Four people are seeking two six-year terms on the Heartland Community College board of trustees in the April 4 election.
Jim Drew, 62, of Lincoln, works with the Illinois Farm Bureau/Logan County Farm Bureau. Bennett Morris, 27, of Bloomington, is a marketing analyst at State Farm. Gregg Chadwick, 54, of Bloomington, is executive director of DMH Medical Group in Decatur. Mary Campbell, 71, of Normal, is a retired Illinois State University social work faculty member.
How should the college deal with the uncertainty of state funding? How much state money, if any, should it assume the district will receive as it prepares its budget?
Drew: Heartland has been making necessary cuts to maintain a balanced budget, eliminating 23 positions and saving approximately $1 million. I believe the state will continue funding the institution at 20-25 percent of our normal allocation. Without full support from the state, it may soon become necessary to make additional cuts.
Morris: Heartland should focus on more sustainable operations and assume no state funding in the budget. Due to the failures of Democrats and Republicans in Springfield, the college might not have a choice on this matter, but it would be advantageous to prepare and be out in front of that scenario.
Chadwick: In February, I called for the college to consider budgets without state funding. Currently, the college’s operating budget assumes 7.4 percent of revenue to come from state support. I would consider removing state support from the budget and rebate to taxpayers or students any financial support received from the state.
Campbell: Two years without a state budget is a warning not to rely heavily on state payments. HCC needs to continue lobbying state legislators and encourage students and their families to lobby. Tuition is low so it may need to again be minimally increased and additional scholarships need to be pursued.
What is the appropriate mix between full-time and part-time faculty? Why is this important?
Drew: Heartland currently has 85 full-time faculty positions and 181 part-time faculty. With all the budget uncertainties, this mix appears to be effective in maintaining a balanced budget and allows Heartland to operate without having to eliminate or cut curriculum.
Morris: The faculty’s full-time or part-time status should be attributed to the coursework, as some classes are more favorable toward part-time faculty than others (e.g. evening business classes). Coursework should generally reflect demand, so changes in the mix of full-time and part-time faculty should reflect changes in coursework, not be arbitrarily benchmarked.
Chadwick: A good way to support the careers of professional teachers is to offer full-time faculty positions. However, unpredictable or insufficient student demand, and higher costs of full-time faculty positions, put pressure on administrators to hire part-time faculty. Currently 32 percent of faculty are full time. Increasing the rate now is unlikely.
Campbell: Each department requires two, preferably three, full-time faculty in order to develop curriculum, maintain quality programs, mentor and evaluate part-time faculty, keep up with changes in their field and provide service learning opportunities. This assures quality graduates are prepared to enter our local workforce or a four-year institution.
Do you support Heartland’s efforts to recruit more international students? Why or why not?
Drew: It is advisable to recruit international students for various reasons, one of the most important being the exposure and sharing of cultures and ideas between local and international students. I would encourage expansion of the countries from which students are recruited, to promote a more diverse range of international students.
Morris: Diversity of thought and experience undoubtedly improves the learning environment for all students. Tuition for international students is three times higher than tuition for in-district students. As long as Heartland maintains a positive return on investment for recruiting operations, the resulting diversity and revenue would benefit Heartland and the district.
Chadwick: Heartland’s international programs provide revenue, enhances our community’s cultural diversity, and help our native students develop vital skills attractive to employers. Heartland has had significant success in this area, particularly with professional development programs for faculty from China, and international programs should be pursued vigorously.
Campbell: Yes, HCC students will likely remain in Central Illinois. Providing exposure to a variety of cultures is extremely beneficial in producing graduates who can think globally. International students enrich the campus, the community, provide a distinct source of revenue and gain a better understanding of our country and our culture.
What more could or should Heartland be doing to service residents of Livingston and Logan counties?
Drew: Heartland needs to continue to research desired areas of curriculum to offer in Logan County. We are limited by a lack of classroom space in Lincoln. In Livingston County, we try to maintain a complete general core curriculum. It is possible for students to earn degrees at the Pontiac Center.
Morris: Heartland should continue to promote and expand its online learning capabilities and college credit partnerships with high schools in Livingston and Logan counties.
Chadwick: Heartland has centers in Logan and Livingston counties where students can attend classes closer to home. Existing dual-credit programs help students in these communities earn college credits in high school. Continued collaboration with employers in these communities will ensure programs that support economic development are created.
Campbell: Thirty years as a university educator has taught me that service learning enriches both the students and their community. Students apply their learning by tutoring math to children in an after-school program. In addition to producing a better prepared graduate, HCC also gains wider support from the local community.