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Weekly Update

Monday, December 14, 2009  
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State’s financial condition a concern for higher education

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

Dear students, faculty and staff:

Since early September, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Tina Anderson and I have been concerned about the state’s payment for the fall semester Monetary Award Program (MAP). Earlier this month, we received the nearly $800,000 owed to Rockford College. We are all aware that the State of Illinois is facing a significant deficit, one projected currently to exceed $12 billion. The bottom line is that the state’s cash flow problem is exacerbating cash flow issues within all of the agencies and educational institutions that it supports, directly or indirectly.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) is owed $65 million in state support for the first semester. It received a portion, $8 million, just last week. Southern Illinois University (SIU) is owed $140 million and has voiced a concern about its ability to meet monthly payroll in December. Fortunately, the state was able to provide SIU $15.5 million, which will allow the university to maintain its December 15th payroll cycle. Nevertheless, their end of December payroll cycle remains a concern. Furthermore, the state owes the University of Illinois nearly $400 million.

During the SIU board meeting last week, their president reported that the school "may have to take drastic measures, possibly even making layoffs or shutting down in the spring.” (  Likewise, NIU’s president has expressed a need to create a contingency plan for closing in March, if the state does not meet its obligation of financial support.

The picture painted above is gloomy and there are no easy answers for the state. Some are pushing for structural changes to reduce state expenditures to bring them in line with reduced revenues. Governor Quinn has on many occasions voiced the need for an increase in the state income tax rate.

The link between this situation and Rockford College is two-fold: 1. When will we receive payment for MAP in the second semester; and 2. what is the plan for the distribution of the long awaited capital funds. The state approved a $300 million capital plan for private colleges last spring, with Rockford College targeted to receive $2.7 million. Early indications were that the funds would be distributed in equal payments over three years. That distribution plan is clearly jeopardized by the reality of the state’s current fiscal situation.

On a more positive note, we should receive the distribution of the long awaited Hazel Koch Trust this week. Proceeds from the trust will fund many of the new initiatives that several of you are working to bring to fruition; strengthen our endowment; and reduce debt. The distribution will allow us to make continued progress in our march to financial equilibrium.

Have a good week!

Robert L. Head, Ph.D.

Where’s Robert? 
Each week we report on the noteworthy events on President Head’s schedule. Here’s what’s on tap for this week.

  • December 17     Meeting with Lawrence Morrissey, Mayor of Rockford, and Dr. LaVonne Sheffield, Superintendent of Rockford Public School District 205
  • December 17     Meeting with Kelle Marsalis, Director of Ignite Young Professionals - Rockford Chamber of Commerce

College gets 300K to help with technology
As we told you last week, Rockford College is in line to receive $300,000 in federal funds to enhance technology around campus. Bonnie Johnson, IT director, provided this brief synopsis on the scope of the project:

In this request, Rockford College continues to address needs identified in its comprehensive plan.  These include upgrading the classroom teaching and learning environment by adding critically needed equipment and creating more collaborative learning environments in our three major classroom buildings as well as the library.  To accomplish these goals we need to extend fiber from off campus to, and within, our campus.  Finally, the technology advances will include automating the management of our limited classroom resources.

As stated by the U.S. Department of Education, "In a modern classroom, educational technology improves teaching and learning while also equipping students with the skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce.” 

The requested funding for FY2010 will allow the college to continue equipment and technology upgrades that directly impact teaching and learning by providing infrastructure and academic resources for students, faculty, and staff.  Adding a fiber connection from the city to the college is necessary to meet the Internet connectivity needs of the campus; critical network infrastructure equipment is needed to make use of dark fiber to academic buildings. 

RC offers rare admissions day at Jefferson H.S.
Jefferson High School students interested in attending Rockford College could be accepted on the spot during the college’s first-ever Admissions Day at Jefferson tomorrow.

An admission counselor from the college will be on hand at Jefferson’s counseling office from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tomorrow. The counselor will collect and review student applications and confirm scholarship eligibility and admission acceptance while on site.

Jefferson Principal Don Rundall called the on-site acceptance "a rare opportunity for a high school admissions day. This is exciting news and a great opportunity for our students.”

Students interested in applying need only bring a completed Rockford College application packet and their official Rockford Public Schools transcript.

Coffee, anyone?
Due to the Lion's Den being closed during Winter Break, complimentary coffee will be available in the Burpee Dining Hall from December 14 – 23. Disposable cups will be available but please feel free to bring your own cup. Thanks to Rockford Dining Services/Sodexo for this service!

RC-sponsored choral spots to be aired
You’ll be able to hear several high school choral groups singing holiday songs as part of "Sounds of the Seasons” series of spots being sponsored by Rockford College. Here’s the schedule:

Christmas Eve 12/24                                                  
Thursday 2-3 p.m. on Fox39                                                 
Thursday 9-10 p.m. on Rockford's My Network TV         

Christmas Day 12/25
Friday 6-7 a.m. on WTVO                                                                                                                     
Also on Friday:                                                           
9-10 a.m. on Rockford's My Network TV
11 a.m.-noon on WTVO
2-3 p.m. on Fox39

Catch our billboards while out and about
The college will post public service billboards during December and January with a message about the college’s commitment to civic engagement. The example cited will be the 10,000 cans collected by Student Athlete Advisory Council for the needy during the last two years. Here are the billboard locations:     

Windsor Rd (southbound) east of Material Road
Hwy 251 (east bound) north of Forest Hills
Hwy 251 (west bound) south of Hwy 75

Get to Know Me: Scott Leezer
Occasionally, we introduce you to our new employees so you can "get to know them” better. Today, meet Scott Leezer.

Name: Scott Leezer

Job title: Residence Hall Director for the Small Houses (Caster, Olson, Ekvall, McPhail, & Dayton) & Student Government Advisor for the Executive Board & Senate

Family: Mom, dad, older sister, older brother, sister-in-law, and 2-year old nephew.

Professional/educational background: I am a graduate of Boylan High School in Rockford and studied finance and real estate at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Interesting fact about me: I worked at Stockholm Inn for over five years throughout high school and college and I never tried their Swedish pancakes.

The favorite thing about my job is… working with college students to help make their formative college experiences positive, enriching, and memorable.

Hobbies/interests: Golfing, playing guitar, DJ-ing, and listening to National Public Radio.

Princeton Review seeks student feedback
Have you always wanted to be a leading voice within your academic community?  Here’s your opportunity.

The Princeton Review invites you to speak out about daily academic and social life at your school by being a part of this year’s student survey.  Spread your insights on what life on your campus is all about: favorite classes, extracurricular activities, sports and clubs, school traditions, professor/student interaction, residence life, food…you get the picture.

The survey is online and takes only a few minutes to fill out.  All undergraduates who complete it will be entered to win the "$5,000 for Your Thoughts" Sweepstakes!  To complete the survey and enter the sweepstakes, please use your school-issued e-mail address to log into their site at:

RC in the news
  • An environmental column in the Rockford Register Star yesterday reported on sustainability efforts at the college.  Click here for the complete story.
  • The Register Star had a story last Wednesday on the federal grant for technology upgrades at RC.  Click here for the complete story.
  • The Jane Addams Center and student Nicole Strautz were included in a story last Thursday on Channel 17 when they visited Carpenter’s Place to hand out gifts to the center’s homeless clients.
  • President Head was among the four area college presidents pictured in the Register Star Friday during the Higher Education Outlook Luncheon the previous day.  Click here for the complete story. 

Community Search
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