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Weekly Update

Monday, November 09, 2009  
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Change in higher ed is inevitable; we must be prepared for it 

A message from Robert L. Head, Ph.D., President

Dear students, faculty and staff:

The Northern Illinois Center for Nonprofit Excellence (NICNE) held its annual Nonprofit Dialog last Friday with 55 participants from nearly as many organizations. The arts, human services and education institutions were among several categories of nonprofits represented.  I congratulate Pam Clark-Reidenbach on organizing a great program. The Dialog explored three themes: issues currently impacting nonprofits; emerging themes; and ideas on future programming to allow NICNE to better serve nonprofits. The active engagement of the participants made my job as facilitator easy. The event could easily have used twice as much time as allocated.

While it was clear that nearly all of the participants were pleased with the event, one attendee expressed strong concern with the current direction of nonprofits. His view was that nonprofits, regardless of mission, must change and behave as a business. Specifically, he encouraged the leaders present to consider adding entrepreneurial ventures to enhance their revenue streams and to only focus on services that realized a clear and positive return on investment.

This call for change within nonprofits is not a new concept and it is clearly not new for higher education. The most recent call for substantial change was incorporated in a recent Newsweek magazine article authored by Lamar Alexander. Mr. Alexander believes that higher education could be in for the same fate as the American automotive industry. He describes American car manufacturers as being unresponsive to the changing environment until they were destroyed by competitive and economic forces. 

Mr. Alexander currently serves as a U.S. Senator; is a former president of the University of Tennessee; and also served as U.S. Secretary of Education. As you can imagine, his background provides a strong platform for his expressed opinion. The example of change that Sen. Alexander holds up in the article as exemplary is a new three year degree program offered by Hartwick College, a small liberal arts institution in New York. The college provides a curriculum which can be navigated in six semesters by “high-ability, highly motivated students.” The significant benefit is the financial savings of a fourth year, which in Hartwick’s case is $43,000.

I have said on several occasions that we in higher education can often be too insolent and insular. In this case, not many disagree with Sen. Alexander’s assessment. Nevertheless, there are concerns with the simplistic idea of shortening the traditional timeline for the completion of a baccalaureate degree. Some have responded that a three-year structure would limit the courses and experiences provided to a student and thus, limit the ability to create a well-rounded graduate. A strong general education curriculum, internships, study abroad opportunities and extra-curricular experiences would likely all be in jeopardy under such a structure.

Regardless as to our individual thoughts on the Hartwick experiment, it may gain traction as the idea is nationally debated and the new economic reality of the past 20 months continues to grip the world. One thing that is certain is that the ground is shifting beneath us in higher education and, like it or not, change is inevitable. Our very difficult task is to lead the change that we desire. To a great degree, the planning process that we have identified gets us to the point of confirming a collective vision in the next couple of months. I look forward to the discussions.

Have a great week!

Robert L. Head, Ph.D.

College to host informational sessions on H1N1 flu
Rockford College will host information sessions provided by the Winnebago County Health Department regarding the H1N1 flu this Thursday (Nov. 12) from noon – 1:30 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in the Fisher Chapel.  The 18-24 year-old age group is identified as high risk, so information will be available for these individuals, as well as for the general public. Staff will be on hand from the WCHD and the Lang Center to answer individual questions and provide presentations regarding the flu and the vaccine. Vaccines will not be provided during these sessions. A session is also planned at Rock Valley College on November 10 at the same times in RVC’s Student Center Atrium.  For more information, call the Winnebago County Health Department at 815-720-4000.

Breiter will be on ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ this Sunday
Chemistry professor Deborah Breiter is slated to be included on the next “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” TV show November 15, 7 p.m. on ABC. Crews filmed her during their taping of the construction of a home in Lena, Ill. in September. She is shown donating lab glassware to family members and demonstrating a fun experiment, making ice cream with liquid nitrogen in the lab. Incidentally, Prof. Breiter is nationally recognized and published for research in science. She has also earned accolades from the college, including recently being awarded the Mary Ashby Cheek Award given to a non-alumna/us who has significantly enriched the college experience for students. 

HS students to converge on RC for Model Congress
Nearly 150 high school students from 37 high schools across northern Illinois will be on campus this Thursday for the 11th annual 21st Century Leadership Congress. Sponsored by Cong. Don Manzullo in collaboration with the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, the conference provides students with hands-on experience on how a bill becomes law.  Special guest is former U.S. House Speaker Denny Hastert, who will preside over the Model Congress. The event runs from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Burpee Center.  Say “hello” to these visitors if you see them out and about.

Rockford College president takes to social media
The president of Rockford College is among those who are now using Twitter to send messages or “tweets” about what they are doing. College president Robert L. Head started using Twitter over the weekend. He says social media is an important way to keep in touch with the college community and the Rockford community at large. You can read his tweets at “Robert L. Head” on Twitter.  

Bookstore offers 2 for 1 on sweatshirts
The Rockford College Bookstore has a promotion starting called the "secret sale" featuring crewneck sweatshirts -- two for $20 or one for $11.95.  Great for holiday gifts and promoting school pride at a very reasonable price! Check out the bookstore promotion while supplies last!

Students volunteer at Habitat for Humanity
A group of RC students volunteered their day recently to assist at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore located in the North Town Mall. There is a lot to do in keeping the store’s merchandise displayed and assisting customers, and our students really stepped up to help. Volunteers included Dusty Trenholm, Mariana Rosas, Sarah Weatherford, Jessica Williams, Emily Blaha, Amy Collinsworth, and Wendy Zarate. Well-done everyone! 

New counselor in Admission Office
We welcome Ryan Kessler, a new admission counselor in the Admission Office, who will be working with transfer students. Kessler is no stranger to RC, earning a BS in business administration in 2005. While attending, he also worked full-time in our maintenance department. Kessler most recently worked at Chase Bank where he was a licensed personal banker. Stop by and say “hi” to our newest admission counselor, Ryan Kessler!

Where’s Robert?
Each week, we list noteworthy meetings on President Head’s calendar. Here’s what’s on the docket for this week. 
  • 11/9             Alumni Gathering in Washington, DC
  • 11/11           Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee
  • 11/11           Board Academic Affairs Committee
  • 11/12           Congressman Manzullo’s Model Congress Program
  • 11/12           Rock River Development Partnership Consultants
  • 11/15           Recruiting trip to China 

Catch education seminars this week
Education senior seminars presented tomorrow and Thursday this week cover the whole gamut – from the effectiveness of charter schools to a comparison between abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs in reducing teen sexual behavior. Nine students will present these most informative sessions. Tomorrow, the presentations run from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.; Thursday, they run from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Sessions both days will be held in Starr 130.   

Record number of database searches for October
Rockford College students performed over 17,000 searches using Colman Library databases in October – a record number, by a substantial amount, for a single month. Electronic resources are becoming ever more important to student research and Rockford College students are certainly “getting with the program!” If you haven’t yet discovered how helpful these databases can be for you (Colman Library offers over 30 of these), check out the Colman Library database page at

It’s ‘Giving Tree’ season
While it’s early to think about Christmas, it is that time of year when we place names on our annual Giving Tree.  This year we have 225 children to gift.  We recognize that this is a difficult time economically for most of us.  That makes it even more important that we dig deep into our pockets and help those who are significantly at a disadvantage.  Our goal is to have all the names of the children off the Giving Tree by the beginning of Thanksgiving break.  Gifts need to be returned by December 3 so that they can be prepared for delivery to St. Elizabeth's Center on Rockford's southwest side. For more, call Elaine Sharpe, campus minister, at 815-226-4137 or e-mail

Student recital this afternoon
See a student classical recital today at 4 p.m. in the Cheek Theatre. Relax from your busy day with some soothing music. Free admission! 

Family Weekend this weekend
Check your email for more information on Family Weekend activities November 13 – 15!  

RC’s Music Academy to perform tomorrow
Measure 5 String Ensemble from the Music Academy of Rockford College will be the third performance of the Wesley Willows Concert Series tomorrow (Nov.10), 7 p.m. at the Town Center Auditorium on the Wesley Willows campus. Tickets for the performance are $5 and are available for purchase by calling the Wesley Willows concierge at 815-316-6060 or 815-316-1525.

Hear ‘Sounds of Good News’
Sounds of Good News led by Carl and Diana Cole presents its “Songspiration,” November 13 at 7 p.m. in the Fisher Chapel. The group will also present a workshop on gospel music November 14 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. in the chapel. The group’s extravaganza concert is set for November 28, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in Cherryvale Mall. For more, call 815-519-7071.

RC in the news
As reported in the Rockford Register Star today, a proposed new housing development for the Rockford Housing Authority would include a museum dedicated to Jane Addams, an RC grad and Nobel Prize winner in 1931.  The housing authority has applied for an $11 million HOPE VI grant which would include remodeling an old house on RHA land for the museum. The area at one time had the Jane Addams housing project which is also in close proximity to the old RC campus on Seminary Street.    


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

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Student Music Recital

EDP: Seminar #6 - Conflict Management and Resolution

NICNE Customer Service Workshop

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