SALINE COUNTY -- The Southeastern Illinois College board has frozen tuition at current levels for the upcoming academic year -- citing steady enrollment figures, improving retention rates and other positive measures.
By freezing tuition rates, SIC will remain one of the most affordable colleges in the tri-state region, officials say.
"SIC provides the highest quality education for a fraction of the cost of other institutions," said longtime board Chairman Dr. Pat York. "And we must do our best to keep it that way for our community families."
Keeping tuition down helps keeps enrollment numbers up, officials say. According to Chad Flannery, executive dean of Student Services, SIC's credit hours are remaining steady compared to last year, with an uptick in head count.
"New recruiting initiatives for special academic programs and unique student life activities are bringing more students from neighboring states to SIC," Flannery said.
For example, SIC has 13 students enrolled in the new taxidermy class, including out-of-state ones.
SIC's overall retention rate for fall 2018 was higher than 2017, moving up to 52 percent for degree/certificate seeking students.
SIC President Jonah Rice said the evidence shows that the college's enrollment mitigation strategy is working.
In addition, SIC is continuing to work with a university partner to deliver an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to interested students.
"Details are still being worked out, but the proposal we advanced ... is all but done," Rice said.
"Our students who know from day one (they want) a BSN will be able to do that from right here -- taking essentially three years at SIC and one year at the senior institution all online," said Gina Sirach, executive dean of Academic Services.
Scholarships for the BSN may be available as well.
"We can't wait to release the details. It's going to be a great partnership that's built on real action and trust -- all for the good of the student and our support of regional health care," Rice said.
The partnership will be formally announced once the agreement is finalized.
Other similar partnerships are also in the works but not ready for release at this point.
The upcoming Outdoor Wildlife Management program is set to begin this fall, as well as the vacant shooting coach position.
Interviews for both positions are underway.
"We already have recruits for the Outdoor Wildlife Management program from as far as Virginia, and the program doesn't officially begin until fall," Sirach said. "There is a lot of buzz surrounding our outdoor programs."
Meanwhile, the college board saw a draft of a new marketing brochure celebrating the many achievements at SIC since the college's last reaccreditation visit 10 years ago.
Among them are SIC's multiple national champions in competitive speech, debate and archery and Model Illinois Government.
"It's amazing what we have done in terms of academics, facilities, championships and so much more," Rice said.
The board also heard about a working relationship with local law enforcement, particularly concerning a new memorandum of understanding among multijurisdictional law enforcement agencies, that Executive Dean of Administrative Services Lisa Hite said will enhance safety and security.
• The board approved the closeout of documents for past Protection, Health and Safety bond work on campus; approved an institutional research policy; approved upcoming PHS projects on the campus; and accepted multiple budget transfers in departments.
• In personnel, the board approved Travis Bond as the new Learning Commons Paraprofessional, Ricky Sauls as CTE and Special Projects Coordinator and a number of adjunct faculty.
• The board also approved a new contract for President Rice that extends from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2023, with an annual salary increase of 3 percent the first two years and zero for the last two.
The next meeting of the board will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC. More information about SIC can be found at www.sic.edu.