charter board included Crisp, a 31-year-old Marion businessman who had served in the Marine Corps. Crisp and other board members focused on their first and most important hire, the hiring of a president.

During a national search, Ivey, a 40-year-old educator, offered his resume. He was then working in Michigan.

“Dr. Ivey was the most important hire ever made at this college,” said Crisp. “His abilities and work ethic cannot be overstated. He was exactly what this college needed to get its start.”

Ivey’s first hire was a secretary, Ruth Scott. His second hire was Anderson.

While Anderson spoke in person during the 50th celebration, Ivey, who now lives in Texas, emailed a video that was played for the crowd’s enjoyment. More than 325 persons attended the dinner.

“Nathan Ivey could get things done,” Anderson said. Ivey, now 90, and his wife, Dorothy, who is 95, made incredible commitments by leaving Michigan and coming to Southern Illinois, he explained.

“The Iveys are incredible people,” Anderson said. “They came to Southern Illinois to build a college from nothing and what an amazing job they did.”

But the job was done with mostly local people who applied to be instructors and support personnel and worked “as closely as a family” to build Logan from the ground up.

“Bill Gayer was a great teacher as were so many others we hired then,” Anderson said. “Because of this, the college grew quickly.”

At age 28, Tarvin would become JALC’s third president. Anderson was in charge of the interviews for president then and believed in Tarvin’s vision.

Tarvin, who served from 1974 to 1982, was hired just as the United States was ending the war in Vietnam, Watergate had rocked the nation, and inflation was booming.

“A lot of difficult things were happening in the nation at that time,” Tarvin said. “It was a difficult economic time for the state and nation and that also affected the college.”

Working at Logan at the time of Tarvin was Dr. Ray Hancock, who would later become the college’s fifth president. Tarvin and Hancock attended a conference on college planning and both leaders believed the college district needed to pass a funding referendum.

In fact, most college districts in Illinois tried to pass funding referendums at that time. Only two passed, John A. Logan College’s was one of them.

“The passage of the referendum reaffirmed to me that the voters believed in us; they believed in the mission of John A. Logan College and what it meant to the district,” Tarvin said. “It was a major accomplishment that I am still proud of today.”

Dr. Ron House, Logan’s current president, had the honor of putting together the 50th celebration. He invited Anderson, Tarvin, and Crisp to speak. House opened the celebration with a welcome and introduction of Bill Kilquist, the college’s current board chairman.

“Part of what we are doing here tonight is celebrating 50 years of friends and acquaintances,” Kilquist said.

Nathan Arnett, associate dean for academic affairs at John A. Logan College, sang the National Anthem, which was followed with rousing applause from the crowd.

Carl Cottingham, a former dean for learning resources, offered the invocation before dinner.

In his prayer, Cottingham noted that John A. Logan College is a “very good thing.”

During the dinner, the crowd watched a video about the college titled, “Celebrating 50 Years of Opportunity.”

Following the video, House introduced special guests, which included Bob Butler, longtime mayor of Marion; Mike Monaghan, who represents the Illinois Community College Trustees Association in Springfield; legislators Terri Bryant and Dave Severin, along with Carlo Montemagno and Brad Colwell from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

In the video sent by Ivey, Ivey praised the JALC’s current leadership for the work they are doing and said they should celebrate.

“It was my honor to work as the college’s charter president,” Ivey said. “It was for me, a work of love. It was successful because the citizens of the district really wanted the college and supported it. This college will always be close to my heart and my prayers.”

In his speech, Crisp said the charter board “made the right decisions for the right reasons.” One of those decisions was to hire Ivey.

It was noted that there was no job that Ivey wouldn’t tackle. Even when the first desks arrived for students, Ivey put on his overalls and went to work assembling the desks and delivering them to classes.

Most of all, however, Crisp said, Logan’s success was generated by “the support of the taxpayers of the college district.” That support, he said, has been overwhelming since the beginning.

Following the speeches, Staci Shafer, executive director of the JALC Foundation, which funded the dinner, praised Foundation directors, including Terance Henry, the Foundation’s president, for their leadership, noting that the organization has grown considerably from $3 million to more than $8 million over the past 10 years.

In turn, the Foundation is able to provide more than 600 scholarships annually.

Shafer then played a video titled, “Giving Opportunity,” which highlighted the lives of a few people who have benefited from scholarships at John A. Logan College and found success because of it.

Earlier in the evening, House introduced Emalene Wilcox, a 92-year-old Herrin resident, who wrote a two-page hand-written letter to the college, explaining how John A. Logan College played a central role in her life.

In his closing remarks, House pointed out that Logan has celebrated its 35,000th graduate and thousands of stories of incredible success due to the laying of an unshakable foundation constructed by its early leaders and cared for so deeply by other leaders and employees throughout the past 50 years.

The House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring John A. Logan College for 50 years of success. In the resolution, the 100th General Assembly said state leaders hold the college in high esteem for its mission and work to educate and give direction to so many over the past five decades.

Elaine Melby, a respected Carterville businesswoman and member of the Foundation board, offered the benediction.

“Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to celebrate what is good and what is positive for the people in our region.”

JALC celebrates its 50th anniversary with big celebration