Political Science Club Holds Forum for Board of Trustees Candidates

Candidate forum

Candidates for the John A Logan Board of Trustees took part in a forum to address the community on Tuesday night. Photo by Andi Ahne

The Political Science Club here at John A. Logan College held a forum for the candidates running for four Board of Trustees seats. Hosted by Dr. Jane Bryant and moderated by Emily Rich and Corey Henkelman, the forum provided an opportunity for the candidates to address the questions of the public.

Vying for two seats are Cheryl Graff, Chuck Hamilton, Bill Kilquist, John O’Keefe, Jim Snider, Russell Williams, and Mike Vanhorn.

The candidates answered a series of questions with topics ranging from performance based funding to potential budget cuts. One issue brought up was the increase in tuition of $8 per credit hour. Funds from the increase were used to purchase a new student information system for the campus. The purchase brings JALC’s technology up-to-date in regards, a move which most of the candidates agreed was necessary.

“How many of you remember using Nintendo [NES] on your television?” asked Snider. “That’s what we were using. We were using [NES] when everyone else was using X-Boxes.”

Another subject that seemed to gain a lot of attention was ethics. Questions about possible nepotism in hiring and the role of the Board for the school were the main focus. All of the candidates denied any allegations of nepotism, with some saying more transparency would remove all doubt.

“I think it’s more about transparency and accountability and also open communication,” said Williams. “The Board holds a very delicate trust relationship with the community and the Board should exceed expectations.”

However, one voice rang louder than others about the alleged nepotism at JALC.

“I think I pretty well based my whole campaign on that one question [of nepotism],” said Vanhorn. “Visibility by the board will eliminate a lot of this criticism.” Vanhorn went on to cite several specific examples of alleged nepotism that were not immediately addressed by the other candidates.

One question from the audience raised the idea of cuts going on at the school and what would be the first programs to go. The idea of cuts was rebuffed for the most part, with candidates citing JALC’s lauded strategic planning initiative.

“We’re pretty bare-boned right now,” said O’Keefe. “The problem is the state problems [of owing the college money] are going to continue…we’re going to have to be very innovative just to keep our head above water.”

Despite the frequently heavy atmosphere, there was a fairly unanimous feeling that JALC is operating quite well. Currently, JALC is third in the state in energy efficiency and in the top 15 cheapest colleges in Illinois.

By and large the forum was full of positive energy towards the school and the potential JALC holds going further.

“It seems like all the candidates showed they have an element of desire to improve the college and student success,” said Dr. Bryant.

The election for the Board of Trustees will be April 9, 2013.

Audio of all the answers can be found here.