What you need to know about the April 2019 election
Name: Robert G. Morton
Position Seeking: Trustee Southwestern Illinois College Sub District 5
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? As a current member of the Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) Board of Trustees I am running because I enjoy public service and giving back to the community. I have an enthusiasm for educating our students and training our future community leaders. I am committed to ensuring SWIC remains one of the top community colleges in the state.
What are the most important issues the facing the community college, and how would you approach them? Declining enrollment is a very important issue facing all community colleges. The Board hired a new President in July 2018 whose top priority is addressing enrollment. The recruitment of excellent faculty and staff, promoting programs responsive to our communities needs, and the retention of students are the first steps in addressing these key issues. Funding is also an issue, which is related to the decreased enrollment and delayed state funding. In order to address the funding issues the Board of Trustees has operated in a fiscally conservative manner to ensure the college remains in solid financial condition.
Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes or fees for the college? As a current Board member, the board makes every attempt to keep tuition, fees and taxes low. SWIC has one of the lowest tax rates and is one of the lowest in tuition and fees in the State of Illinois. The board is constantly looking at ways to avoid raising taxes, tuition and fees while offering the highest quality education, life-long learning and work-force development programs.
What are your goals for the community college/what do you want to accomplish? To ensure responsible spending of taxpayers’ dollars. To continually expand programs and our regional responsibility to provide affordable post-secondary education and training while encouraging personal and intellectual exploration. To work with colleagues on the Board and staff to expand access and opportunity to a recognized higher education institution that provides advancement through education and training for all at an affordable cost. To encourage effective community collaboration.
Enrollment has been dropping at community colleges around the state. How should schools try to reverse that trend? Foster on-going degree/certification programs and create new programs as necessary to meet the needs of students and area industries Continue to recruit and retain excellent faculty and staff Offer a safe learning environment and quality education.