Education

SWIC picks its next president. He’s been on the board for 25 years.

SWIC board votes on new college president’s contract

Experience counts as the Southwestern Illinois College Board of Trustees named Nick Mance as the school's next president. Mance has 25 years of experience as a SWIC board member.
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Experience counts as the Southwestern Illinois College Board of Trustees named Nick Mance as the school's next president. Mance has 25 years of experience as a SWIC board member.

The former chairman of the Southwestern Illinois College Board of Trustees is the community college’s next president.

Trustees voted Monday night to sign a three-year contract with Nick Mance, who resigned as head of the board when he applied for the president position. He is replacing former SWIC president Georgia Costello, who retired on June 30.

Mance has 25 years of experience as a SWIC board member. His current term was going to expire in 2019. He said he wants to focus on increasing enrollment in his new role as president, which he starts immediately.

“It’s an honor for me to go ahead and fill those shoes, so I appreciate everybody, and I think we’re going to do OK and move forward, so thanks again,” Mance said after the trustees’ vote Monday.

His bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is in accounting. Mance is a certified public accountant, who has worked as chief financial officer for East St. Louis District 189 and as partner in the accounting firm The Mance Leahy Group in Columbia.

Richard Roehrkasse, the board’s vice chairman, said Mance’s experience as an accountant makes him “uniquely qualified to lead SWIC’s daily operations during these trying times,” according to a SWIC news release.

The college’s finances have taken hits because of enrollment declines and a drop in state funding during the Illinois budget impasse, which lasted from 2015 to 2017.

SWIC has said the amount of money it received from Illinois decreased from $13.5 million to $1.6 million between fiscal years 2015 and 2016. That’s also when 1,139 fewer students were attending the college.

The board has tried to cut costs since then by trimming its workforce and eliminating childcare services for students and employees who are parents.

A total of 50 staff members and 32 administrators have been dismissed. Another 12 administrators volunteered to retire early.

The college has also increased students’ tuition and fees slightly.

“The board determined that these exceptional circumstances warrant a nontraditional approach,” Roehrkasse said in the news release about SWIC’s new president.

Mance said he has worked with businesses and municipalities, including schools, as an accountant but that he learned the most about school funding as a board member for SWIC.

He has also had experience leading a school board in Cahokia District 187 in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

His goal moving forward is to learn why enrollment has been declining at SWIC and how the college might be able to attract students in the future, he said.

Mance’s salary as college president will be $172,000. He will also receive $750 per month for an expense account, a car allowance of $750 per month for using his own vehicle for college business and $400 per month for equipment and technology. That brings his total earnings to $194,800.

Georgia Costello’s salary and extra pay totaled $194,763 in 2018, according to the Illinois Community College Board’s salary database.

SWIC board member Eugene Verdu and student trustee Sonny Wilson weren’t present during Monday’s meeting. The rest of the trustees voted in favor of Mance’s contract.

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