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Weekly Update

Monday, August 31, 2009  
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Higher Ed institutions collaborate to seek federal grant

From Robert L. Head, Ph.D., President

Dear students, faculty and staff:

Early in 2009, I reported on a collaboration of higher education institutions in and around Dubuque, Iowa that aided in the successful location of an IBM facility in Dubuque. IBM selected Dubuque to be the home of a new enterprise and to staff the enterprise with 1,300 new jobs.  While other factors were evaluated, IBM seemed to be swayed by a commitment among the institutions of higher education to partner with IBM to enhance curricula to better prepare students for opportunities in the IT industry. We didn’t have to wait very long for a similarly impressive opportunity to be available for this region. 

Recently, and through the work of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, we became aware of a significant grant opportunity. The Economic Development Administration (EDA), through stimulus funding, has made available $14 million to a six-county area in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. The grant is referred to as the Automotive Adjustment Entrepreneurial Support Initiative and is available to areas negatively impacted by the decline in the auto industry. The purpose of the grant is job creation and retention.

Over the past couple of weeks, many in our region have been discussing how to pursue this opportunity. Professors Bob Evans, political science, and Steve Kadamian, business, represented Rockford College in these discussions. On Friday, I had the opportunity to join the leaders of Northern Illinois University, Rock Valley College, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Gateway Technical College and several non-academic entities in presenting a concept for the Rockford Entrepreneurial Center to Economic Development Administration representatives.

After the presentation, Jack Price of the EDA stated that the concept “identified this region as having no geo-political boundaries but rather being a combined 'state of ingenuity'.” That acknowledgement underscores the progress to date. Nevertheless, there is considerable work in front of us. The grant proposal is due to the EDA by the end of September, with a decision to follow.

From our perspective, the grant will fund the Rockford College Family Business Center and be available to other college initiatives and courses supporting entrepreneurship. There will be benefits, economic and non-economic, to both the six-county region and Rockford College with the successful acquisition of this grant. The most significant might be the appreciation for and understanding of collaboration as a strategic vehicle.

Have a good week!
Robert L. Head, Ph.D., President

College could be site for giant B-Ball tourney
Rockford College is one of two sites under consideration for a new “Dream Team” basketball tournament that would not only bring hundreds of young people to campus but also enhance some college facilities. The plan, first disclosed by Tim Nieder, a businessman from the Chicago suburbs, calls for a summer tournament that would draw teams from all over the Midwest. If RC is chosen, participants would live in RC residence halls and eat in the dining room while they are here.  An arena and practice courts are also part of the proposal.

Proponents of the plan say it will bring additional wealth to the area because participants’ families will likely stay at area hotels and patronize other local establishments. Initial cost of the project would be borne by the Rockford Park District through the sale of bonds, but the developer (Nieder) would pay the district to lease the facilities. 

The other site under consideration is Sportscore II on East Riverside Boulevard.   A feasibility study, shared with key players last week, lists both sites but does not state a preference. That decision will be left up to the park district board of commissioners. No timetable has been set for board action. 

RC receives visits from partner colleges around the world
Rockford College has been busy hosting guests from partner schools around the world lately. Last Friday, we hosted Valerie Kaneko- Lucas, head of school at Regent’s American College London.  And last Wednesday, guests from Kobe College in Japan were on campus. They included Kiyoshi Kadoya, assistant manager of international programs, and Prof. Kazuhide Nabae, director of the International Programs Center at Kobe.

Spread the word on RC’s BSMS, MBA program
Do you know someone who wants to back to college but isn’t sure where to start? An open house showcasing the accelerated business bachelor’s program and MBA program at Rockford College will be held tomorrow, (Sept. 1) at 6:30 p.m. in the college’s Burpee Center. The open house is intended for people who are thinking of going back to school to finish their bachelor’s degree and those who always wanted to pursue an MBA.

RC’s bachelor of science in management studies (BSMS) is part of the college’s Return to College program and is designed for people who have commitments with work and family but want to complete their bachelor’s.
Classes are offered at night and on weekends and the program can be completed in as little as 2-3 years. Students attend as part of “cohort” groups so all entering at the same time will also advance in the program together. This increases the comfort level of going to class and builds a sense of community.  
The master of business administration program, meanwhile, is a 33-39 credit program designed for individuals in, or aspiring to middle or upper-management positions in businesses and nonprofit organizations. Students may choose from several specialty tracks, including marketing, finance, management, strategic focus, and public and not-for-profit.  

For more information or to reserve a place at the open house, call Gary Lubbert, phone 815-226-3391. 

Campus minister Sharpe, daughter role models for civic engagement
Elaine Sharpe, campus minister and a member of the psychology faculty, and her daughter, Stephanie, a middle school teacher, were featured in the annual report of the McCormick Foundation distributed recently.  The two were cited in a section entitled “Citizenship” that describes how foundation funds are being put to work. Here is the narrative, reprinted with permission:

“You have to light a fire under them.” How often this sentiment is heard from the parents of middle school students. It can be rather difficult to get them engaged in the world around them.

Well, there’s a world of difference in the classroom of Stephanie Sharpe. Her civic engagement projects have young teens excited and empowered as they learn what it means to be citizens, constituents and agents of change. “Kids need to know they have a voice and that people will listen,” she says.

Her own calling as a “citizen activist” goes back to 2003 when Sharpe, an education major at RC, was selected as one of the first McCormick Student Citizen Fellows. The distinction was awarded by Illinois Campus Compact, a youth leadership coalition supported by the McCormick Foundation.

Two years ago, Sharpe, inspired by her undergraduate experience, brought her civic engagement curriculum to St. James School in Belvidere. Her 7th and 8th graders spent a year researching community issues and then developing action plans. Their topics included the need for seat belts on school buses, and revising procedures around firearm owner identification cards.

Her students took their causes all the way to Springfield, where they met with elected officials. Among other civic lessons, they learned how often bills can get stuck in committee. “It teaches them about the importance of diligence and tenacity,” Sharpe says.

Who first got Stephanie excited about civic engagement? Her mentor and mother.

Elaine Sharpe is campus minister and a psychology professor at Rockford College who has teamed up with her daughter for years on service projects, bringing college students and middle-schoolers together. “What she taught me, I pass on to others,” Stephanie Sharpe says. “One generation helping the next.”

The 2008 McCormick Foundation Annual Report may be viewed at

Softball game tomorrow to pit faculty/staff vs. students
The faculty/staff vs. students softball game has been rescheduled for tomorrow (Sept. 1) at 5:30 p.m. The game will be played on the softball field behind Seaver Gym.  If you want to be a part of this excellent chance to meet some new people, e-mail your name to

YOU DO NOT NEED A GLOVE TO PLAY!  16'' Softball is played without a glove!

RC Intramurals now has a group on Facebook.  If you have a Facebook account and are interested in receiving more info, click on the link and join.

You can use the group to get more regular updates on events and help organize teams. 

Where’s Robert? 
Each week, we report on the agenda for President Head for the week. Here are major meetings he has this week.

8/31      Interview with Rockford Register Star

9/1        Council of Independent Colleges Presidents’ Meeting 

9/3        Board of Trustees Executive Committee Meeting

Literary magazine club looking for members
The Rockford College Literary Magazine Club (R.C.L.M.) is looking for new members to add to its editorial staff.  If you have an interest in art and literature, you are invited to one of their meetings Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in the Howard Colman Library.  The club will be looking for submissions as well, so be on the lookout for further e-mails and posters detailing the instructions for submissions. Any questions may be directed to Ed Phebus at

NICNE director will be part of panel at conference
Pam Clark-Reidenbach, director of the Northern Illinois Center for Non-profit Excellence (NICNE) housed at Rockford College, will be part of a panel discussion at the National Association of Social Work Illinois Statewide Conference in Chicago on the topic of “The Current Economic Crisis and the Illinois Human Services Network” on September 9.  If you click on the link below you can see the description of the topic and the other panel members. Her workshop is on page 10.        

RC alums named to prestigious list
How far can graduates of Rockford College go? The sky’s the limit for six RC alumni who were recently named to the 40 Under 40 list compiled by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. The list of 40 professionals under the age of 40 includes area people who have distinguished themselves in their profession and in the community. The list includes:
  • Wester Wuori, ‘92, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Rockford Health System
  • Cindy Harris, ’95, Marketing Strategist, KMK Media  
  • Tracy Beard, ’97, Certified Financial Planner, Savant Capital Management 
  • Aaron Wilson, ’98, Morning Show Host, WIFR-TV
  • Jim Turmo, ‘03MBA, Global Demand Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Stacie Talbert, ‘04MBA, Chief Financial Officer, Rockford Park District

Since the 40 Under 40 program started two years ago, 11 RC alumni have been included.


The Weekly will provide links to stories when they are posted on the Web.

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Calendar of Events

Student Music Recital

EDP: Seminar #6 - Conflict Management and Resolution

NICNE Customer Service Workshop

FORUM: Sports Management Symposium

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