Illinois Valley Community College placed its human services and graphic design technology programs on inactive status at Thursday’s board meeting due to “unsustainable enrollments,” according to a news release from the college.
Trustees approved discontinuing a human services Associate in Applied Science degree and certificate, as well as substance abuse treatment certificates.
However, program courses will continue through the end of spring 2020 in a “one-year teach-out” to allow students in either program the opportunity to complete certificates or degrees, said Vice President for Academic Affairs Deborah Anderson.
The decision was based on the administration’s annual review of “program viability.” The programs had previously gone through “enhancement plans” in an attempt to generate enrollment.
Human services’ duplicated head count fell from 140 in 2012 to 61 in 2018 and credit hours generated from 420 to 180. The program had 13 graduates earn the associate degree or a certificate in 2016; three students completed in 2018.
In a Jan. 14 memo to IVCC President Jerry Corcoran, Anderson lamented the program’s demise after 16 years.
“Human services has strong ties to the social service agencies in the Illinois Valley. Many of these agencies rely on our students to serve as interns and to staff their entry level positions,” she said. “In a very humane sense, the program underscores our mission to contribute to the quality of life in the Illinois Valley. Unfortunately, the dire need for people to serve in this field has not attracted students to the program.”
One of the primary reasons, Anderson said, is its entry-level positions “have low rates of pay with limited career paths.”
Human services prepares students for careers in family support, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, adult day care, client and child advocacy, social services and community organizing and outreach, among many other occupations.
Program coordinator and instructor Jean Batson-Turner, leader of the program since 2002, will have the opportunity to remain at IVCC as she is qualified to teach sociology, Anderson said.
A few of the human services students asked the board Thursday night to reconsider dropping the program. Second-year student Cyndi Freeman said the program produces individuals “who mend the broken back to wellness.”
When informed of the college’s plan to allow those already enrolled to finish the program, first-year student Patricia Dillard said, “That relieves a lot of fear for me.”
Graphic design technology program coordinator Francie Skoflanc, who retired as a full-time instructor in July, is teaching part-time this semester. No courses were offered in fall 2018.
“Despite ongoing monitoring, this program remains low-enrolled and unable to generate revenues that cover its expenses,” Anderson said.
After two students graduated from the program in fiscal 2016, graphic design rebounded with 11 completers each in 2017 and 2018.
“While some limited instruction is available this spring, it is unclear if that will generate the credit hours necessary to demonstrate program viability,” Anderson said.
Corcoran credited Batson-Turner and Skoflanc for their commitment to the college and students.
“Jean and Francie have been wonderful representatives of the college across the community in their many years of employment. They are well respected professionals amongst their peers and have never given less than 100 percent to their students,” Corcoran said.
In other business, trustees approved changes to 86 course fees resulting in 62 increases, two new courses, 15 decreases and the assignment of fees to seven existing courses.
In other business
The board also approved:
• Transfer of $450,000 to a Capital Development Board trust account for the building of an agriculture program building where the dairy barn once stood. The college hopes to move beyond storage as students learn how precision ag equipment works, inspect it and perform minor routine maintenance out of the weather. The building also would enable future expansion in other ag-related programs.
• The December 2018 Master Plan completed by Demonica Kemper Architects, of Chicago.
• Release of closed session meeting minutes from Oct. 12, 2017.
• A June 21-22 meeting of the Illinois Native Plant Society in CTC 124-125 that will include dinners with alcohol.
• Intergovernmental agreements with Ottawa for a 12-year extension of a downtown TIF and with Streator for its Route 18 East TIF.
• Designation of the 2020 fiscal year from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, and the budget calendar.
• After closed session, termination of an employee.
The board also learned:
• Based on 180 online reviews, Niche.com ranked IVCC seventh of 48 Illinois community colleges and 105th of 868 community colleges across the nation for the quality of its professors, value, diversity, student life, safety and location.
• The Higher Learning Commission recently gave notice IVCC’s interim report had been reviewed and matters pertaining to the strategic plan, academic program review, retention, persistence and completion rate met HLC requirements. No further reports are required. Corcoran credited Vice President for Academic Affairs Deborah Anderson for putting the report together.
• Next fall, Illinois Valley Crime Prevention Commission will have advanced law enforcement classes for police officers at IVCC. The commission plans to offer courses for police officers who want to become field-training officers. “I believe this will strengthen the partnership between the training commission and local law enforcement and encourage officers interested in furthering their education to do so at IVCC,” Corcoran said.
• The annual recruitment day for local hospitals at IVCC Jan. 28 introduced 53 of the college’s soon-to-be-graduating RN students to a dozen representatives from area hospitals.
• Approximately 225 students from 11 high schools competed in the annual Regional Academic Challenge Feb. 8 at IVCC. Winners advance to the Eureka College sectional. State competition is April 22-25 at Eastern Illinois University.
• The annual Adult Education recognition event is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, in the Dr. Mary Margaret Weeg Cultural Centre. The event honors those who have recently passed the High School Equivalency Exam, become U.S. citizens or completed the bridge to health care or manufacturing programs.
• A total of 165 fall graduates earned 186 degrees and certificates compared to 161 students earning 202 degrees and certificates in 2017.
• In a letter to the board, University of Illinois Extension ag program coordinator Daryle Wragge praised the college for revitalizing its ag program.