Former state senator, SIC alumna visit students


As part of Southeastern Illinois College’s “Pizza and Politics” series, social science chair invited former Illinois State Senator Duane Noland to speak to a group of 65 students.

Accompanying Noland was legislative aide and former SIC alumna Dana Hooven.

Hooven shared some of her trying times with students. In 2007, she was diagnosed with rare medical condition, an inoperable tumor located at the base of her brain. Despite receiving a less than positive prognosis, Hooven decided to fight. She later qualified for a medical trial that helped to reduce the size of her tumor and ultimately saved her life.

A mother of two, Hooven later returned to Southeastern Illinois College as a non-traditional student where she enrolled in the vet technician program. After joining the Model Illinois Government team and winning numerous awards, Hooven changed her major to political science. She helped lead the Model Illinois Government team to three consecutive championships before her graduation in 2017.

Hooven told the gathered students that everything happens for a reason.

“Always listen to your heart, follow your passion, and get involved,” said Hooven.

She is currently serving as a legislative aide for State Senator Dale Fowler, where she deals with public policy, constituent service and runs the Senator’s Harrisburg office.

Former State Senator Duane Noland encouraged students to ask themselves what more can they do for their community.

“Anyone can get involved and you should get involved,” said Noland. “Participation matters.”  

Noland is the president and chief executive officer for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives based in Springfield.

The association represents 24 electric cooperatives including Southeastern Illinois Electric Cooperative here in Southern Illinois. He previously represented the citizens of central Illinois serving four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives and also served two terms in the Illinois Senate, retiring as Assistant Majority Leader.

For more information on the “Pizza and Politics” series or MIG, contact Matt Lees at 618-252-5400 ext. 2216 or

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November 17, 2017 at 05:47PM

Former state senator, SIC alumna visit students

Bierman: When state doesn’t pay, school relies more heavily on students

Lack of state funding spurs tuition increases over time

MACOMB – The Western Illinois Faculty Senate heard a financial report presented by Budget Director Matthew Bierman on the Illinois budget crisis and subsequent fallout since 2016.
Bierman explained that the bulk of his report is a recap on the last few years of economic activity with some projections “for us to consider and use as a dialogue.”
The projected income for the FY18 fiscal year was broken down into three different budget entities the university has, which are $46 million in appropriated funds (state and tuition), $47.8 million in auxiliary faculty system funds, which are “specifically restricted based on bond covenants” — and $60 million in grants, loans and fees.
As a result of the Illinois state budget impasse, many institutions had to cut their services. Bierman said “FY16 and FY17 was a mess” with WIU receiving just $14.9 million in 2016. The shortfall in appropriated funds for the following fiscal year was buoyed by the transfer of funds from various sources as a “stop gap” measure against the university potentially closing its doors.
Bierman said the university received in FY17 $59.8 million, which is “more than we had in 2015, but only because of the way they forced us to count it.” Money allocated to cover the funding shortfall was $31.4 taken from a stop gap fund on June 30, 2016, $8.4 million in emergency funding from Illinois Board of Higher Education, $6.8 million emergency action fund on July 6, 2017, and $13.3 million from a general relief fund.
“When we got into this crisis that the state wasn’t paying us anything,” Bierman continued, “it became less about budget and more about immediate cash needs. That took precedence in how we managed a lot of the financial problems in last two years.”
The largest source of funding Western Illinois University receives is in appropriated funds, which comes by way of state allocated funds and student tuition. Given the budget impasse lasted over two years from 2015 to 2017, the university relied much more on student tuition as a source of immediate cash flow.
Bierman reported that student enrollment decreased over a 12-year period from 2006 when 13,602 total students enrolled and 2017 when 9,441 students were enrolled. The total number of students includes both undergrad and grad students.
He also said that the university took in $69 million in tuition fees in FY17, and an approximate tuition income of $63 million for FY18.
WIU Faculty Senator and Professor of Sociology Robert Hironimus-Wendt expressed his opinion to the Voice that students are paying a higher tuition because “the state does not invest its resources and revenue in higher education.”
“It is perfectly rational for any child growing up in Illinois to be looking elsewhere for college,” Hironimus-Wendt said as he referred to a prepared list of tuition rates at public universities in neighboring states.
Hironimus-Wendt explained the data for his list comparing the tuition fees from WIU against public universities in Illinois and neighboring states was sourced from website, which are:
• Western Illinois
University $12,889
• Illinois State
University $13,666
• University of
Wisconsin $10,415
•Purdue University
• University of Iowa
• Missouri University
• University of Kentucky

“The problem,” he said, “is not that our universities are flawed or that our faculty is too expensive or that our curricula are unjustifiable.” The problem, he said, is that “our governors and our legislators ignore the economic interests of the state, and refuse to invest more fully in the education of our citizenry.”
“I’ve heard for the past several (state) administrations they have been borrowing the retirement funds. So, the state builds up these long-term obligations, and the only way to keep the state afloat is to stop spending less on the public good, to stop spending less on social welfare issues like education.”
“In Illinois, your tuition is probably half or more of the cost of your education,” he said. “We’re putting the burden of higher education on the private citizen, and if we want to do that, heaven help us. We will kill our public institutions.”

Reach Christopher Ginn by email at

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November 14, 2017 at 07:27AM

Bierman: When state doesn’t pay, school relies more heavily on students

State task force eyes improving adult education

NORMAL — Strengthening the transition from basic skills to post-secondary career training and increasing public-private partnerships are among the potential goals under consideration of a new statewide task force studying adult education.

That’s welcome news for Kerry Urquizo, director of adult education at Heartland Community College.

“Right now, we need to make more connections with workplaces and workplaces need to be more open to us as a pipeline,” said Urquizo.

“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,” said task force Chairwoman Karen Hunter Anderson, executive director of the ICCB.

Matt Berry, ICCB spokesman, said task force members brainstormed about potential goals as well as improvements or problems that need to be considered.

Those improvements include greater development of soft skills and career readiness, such as resume writing, interviewing, communication and time management, he said.

Other potential goals include identifying successful pilot programs and expanding them statewide and fostering lifelong focus, he said.

Among concerns raised at the initial meeting was that while a lot of students are entering adult basic education classes at community colleges, not enough are moving into middle-level, advanced career training, said Berry.

He said competing interests can be involved.

“You’re trying to get them through the pipeline faster and into the workforce … but there’s also a need for the more advanced skills required in today’s economy,” he said.

One way that is being addressed at Heartland is through ICAPS — Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System — in which students take some academic courses at the same time they are taking preparation courses for their high school equivalency degree, explained Urquizo.

She hopes the task force will look for ways to expand that approach.

Currently, there are three assessment programs for getting a high school equivalency degree.

Mark Jontry, regional superintendent of education, said he hopes the task force will look at which assessments are the most successful.

He said the task force should ask, “Are people passing one at a better rate than others and how well are they transitioning into college and career programs?”

More than 1.2 million adults in Illinois do not have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate, according to the ICCB.

“The challenge for the adult education providers with the recent (state) budget problems is they have had their funding cut severely,” said Jontry.

Urquizo said 645 students went through adult education courses in the last academic year. That was lower than typical because of the state’s budget problems, she said, but it’s climbing back this year.

In addition to adult education courses leading to high school equivalency certificates, Heartland also operates an English as a second language program that has nine levels. It goes from functional English and workplace communication to academic English.

Urquizo has seen many changes in the dozen years she has been involved in adult education at Heartland.

She has watched it go from students being solely focused on getting their GED certificate to having them think about longer term career goals.

“The whole culture of adult education has shifted and I think it’s wonderful,” she said.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter @Pg_Sobota

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October 30, 2017 at 07:06AM

State task force eyes improving adult education

Lewis and Clark CC announces intent to levy additional $1.8 million

GODFREY — A state-level authorization of select Illinois community colleges to levy at a higher amount for rising needs could mean an additional $1.8 million in tax revenue for a local school.

Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC) recently declared its intent to levy for an additional $1.8 million in the upcoming fiscal year, a move made as a response to the Illinois Community College Board authorizing individual schools to levy up to the state average to cover educational, maintenance, and operational needs.

LCCC was determined as one of 15 colleges among the 48 public community colleges statewide eligible for the additional tax levy, landing 4.62 cents below the state average of 29.62 cents. Eligibility comes from the Illinois Community College Board, which calculates the state average for all community college levies. Eligibility is based on an equalization formula and is conducted on a yearly basis.

Lewis and Clark’s tax base includes the counties of Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison and parts of Morgan and Scott counties.

This is actually the second year LCCC has been deemed eligible to levy at a higher amount. The institution was eligible last year as well, at a bit of a higher amount of 4.97 cents below state average levies.

Lewis and Clark President Dale Chapman said that while raising taxes isn’t popular, both students and taxpayers can see a return on their investment through the impact the college has in the community.

“Lewis and Clark brings tax income to our region through our economic impact. In fact, for each dollar of tax money received by Lewis and Clark, we generate a 19.7 percent rate of return to our students and 9.1 percent rate of return to taxpayers,” said Chapman. Chapman boasted the college’s 40 career programs from nursing to welding.

Taxpayers may petition to get the proposition up for public vote on the March 20, 2018 primary ballot by collecting signatures of voters within the district. A total of 15,061 registered voter signatures are needed prior to the Nov. 9 deadline. If a sufficient amount of signatures are not turned into Board of Trustees Secretary Sue Keener by that date, the district is authorized to levy the additional tax without voter approval.

A similar grassroots petition drive was recently undertaken in the Alton School District, but petitioners fell short of getting enough signatures to put the issuance of $10 million in working cash fund bonds on next spring’s ballot. Mark Cappel, Superintendent of Alton School District, said the selling of the bonds are the district’s “lifeline” and directly support the district’s education and transportation funds.

Annually, LCCC generates a $369.4 million impact in the geographic area and district the college serves. The impact constitutes 4.7 percent of the gross regional product, derived from Economic Modeling Specialist International, which collects data for LCCC and other higher education institutions as an independent third party.

LCCC serves about 220,000 people in portions of the seven counties.

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October 27, 2017 at 03:07PM

Lewis and Clark CC announces intent to levy additional $1.8 million

ISU Frustrated By Lack Of State Support

ISU Frustrated By Lack Of State Support

Illinois State University expects to save nearly $1 million a year over the next 25 years by refinancing a series of bonds.

The move was approved this week as part of a $427 million budget for ISU next year. The budget reflects a $7 million cut in state funding.

University president Larry Dietz says ISU gets far less per student than other public universities in the state, and says the school is not being treated fairly.


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October 22, 2017 at 06:51AM

ISU Frustrated By Lack Of State Support

NIU Agrees That AFSCME Unit Can Receive Pay Raise

Northern Illinois University and union officials have agreed to a tentative three-percent pay increase for more than 600 clerical, administrative and paraprofessional employees. Acting NIU President Lisa Freeman announced last month in her State of the University address that she would pursue a university-wide increase for eligible employees for employees not in open union contracts. That proposal will be presented to the NIU Board of Trustees on Thursday. NIU officials say the tentative agreement still is subject to ratification by both parties. AFSCME spokeswoman Sara Dorner says the tentative agreement is binding since both parties signed off on it, but it won’t actually go into effect until a whole contract is agreed upon. But Dorner criticized the size of the increase. “Three percent is not enough,” she said. “It is a meager increase for this group. The average increase for this unit would be $0.44 an hour with a three-percent increase, but it is a start.” Freeman previously had

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October 16, 2017 at 03:56PM

NIU Agrees That AFSCME Unit Can Receive Pay Raise

Proposed bill could bring change to Illinois admissions process

Proposed bill could bring change to Illinois admissions process


Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on May 15, 2016.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on May 15, 2016.

Austin Stadelman, Columnist

It’s no secret that the financial problems in the state of Illinois have led to more students deciding to cross the border to further their education at the collegiate level. State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and State Representative Dan Brady (R-Normal) have introduced new legislation that aims to tackle this issue.

According to Rep. Brady’s website, this new legislation would create uniform admission applications to be accepted at all public universities in Illinois, allow high school students who maintain a B average to be automatically accepted to a public university, make it so that students who are not offered admission to a public university be automatically referred to the community college in their district and legislate that public institutions of higher education present students with their scholarship letters upon acceptance.

There’s much to be developed and discussed in this bill. Regardless, if this becomes a high priority issue in the next General Assembly session, it’s going to be incredibly important for students and University faculty across the state to follow its progress. Some parts of this bill would only have nominal impact on the way University admissions operate, potentially having small benefits. However, the bill also has potential to change the way Illinois’ universities grant admission to students, and we, as a collective, have to determine what kind of changes we want, if any at all.

A universal application system would be systematically easier for students applying to college, benefiting both students and the state. Rather than having to apply to each university individually, students would be able to create a single application which they would have to simply select all the schools they wish to send that application to. This is a system that neighboring state Wisconsin has for its universities.

This has the potential to allow for a more invested applicant by condensing the amount of work a given student has to do, if they were to apply to multiple schools in the state, and incentivizing them to stay in state given the ease of accessibility to more choices.

However, aiming to create a new standard of admission, in which any student receiving a B average in high school would be accepted into the appropriate university, comes with heavy ambiguity. What specific universities would the B average apply to? What is an appropriate university for that average? The point is incredibly vague, which, I’m sure, is purposeful to leave room for discussion during the upcoming session in the General Assembly.

Creating a system where a letter grade, which, on paper, is equivalent across all transcripts but in difficulty of school and curriculum is vastly different, could cause questioning of how rigorous the work is in high school. Why should a student challenge themselves if they’re practically guaranteed admission taking easier classes? Is that the sort of attitude we want an Illinois education to be based upon?

It’s questionable to make arbitrary GPAs or class rank percentile as a line for automatic entry because of the aforementioned point that classes from one school could be the same on paper but vastly different in difficulty in the classroom. Even widely standardized courses, like AP classes, are no exception. The legislators say that while a certain GPA would merit automatic acceptance, the universities will remain autonomous in having their own admissions processes for their specific programs. However, the legislators do not specify how they plan to reconcile these contradictions.

Furthermore, having denied applicants be referred to the community college within their district, and having sequential applicant info provided for them, could be helpful for those who have no family experience or awareness of higher educational institutions. Obviously, it is not awareness in the sense that they exist but awareness in the sense of being able to identify what colleges are accessible to them.

Having a new universal application program point to which community college a denied applicant should attend could be helpful in theory, but there’s little evidence provided thus far that it would lead to an increase in community college attendance.

The last point of the proposed legislation is an overdue necessity. Requiring universities to send students grant and scholarship info with their acceptance letter is a small but important step for making attending college more financially feasible. Even though assisting students’ endless scavenging for scholarships is not the most effective way to make college affordable in the long run, having the university point directly to the resources available takes at least a small burden off of students.

Potentially saving them thousands of dollars from scholarships and grants they may have not been aware of otherwise.

Certain aspects of the bill make marginal changes that could prove to be helpful to both the state and its students. Simultaneously, the bill also has the potential to completely change the way Illinois college admissions operate. It is a civic responsibility for us collectively as students, faculty and constituents to follow the development of this bill.

Austin sophomore in Media.

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via The Daily Illini

October 3, 2017 at 07:02AM

Proposed bill could bring change to Illinois admissions process