2012 SWIC-cess Stories

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The new pedestrian-and-bike bridge over Green Mount Road.

MULTI-MODAL PROJECT—Construction is well under way to make transportation on and around the Belleville Campus easier, more convenient and more sustainable. SWIC is partnering with the St. Clair County Transit District to develop enhanced campus entrances and exits; a campus pedestrian/bike path; and an on-campus roundabout to ease traffic congestion at the south Green Mount entrance. There will also be a new pedestrian-and-bike bridge across Green Mount Road, allowing trail users to safely cross that busy two-lane road, and a new crosswalk at Carlyle Avenue/Route 161. From forward-thinking cooperation in bringing a MetroLink light-rail transit stop to the college in 2001 to this latest collaboration on these multi-modal transportation enhancements, we have long valued our partnership with the SCCTD.

FUNDS EXPAND MANUFACTURING PROGRAMS—A new $609,000 federal award has allowed SWIC to expand training opportunities for students seeking careers in the field of manufacturing technology. The majority of the award has gone toward the purchase of electrical automation equipment and software and allows SWIC to develop an advanced manufacturing certificate in the area of electrical automation, said Dean of Technical Education Brad Sparks.

Industrial Technology Program Coordinator Mark Bosworth, right, assists CNC instructor Jerry Bonifield during installation of a new computerized numerical control machine in the Sam Wolf Granite City Campus Industrial Technology Center in December 2012. Read more.

SWIC OFFERS NEW AAS DEGREE PROGRAM—SWIC began offering a new program in fall 2012: Electrical Design and Management. This program prepares students to design electrical systems for residences and business plus teach entry-level electrical construction project management.

SWIC CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF TEACHING CISCO ACADEMY—Cisco Systems Inc. recognized the college in August 2012 for its participation in the Cisco Networking Academy. The college offers online and hands-on curriculum and learning activities from the Cisco Networking Academy to certify students in networking and prepare them for entry-level employment. SWIC has offered Cisco courses through the academy since 1999. Read more.

RBC DEGREE GUARANTEE—For the first time, Red Bud Campus students have been guaranteed the opportunity to earn an Associate in Arts degree entirely at that campus. SWIC is offering the two-year AA degree program from August 2012 to May 2014 with all classes guaranteed to be held at RBC. Benefits include a $10-per-credit-hour tuition break to students who sign up for the program, priority registration, and assistance with academic and financial aid planning. Read more.

FINAL YEAR FOR TITLE III—Summer 2012 marked the final semester of the Title III grant. During the past five years, the grant provided resources to faculty designing projects focused on improving instruction; improving institutional management through the use of technology; and improving the institution’s fiscal stability by matching local endowment funds.

SWIC EARNS TOP 100 RANK AGAIN—SWIC remains among the top schools providing associate degrees and certificates in the U.S. According to a June 2012 report by education magazine Community College Week, SWIC ranked in the top-100 or top-50 in four categories among the approximately 3,000 postsecondary institutions nationwide that offer one- and two-year degrees and certificates.

SWIC issued 1,669 one-year certificates in all disciplines, making the college 25th in the nation of a CCW-ranked top-100, and the third-leading certificate producer in Illinois.

The college ranked 12th in the nation among a CCW-ranked top-50, and fifth in Illinois in the category of “Multi/interdisciplinary Studies.” SWIC ranked 93rd of 100 institutions nationally in the “All Disciplines: Total Non-Minority” degree category. The college also tied for 41st nationally in the category of “Precision Production” associate degrees issued out of 50 CCW-ranked institutions.

As further evidence of the college’s focus on program-completion rates, Illinois Community College Board Data and Characteristics 2010-11 school year statistics show SWIC is a leader in Illinois by awarding:

  • The third-highest total of occupational degrees and certificates (2,495).
  • The third-highest number of certificates of one year or less (1,669).
  • The seventh-highest number of transfer degrees (740).
  • The sixth-highest number of certificates of one year or more (262).
  • The third-highest number of Associate in Applied Science degrees (564).

Read more.

GO FORTH BOLDLY—President Georgia Costello, Ph.D., right, and her husband, U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello, led the processional at the SWIC commencement. Congressman Costello was the keynote speaker. Watch his speech on YouTube.

NEW HIGH FOR DUAL CREDIT PROGRAM—Student participation in the Dual Credit Program reached an all-time high in 2011-12, with 4,521 students participating in the program earning a total of 13,129 credit hours – an increase of 7.3 percent in students and an increase of 7.9 percent in credit hours over the previous year.

SIGNATURE HONOREE—Men’s Head Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Jay Harrington, pictured center, was honored in February 2012 with a special event dedicating the court now named in his honor. Harrington, a member of the NJCAA Hall of Fame, is in his 33rd season at SWIC and has more than 750 career wins. Pictured with the Blue Storm basketball teams, from left, are college President Georgia Costello, Ph.D.; KFNS radio personality Kevin Slaten; Harrington; Wabash Valley Head Coach Dan Sparks; NJCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches Association President John Spezia; Foundation Board Chair Carol A. Bartle; and Vice President for Student Development Staci G. Clayborne.

SHARING OUR NOTES—The Higher Learning Commission wants all colleges and universities to learn about the success of the Sept. 20, 2011, college discussion day. In January 2012, the commission invited Vice President for Planning, Evaluation and Development H.O. Brownback; Director of Human Resources Sherry Favre; Dean of Health Sciences and Homeland Security Julie Muertz; and Director of IT Security Austin Winkleman to prepare a paper that will be published in the HLC’s journal. They also were invited to present a session on SWIC’s accomplishment and how other colleges and universities can use it at the HLC annual conference in April. About 5,000 faculty and administrators from 22 states attend the HLC conference each year.

ONLY PROVIDER IN ILLINOIS—In January 2012, SWIC was named the sole provider of the 80-Hour Law Enforcement Transition course in the state by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. The course, designed for part-time police officers transitioning to full-time law enforcement roles, previously had been offered at the University of Illinois Police Training Institute. That academy closed in June 2012. SWIC also exclusively provides the Basic Arson Investigator course. In fall 2012, the Police Academy received the 2012 Spirit of the ADA Award from LINC Inc. for training nearly 600 police cadets on how to better interact with people with disabilities.

BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD—SWIC received the 2011 Business Excellence award, large business division, from the Belleville Chamber of Commerce. The Business Excellence Award is given to a chamber-member organization that best meets the following criteria: evidence of success given the company’s expansion and financial accomplishments; development and/or use of innovative business methods; and contributions to the community.

Pictured are, from left, Trustee Eugene Verdu; former Vice President for Student, Campus and Community Services Valerie Thaxton, Ed.D.; Board Vice Chair Kenneth R. Joseph; Belleville Chamber President Robert Graebe Jr.; Board Chair Nick J. Mance; Selsius™ Director Lynette Rienbolt; and Trustee Richard E. Roehrkasse.

Back to Top Faculty

ARTISTS IN THE HOUSE—The 2012 SWIC Faculty Art Exhibition featured the works of the Art department faculty. Participating artists were

  • Don Bevirt
  • Spyros Karayiannis
  • Paula McAteer
  • Guy Weible
  • Andy Brandmeyer
  • Kristina Cipolla
  • Brad Eilering
  • Doug Eskra
  • Nancy Friederich
  • Daniel Lowery
  • Todd May
  • Shawn Niebruegge
  • Becky Peterson
  • Denise Schilling
  • Dawn Schuck, pictured
  • Cory Sellers
  • Wayne Shaw
  • Dale Threlkeld
  • Cheryl Wimmer
  • Dave Woesthaus


CUSTOM TEXTBOOKS-A custom-covered Art textbook was made available to students in fall 2012. Associate Professors of Art Don Bevirt and Paula McAteer created the artwork that adorns the front and back cover of their new textbook.

Stan Hatfield was the 2012-13 faculty member of the year. Hatfield is a physical science professor.

Ed Christ was the 2012-13 part-time faculty member of the year. Christ, who died March 6, received the award posthumously. He was coordinator of the U.S. Steel Learners' Program.

Don Bevirt, professor of art, designed a sculpture located in Thoman Park in O'Fallon, Ill.

Steve Gentemann, professor of chemistry, co-authored a paper published in August 2012 in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The paper is titled "Molecular Motion of the Bis(maleonitriledithiolato)nickel Trianion in Solution" and includes results of work he did for his master's thesis at St. Louis University.

Keven Hansen, associate professor of mathematics/department chair, received the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award for 2012. Hansen also is the Curriculum Committee chair for the Illinois Mathematics Association of Community Colleges.

Paula McAteer, assistant professor of art, was appointed to the Board of the Illinois Higher Education Art Association for a two-year term beginning Oct. 1, 2011.

Matt McCarter, assistant professor of English, was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize in Short Fiction for a short story he wrote that was published in "A Few Lines Magazine." McCarter also completed his new book, Homo Redneckus: On Being Not Qwhite in America, which can be purchased on Amazon.com. 

Van Plexico, associate professor of history and political science, was presented with the Best New Pulp Character Award for his fictional character, John Blackthorn, of Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars, at the Windy City Pulp Conference 2012.

Kurt Range, associate professor of horticulture/AGRI and HORT program coordinator, was recognized as the Outstanding Young Alumnus by the College of Agriculture at SIUC.

Dianna Shank, professor of English, served as one of the organizers of the annual convention of the Conference on College Composition and Communication in St. Louis in April 2012. In addition, she presented a paper titled, "Using Race as a Writing Prompt in First Year Composition."

Dale Threlkeld, professor emeritus of art, sold one of his works to Lewis and Clark Community College. It was part of an exhibit of Threlkeld's work that was featured in the Alton Telegraph and on vimeo.com.

Bob Weck, associate professor of biology/department chair, co-authored an article on the cave systems of southwestern Illinois that was published in the winter issue of Illinois RiverWatcher, the newsletter of the Illinois RiverWatch Program. Weck also was elected president of the Illinois Speleological Survey (ISS), a nonprofit group of scientists and cavers dedicated to exploring, studying and conserving caves and karst features in Illinois.

Leo Welch, professor emeritus of biology, was elected to the Eastern Illinois University Board of Trustees. He serves as secretary, while also serving as a member of the Executive Committee. Welch is the board liaison to Illinois Board of Higher Education, serving on the university's Strategic Planning Committee. Also, he chairs the Academic and Student Affair Committee and the Board of Regulation and Policy Committee.

Back to Top Administrators and Staff

SUCCESSFUL DRIVE—Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White stopped by the Belleville Campus to congratulate the college on its successful First-Person Consent Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. Pictured, from left to right, with the student-designed campaign T-shirt, are College Activities Director David Paeth; college President Georgia Costello, Ph.D.; and White. The T-shirt was designed by Briana Knackstedt of Alhambra. SWIC College Activities Board members at each of the three campuses and the East St. Louis Community College Center signed up 150 people for the registry. That marked the largest Illinois community college drive. While on campus, White also shared the importance of becoming an organ donor.

East St. Louis Community College Center Site Supervisor Rick Gregory, left, and Office Supervisor Tracy Haggins-Bolden show off produce from the Educational Garden during the Harvest Celebration in fall 2012. In all, the garden yielded 100 pounds of fruits and vegetables, which was delivered to a local food pantry.

The Sam Wolf Granite City Campus “Above and Beyond” awards went to Instruction Services Assistant Connie Gudelauski, for helping a faculty member with a difficult student situation, and Public Safety Officer Christina Hamilton, for assisting faculty in icy weather.

Monique Leonard, administrative assistant to the vice president for student development, and Julie Boeschen, Enrollment Services registration clerk, were recognized by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Federal Investigative Services for their dedicated service and assistance with routine verification checks on students.

Through Community Education, 94 College for Kids classes were offered in summer 2012, with 490 students enrolled. In the 24 Kids on Campus classes offered, 291 students enrolled.

Of the 70 Adult Basic Education students served in 2011-12, 50 enrolled for fall 2012, nine earned degrees or certificates and four transferred to another postsecondary institution. More than half received scholarships, and many were on the dean's list.

The Metropolitan Area Professional Organization recognized several SWIC employees at its June 2012 dinner—Career Center Secretary Merlie Kirchgessner, Counselor Peggy Lemons, Associate Dean of Success Programs Sue McClure, Barnes & Noble Bookstore Manager Damon Mitchell and Minority Transfer and Multicultural Student Center Director Donna Moody. Dorothy Owens is the president and founder of the organization. Lanetta Adams and Donna Schenewerk serve on the board, and Martha Nelson and Dennis Sparn, former dean of counseling, are members.

Valerie Thaxton, Ed.D., Vice President of Community Services and Campus Operations, retired from SWIC at the end of June after 29 years of service at the college.

The Design Group in Public Information and Marketing won two Service Industry Advertising Awards, for the new Blue Storm mascot logo and Selsius’ direct-mail training schedules. The group also won three Educational Advertising Awards, for the SWIC Student Planner (Gold), the College for Kids class schedule and the “Making It” postcard for Schmidt Art Center.

Sherry Favre, director of human resources, was the keynote presenter at the Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference in April 2012 in Effingham, Ill.

AmeriCorps and College Activities conducted two drives to assist the residents of the Harrisburg area in recovering from a tornado in spring 2012.

Mike Juenger, women’s head basketball coach, and his team advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament. The Blue Storm were the Region 24 Regional Champions, and Juenger was selected as the IBCA Co-Coach of the Year. Juenger reached his 300th career win during the season.

Kathy Bernal, softball coach, reached her 400th career victory in February 2012. Bernal is in her 19th season at SWIC.

Neil Fiala, baseball coach, reached his 700th victory as the SWIC head coach in February 2012. Fiala is in his 20th season at SWIC.

Back to Top Foundation

KASHMIR AUDITIONS-SWIC students put their best paw forward in fall 2012 to win a spot as Kashmir the Snow Leopard. Those selected earned a $500 scholarship. Theatre Manager Jeff Blue, left, helped students become Kashmir.

The Foundation awarded nearly $100,000 in scholarships to SWIC students for fall 2012. To recognize donors, the annual Thanks For Giving event was held in November 2012 at the Schmidt Art Center. In addition, approximately 300 people attended a brunch in September that honored the 2012-13 scholarship recipients.

The 2012 Employee Giving and Blue Storm campaigns raised $46,333 thanks to the generosity of 169 faculty and staff donors.

Back to Top Students

PHI BETA LAMBDA students won the Gold Seal Chapter of Merit Award and First Place Professional Division Membership Award for the North Central Region at the organization's 2012 National Leadership Conference. Individual awards:

• Career and Membership Achievement Program Director Award – Heather Borowiak of Maryville
• CMAP Executive Award – Cortney McGowan of Belleville
• Membership Mania Award – Borowiak and McGowan
• Second Place Database Design and Application Award – Andrea Hibbard of Collinsville
• Fourth Place Public Speaking Award – Stuart Maue of Belleville
• Sixth Place Help Desk Award – Lassman
• Top 15 Business Presentation – Hibbard and Natalie Wellen of Pinckneyville

At the state conference, SWIC students won eight 1st place awards, six 2nd place awards and one 3rd place award. Read more.

Students on the College Activities Board won the Michael Nejman Excellence in Programming Award for their Graffiti Wall project from the Illinois Community College Student Activities Association.

Winners of the SkillsUSA 2012 Illinois State Competition were Alex Deatherage of Fayetteville, Jordan Norman of Highland and Mike Visk of Belleville, first place, automated manufacturing team; Kyle Waskom of Granite City, first place in CNC milling; Cody Coffin of Collinsville, first place in precision machining technology; Nick Hausman of Mascoutah, second place in CNC turning; and Mitch McFarland of Collinsville, fourth place in welding.

Belleville AmeriCorps members continued to serve the community during the 2011-12 school year, working as tutors in District 118 schools and helping more than 1,204 students improve their academic achievement.

Project READ student Lovell Fisher received the 2012 Secretary of State Spotlight on Achievement Award for improved literacy at a ceremony in May.

SWIC student-athletes who signed letters of intent to play basketball at the next level, both NCAA Division I and NAIA, were: Jordan Coleman, Valparaiso University; LaTeasha Hill, Tennessee State University; Joey Quigley, Sacramento State University; Kaitlynne Smith, Berea College; and David Wiegmann, University at Albany.

MacKenzie Knepper, women’s soccer, was named a National Junior College Athletic Association Division I All-American for the 2012 soccer season, receiving an honorable mention.

Three student-athletes received 2011-12 NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards. Brian Doll of Greenville, baseball; Rachel Ferguson of Troy, women’s volleyball; and David Wiegmann of Breese, men’s basketball were honored for exemplary academic achievement (3.60 to 3.79 on a 4.00 scale).

David Weigman and Joey Quigley, men’s basketball, made the All-Region 24 first team.

Chelsi Hummert, women’s volleyball, made the All-Region second team. Taylor Albrecht received honorable mention.

SWIC cheerleaders won grand champion honors in their division at the 2011-12 Cheersport Cheerleading and Dance Grand Championship.

Back to Top Sustainability

RECYCLE IT ALL FEST—More than 340 pounds of paper and 800 pounds of electronics/large appliances were collected during the annual Recycle It All Fest in October 2012 at the Red Bud Campus. The green event included recycled arts and crafts, like the paper-bag hat English Professor Brad Nadziejko, left, created.

SWIC and the Randolph County Housing Authority received a National Award of Merit for Program Innovation with Resident and Client Services from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. The organizations partnered for a “Green YOU Can Do” speaker series, which reached more than 450 grade school students in Randolph County.

Portions of the Belleville Campus Main Complex roof were resurfaced white in summer 2012 to better reflect sunlight and cool the surface. Physical plant staff recorded a 60-degree difference between the two color materials. By having the brighter color, the building was cooler over the summer, which helped SWIC reduce the amount of electricity needed to cool the building.

SWIC joined efforts with USAgain to host clothing drop boxes at all three campuses. Accepted items include clothing, shoes, gloves, hats, linens, blankets or towels.

SWIC received bronze-level recognition in the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact Program from Gov. Pat Quinn and the Green Governments Coordinating Council in summer 2012.

SWIC and the American Lung Association co-sponsored an all-day Electric Vehicle Forum in June 2012 in the Belleville Campus Theatre.

Back to Top PSOP

SENIORS SHINE AT SWIC—SWIC, Programs and Services for Older Persons and the St. Clair County Office on Aging joined forces to create Life Experienced – A Senior Art Competition. The exhibit was held at the Schmidt Art Center and included 129 pieces from nearly 70 artists with ages ranging from 60 to 92. At the opening reception, PSOP Activities and Travel Assistant Jean Ellen Oesterle, left, played the piano for some entertainment.  

More than 300 seniors attended the annual Senior Day in Shiloh in June 2012.

Approximately 400 seniors attended the annual Senior Celebration at PSOP in May, which was co-sponsored by PSOP, the city of Belleville and Belleville Township.

Back to Top Veterans

VETERANS AWARENESS WEEK-Veterans Day turned into Veterans Week at SWIC in November 2012. All three campuses celebrated America's veterans with events Nov. 5-12, 2012. At halftime of the men's basketball game that week, all members of the armed forces were invited down to assist with the unfolding of a 90-foot American flag, pictured.