October 2021 Board Report

Dr. Gary Roberts will begin his tenure as Illinois Valley Community College Vice President for Academic Affairs Jan. 1 following his board appointment Thursday.

Trustees approved the hiring of Roberts, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Mich., to succeed Dr. Deborah Anderson who is retiring at the end of the semester.

IVCC President Jerry Corcoran said Roberts brings an “excellent combination of teaching and administrative experience including accreditation, articulation and transfer and assessment of student learning.

“Dr. Roberts’ skills match perfectly what we need,” Corcoran said. “And from a succession-planning standpoint, with the team we have in place, I am confident IVCC is in good shape for years to come.”

Roberts earned the Ph.D. and master’s in political science from Western Michigan University (WMU) in Kalamazoo, a bachelor’s from WMU and an associate’s from Lake Michigan College.

In other business, trustees approved:

  • Seeking proposals for a Learning Management System to be implemented in July 2023 when the contract with Blackboard expires.
  • Preparation of the 2021 tax levy for tentative approval Nov. 18 and final approval Dec. 9.
  • Contracting with Robbins Schwartz to represent IVCC in a property tax complaint filed by Kohl’s of Peru. Kohl’s is requesting it’s EAV be reduced from over $4.2 million to $2.7 million. If the complaint is approved, IVCC would refund Kohl’s $5,670. Robbins Schwartz is representing IVCC, LP High School, Dimmick School and potentially other taxing bodies for $7,680 collectively.
  • A settlement agreement in the Putnam County property tax appeal by Vistra’s Hennepin Power Station. The plant’s EAV will decrease from $3.3 million in 2021 to $2.5 million in 2022.
  • High deductible health savings account (HSA) contributions for full-time employees. In January, IVCC will contribute $2,500 for individual coverage and $5,000 for “employee plus one” and family coverage. 
  • The annual $10,000 local match to support Project Success, the federally-funded program serving approximately 165 low-income, first-generation and students with disabilities. Specifically, the match helps low-income students offset costs for tuition, books and supplies.
  • The bid of $47,995 from P & D Sign Company of Peru to replace the digital display within the existing sign at Orlando Smith Road and County Highway 23.
  • A cash farm lease with Kevin Newell of Newell Farms of Mendota for 146 acres at $287.57 per acre or $41,985.22 per year. The three-year lease can be renewed for an additional two years.
  • Three-year renewal of software and support from Burwood Group for Palo Alto Firewalls for $51,438. Firewalls provide internet connectivity and security.
  • Purchase of SmartCatalog/Curriculum software for $26,200 to publish and update the college catalog.
  • Purchase of 160 Dell PCs for labs and offices for $149,748. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) will finance the buy.
  • A 30-credit Industrial Maintenance I certificate, second in a series of three certificates to help students enter the workforce. It includes courses in safety, equipment maintenance, welding, blueprint reading, industrial electricity, wiring, rigging, hydraulics and pneumatics.
  • Criminal justice instructor and program coordinator Kevin Hermes resigned Oct. 8. Hermes joined IVCC in 2018 after 30 years as a police officer.

The board learned:

  • Edgar Lucero Castillo has been hired as staff accountant in the Business office. A graduate of IVCC and Northern Illinois University, he was the recipient of Northern’s full-tuition William and Dian Taylor Accountancy Scholarship.
  • Lynn Ewing-Teegardin is the new payroll and benefits coordinator.
  • Financial Aid advisor Amy Woods resigned Sept. 17; English as a Second Language instructor Mary Donovan resigned after three and a half years; and accounts receivable specialist/cashier Krista Miller resigned Oct. 12.
  • IVCC’s bookstore is transitioning its website and inventory to Resero. In addition to an annual savings of $10,000, the website will be more functional and user-friendly.
  • Included in the board packet was an email Corcoran received from Rich West, a 1981 IVCC graduate. “I remain very proud of my AA degree, and without that foundation, I would never have become what I am today. I recall Mr. (Robert) Mueller’s English classes so fondly and while he’s not with us any longer, he remains among the top three professors I’ve had in my life! What an inspiration to continue on my teaching track!”
  • The Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs recently determined the EMS program’s annual report on the paramedic certificate met all thresholds in written exam, retention and job placement. “EMTs moving into the paramedic field have a great local option at IVCC,” Corcoran said.
  • Ag field day Sept. 17 included speakers from Stoller International, Sun Ag and the Illinois Extension. It was the last IVCC event for the Extension’s retiring Russ Higgins. “Russ, Daryle Wragge and Jill Guynn of the Extension have supported us from the moment we decided to relaunch ag,” Corcoran said.
  • Enrollments “appear to be trending in a more encouraging direction,” Corcoran reported.  As of Oct. 11, headcount is up almost 4 percent with credit hours down a bit over 2 percent. “Thankfully, every week looks better,” he added.
  • English instructor Delores Robinson shared information on the college’s Center for Accessibility and Neurodiversity (CAN) and the One Book, One College program during public comment. CAN provides students accommodations, coaching and study skills support. One Book, One College, a community reads program, is discussing Eric Eyre’s “Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic.”
  • Also in public comment, Local 1810 President Tracy Lee said the faculty union “wholeheartedly supports reopening IVCC’s Fitness Center” and returning Tony Ruda to Fitness Center director. Ruda also addressed the board and said the center has long been a fixture at the college.