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Former Illinois president to speak at community college leadership retreat

Craig Chamberlain, Education
(217) 333-2894;

Released 5/15/

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The new executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), along with a former University of Illinois president, will be among the speakers at a two-day retreat next week for community college leaders in Illinois.

The third annual Community College Leadership Retreat will be held Tuesday and Wednesday (May 21-22) at the Robert Allerton Conference Center, just west of Monticello.

Stanley O. Ikenberry, a former president of the University of Illinois and of the American Council on Education, will speak at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on "The P-16 Leadership Challenge," addressing issues of collaboration between various levels of education. Ikenberry is a regent professor of educational organization and leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and leads the university’s P-16 Steering Committee.

Dan LaVista, president of McHenry County College in Illinois, who took over this month as IBHE’s executive director, will speak at 4 p.m. on "Critical Issues Facing Higher Education in Illinois." LaVista is the first community college president to serve in the IBHE post.

The retreat began two years ago as an outgrowth of the Community College Executive Leadership program in the College of Education on the Urbana-Champaign campus, according to Debra Bragg, the education professor who directs the doctoral-level program. The retreat provides an opportunity "to get together and spend a couple days thinking about leadership issues and where we’re going in the future," she said.

About 80 people are expected to attend, including a number of community college presidents from throughout the state, Bragg said. About half of the participants will be students in the executive leadership program, many of whom are middle-level administrators in community colleges.

Among other items of interest on the program is a panel discussion on community college leadership, featuring community colleges presidents, set for 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday. Another panel of community college leaders will deal with "Navigating the Political Quagmire" at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

Susan Fowler, the dean of the College of Education at Illinois, will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday on university/community college partnerships dealing with K-12 teacher education and professional development.

Events like the retreat have special significance because community colleges are in the midst of what some are calling a leadership crisis, Bragg said. Most community colleges were started in the 1960s, and many of the faculty who started them are at or near retirement.