What is the importance of the Parkland College Board of Trustees to residents of Champaign County?
After completing their studies, nearly 90% of Parkland students live and work within the twelve counties that comprise District #505. Many become lifelong residents of Champaign County. Parkland's very existence is crucial as it plays a vital role in training much of the workforce in the area, particularly in Champaign County. The current and future success of Parkland requires sound fiscal management and the ability to respond to the ever-changing needs of the community workforce. Members of the Parkland's board must be knowledgeable of the issues involved in managing a community college and dedicated to its mission of "engaging the community in learning." Trustees must also be ready, willing and able to make difficult decisions so that Parkland continues to be accessible and affordable for all students which in turn provides the greatest benefit to the employers and residents of Champaign County and the surrounding area.
Why are you qualified to be on the Parkland Board of Trustees?
It has been an honor serving on the Parkland Board of Trustees since 2015. Since that time, I have learned a great deal about what it takes to run a first class community college like Parkland. Parkland is regarded as one of the best community colleges in the country. The trustees who have served Parkland over the years have played a meaningful role in that success. Shortly after joining the board, my fellow trustees and I were called upon to make very difficult decisions when state funding reached its lowest levels. The significant reduction in state funding resulted in financial pressures never before experienced by the college. We worked in tandem with President Ramage and his administrative team to develop a strategic financial plan that allowed the college to continue to function at full capacity despite reduced support from the state.
If elected, what is something you want to accomplish on the Board of Trustees, and how long will it take?
Parkland offers its students a wide array of career and technical programs and I want to help increase the number of students enrolled in these areas. Parkland has quite a few programs that are not offered by other community colleges including: Precision Ag, Case New Holland, Ford Asset, Dental Hygiene, Vet Tech and Aviation. It is important to make sure students understand that employers are anxious to hire qualified individuals in these areas and rewarding careers are literally waiting for them. Finding ways to enhance our communication regarding these programs is at the top of my "to do" list. Although the dental hygiene program is typically at capacity, my goal is to see increased enrollment in the rest of the career and technical programs each year moving forward.
Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
I believe in Parkland College. My collegiate journey began there after graduating from St. Joseph-Ogden High School. Like many Parkland students, my family's financial constraints required me to put myself through school. I often worked up to three jobs at a time to pay for my undergraduate studies. Although I went on to earn my bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois and my law degree from Southern Illinois University, I am most thankful for the excellent education Parkland provided at a price tag I could afford. Those first two years formed the foundation upon which the rest of my education was built. I believe all students should have the same opportunities that were available to me -- particularly when facing personal financial challenges. I want to continue to be part of the solution to that problem and serving as a Parkland Trustee allows me to do just that.