The candidates for Illinois Central College Board of Trustees are as diverse as the classes offered at the community college.
Four people are running for two seats in the April 9 election. Voters spread across 10 counties can choose from a retired Pekin dentist and longtime incumbent on the board; a former Peoria City councilwoman and retired attorney; a Eureka resident who teaches at an alternative program in McLean County; and an accounting clerk-turned-geologist from rural Hanna City who teaches at Lincoln College’s Normal campus.
Robert Ehrich, 78, of Pekin would begin his 38th year on the board if elected. He has seen terms go from three years to 4½ and, currently, six years.
Ehrich considers the additions of ICC South in Pekin, ICC North in Peoria and the Downtown Peoria campus as his most important accomplishments in office. But he’s practical about the eventual closing of the Downtown campus and would be in favor of selling or renting those buildings.
The board’s philosophy has been instrumental in the college’s success and Ehrich wants to keep it that way. For instance, trustees voted Wednesday to raise tuition for the 12th year in a row. But ICC’s tuition remains below the state average though trustees have never raised property taxes.
“I want to keep the tenor as reasonably constant as possible,” Ehrich said, “so we don’t go off on radical tangents.”
Gale Thetford, 61, of Peoria began monitoring ICC board meetings as a volunteer with the League of Women Voters after she retired about a year ago. The former city councilwoman had been general counsel for the Illinois Department on Aging for 23 years.
Thetford says her background in law and public service, along with an earlier stint as a high school teacher, make her a good fit for the board. She would like to see online learning enhanced and more emphasis on job placement and work force readiness for students not pursuing advanced degrees.
“I continue to believe ICC provides the best post-secondary education you can get in this community at an affordable price.”
At 26, Adam Herrmann of Eureka is the youngest candidate running for the board. He teaches social studies and science at YouthBuild McLean County, a charter school where students learn to build housing as they earn a high school or general equivalency diploma.
Herrmann is concerned about the number of students enrolled in noncredit classes at community colleges. Too many end up struggling, dropping out and using up financial aid for classes without earning real college credits, he said.
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Diane Unes Lamb, 58, of rural Hanna City was a nontraditional student in her 40s when she enrolled at ICC in 1998. She went on to earn a master’s degree in hydro-geology from Illinois State University.
A former accounting clerk at Illinois Department of Transportation, she has a long history of volunteering with the Itoo Society. She currently serves on the executive committee of the Illinois Groundwater Association and is an adjunct instructor at Lincoln College.
Though she says ICC’s growth is impressive, she wants to make sure instruction isn’t sacrificed to building expansions. Lamb also is concerned about how employees, especially non-union employees, are treated at the college.
Illinois Central College District 514 covers Bureau, Livingston, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford counties.