Education

SWIC president’s retirement date is made official

SWIC celebrating 70 years

Students, faculty, staff, and board members were on hand to participate in a 70th birthday celebration.
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Students, faculty, staff, and board members were on hand to participate in a 70th birthday celebration.

Southwestern Illinois College President Georgia Costello’s previously announced retirement date was made official Wednesday night.

After a decade as SWIC’s leader, her last day at the college will be June 30, 2018. The SWIC board of trustees formally considered her retirement during its meeting Wednesday.

And for the second time in two months, the meeting’s agenda included the possibility for a vote to fire an undisclosed number of full-time and part-time employees to cut costs. But the board decided again Wednesday not to take any action on potential layoffs. Any discussions about personnel have taken place behind closed doors.

SWIC’s financial troubles stem from enrollment declines and the state’s budget impasse, which meant a drop in the amount of money SWIC received from the state.

The last time trustees met to consider layoffs — Nov. 27 — was also the day Costello announced to the board her plan to retire.

She sent a memo, which was provided to the Belleville News-Democrat.

“My plan is to promote SWIC at every opportunity, continuing to boast its mission and excellence,” Costello wrote in the memo. “You can count on it.”

Neither the trustees nor Costello addressed her retirement during the meeting Wednesday.

In the memo, Costello noted the college’s 70th anniversary capital campaign as an accomplishment of the administrative team, faculty and staff from her 10 years at SWIC. The campaign helped the college raise more than $3 million during a time “when the money was needed most,” according to Costello.

My plan is to promote SWIC at every opportunity, continuing to boast its mission and excellence. You can count on it.

Georgia Costello, Southwestern Illinois College president

During her presidency, SWIC also accomplished the following:

▪  More than doubled the online course offerings to 512 class sections. The college stated that nearly all class sections now have an online component.

▪  Increased the amount of scholarship money awarded and the number of scholarships available by 33 percent since 2008. This year, there were 262 scholarships worth more than $250,000, according to numbers provided by SWIC.

▪  Received a grant of more than $600,000 to develop a program that provides scholarships and academic support for women and minorities who are studying science, technology, engineering or math and are planning to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree.

▪  Added career degree and certificate programs to meet the needs of local employers. Some examples include baking and pastry, commercial and industrial maintenance mechanics and cybersecurity.

▪  Received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education for veterans programs.

▪  Began the Running Start program, which allows high school students to earn an associate degree at the same time they earn their high school diploma.

▪  Received $19.1 million from the state to build the Liberal Arts Complex and $8.3 million from grants to improve vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic at the Belleville campus.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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