Community colleges build 'Bridge' over troubled financial waters
Cooperation has become key for Illinois community colleges to succeed, the presidents of three such schools agreed recently.
The heads of Rend Lake College (RLC), Shawnee Community College (SCC) and Southeastern Illinois College (SIC) spoke at the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) Annual Convention in April, highlighting the need for collaborative partnerships in a presentation titled “Building Bridges Not Walls.”
RLC's Terry Wilkerson, SCC's Tim Bellamey and SIC's Jonah Rice offered insights to representatives of many of the schools under HLC’s authority. The commission is the accrediting institution for Illinois, as well as the 18 other states that make up the North Central Region for higher education.
The joint presentation focused on how the schools have come together to make decisions and cooperate on programs that do the most good for students. With Illinois’ financial situation, resources for higher education institutions have been reduced and become uncertain, so the schools have put measures in place that allow them to best use funding. These include seat-and-course purchasing, wherein a college can send students to another college that has low enrollment to ensure the best use of resources, and avoiding duplicate programs through intergovernmental agreements that allow students to attend colleges outside of their districts.
“SIC, RLC, and SCC aren’t the only ones who are doing this type of thing,” Rice said, according to a press release. “We’re getting calls from other colleges and even universities about meeting to create unique partnerships. In these times, we’re open to partnering. We have to be. It just makes sense.”
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