May 25, 2017

CARTERVILLE — The state’s budget mess may have John A. Logan College in a position with one hand tied behind its back, but, despite that handicap, College personnel have accomplished incredible tasks in keeping it moving forward, Dr. Ron House pointed out Tuesday night.

House, president of John A. Logan College, spoke during the College’s May Board of Trustees meeting. He took time to express that while there are plenty of negatives associated with the state’s failure to pass a budget — something that has plagued the state since July 1, 2015 — there are also plenty of positives due to the efforts of faculty and staff.

“The commitment and dedication we have from so many great faculty and staff here at John A. Logan College is something I believe we must highlight,” House said. “The budget situation puts us — and every other community college — in a very bad position, but somehow our folks have stepped up and accomplished many, many good things.”

Some of those accomplishments include:

— Regaining full recognition by the Illinois Community College Board. 

— Receiving designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education (only one other college in the state of Illinois has received this.)

— The College’s heating and air conditioning program, under the direction of Jason Stutes, was selected as one of the top 20 programs in the nation.

— The College’s online nursing program — under the direction of Marilyn Falaster — was selected as one of the top 20 online programs in the nation (John A. Logan College was the only community college in the state to be selected in this category.)

— The College’s Dual Credit Program received accreditation from the National Alliance on Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.  (only one other community college in the state has received this accreditation.)

— The College’s athletic department — led by Greg Starrick — received a grant for $437,000 from the Harrison-Bruce Foundation for the upgrading of athletic fields. This is the largest grant ever received by the College’s athletic department.

The College’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapter — led by Adrienne Barkley — was selected as one of the top 100 chapters in the nation. (There are 1,300 chapters in the nation.)

— The College anticipates a favorable report from the Higher Learning Commission, culminating hundreds and hundreds of hours from all departments at the College.

— Tom Ferris — who has coached golf at John A. Logan College for the past 20 years — was recently inducted into the NJCAA Coaches Hall of Fame.

— The women’s softball team — led by head coach Taylor Orsburn — made College history with the most wins in a season, 46. This was Orsburn’s first season as head coach and her team was made up primarily of players from Southern Illinois.

— The men’s baseball team — led by head coach Kyle Surprenant — ended the season 40-13, including defeating the number one team in the nation.

— The women’s volleyball team — led by head coach Bill Burnside — announced that one of his players has signed to play Division 1 volleyball at Southeast Missouri State University. The player, Annie Wehrheim came to Logan from tiny Woodlawn High School. It’s the first time a player from Woodlawn has made it to Division 1.

— The John A. Logan College men’s and women’s basketball team both had winning seasons with head coach Kyle Smithpeters racking up his 113th win in only five seasons.

— Led by accounting instructor Lora Hines, the John A. Logan College accounting team won first-place at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s 19th Annual Accounting Challenge. Logan’s team was made up of five students, Emily Kerrens of Murphysboro, Niven Trefftzs of Nashville, Katie Sandusky of Benton, McKenzie Mohring of West Frankfort, and Judith George of West Frankfort.

— The College’s Cyber Defense Team — led by Mark Rogers — defeated teams including the University of Illinois when it was the only community college in the nation to be invited to a major cyber defense competition in Chicago.

“All of these are a result of hard work,” House said. “Even during hard times, the College is moving forward.”

As promised earlier by the College’s budget committee, a tentative budget was set forth Tuesday night that does not include a tuition increase for students. Brad McCormick, vice-president of business services and College facilities, noted, however, that moving forward with a budget for fiscal year 2018 has been “the most unusual budget preparation process” in his 17-year career due to a lack of a state budget.

McCormick, along with the budget committee members Dr. Glenn Poshard and Cheryl Graff, (both members of the board of trustees) have worked diligently to keep the College fiscally strong during that state’s budget crisis. Illinois is currently the only state in the nation without a budget.

The current tentative budget is available for public inspection now through June 27 at 7 p.m. when a public hearing on the College’s budget will be offered.

Melanie Pecord, acting vice-president for instruction, noted that the College’s two-graduation system instituted this year worked very well. Mandy Little, a member of the board of trustees, agreed. “It was fantastic,” she said.

The board approved a request for a revision in the 2018-2019 instructional calendar that will remove the fall break in October and return to a full week break in November during the week of Thanksgiving.

The board also:

— Approved a cleaning contract for the West Frankfort and DuQuoin extension centers.

— Approved extending a contract with Pepsi MidAmerica.

— Approved a lease with Pitney Bowes.

— Approved purchase of data center hardward/software.

— Approved first reading of new board policies.

Board Chair Bill Kilquist also reassigned a number of College committees. The retired sheriff also asked for a moment of silence prior to the meeting for the victims of the Manchester attack.