(From left) Emcee Pat Gauen; Leadership Council Executive Director Ellen Krohne; Dr. Julie Furst-Bowe, Dr. Georgia Costello, Dr. Jim Dennis, Dr. Jerry Bladdick, Dr. Dale Chapman and Leadership Council President Mike Riley.
EDWARDSVILLE — The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois welcomed a crowd of more than 400 for its 2015 Salute to Southwestern Illinois Awards Dinner on April 2.
The event paid tribute to five higher education institutions in Southwestern Illinois for their collective impact on workforce and the economy and their exceptional growth over the past decade. Dr. Ed Hightower, superintendent of the Edwardsville School District, also was honored for his years of service to the educational community.
The annual awards program salutes individuals and organizations that have displayed outstanding leadership and have made a positive impact on the region. With the theme Growth Fueled by Educational Excellence, the event recognized the following as co-recipients of the 2015 Salute to Southwestern Illinois Award:
- Lewis and Clark Community College, Dr. Dale Chapman
- Lindenwood University–Belleville, Dr. Jerry M. Bladdick
- McKendree University, Dr. James Dennis
- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Dr. Julie Furst-Bowe
- Southwestern Illinois College, Dr. Georgia Costello
- Dr. Ed. Hightower, Superintendent of Edwardsville School District
During the awards presentation, it was noted that these institutions have captured headlines in recent years for their major investments, economic impact and honors and awards recognizing them among the best in the country in a range of categories.
“There’s no question that each is a positive force within our region,” said Ellen Krohne, executive director of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois. “When looked at collectively, however, their positive impact takes on even greater significance, as their shared commitment to educational excellence fuels the growth of our region.”
Over the past 10 years, the combined total of the annual budgets of the five colleges and universities has almost doubled, from $266 million to almost $500 million. Over the same period, the number of full-time faculty has grown by 27 percent, while the number of part-time faculty jumped 23 percent. Approximately 2,700 faculty members now serve the almost 40,000 full- and part-time students attending these institutions.
The past decade also has seen investments in a number of noteworthy capital improvement projects that are changing the landscape of every campus and adding to the learning opportunities available throughout the region. The quality of the region’s educational system also has been enhanced as extension centers have become full-service campuses, colleges have transitioned to universities, outstanding new research facilities have opened and scores of new degree programs have been added.
“All of this has contributed to positive enrollment trends and is improving the quality of our workforce, helping to ensure that our region continues to grow and thrive in the years to come,” Leadership Council President Mike Riley said.
As an added highlight, the event also spotlighted Southwestern Illinois primary and secondary-level teachers, administrators, support staff and school board members who received recognition awards during 2014. Those recognized were recipients of awards through:
Those who Excel, which is sponsored annually by the Illinois State Board of Education to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the state’s public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools;
The Peabody Energy Leaders in Education program, which honors education professionals — from teachers and coaches to librarians and counselors — recognizing the heroes in education who help children achieve their potential; and
The Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards program, which annually recognizes more than 100 St. Louis metro area educators — from kindergarten teachers to college professors — who are examples of excellence in the field of education.
Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Daiber and Susan Sarfaty, superintendent of St. Clair County’s Regional Office of Education, were on hand to participate in their salute.
“We’re so pleased to be able to incorporate recognition of these K through 12 leaders for the role they are playing in educating the workforce of the future,” Krohne said. “There is a direct link between the economic development of our region and the availability of a quality workforce, and we cannot overlook the importance of the leadership and guidance they provide during such a formative time in the lives of the students they serve.”
The evening celebration was held at the Four Points by Sheraton in Fairview Heights. For more information about the event or to learn more about the Leadership Council, call (618) 692-9745.