March 2013 Board Report

Illinois Valley Community College trustees Tuesday learned of the college’s efforts to increase enrollment and retention and of the financial aid office’s efforts to encourage students to apply early for state and federal aid.

Admissions Director Mark Grzybowski said enrollment initiatives have included community outreach at YMCAs and supermarkets, enhanced social media, improved communication with applicants, testimonials from current students and prospect tracking of high school juniors.

In more than 30 high school visits between September and February, Grzybowski and his staff met with approximately 1,300 students and parents. Members of Phi Theta Kappa, the honorary society for two-year colleges, spoke to visiting high school groups.

Grzybowski also showed trustees the new online site “www.ivcc.edu/save” where prospective students and parents can compare IVCC’s tuition and fees and per credit hour costs to other Illinois universities and see the savings they will realize by attending IVCC first.

Presenting the campus update alongside Grzybowski, Financial Aid Director Patty Williamson said the number of students receiving financial aid has steadily increased over the past four years. Williamson’s department processes over 4,000 applications annually and last year 2,361 students received more than $11 million in aid.

Reduced funding for the state Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant has resulted in filing deadlines being “tightened drastically,” she said. The deadline, once as late as August, was March 1 for the coming 2013-14 academic year. Last year over 100,000 eligible Illinois students were not awarded MAP grants due to a lack of state funds.

Williamson’s office has significantly increased communication with current and prospective students regarding the need to apply early. Initiatives include “FAFSA Fridays,” newsletters, reminder postcards, emails and a financial aid section on WebAdvisor.

Financial aid trends include increased loan fees, shorter deferments, higher interest rates, and fewer grant-eligible students, Williamson said. In a positive note, she said IVCC’s student loan default rate fell from 9.3 percent in 2009 to 7.9 percent in 2010.

In other action, trustees began the meeting with a moment of silence for longtime IVCC English instructor and coach Robert Mueller of Peru who died March 6.

In other business, the board approved:

  • Setting a reorganizational meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7.
  • The purchase of file cabinets for the Peter Miller Community Technology Center (PMCTC) from Henricksen of Peoria at a cost of $14,498.
  • The Illinois Community College Trustee Association (ICCTA) Faculty Award nomination of economics instructor Abhijeet Bhattacharya of La Salle. Bhattacharya recently won IVCC’s Stephen Charry Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. In nominating Bhattacharya for the Charry, four students noted his exceptional class preparation, application of economic concepts to everyday life and his dedication, friendliness and accessibility.
  • The ICCTA Outstanding Part-time Faculty Member Award nomination of peer tutoring coordinator and instructor Cathi Nelson. Dean of English, Mathematics, and Education Marianne Dzik said Nelson’s “years of teaching experience, understanding of how people learn, teaching strategies and knowledge of several subject areas allow her to adapt her approach to each individual student.”

The board also learned:

  • Shipping and receiving coordinator Raeleen Bartolt, who has run the mailroom for 14 years, will resign effective April 26.
  • In his monthly PMCTC construction update,  IVCC President Jerry Corcoran reported: first floor drywall will be completed soon and stairwell framing and light installation has begun; the startup of two geothermal pumps took place Monday; boilers and boiler pump start ups are scheduled for March 29; additions to the auto and welding facility is progressing well and the new maintenance building is ready for occupancy; the circle drive drop-off area is expected to close by April 1 for about two months.
  • The March 8 Career Day Expo attracted hundreds of eighth and ninth graders. The annual event is held in partnership with Starved Rock Associates for Vocational and Technical Education, Illinois Valley Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Illinois Valley Labor Management Committee.
  • Project Success’s 2012 performance report revealed the federally-funded program for first generation, low-income and disabled students is meeting all objectives such as persistence (81 percent), good academic standing (88 percent), graduation (56 percent) and transfer (59 percent). “Overall, 162 participants were well served,” said Corcoran.  “This places IVCC in a great position for future grant applications. Cynthia Cardosi, Diane Scoma, Theresa Bowen and Chris Herman deserve credit for their hard work on behalf of our students.”
  • Mathematics instructor Cindy Schultz, assisted by other faculty and calculus students, coordinated a math competition for seven high schools and approximately 180 students Feb. 23 at IVCC.
  • Six high schools participated in the annual writing competition March 1 at IVCC coordinated by English instructor Randy Rambo and department colleagues. A total of 15 students took part in the essay competition and 16 in the journalism contest.
  • The IVCC Foundation’s ninth annual Irish Night Feb. 23 in La Salle attracted over 215 guests to hear the Larkin and Moran Brothers of Chicago.
  • The women’s and men’s basketball teams recently concluded successful seasons. The Eagle women finished 22-9 and sophomore guard Arnisha Thomas was named Arrowhead Conference MVP and signed to play at Division I Eastern Illinois University next fall. The men finished 18-11 and sophomore guard Alec Schwab was a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American nominee and unanimous first team All-Region 4 selection. “I commend women’s coach Pat Cinotte and men’s coach Tommy Canale and their assistants for their ability to recruit locally and win consistently,” said Corcoran.