Parkland College Candidates Forum

Parkland College Candidates Forum


So welcome everybody to this forum for the
candidates for the candidates for the Parkland College Board of Trustees. I am with the League of Women Voters and responsible
for sort of gathering all of the volunteers together. You probably have heard of the League of Women
Voters and the NAACP who are cosponsors of this. They are totally dedicated to voter issues,
to having everybody who should be able to vote, vote and having all of the information
for voters out there. So that is what tonight’s is about and I will
turn it over to Holly, our moderator.>>HOLLY WILPER: Good evening. I am Holly Wilper for the League of Women
Voters for Champaign County. On behalf of us, and the NAACP, welcome to
tonight candidates’ forum. Candidates for the three open 6 year terms
are Rabel Burdge, Eugene Donaghey Rochelle Harding, Gregory Knott, David Trimble, and
also tonight we have the candidates for the single two year terms open, Bianca Green,
John Howell, Becky Densmore, and Kathleen Robbins. The form guidelines are as follows, each candidate
will be given two minutes for an opening statement, and then I will ask questions and then invite
the audience and each candidate will have one minute to respond to those questions,
and then there will be two minutes for a closing statement. If you are in the audience and you have a
question you would like to ask our panel, please for free to give the question to one
of our ushers and will be brought up here to me. Please if at all possible, we will only ask
questions that all of the panel can answer, so don’t ask questions specific to one candidate. Thank you. So we will begin with our 2 minute introductory
statements.>>RABEL BURDGE: I am a candidate for a six
year term and unfortunately, Parkland College faces the same problems in situations of all
community colleges. These are a combination of declining enrollment,
the lack of promise and legislative Illinois funding, change in mission from the original
plan and in overcapacity in some programs and under enrollment in others; however, I
would like to think of it as the People’s college as it is a key component of our community
and we all use it for so much. For example, to learn and experience technical
and manufacturing employment skills, for certification in medical and technical areas, nursing, Dental
Hygiene, audiology, and more recently pilot training. For some, they transfer to a four-year University,
and for others it is a way to find out if college is for them before making a financial
investment in a four-year University. Parkland College offers adult education opportunities
in areas through their business training and community education programs and, of course,
the cultural events such as going to the theater. The Art Gallery and planetarium, which are
visited regularly by people in the community. The athletic programs are extensively reported
in the local paper and attracts students that might not ordinarily continue their education;
however, not to be forgotten are the many stories where Parkland instructors has got
a student back on the right track, and you have read many of those in The News Gazette. I have been through most of these situations
not only as a participant in, but on committees to evaluate programs, decide scholarship recipients,
and on committees to evaluate excuse me select a future instructor and all look forward to
these discussions Mr. Donaghey?>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: Good evening. Thank you. I would like to thank the League of Women
Voters, then NAACP news for providing this opportunity to share my experience. This is my first term as a Parkland trustee
and IM Eugene Donaghey and I am University of Illinois community credit Union CEO have
a bachelor’s degree where I served as a member of the alumni board therefore, for
seven years and I have an MBA from Northwestern College school of management and I am a proud
father to a son who was among the approximately 20,000 students enrolled in Parkland and continue
to be a strong supporter of community based education. Beyond my service, my volunteer experience
includes board positions as treasurer at the Spurlock Museum, the University of Illinois
alumni Association, which is working to celebrate 150 years of the University and as a board
member for the Illinois credit Association. I became CEO in 2008 and have had the pleasure
to serve over close to 50,000 members, customers and during that time have doubled the credit
union in assets and increase our service to the community and I spent almost three decades
in not for profit educational services and want to bring my background to Parkland College
especially given these challenging times in the state of Illinois and as a trustee I would
continue to work diligently on the long health at Parkland in order to be able to fulfill
its mission in engaging the community through various programs and the degrees. My volunteer service coupled with my financial
background gives me a unique perspective on how to help Parkland College continue to premiere
as an educational institution for the communities of District 505 and I look forward to the
opportunity. On April 4, please vote for.>>HOLLY WILPER: Ms. Harden?>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: Hey, everybody, how are
you doing? My name is Rochelle Harden and I am running
for this because I teach here full time time and I saw firsthand what the budget cuts from
the state is doing to our faculty, doing to our college and I want to do absolutely everything
I can, absolutely everything I can in order to ensure that we get a state budget, that
we get a budget that we can work with. I have taught here for 13 years full time
and I teach English 098 and 099 and I teach our neediest students, our poorest students
here and I think that our legislators and our poorest students live in two different
worlds and they really truly do that even though raising tuition a couple of dollars
may seem like not that big of a deal, it is to our students and I am committed to this
college. I am committed to my students and I’m committed
to my faculty and I plan to do to give us a budget that we can work with. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Knott?>>GREGORY KNOTT: I am Greg Knott and I live
out at St. Joseph’s and I work at the University of Illinois Library as an assistant dean and
I’ve served on the Parkland board since 2011 and I’m currently the vice chair and previous
to that, I was a Champaign County board member from 2000 to 2011 and more importantly I am
a Parkland alumni and we mentioned the instructor’s two guys, Paul Curtis and Don Nelson brought
me through that ag program, and I know without their support I would not have gone on to
undergraduate school. I have seen firsthand Parkland College has
on the lives every day and it is unfortunate the state is where it is, a generation of
most important poor decision, but it has put the Parkland board in a situation where we
can I delay. We have to pass budgets unlike they do in
Springfield and we have to make the tough decisions and we have more tough ones to make
and I think my experience on the board is still needed in the years to come and it has
been a real honor to serve and I ask for your vote again on April 4.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Taylor?>>RICHARD TAYLOR: My name is Richard Taylor. I am running for the six year term. I am an artist. I am a designer. And I own a business in Champaign. Forty five years ago, I started this business
as an undergraduate student and shortly after that my involvement with Parkland started. I needed tools to run a business. Parkland was there for me. And I took a small business classes and I
took early computer classes and I took Excel, QuickBooks, Photoshop, AutoCAD, welding, photography,
it is essential for what I needed in my business and also for about 10 years, I was part time
faculty at Parkland teaching design in stained glass then since then my business in Parkland
have partnered, and we have been able to teach various classes. What I can bring to this board is the perspective
of a designer and we have extensive business experience on the board, and we have educational
and leadership, but I can bring the attitude of a designer, a designer looks at the parameters
of a problem and goes outside the box and comes up with a solution that may not be part
of the business model. We need some of those solutions and we need
especially in increasing our enrollment, and enrollment means revenue and that is something
I can offer to this board. I hope I receive your vote. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Trimble.>>DANA TRIMBLE: Thank you. Good evening, and welcome to the jewel of
the Midwest here at Parkland College. I want to thank our sponsors this evening
for doing this and I want to thank you whether you are sitting here in the audience or whether
you are watching on PCTV for taking the time to become informed about the selection and
I think it is very important that people express an interest and Parkland College because we
are so vital to District 505 and every family in that district and I want to think the candidates. This is a large turnout and I think it is
important that we hear a lot of diverse ideas about what is going on in Parkland and things
that we can do. I serve at Parkland out of a sense of appreciation
for what Parkland has done for me. I took in my various careers and also courses
that help me transition from one career to another. My children benefited from the college for
kid’s program and I’m hard pressed to find a family at District five a file that hasn’t
at something from Parkland College and I say thank you to Parkland College to that in that
is why I’m am asking for your vote on the fourth. What I bring our years of experience, I have
years of experience on a local school board, on this cool bore where I currently serve
as a chair. I was born and raised on a farm, received
degrees from the University of Illinois in ag Econ and animal science and throughout
my various careers, which has been farming, seed corn production, hazardous waste, banking,
and I retired from cardio where I was a consultant to area farmers and I have been considered
always connected with the ag community and involved with that. So I want to thank you again for turning out
and I hope I can get your vote on April 4.>>HOLLY WILPER: Ms. Densmore?>>BECKY DENSMORE: Thank you. I would echo the sentiment that my fellow
candidates have offered as far as thank you to the Champaign County legal women’s voters,
to the NAACP and to The News Gazette and it takes some effort to coordinate this event
and we appreciate the opportunity to brighten our viewpoints. I am Becky Densmore and I have the great privilege
and portion to work for Danes Ed, and we are a nonprofit and a nonpartisan organization
working with K 12 institutions across the world. We work in 70 countries, impacting roughly
20 million students and three million educators. We are the world’s largest education community
and what we do is we offer rigorous on site evaluation for continuous improvement, helping
K 12 institutions catapult to the next level of excellence. What I would like to do is bring that expertise
and experience to Parkland College and help you as you look forward to continuous improvement,
building toward the future, looking at the past, and working to attain your mission. The mission of Parkland College to foster
and engage the community in learning. This is something I aligned with well and
it is my passion and is my commitment and is my work and I would hope that you would
vote for me on April 4 because I would like to work for you and help Parkland achieve
the next level of excellence. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Ms. Green?>>BIANCA GREEN: Thank you. My name is Bianca Green and I am a current
trustee at Parkland and I have been on the board for two years. I am from Champaign although I grew up in
St. Joseph and my husband Jim and my kids are here tonight, and I’m thrilled to have
them be here tonight and I tried to teach my girls a lot through remodeling on my example
and they have been earning a lot about the process and higher education as I have been
serving in this capacity. I was already helping Parkland College before
2015 serving on the helping them raise money for much needed scholarships for the students
here at Parkland. When the opening was announced because Tom
had other responsibilities that were taking a lot of time, I had one of those moments
where it kind of just hit me at that point, where I was thinking I am not really sure
what I would have done I would be right now had it not been for Parkland College. Growing up in St. Joseph’s, I had a great
education in the public school, but my family has significant financial constraints, which
meant if I was going to get a higher education, I would have to make it happen and I needed
a college that provided flexible schedule, affordable tuition rates, so that I could
make it happen through working full time while I was going through school. I was able to do that at Parkland and when
I look back every single thing that I have done, be it professionally or personally,
it all started here. I currently serve as general counsel for the
state University’s retirement system and I believe that my legal experience as well as
my mediation training, the various experiences that I’ve had in my legal path really give
me a unique skill set that puts me in a great position to be an effective leader for Parkland
College. I think I’m going to talk a lot about our
disappointment in Springfield tonight, but I do not want us to lose sight of the fact
that Parkland is a great place, and we have exceptional faculty and staff, and we are
serving talented and diverse students, and I hope to continue to do my part. (Laughter)
>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Howell.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: Thank you to the League
of Women Voters and the voters who put on this event. We certainly appreciate you, and my name is
John Barry Howell and I am not native to the Champaign area. I am originally (Indiscernible) creating my
career in 1988, and I now I’m a small business owner ever since. I have always been a firm believer that if
you live in a community, you need to get back to the community and public service and volunteerism
is a personal priority and I have been involved locally here within the first couple of years
of my practice. I have served in many professional positions,
most notably as president to the Illinois State Dental Society, representing over 10,000
dentist and hygienist in the state and with the American dental Association as chair of
the Council of governmental affairs in Washington, DC and here locally I was on the Planning
Commission for nine years and the Champaign board for six years. Throughout it all, it has been a wonderful
experience but nothing really hit me until our son decided to go here to Parkland and
received his Associate’s degree. This was such a positive experience for him,
he was made to be prepared to go on to do honors work at the University of Minnesota
and that inspired me then to look at the Parkland College and their hygiene program and I have
been on their advisory committee since 2008. I have been a guest lecturer too many of the
students and been a part of Parkland dental day since its inception and my wife and I
have also enjoyed supporting the arts through the Parkland Theatre. It would be my honor to serve on the Board
of Trustees and bring my experiences, to continue the can the tradition of excellence here represented
by Parkland College and I ask for your support. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Ms. Robbins?>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: Thank you, NAACP, The
News Gazette, and the League of Women Voters for putting this on. This is awesome! Quality education is critical to our nation,
our State, and our community and Parkland College is the key piece of that quality education
in central Illinois and across central Illinois. I want to echo what Bianca and Becky said
about that. I think the teachers, the faculty, and the
staff is doing an outstanding job and the question that I see for the board is how can
the board support the staff, the faculty, and the administration and the students in
continuing that quality education? And I am a firm believer in education. I started out with a Bachelor’s degree in
engineering from the United States Air Force Academy. I then flew for seven years as an instructor,
navigator and if anybody has a cell phone with them, you know that you have obsoleted
navigators and GPS has taken their place. What did I do? I went back and got retraining and got an
MBA and a doctor of Ministry. I bring 40 years of business experience, the
last 20 years here in central Illinois, seven years or eight years with a cellular one East
Central Illinois as the CEO, taking from a break in business to be highly successful
and seven years living in Botswana, in Haiti, international experience, and finally the
last six years with nonprofit, with McKinley foundation on campus where they had some financial
problems that they did not know about and in six years was able to turn that around. My name is Kathleen Robbins and I ask for
your consideration and vote for the two year position on the Parkland Board of Trustees. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Thank you to the candidates. For our first question, we are going to start
with Mr. Donaghey. If budget reductions are required to bring
expenditures and resources into balance, right criteria would you suggest for determining
where cuts should be made?>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: I have been in
the financial services industry now for 30 years. As a board member, wanted want to take an
opportunity to understand what led up to the opportunities to expand revenue and where
you can look at. At this point, I need to know more and understand
more about what the executive team, the faculty and the administration, the students are expecting
relative to program continuation, where their strengths are as a Junior College in helping
their students expand and just get a better idea of the landscape for how to be able to
look at what are the appropriate cuts, if any, and where the appropriate revenue enhancements
are, if any.>>HOLLY WILPER: Thank you. Ms. Harden?>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: I can tell you that there
are no more cuts that can be made. We are cut to the bone; the staff are unfortunately
trying their very best to support our students. The faculty, we are losing eight talented
faculty. The services that we have for the students
now are really important for them. We just lost another great person in the office
of disability services, people are leaving and going elsewhere for other opportunities. So the focus needs not to be on budget cuts,
but it needs to be on bringing more students in, bringing in more revenue, bringing in
businesses and communities in order to help Parkland grow because this is essentially
a turning point for us.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Knott?>>GREGORY KNOTT: So the last two or three
years, excuse me, what we have done is look at open positions that Rochelle alluded to,
the tough decisions we made last fall with the faculty, the toughest one I have ever
taken, but in the future, I don’t know for a while if it is going to get more stable. The state environment is still very rocky,
but we need to look at areas of growth and new programs where we can bring in additional
students and I think aviation frankly is a potential for growth and I think we will continue
to hold the line on expenses and continue to hold open positions. There are over 60 positions that we have not
filled out the present time and I think it will be good prudent, fiscal management and
I don’t think anybody will have a crystal ball with the exact answer and a in the state
revenues and the of students, it has hit us hard to. We have hit our fund balance, and not been
afraid to spend the fund balance to hit the gap, but I think there are more tough decisions
to come.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Taylor?>>RICHARD TAYLOR: From the outside looking
in I do not think there is many cuts that can still be made. Sure there can be deferred maintenance and
we can review healthcare costs annually. We have to. We have just hired a director of marketing
and public relations, is Stephanie Stewart who has a big background in this exact kind
of procedures. Hopefully, as a trustee, all of us, myself
included, if I am elected, we will work with her and try to increase our enrollment in
imaginative ways. We have 29 high schools. We need more outreach. We need to go in the schools. We need to. That is what we need to do rather than making
cuts. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Trimble?>>DANA TRIMBLE: Thank you. Mr. Knott is right. We have made tough decisions, but I also have
to agree with him that we may not be at the end of the road with the tough decisions because
until the state of Illinois can decide exactly how we are going to proceed, we have to look
at reality and I think we try to be as efficient as possible, every program, every course is
reviewed every year for enrollment, for revenue and those aspects, but we just have to continue
to evaluate everything as we go, increasing enrollment. Of course, is a key to this and we do have
a lot of enrollment initiatives going and we have a lot a people who work with those
who first register and then do not show up for class, or first register and do not pay
tuition on time. At a lot of initiatives are running like that
to encourage students to stay with us, so it is an all encompassing issue, and we have
to look at every aspect of the college and every aspect of revenue including enrollment
to see what we can do.>>HOLLY WILPER: Thank you.>>BECKY DENSMORE: I agree with Mr. Trimble
and I don’t ink the end of the road is they are yet unfortunately. I think it is important to actually be crucial
to look at cost and the terms of categories in terms of direct support student services
or indirect support of student services so we need to look at that and ensure that the
teaching and learning environments are stabilized and the mission of Parkland College to engage
the community in learning is crucial and everything needs to be aligned to that mission and when
you look at those cost, and what needs to be cut and think about those in terms of what
are the impacts to the students, is a direct or indirect? I think that is a beginning stage to have
a conversation to identify data to support some of those particular frameworks and structures. Thank you.>>BIANCA GREEN: First of all, I would like
to say that when you are arguing before the appellate court and your red light comes on
to stop, you stop immediately, so I apologize for that moment of just immediately stopping
on you, but at any rate, if future cuts are needed, and we are having to explore those,
I would expect the Board of Trustees will continue to assess potential cuts the same
way we already have. How can we streamline expenditures while preserving
as many programs and services as possible for our students? How can we affect them the least? And I also agree that we do need to continue
in our efforts, and we do have a huge push to try to increase our enrollment here. Enrollment here at two year and four year
universities is down. This is not unique to Parkland, but I think
we have a unique opportunity to highlight our career programs, get though students in
here, so they can start to begin that successful paths in their future in a different way then
maybe they might be think if it at this point thinking about it at this point thanks.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: It is unfortunate that
universities and college have such terrible financial situations brought on by something
not within their control but be that as it may we still have to deal with it and unfortunately,
the budget has to be looked at very critically every single time the board gets together. There are things in there that may not like
to be cut and things we don’t want to cut, but that have to be cut to preserve the other
things that we want to keep going forward. But enrollment is really the key to all of
this and we need to get out into the farther reaches of the community. There is the District 505 and engage those
students and even look beyond our borders to students who want to come in even from
outside of the district. Parkland College has things that we can offer
to them and these are the folks that we need to reach out to, to increase our enrollment,
and in so doing, we will increase our revenues. Thank you.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: People, programs, property,
we have got to preserve and protect the people, the students, the faculty, the staff, the
administration. They are the key and they are the lifeblood
of the institution going forward. Every program should be looked at, but it
should be looked at it inclusively and look at the overall impact, and not just the dollars
and the cents that are on the financial statements that are going out each month. Increasing revenue is always the more preferred
thing and that comes back to enrollment, engaging in the different communities across the high
schools, across the District 505. You have to do both. You have to look at revenue and you have to
look at expenses, but people, programs, property, thank you.>>RABEL BURDGE: Thank you. I think my colleagues have done a very good
job of summarizing the situation. We can either raise tuition, we can ask for
an increase in property tax, and we can ask of the state of Illinois at provide we started
out we got 33 percent of our budget from the state, and now I am told it is down to 3 percent. So I think we are going to have to forget
that route. I am not keen on raising tuition because community
colleges, they were established with the idea of providing low income people with a path
to a better life. I think the big thing is retention. What are the barriers to the students dropping
out and what can we do to retain them? Because that is where more revenue would come. There was an interesting article in the Detroit
paper about this very issue, about the problems the students have in community colleges. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: We have moved onto the next
question and this one will start; Ms. Harden? Some have authorized community colleges to
give four year baccalaureate degrees. Do you favor this option for Parkland? Why or why not?>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: That is an interesting
thought process and I remember it years back when the college of DuPage was considering
it. And the revenues that they have, it is a very
wealthy district. I can understand that. I would love the opportunity although we do
have EIU classes here on campus where people can extend their degrees. But that would be interesting. The only thing is that we are in a cutting
stage and so obviously, whatever we add has to help the community and help our students
and we are right across the street from a really, really top notch four year University. We are not trying to be the U of I. We do a great job of what we do and U of I
does a great job of what they do. So I love the idea of giving more opportunities
and choices to students.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Knott?>>MR. KNOTT: Thank you. One area we looked at in particular is the
nursing program. The accreditation Association is pushing that
are RNs have BSN. If we can I offer the BSN, we could be out
of business and that has a direct impact on the healthcare of this community. The Carl Covenant, the nursing home and other
places and there have been bills introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to authorize
Parkland to do that and I support our ability to offer a four program in nursing and I would
look at other areas, but I’m reluctant based on frankly the funding streams that are there
for the present time and the startup cost for some of those programs but nursing in
particular, to healthcare fields in particular I think is a very logical place to start.>>RICHARD TAYLOR: In two years, we were going
to have some changes at the state level, both in the executive and the legislative branch
with all of your help. And at that time, this would be the time to
start looking at other possibilities when we start receiving the fund, the state of
Illinois owes the taxpayers and the residence public education. And in two years, we are going to have some
changes. And when these changes happen, this would
be a good time to start exploring other opportunities like Parkland being a four year heavy, with
for your curriculums. Thank you.>>DANA TRIMBLE: I would also support us offering
four year degrees in those areas where there are shortages such as nursing. Yes, there would be some expense in startup,
but we would evaluate that exactly the way we evaluated the aviation program that we
started and exactly the way that we evaluate ongoing programs here at the college. If it looked like that it would be prudent
for us to offer that four year degree because there would be revenues associated with tuition
that would come in from that some state money that would come back from that, that I think
it would be prudent for us to do that and again, maybe not in every area, but in those
areas where there are shortages such as we see now in healthcare. I think it would be a good idea.>>MS. DENSMORE: I too would support four year and
I would support it in a very phased approach, a careful study and want to make certain agreeing
with Mr. Trimble in really wanting to look at is very a need for that particular skill? Want to be pumping out for your just to be
pumping them out, but to actually have viable career options waiting for students, and to
address our community, our employer’s knees, so definitely I.
>>BIANCA GREEN: This is an issue that we have been talking about, the Board of Trustees
and I am in favor of it in a very limited capacity. The nursing program that we offer is exceptional. What I am learning however is that 50 percent
of nursing students who complete their two years at a two year institution are not able
to get into a public four year nursing degree program which means they are then faced with
a private school option and now they’re tuition and fees are skyrocketing. And so at Parkland, we are causally trying
to evaluate the workplace demands and the needs, and we are hearing over and over again,
from our employers within the district, we want nurses with bachelor’s degrees and
I would certainly be in favor of us exploring that option and putting it in place.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: Coming from a healthcare
background, I’m going to echo what everybody else is saying about nursing. Absolutely. If Parkland College could withstand the or
maybe involve some sort of corporate cosponsoring of this, it would be a tremendous asset. The University of Illinois has a medical school
starting up here pretty soon and that is going to increase the demand on healthcare services. So looking at healthcare as being an opportunity
for a four year degree certainly would be the place to start. That being said; however, we have to also
look at what our operational costs are going to be and whether or not the schools could
support it and not lay the burden totally on the student on the terms of tuition to
bring in the revenue.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: Within the obvious need
and path such as nursing, that is a no brainer as far as I’m concerned to do that and figure
out where the startup costs, the expenses, how they are going to be covered, but there
are many of the four year institutions are struggling right now, Eastern certainly has
seen a huge decrease in enrollment in there for programs and so I would be very, very
cautious going forward was something like that unless it could be a well defined issue
and a well defined need such as an RN program.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Burdge?>>RABEL BURDGE: Thank you. I think everything has been pretty well said. One thing about the nursing program in addition
to what the gentleman said about the University of Illinois and the future, what I have found
in my interview was that people that want to go to nursing school are often the ones
that are working as CNA’s, generally there working all day, during the day so do we have
the capacity to readjust our time schedule in terms of providing some of these opportunities? I am also leery about the four year schools. I like the schools becoming four year, but
I would like to take a look at what is going on in Springfield. One of the former community colleges, which
I cannot remember the name is now offering a four year degree, but how is that shaking
out>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: I would support
it too. We have saying at the credit union that we
are not for profit, but we are also not for loss, so I think it is important looking at
the executive and administrative and faculty, they have done an excellent job and Parkland
has quickly identified holes, whether that is in nursing and plugging in the gaps and
the opportunity to meet with Dr. Wiggins, and Dr. Taylor to talk about how they feel,
so strongly feel about how Parkland has stepped into the gap for the needs of those students,
but any business has to prioritize all of those different investments and they have
to make sure they will pick the ones that provide the most revenue are actually help
reduce cost. So any new program I would want to see as
a trustee that is vetted through a system with obviously in my experience and observation
from the outside has been done well ensuring that we are picking the right programs to
help Parkland grow its revenue and increase student participation. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: The next question; we will
start with Mr. Knott. As a Board of Trustees member, how do you
plan to advance initiatives to increase the diversity of Parkland’s racial diversity in
its employees?>>GREGORY KNOTT: Nationally, it is a huge
issue in attracting minority candidates to our pool as faculty member, so it has been
articulated as some of our meetings, the challenges. I am a trustee an association trustee in DC
and we have talked about that very thing, why would you want to come to Illinois right
now, why would you want to come to Parkland College right now? I think the fiscal things that are in now
will only exasperate that process, but more importantly you have to have a welcoming campus. You have to make people feel included. They need to feel wanted. They need to see people that look like them
and that is not something that we probably have done enough of, but I think when you
look at diversity efforts, students want to see a teacher that looks like them, and instructor
that looks like them. So it is an ever-ongoing effort, and certainly
we are committed to do that and I know we have a long ways to go and as a trustee we
will continue those efforts.>>HOLLY WILPER: Thank you. Mr. Taylor?>>RICHARD TAYLOR: As a trustee, one of the
first things I would do is to talk to the NAACP who already has programs in place such
as I believe it is identifying high school students who have talent that we can recruit
to come to Parkland College. I am assuming that there is also programs
like that to come up with talented faculty that not through just the Champaign chapter,
but other chapters that can reach out to individuals who have talent and encourage them to come
and apply when positions open at Parkland College. Thank you.>>DANA TRIMBLE: In the years that I have
been on the board we have passed two different resolutions, stating as a board our desire
to increase the diversity of our faculty, and to encourage more applicants along those
lines. We have also offered a couple of three programs
to help with that and unfortunately, one has been suspended right now due to the budget
situation, but it is important to us that we keep the faculty as diverse as appropriate. I think those resolutions and speak to that
and I think we will continue to look for other ways that we can encourage diverse candidates.>>BECKY DENSMORE: You know equity in education
is just a huge issue on the national, local, and state levels. The bottom line is I would ask the question,
will be talk about increased diversity, by what ethnicity? Buy how much? Have we brightened that goal? How we looked at that and said okay? We want to increase diversity by what? Which stakeholder groups? And identify the benchmarks that can help
you get there. So have an end in mind, begin with the end
in mind, have a goal, take a look at that, use incremental steps and break it down and
then focus on those activities and strategies that will help you meet that particular goal.>>BIANCA GREEN: At Parkland, we have a mentoring
program together, which we achieved and currently involves three to four faculty members, which
works with diverse students for free if they identify somebody who wants to be part of
the program. We try to get the word out and I would love
to see us find a way to expand that mentorship so that we can start to identify those diverse
students who are right here at Parkland that are showing the leadership skills and the
educational talent that would make them a great fit for Parkland in a faculty or staff
position and I think that we can go a long way toward that. It is just a matter of honing our focus and
figuring out how to make that happen.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: Increasing diversity
in both faculty and student population is a challenge. What can we do as a board? What can the college due to entice those folks
to come to the school from within the district, from out of the district? How do we get faculty that will represent
a diversity across the board? I think one of the largest markets we have
for the faculty side of it is in Chicago. If we have openings, and we will have openings
with the money comes back and we can start hiring faculty again, then looking at the
opportunities here within the state to bring people down from the Metropolitan areas down
to the Champaign area, and to work here at Parkland is one of our best opportunities
and when you have a diverse faculty, then you get a diverse population of students.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: When you are laying all
faculty and staff, it is tough to increase diversity at that time, but we have a challenge
right now. We are talking about, I think everybody on
this panel mentioned increasing enrollment while we go along. We have a new director of marketing and public
relations and putting together a program to recruit minority students to look at that
on the short term and in the next year or two before the state gets its act together
I think is critical to do that. And the desire the need for diversity I think
is obvious in our country and I think the board can be part of that and helping that
happen. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Burdge?>>RABEL BURDGE: I would like to go back to
the issue of retention and I would look at our present minority student so to speak and
ask some questions. Are you affected by such things as lack of
food deprivation? Are you having conditions met adequately? Are you stressed financially and are you working
too many hours outside of the classroom? I think I would like to focus on what minority
students are doing today. Can we improve that situation with the hope
of attracting others in the future?>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: I have spent
quite a bit of time for the last 15 years mentoring college students and one of the
biggest challenges is connected minority students and then as they graduate, emerging employees
and executives and merging with their group and the best way to approach diversity in
my experience is by networking and I think part of that has to be done by maintaining
a strong network and insisting that trustees and individuals at the college use their network
to identify and find individuals that want to work or want to attend the school and then
I look at the alumni base of Parkland College meaning anyone that has benefited from this. There are probably hundreds of individuals
who would be more than willing to share their network and help identify students and help
identify teachers and professors and that could be leveraged pretty heavily. Thank you.>>: As the only person of color up here, it
is hard to acknowledge the greatest failing of letting go eight of the faculty members,
two of them are African American, two of them are African American males and one of them
who teaches in the, “Together we achieve. We are letting him go and he is an important
support system. Mr. Knott talked about creating an environment
that feels safe and welcoming, Tracy Daze is part of that welcoming environment and
he is being let go. Jason Keist is another part of that welcoming
environment and he is being let go. I understand the decisions the board had to
make in order to let these people go, but if you really are invested, then you will
find a way to keep the most talented faculty members who also happen to be people of color.>>HOLLY WILPER: Next question, and we are
going to start with Mr. Taylor. After having dismissed several tenure track
faculty members, cutting programs and raising tuition by 16 percent over the last two years,
do you think it is appropriate to continue a sports program?>>RICHARD TAYLOR: There has been a lot a
back and forth in the sports program over the last couple of years. The sports program in a way is the face of
Parkland for many people. The sports program offers opportunities for
Parkland students, both the athletes and the spectators. We have an opportunity with the sports program
to encourage those Parkland students who are benefiting, especially from the sports program
to inject back into the system through social media, through Parkland Facebook, make post,
so that others throughout the 29 high schools can relate to the face of Parkland, and in
a sense help increase the enrollment. I think the athletic, the Athletics at Parkland
are critical.>>DANA TRIMBLE: I am not in favor of cutting
the Parkland Athletics. I think it is important to a well rounded
curriculum here at Parkland College and we are a lot of athletes here, something we don’t
often talk about is that when an athlete comes, may one or two of their friends come with
them. If we cut the Athletics program, perhaps they
will all go someplace else. In an environment of declining enrollment,
I think that could be the unintended consequence of cutting any program such as that. Our athletes are not always successful on
the field of competition, but they are extremely successful in the classroom and they have
academic standards that are far superior to many other institutions and we are told year
after year how successful they are in the classroom. So yes, we will continue to review Athletics
just like any other program, but I am not in favor of wholesale cutting the program.>>BECKY DENSMORE: I am not in favor of cutting
at the Athletics as part of the curriculum to be delivered. It is in a strategy as well as we are talking
about increasing enrollment and I think we all agree increasing enrollment is a very
good thing when you look at the Athletics. That can be an intricate marketing strategy
and reaching out, using the and the talented athletes there to help increase and attract
more people to Parkland with robust sports programs so I am not in favor of cuts. However, I do agree that like any other program
that needs to take a look at, again, categorized by direct student services or indirect impacts
to students, but take a look at it certainly but again, I do not favor cutting athletics.>>BIANCA GREEN: You know the level of commitment
from a community college two its athletic program is going to necessarily vary from
is a to institution. If a college is lucky enough to have a robust
and successful athletic program that brings national recognition to a school and produces
students who excel both on and off the field so to speak, then the intangibles of those
programs should warrant a continued financial commitment. Parkland just happens to be one of those fortunate
schools that has one of those exceptional programs, several of them quite frankly I
am talking about them as I whole. It represents most of our student athletes
and coaches; they excel in the classroom, and 40 to 50 percent of them are tuition paying
students, many of them out of tuition out of state tuition programs. They open doors at four year universities,
paved the way to various careers and professional athletics and teach teamwork, leadership and
perseverance that serve our students well as they begin those chosen careers I am in
favor of keeping our athletic program. Thank you.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: The athlete program hears
excellent. They have had athletic championships across
several different sports, and they are some of the finest students on campus. They know it is important not only to maintain
their GPA level, but also to participate in sports. They have to have a lot of time in practice
and so they manage it. They are learning skills that many other students
just are not availing themselves of and the community at large benefits from this as well
to have a national championship team here at Parkland. It is an outstanding program and I would have
to look at it from a standpoint of a board of trustee member that every department can
find money that may be can sacrifice, but I would not sacrifice the program.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: Everything is on the
table but nothing has been decided and Title IX has made a big difference in mint and women’s
lives since the 1970s when it started and the opportunity to play athletics at the college
level is a great opportunity for women as well as men and the intangibles that Bianco
was talking about a minute ago are critical to be putting into that mix when you look
at that before any decisions are made. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Burdge?>>RABEL BURDGE: The question is what I call
let’s not to throw the baby out with the bath water. When I was teaching; for a short time, I was
teaching at a regional university in the state of Washington and the President propose that
we get rid of the football program. Can you imagine that? Well, immediately when the program was terminated,
she got her way. The contributions from the alumni dropped
dramatically, dramatically so let’s keep Parkland Athletics. Their pride in these program, make sure these
loyal alumni come in and make sure the community does as well and as you pointed out, athletic
programs build self esteem for participants during those formative, late adolescent years.>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: And I can speak
to that directly. My daughter was 26 and got a scholarship to
John Wood community college and it changed her life. And the coach recruited her and came on campus
and watched her play, and she took a new view of herself as it related to “I can succeed
in college.” I think that the regimen and routine that
a lot of students come from is very important. It is an important way to keep them engaged
and from hurting themselves and whether that routine is going to practice and games or
attending games or rallies is something that helps keep those students focused and I also
have to agree that the characteristics, or character traits that you learn and enforce
in Athletics, or really any type of registered student organization or committee that is
on campus students form themselves; it is the same type of muscle that they are building. It is the ability to talk and deal with others,
which is what we want to see in the workplace.>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: I have had many wonderful
student athletes and the greatest thing about the athletic program is actually not the sports. It is the fact that the coaches are mentors. They are a support system for the students. They do a great job of making sure the student
is on track, and they never miss class. My student athletes never miss class and if
they do, they are the first ones to email me and tell me I’m sorry. I forgot about this and that. They are excellent, excellent students, but
it is because the coaches are there mentors. The coaches are there to push them and guide
them. They have study classes together. They get together and socialize outside. They do everything together to support each
other, and truthfully that is what we should be doing more of it on campus.>>GREGORY KNOTT: An athletic scholarship
gave my wife a ticket to college. She was three time All American Hall of Fame
and so I have seen firsthand what a scholarship will do for an individual. When you look at our athletes, they have the
3.0 out of a 4.0 a cumulative GPA. We have not talked about student completion. We talked about access and getting them in,
but equally important is completion and Rod love have done a tremendous job mentoring
these athletes and we have the most successful sports program in Champaign Urbana including
our rivals across town. (Laughter)
And so we will look at their budget and I ask absolutely support what they do in athletics,
the Hall of Famer’s that we have had here, the pro athletes we have had here and the
pro umpires we have had here, all of those have been impacted. So it is just as important as an agricultural
scholarship, English, music, or the arts and they all provide an opportunity for the student
to have access to education and that is why we are here.>>HOLLY WILPER: Next question, we will start
with Mr. Trimble. How we you address the problem with tuition
decreases cutting off the opportunity for economically low income and marginalize students?>>DANA TRIMBLE: Difficult question, and indeed
until the state of Illinois gets on track and is able to contribute to our budget and
some substantial way, I really do not see any way out of having some sort of annual
tuition increase, but let me tell you that the board and the administration are painfully
aware of the impact it has on those students. Our financial aid people in counselors do
a great job and working with those students in helping them find every dollar they can,
but for the time being, I am afraid tuition increases may be the reality and we will keep
them a small as we possibly can and we will help every student that we possibly can along
the way. What we have to keep Parkland College afloat
and we have to maintain our quality and the services that we offer.>>BECKY DENSMORE: Certainly this is a challenge
and an opportunity to reach out to the K 12 education, start with the students that we
know, they know who are free and reduced in their buildings and start having the conversations
with their guidance counselors. Start working with those students, letting
them know and helping them find different scholarship opportunities. So start sooner rather than later and start
working with your guidance counselors and your high schools because tuition raises,
that is just a reality of the economic world we are living in right now.>>BIANCA GREEN: Many of you might be aware
that we did on the Board of Trustees vote to approve a modest tuition increase just
this past month, in line line with most of the tuition increases that we have had over
the years. We have had a few bumps where we have had
higher and if few bumps where we have been a little bit lower, but this increase was
kind of write in line with where we have been. Every student is going to hit their breaking
point in terms of what and we have a really strong staff at our foundation and they are
working hard to tap into the resources of the district at large, identifying alumni
who can provide additional money who can put forth toward scholarships, and then making
our students aware that those scholarships are available. I think that is our biggest focal point and
where we can start to help alleviate some of the pressures that are being felt by some
of our students who need that assistance the most.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: It is unfortunate that
Parkland College and their tuition is one of the highest in the state. Where does it go and where do we price it
out when students really need the education? It is a tough and challenging question and
allowing for a and seeking out monies outside of the University, into the community from
corporations, that the foundation is doing this is one of the best things that we can
do for our students. At this point in time with the current economic
situation, we are going to have to continue to look at the tuition increases as a possibility,
but not as a first choice and continue to find a scholarship money as much as possible
for though students who are the most disadvantaged, and they can take advantage of.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: Two words we have heard
a bunch tonight about is recruitment and retention and the recruitment, the key to that is looking
at scholarship opportunities, working with the guidance counselors in the different high
schools and working so those students that feel they cannot ever afford a two year college,
give them a way and a path forward to doing that. And the second thing is retention, looking
at how can we keep kids in school better doing good, that are successful? What can they do? The Parkland foundation, the Chamber of Commerce,
corporations throughout the District 505 area, all of those should be tapped in the near
future because we need to keep them in school, not out. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Burdge?>>RABEL BURDGE: I agree with what the candidate
just said. I am not keen on increasing tuition until
we have demonstrated to the public that we are doing everything in terms of examining
our internal cause, and particularly programs. I think those have to be continually looked
at in terms of whether we should go ahead. Asking for more property tax, I guess I sort
of lean in that direction because we are very popular. It is not that I don’t think it is that big
of a burden. This is a fairly wealthy region, rather than
raising student fees.>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: I think it has
been said several times that it is hard to know where the state of Illinois will land
except we have to continue to prioritize and look at what are the best investments in serving
the community and work with the admin straight and faculty to really prioritize the best
choices and that is something in terms of looking at tuition rates; that has to be considered. I go back to my comment about working, networking
and alumni and advocacy, and these are the times at the college and the alumni, fans
of the college can go to work and also go out there and promote what would be a good
message. I for one having a son here would be more
than happy to step into any situation and advocate for Parkland College in any type
of forum, meeting, or event and I believe there are others like me out of there and
they must be taken advantage of and create more of a many hands make light work environment. Thank you.>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: The reality is for some
of our poorer students is that every time we raise tuition, that means that the students
have to take out more loan money. Financial aid does not cover everything, and
with no MAP grants from the state, they have to take out more loans and if they have to
take out more loans, then their refund check is lower. If the refund check is lower, that means they
have less money for their bills, for their rent and then they have to work more hours
in order to pay for their rent. They’re working more hours and they have less
time to devote to their studies, less time to devote for the study’s, of the longer it
takes for them to get their degree. The longer it takes for them to get their
degree, unfortunately, it becomes a cyclical process. I honestly think we should do something really
crazy and I think we should lower tuition. I think it would do a wonderful job of bringing
in students, even across at U of I, international students pay a lot, but we could pay less.>>GREGORY KNOTT: Three things come to mind
so we have ramped up our ability to increase board scholarships. We still need to be there is trustees to tell
the message of why the community college impacts east central Illinois. On the federal level, the higher education
reauthorization act is going to be looked at this next year and we were in DC easily
to talk about Pell grants. One of the things we advocated for very strongly
was the year round Pell Grant. One of the areas we lose our students is over
the summer and the year round Pell can ensure there is a continuity of the student studies
between the spring and the fall semester so I would say advocacy is one of the biggest
things we do as a trustee. As a fellow elected official, you can look
at a congressman, Senator, representative in the eye, and they have the same common
ground with you and that is the electorate and so advocacy should be one of our main
priorities.>>RICHARD TAYLOR: Raising tuition has to
be avoided and property taxes, in a poor School District, the larger school district just
had a large property tax increase on their last referendum. This is not a good idea to be raising property
taxes. We are talking about students with needs. We are talking about identifying though students
with needs in the junior high, high school. We need to work through foundations. We need to go to the private sector. We have a wonderful hospitality program here,
and we need to go to people, businesses that are affected by the hospitality program and
to look for needs. We need to look at the agriculture department. We need to offer needs based scholarship,
not just academic.>>HOLLY WILPER: The next question; we will
start with Ms. Becky Densmore. As a candidate, what steps have you taken
to face the issues facing Parkland and furthermore, what you think the Board of Trustees should
do to educate the public about the situation at Parkland?>>BECKY DENSMORE: So I did my research. I have a research base when I go to look at
any types of issues. I started searching what were the current
issues in the community and beyond that, what are the current issues in the community college
industry overall because I think that our problems that we are facing here in East Central
Illinois are not necessarily unique to what is happening around the country. So I think that was important. I also think it is important to talk to those
that are in the day to day trenches. So I have spoken to individuals who are with
Parkland the faculty and staff and got a sense of what they felt the issues were as well. Go forward I think it is usually critical
to ensure that all stakeholders have a voice in what is happening and that time should
be set aside, be it a survey or even a focus group to gain their sense because I think
some of the answers are out there in the community college now. Thank you.>>BIANCA GREEN: After being appointed to
the board in 2015, I have been in a crash course of issues facing Parkland College. There is a lot to be learned about Parkland
and it is difficult to know how to best engage the public, but every time I get a Parkland
board packet, every time I am at a meeting, every time I send a meeting to Tom or reach
out to Chris Randall to try to better understand the tax levy issue or to better understand
some of the issues facing us in Springfield I am constantly trying to learn how I can
make the best decisions possible through that ongoing education, on the to speak. It is tricky to know how to best engage the
public and we have moved our board meetings around with the district a few times and I
think we have a plan to continue to do that and we have an about whether we want to start
televising our board meetings. I don’t know how many people would be interested
in tuning in, but if we reach more people that way, I think it is a discussion we need
to continue to have.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: When I first considered
running for this position and I started talking with friends who were urging me to do it,
I realized that I really did not know a lot about the intricacies of what was going on
at Parkland other than what my son was telling me of course, when he was coming home from
school. And so I went back and started looking at
old board reports and following the history forward and one of the greatest resources
I had was actually the website. There is a wealth of knowledge on the website
about the history of Parkland College, what is going on with the different departments,
what is available to the school and to the students. And then I started going out to some of my
legislative friends and talk to them because I figure the number 1 issue that was going
to be talked about here during the campaign was going to be the state budget and how it
has impacted Parkland. And everybody has great reviews about how
wonderful Parkland is, what a great job it does, how it serves the community in many
different ways, but until this budget issue gets resolved we are going to still be struggling
to find a way to encourage more solutions for our students.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: Communications is difficult
in good times and in bad times, it is difficult, but it is critical. Unit 4 had a very unsuccessful campaign to
move Central out of Central. But when they sat down and listen to the community,
when they began to engage with the community, they came out and they had a 180-million-dollar
tax increase that the community improved. Our job as Board of Trustees would be to communicate
to the community the urgency, the things that are happening, like losing two of the full
time faculty, nontenured, that are critical to the diversity within the community. Things like what it means for a rate increase,
to the retention of students, these are the types of things that have to be communicated
to the community. Thank you.>>RABEL BURDGE: I think what Trustee Greene
pointed out is that we have to seek as many venues as we can to get the word. And that could be very small as I hate to
say a book club or a local coffee club or it could be a large venue like some of the
local service organizations, but I think as a board member truly the people need to have
a chance to talk to us. I know I don’t want to talk about town meeting
so much given the current political climate, but I find that when I go to these groups
I can again talking about Parkland and then they begin to talk about their experiences
and then from that position, we can let them know what we are doing and what our future
tends to be. So I think community engagement, like what
you talked about is good.>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: I think in looking
at this, the honor of being able to sit here today, I did the normal research in reading,
talk to Unit 4 and understand the pipeline and try to connect it to Parkland in terms
of long residents, neighbors. And most of the research that has come for
me, is my employees and my employees at the credit union have some type of ties to student
or family members and Parkland and sitting down and hearing the pride that they have
and what they learned here and what they are providing to our credit union, the growth
they have experienced is remarkable. And Parkland is a true gem and that point
of view and that they have given opportunities to individuals and I see it as I walk around
our branches, and they are extremely happy to be serving or at Parkland.>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: I think one of the best
things I can provide as a member of the board is direct insight of what it is like to be
in a classroom, what it is like to be a member of the Parkland College family. Obviously, I know firsthand because these
are my friends, these are my students. In fact, I just saw one of my students going
out there. I need to catch her afterwards and make sure
she is doing her paper, but the inside that I provide for the board, I think, will be
invaluable, just as invaluable as a student trustee is. It is not all that uncommon to have a faculty
on the board of trustees. I think it would actually help the board of
trustees to better understand the challenges that our students are facing and that our
faculty are facing. I deafly think we can do a much better job
a better educating the community and asking the community to go to our legislators on
our behalf and fight for a state budget because we need a state budget.>>GREGORY KNOTT: Two parts of the question. I have been the last six years as a trustee,
so I am fully up to speed. What we have done as Bianca mentioned as we
have moved our name around the district. More importantly, what we finished if few
years ago was a tour of every single high school in the district, we went to every single
high school board meeting. It took a couple of years, but you can imagine
a district from Ogden to Leroy, that is a lot of school boards, and it took me a while
but there was no better place to get out there and engage in those places where students
are going to come from. That is what we need to do more of. There is not a week or hardly a day that goes
by that I’m not wearing my green and somebody comes up and says Parkland impacting me in
this way and for me, that is an affirmation of the good job we are doing. Times are tough right now. They understand, but they encourage me to
keep going, keep Parkland strong, and I think that is our number 1 goal as trustees is to
keep that accessibility.>>RICHARD TAYLOR: I think we should all get
50 signatures on petitions every year. I cannot believe what a learning experience
it is getting signatures from people to be on the ballot. I got feedback from most of the people. They talked about items I had no idea were
concerns. They were passionate and each one was different. I am kidding about getting signatures every
year. But what I would like to do if I am a trustee
and I think others would do the same is open up a Facebook, social media page where some
of these people know that they can contact us without having to talk to us in person,
just contact us and we can respond back. Bring it to a board meeting. We will discuss it and then we will get feedback
and that would be one way, way for interaction. That is already in acceptable way of doing
it.>>DANA TRIMBLE: I think 18 years on this
board has help me stay abreast of the issues that affect Parkland College directly. It is staff and students and the ministers
and also the taxpayer of the district because my job has taken me virtually from one end
of the district to the other talking to farmers up and down the roads. But another thing that our board does to stay
abreast of issues that are the state and national level, is that Pell and Mr. Ayers are heavily
involved so we can look at issues and how they resolve them and we can also figure out
new ways to address issues here by talking to others in that way. Not only did we tour all of the school boards
recently, but prior to that we did those town Hall meetings around the district. So we have been out trying to engage the communities
and as president Ramage would hand out a card to respond, any questions, comments, or concerns
that you may have.>>HOLLY WILPER: A question, for this one
we will start with Ms. Green.>>BIANCA GREEN: I am sorry. I lost track for a second.>>HOLLY WILPER: Parkland used to regulate
hold a futures conference and which aid diverse group of community members came up with ideas
to address the college and their most pressing needs. Would you favor returning to this community
approach?>>BIANCA GREEN: I cannot imagine an idea
where they would not embrace the members of the community. As I’m getting the word out about the path
that I have taken in terms of appointment and now running to retain my seat, there are
so many people out there that think that Parkland’s district is Champaign County. They have no idea really the reach of our
district and how large it is and I would absolutely favor reaching out to community leaders, to
individuals within the community who can help identify and outline ideas, thoughts, observations
that they have in their areas that will make our district stronger. Thank you.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: I am surprised we are
not doing it already to be honest. It seems silly because this community has
so much to offer within the District 505. And all of the programs that are offered here
and his educational opportunity through Parkland are utilized within our district and the employers
and the community services that hire these folks, that her educated here, all we need
to hear from them we need to find out what their needs are and changing needs are and
where the technology is going where we can adapt our classes and educational standards
to meet those needs. It would be imperative that we hold these
types of meetings.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: Of course yes, why wouldn’t
we do it? The need for the stakeholders to feel like
they have a part of the outcome in Parkland, that they have a say in it, that they have
a direction in it is the way you build support, the weight you build knowledge within the
community so of course yes.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Burdge?>>RABEL BURDGE: I think that is a great idea,
a great public involvement idea and certainly something that the Board of Trustees would
want to take the leadership in bringing a group of people in some sort of form where
they would have the opportunity to talk in small groups and sort of bring it together
as we talk about the issues that face the college. We also might ask the League of Women Voters
to send us a questionnaire every year like they did for this so we can fill it out all
over again as we have had a chance to think about some of the issues that we face. Thank you.>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: If there is only
an electronic medium where people people could share by the minute. (Laughter)
I would say absolutely. This is also notably already happening. The communities we serve that do or do not
know about us are openly talking about us by the minute, making comments and so it is
critical to engage them and I see this at the credit union where when I entered the
workforce 30 years ago and ask about strategy, I was told that was above my pay grade. The employees entering the workforce now expect
to be part of a strategic strategy and help to hope to help at the highest level. I would want to see that as a trustee we are
reaching out not only at a future conference level, but in a way that we are doing it across
the different ways that people connect.>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: I remember one of the
first couple of years I came here. I was actually one of the moderators at a
futures conference. It was in the gym and all of these tables
and all of these people from the community came and it was great because all of these
people really cared about Parkland and they had a lot of energy and a lot to get. It was great. We got tons of ideas and we form related it
and put it together. It was awesome! It was awesome for a classroom teacher to
see that kind of passion! And just connecting with people and connecting
with what things you are thinking and expecting of your future employers. What other kinds of things you need? What do you need us to focus on and overwhelmingly
a lot of them at that time said computers, computers, computers. The students need to know how to use computers
and of course, that affects my students because a lot of my students unfortunately don’t have
access to reliable computers and Internet and things like that. I am just jumping at the opportunity to advocate
for.>>GREGORY KNOTT: Absolutely I am in favor. One of the first things the foundation did
was host community leaders and I was at the one here in this room and I have been at the
futures conference here at the past and a number of our programs their local alumni
and business leaders, so we do a lot of engagement and I think the future as Rochelle said is
his exciting. So I see no reason not to do it. It is only one of the mechanisms with which
to engage in the community. I think all of us have thrown out good ideas
do. So anyway, we can engage with those that pay
the taxes and the tuition, I think we should do it.>>RICHARD TAYLOR: Let’s look at one example
of something very much in the community. Right now, there is a very sound trend of
farm to table. We have hospitality curriculum at Parkland. We have agriculture curriculum. What do the farm to table businesses need? What is where can we fill in the pieces? There is a lot more than just agriculture
and just hospitality. There is delivery and understanding specialty
crops and there is a small Farms. How can we tweak our programs by what the
needs are of the local community, which is very local, Farm to table, even though it
is all over the country, is very local and we can take the information and it will help
our enrollment and help the needs of our community?>>DANA TRIMBLE: I have attended a lot of
those futures conferences and I think they are good and it might be time to return to
that. Everything cycles and sometimes things peak
and ebb and flow and so it may be time to return to those, but in the meantime, each
of our departments has advisory councils available to them to gather the kinds of information
that we are talking about. They have also done bus tours and some of
the faculty and staff have loaded up on one of the Parkland buses and gone out and toured
different facilities around the community to try to stay in touch. It may be time to do some more futures conferences,
but don’t go away thinking that we are not doing some outreach now.>>BECKY DENSMORE: I have been a part of those
future conferences, and they were so well run. You are able to gather a small amount of data
in a short amount of time. Great questions and moderators and facilitators. It was an awesome event and I think that it
might be an opportunity to reengage the community once again and revisit that and I would definitely
think that is an opportunity for Parkland to engage the broader community.>>HOLLY WILPER: Thank you. At this point we need to move to our closing
statements. We have run out of time for questions, but
before we do that I would like to thank everyone who submitted a question. I still have several excellent questions I
could not get to. We could not do this without you, so we are
going to go to our two-minute closing statement and we will begin with Mr. Howell.>>JOHN BARRY HOWELL: Thank you. It is the state admission of Parkland College
to engage the community in learning and that is quite an ambitious statement, to provide
a diverse educational environment and then to reach out and draw in students from all
the corners of the college’s 12 counties. But Parkland College has been doing it and
doing it well for 50 years and as a member of the Board of Trustees I feel it would be
would be my duty first and foremost to represent this district, and to ensure a fiscally responsible
budget and continuing to achieve Parkland College and his goals and mission. Lack of funds by the state is compromising
the college’s ability to maintain this mission, but it would be unfair to use this as an excuse
to increase the financial burden on either the taxpayer or the students. We need to continue to impress on our state
representatives on both sides of the aisle that this impasse must be resolved. Until it is, we need to look internally for
cost savings that don’t diminish the quality of education. We need to engage in schools and smaller communities
throughout the District 505 to increase enrollment and we need to continue to promote what Parkland
has to offer, over 100 different degrees and certificate programs, dual credit programs
for high school students and an outstanding assortment of sports, art, organizations,
and clubs. I would appreciate the opportunity to serve
on the Board of Trustees for the Parkland College and I look forward to helping the
college continue to fulfill its mission.>>KATHLEEN ROBBINS: Parkland is an outstanding
organization, a wonderful school, and a key piece of the educational opportunity for all
our citizens in District 505 and across the central part of Illinois. The key of the Board of Trustees is to make
sure that the faculty, the students, the staff have the tools, the programs, and the direction
to be successful in the future. Is making it more and more difficult so one
of the big roles of the Parkland Board of Trustees is to be a messenger to the state
legislators, to our governor, to ensure that they understand the impact this is having
on the communities, and not only today, but the future. We are talking about the futures of our children. So I look forward to working with the other
six people on the term if I am elected and thank you very much for coming tonight.>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Burdge?>>RABEL BURDGE: So why do I want to be a
Parkland College trustee? As a member of the Parkland College Board
of Trustees, by top priority would be to support the administration and the faculty in evaluating
the present curriculum with a major focus on postsecondary skill levels and employment
opportunities that lead to job placement. I am very positive about the future of Parkland
College and we must remember, or are remembering that Parkland is a People’s college for those
who live in East Central Illinois. It provides affordable quality access to a
better life, and avenue for enrolling in a four year university, technical certification
for many job opportunities, medical profession and training for manufacturing and technical
skills. We even have a food pantry that helps many
students. For the nonstudent community, Parkland provides
specialized adult education, opportunities and a venue for art, culture, and the planetarium
and sports activities. I have an extensive background in college
teaching. My business experience in community collaboration
and leadership skills provide me with the right mix of experience for the Board of trustee
members that are responsible to vote for Parkland College in the private and public sectors
of our community. I have been executive director and treasurer
of a medium size professional organization and a board member for a not for profit with
fiduciary responsibilities. In addition, I was partner in a family business,
developing middle and income middle and low income housing. So please help me get out the vote on April
4. A good turnout show support for Parkland College
and of course, vote for Rabel Burdge, position two on a six year ballot, my rabelburdge.com. I was trying to think of some sort of catchphrase
for my campaign. I will let you fill in the blank. Get the blank, vote for Burdge. Have you figure that one out? (Laughter)
>>HOLLY WILPER: Mr. Donaghey?>>EUGENE JOHN DONAGHEY JR.: The News Gazette
published our answers and I received a call from Rick Darnell, head of the velvet for
the U of I foundation and he explained how a group of Boy Scout troops that he works
with went to Parkland College, and had an opportunity to figure out and visit the aviation
school, and he said I’m trying to find the right words, EJ, but if you were to get on
the board, tell them to do more of that. What it shows to me is that Parkland has. It is systematic, the engagement, the visits
with the 29 high school’s the committees, etc. and with that I believe that Parkland’s
dedication to District 505,’s professional development and workforce development and
inclusion and is loyal to students is critical. And maintaining and growing that level of
excellence for Parkland College provides not only benefits for the students, but for this
community and I will work with the other board members and the board it to continue to connect
Parkland with local businesses, labor, and other options and pathways that will help
the students grow and the college grow itself. In other words, advocate, which I think is
a critical function of. Parkland College has made a difference in
the lives of thousands of students and families in our communities and I look forward to continuing
the strong tradition of excellence and again, I am EJ Eugene Donaghey and I look forward
to your vote on April 4.>>ROCHELLE HARDEN: My name is Rochelle Harden
and I want to thank the League of Women Voters and the NAACP and Parkland College for hosting
us and The News Gazette. We should do more of this. This is awesome! I love having people come out in support of
Parkland College and I would love to do this every week if we possibly could. This warms my heart. It gives me a lot of hope because I take that
hope back into the classroom. That same kind of hope I think I would hope
to bring to the board. I have a lot of insight as a faculty member
and a lot of insight as to what our students face and our poorer students face and our
minority students face. As a person of color, It surprises me that
Parkland College has a robust African American community and as far as I know, we have never
had an African American person on the board. So I think we need representation and I think
we need to hear more voices and I do think diversity is important, but it is more than
just saying we believe in diversity. We actually have to make action. I also want to say that it is extremely important
that we get a budget. And lot of what we have to say up here, what
we want to do for the future of Parkland College; I think the faculty and the staff and the
administration have done as much as they possibly can in order to shield students from the effects
of this budget cut. And the truth of the matter is it is going
to eventually affect them. We have students who are leaving the state
of Illinois. There are lots of great campaigning as students
are finding other choices and other places to go so we need to do everything we can to
bring students here because we have wonderful faculty, wonderful services that we should
market more, bring in more students, and do everything we can so that all students are
successful. My name is Rochelle Harden. Please vote for me.>>GREGORY KNOTT: You know every time I walk
through the doors, I think of one single thing and that is the students. The budget, the new facilities, the faculty,
and staff, they all exist for one single reason, that student. In 1984 when I got out of high school, this
was my gateway to education, and without it, I would not have went on to get those other
degrees. And again, when I come back and I think, when
I walked through the new student University, that is cingulate my focus. To me, there is no greater feeling, usually
the second week of May and having the privilege to sit on that stage and watch the people
come across that stage as they graduate. Those are people of every age, every ethnicity
and I think every single one of them has a story. And as a board member, we contribute just
a little bit hopefully to the success of that story. I think you know we look toward the future
and that is what motivates me. I call it my, “one day of pay.” We do not get paid for this, but one day I
do; it is to be on the stage and wash the people come across and see their families
and see the excitement on their face and see what they have achieved. That is why we as trustees and that is why
50 years ago the voters of East Central Illinois created Parkland College and that is my single
mode motivator and that is what I want to stay focused on. I think all of the people up here had that
same passion, but singularly the students, that is why I ran and why I am running again. I am Gregory Knott and I ask for your support
on April 4.>>RICHARD TAYLOR: I want to thank all of
you who are here, all of you who are at home. Thank you for being informed. Thank you for being involved. Please stay informed. Please stay involved. We have a lot of challenges coming up in Washington,
the state of Illinois, the Department of Education, huge concerns. How is that going to affect public education
from the top all the way down to the Parkland community? I have a daughter 11 years old going to South
side uniform Champaign. I have a wife that teaches at Unit 4 middle
school literacy. Her students are economically challenged with
reading issues. She is trying to get them motivated and doing
a good job of it so that they will be ready to go to Parkland. They are excited about it. If energy and money is diverted from federal
programs, away from the public school, these are the students who will be affected. We want them to be ready to come to our community,
to come to Parkland College. Please stay village and. Thank you. Richard Taylor.>>DANA TRIMBLE: In my opening statement,
I welcomes you to the jewel of the Midwest and I really believe Parkland College is the
jewel of the Midwest. We have outstanding facilities. We have outstanding faculty and staff. We have a diverse group of students, great
programs, and we are high quality respected throughout this nation. It is up to this board to maintain all of
the quality and all of the services and all of the programs that we can for the students. The students are our number 1 priority and
we are responsible to the taxpayers, but the students are our number 1 priority. I think my differentiators as a candidate
are my years of experience, both on a local school board and my experience on the Parkland
board, which I’m currently privileged to be the Chair. The fact that I grew up on a farm and have
the ag background and live in a rural community in the far southeast corner of the district,
I think I speak for the rural communities on this board. I also want to thank the sponsors and I want
to thank the candidates here. I think we have heard a lot of good responses
from the candidates, and they lot of good ideas and also, again, I want to thank you,
whether you are in this audience or watching on PCTV, it is important to us as Mr. Taylor
said that you stay involved and stay informed. We want to keep Parkland the jewel of the
Midwest. I am Dana Trimble and I ask for your vote
on April.>>BECKY DENSMORE: In my responses to The
News Gazette, when we talked about, when we were asked about are you optimistic about
Parkland’s future? I was wholeheartedly yes, I am optimistic
about Parkland’s future. Investment is education is without question
an investment into our future, into our lives and into our community and Parkland College
has been that wheelhouse. They are the cog in our community. I am passionate about Parkland College and
while I did not attend here, I attended a similar one downstate and it was my gateway
as well. I come to you from a background of education
administration and beyond that I come from quality education. We are credited schools and I know what quality
looks like and I know what rigorous evaluation looks like. I know how to use data and data analytics. Beyond that I am also, rule number 1, I’m
about the students, teaching and learning environments are crucial and that is the heart
and soul of what Parkland does. Yes, it does offer many, many things for the
community, but it also exists for the student that it serves. I hope that you would vote for me on April
4 because I can bring the educational background and be your advocate for the teaching and
learning environment on behalf of the students that you serve. Beyond that, thank you all, the faculty, the
staff, the leadership here and at home, you are in the trenches day in and day out and
I know it is not an easy job, but please know it is not a.>>BIANCA GREEN: As I mentioned earlier, I
am a proud alumnus a Parkland College and I am proudly serving as a member of the Board
of Trustees at this point in time. I will tell you though that this is no easy
job, no matter which one of us, what combination of individuals up here ends up on the Board
of Trustees, we have got a lot of work ahead to do. However, I believe that the responsible decisions
that we have been making, our efforts at being proactive are paying off. We are seeing that in our ability to preserve
many, if not all of the programs that we have at this point, and we are making sure that
we are continuing that tradition of excellence moving forward, and I hope to continue to
be part of that process. I think we have to be proactive in our thinking;
we have to be proactive in exploring options, and we have to be proactive and how we are
assessing all of the issues that we are facing now and those that we can’t even anticipate
at this point. You know, I heard I was here on Friday night
for the innovation celebration and I heard this great quote, and they said, “You can’t
steal 2nd base if your foot is stuck on first” and I like to think we are in the position
of leading off. I think I like where we are headed and I think
we are ready to move in really optimistic about where we are going. We have got some challenges, and we are working
on them and I hope to have the opportunity to continue to be a part of that decision-making
process and I would appreciate your consideration on April 4. I am Bianca Green and you can learn a little
bit more about me on my website if you choose to do so Green for Parkland.com. Thank you.>>HOLLY WILPER: Thank you to all of the candidates
and thank you again to the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and The News Gazette who
sponsor this form and thank you to the ushers who gathered the questions from the audience,
to our timers, and Steve, Deborah, and Patricia kept me from going insane, to Carol and Carol
and Cassidy who made all of the arrangements for this forum, and to Chris Foster, Mike,
Rick, and Kevin who have provided our technical support and who have made this broadcast live
successful and it will be rebroadcast later. The League of Women Voters would like to remind
you all to vote on April 4 and thank you for attending the forum. Good night. (Applause)

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