Illinois Valley Community College Board of Trustees candidates met Wednesday for a candidate forum at the college.
Candidates Brandon Evans of Oglesby, Jane Goetz of Ottawa and Laurie Bonucci of Princeton discussed a variety of topics including their goals, IVCC’s role in the community and how to address the college’s financial difficulties during this poor economy.
All three candidates are running for two open seats on the board in the April 9 election.
Evans said he had a list of ideas on how to trim college costs and improve education, but said it was more important to focus on the goal of IVCC.
“If we’re trying to make education about balancing budgets then we’re missing the big picture,” he said. “If we build a society through education we build a community that people will want to flock to.”
Evans said he didn’t necessarily support recent tuition increases but understands why they are needed.
“It’s difficult to support because where does it end?” he said. “We have to think of a way to think outside of that world and I’m not sure how to do that. Education is far greater than a cost-benefit analysis.”
If elected, Evans said he would like IVCC to reach out to more people.
“We need to teach the low-information voters about economic and social topics,” he said. “I think people are genuinely confused … I’d like to open up education to the public in an easier way. Maybe some free courses to incentivize people to further their education.”
Goetz touted her years of experience in education and fundraising in philanthropic organizations.
“My profession is education and my passion is education,” she said. “IVCC is the crown jewel of our area and I want more people to see it benefits.”
She said she supports tuition increases given the financial climate that exists throughout the district.
“Costs have gone up and revenue is going down,” she said. “IVCC’s tuition rate is still lower than the average college in the state.”
Bonucci said IVCC is an outstanding opportunity for students and the community. She touted her years of experience serving on the Princeton Library Board and her fundraising efforts there.
She said tuition increases are not a good thing, “but a necessary evil.”
“There are going to need to be cuts made all over and students will need to bare a portion of it,” she said.
Bonucci also identified a number of challenges the district faces such as declining enrollment and revenue, and keeping up with changing technology in the classroom
If elected, she said she would like to work on better promotional efforts to raise money and increase revenue, as well as search for ways such as grants to keep up with classroom upgrades.
“I would like IVCC to look beyond traditional students and see the college create more programs for younger students and more life-long learning opportunities,” she said.
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or firstname.lastname@example.org.