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Local Iowa Lakes candidates speak out

By Staff | Sep 6, 2008

Bob Grems

Bob Grems, an Iowa Lakes Community College graduate, has served as an administrator at both Iowa Lakes and Estherville Lincoln Central Community School where he is currently director of the Regional Wellness Center.

“I would like to acknowledge the dedication Jan Lund has exhibited during her terms on the ILCC Board of Trustees,” Grems said. “She has always been a good supporter of the college and its students. The major reason I’m seeking a seat on the board of trustees is that I feel I bring a different perspective to the table. I also view it as an opportunity to serve the college and most importantly its students. Bringing a new perspective will encourage review of current thinking and bring the potential of fresh ideas.”

1. What is your reason for running for the Iowa Lakes Board of Trustees?

The five-county area that Iowa Lakes Community College serves is so fortunate to have such a fantastic post-secondary institution that has a history of delivering a great product. You would say Iowa Lakes is in my blood as it has been an important part of my life for over 35 years. My wife, daughters and I are all graduates of Iowa Lakes Community College. In addition, I had the opportunity to work for Iowa Lakes for 16 years serving in the capacities of instructor, coach and administrator. At present, as director of the Regional Wellness Center, I am in daily contact with current ILCC students, staff and alumni giving me an opportunity to hear about the opportunities and challenges facing them. Most importantly, I feel I can bring an educational perspective to the board of trustees through my background of 31 years combined experience at the K-12 and community college levels. This experience aligns with the number-one goal of Iowa Lakes, which is to provide high quality and comprehensive educational programs with accessibility and opportunity to all those that seek it. On a personal level, I have four grandchildren and would like to help ensure ILCC will be a viable educational option for them. In addition, I have given countless hours of volunteer experience on various local boards giving me a great understanding the role that board members play in the total operations of an organization.

2. Explain how your professional experience, education and community service experience would qualify you to serve as a trustee.

I am able to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the board from all three areas. First of all, I understand that the number one role of the board of trustees is policy making. I am willing to devote the time, thought and research necessary to render credible and effective service. It is important that the trustees engage in full and open discussions and work together in the spirit of harmony and cooperation in spite of differences that may arise on various issues. Keeping the educational welfare of students as a primary concern, the board must always focus on what is in the best interest of the institution as a whole as opposed to serving special interest groups. I have experience with building projects, knowledge of school finance/budgets and fundraising – all of which will be helpful as a member of the board of trustees. My professional experience includes 31 years in the education field at both the K-12 and community college level. I’m a life-long resident of the area, graduating from Estherville Community Schools and then attending Iowa Lakes Community College. After receiving my AA degree from Iowa Lakes I transferred to the University of Nebraska at Omaha completing my B.S. degree in PE and Business Education. I received my Master of Arts Degree from Mankato State University in 1984 and my Educational Administration Degree from Buena Vista University in 1999. I have been very active in volunteerism in the community. I currently am voluntarily serving on the Iowa Foster Care Review Board for Emmet, Kossuth and Palo Alto counties (seven years); and on the Estherville Public Library Board of Directors (seven years). Past board experience includes president of the Northland Credit Union Board of Directors; NW Iowa District representative to the Iowa High School Athletic Director’s Association, assistant director of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XI (Iowa); chairman of Regional Wellness Center Interim Board of Directors and co-chair of the RWC Programming Committee.

3. What would your five-year vision for ILCC include?

During the next five years, I envision growth in enrollment numbers at all campuses of both full-time and part-time students. ILCC will have competitive tuition rates with other Iowa community colleges. I would like to see the college be the aggressor in forming partnerships with local tax-supported governmental subdivisions resulting in the redirecting of more financial resources to student programming increasing student opportunities. These partnerships are financially supported by Senate File 447. Iowa Lakes will meet the demands of area employers and the global job market through innovative programming and graduating of highly skilled workers. It is my belief that Iowa Lakes can not only train workers, but can also create needed jobs in our area by expanding the scope of programs and developing more partnerships with local private and public entities. Additionally, through my communication with ILCC alumni, a major concern that is consistently brought up is the expressed desire to receive communication and be able to remain connected to the college. A major focus area should be on keeping Iowa Lakes alumni informed of what is happening at the college along with opportunities on when and how they can assist the college. This could be accomplished through an aggressive communications campaign.

Financial stability is a must, and with the state of our economy it is important to look closely at the total operations of the college and make decisions that will allow the college to have the finances available to meet its goals. In reviewing the most recent published audit report, it was stated that Iowa Lakes Community College continues to be in a stable financial position. But, it was interesting to note that for FY 2007 the Vocational Technical Programs lost $860,070. I also understand that of Iowa’s 15 community colleges, Iowa Lakes is near the top in administrative salaries and near the bottom in instructor salaries. Financial decisions can be tough decisions, but as a tax supported entity (42 percent of general fund revenues comes from state aid) we must make sure all monies are spent appropriately and cuts made when necessary. In all decision-making processes, it is imperative that appropriate data is made available to the trustees. Iowa Lakes has the highest tuition of any of the Iowa community colleges at $137.50 per credit hour. This is $21.25 per credit higher then NIACC and $28.50 higher then Iowa Central. A student choosing Iowa Lakes over either of these two competitor colleges would pay $680 or $912 more in tuition annually based on 16 credits per semester. Having recruited students for 16 years, I can attest to the fact that high tuition rates have a negative impact on recruiting efforts. According to the latest available Iowa Department of Education “Student Credit Enrollment Report” dated October 2007, Iowa Lakes had a decrease in enrollment from fall of 2006 to fall of 2007 of 1.34 percent compared to the state average of a 2.42 percent increase. College students add a great deal to the local economy as well as the economy of the college not only through tuition dollars, but income through their auxiliary enterprises.

4. Do you believe there are ways in which ILCC can better serve the community? Please explain.

ILCC needs to listen to the voice of the community to identify needs and ambitions. ILCC has the responsibility to give back to the communities for their continuous support of the college, through sharing of resources and partnerships in programming, resources, and activities. Iowa Lakes has done some athletic sharing with ELC which benefits both entities. This should be only the beginning. There are many opportunities to partner with local schools and other community organizations to effectively share costs and provide top-notch facilities and programs. These combined efforts have the potential to attract students, businesses and residents to our communities. We should not limit the scope of partnerships to facilities, meaning there are many services that are currently done independently that could very feasibly be shared to reduce costs. As a leader in the community, the college administration should take the first step in initiating collaborative efforts with community partners. To really serve the community, Iowa Lakes needs to not only establish partnerships, but follow through on commitments and promises.

ILCC has a willingness to help residents meet their higher-education needs and to fulfill their dreams. Having a willingness does not necessarily bring about results. Being involved for 11 years in ELC School District, I have witnessed the missing link between the college and the area schools. There is potential to recruit a greater number of local students to pursue their post-secondary educations at ILCC. Developing a stronger collaboration with the public schools will benefit students, school districts and the college.

5. Please explain the working relationship you would like to see between Iowa Lakes and other government and educational entities, such as school districts, cities and the county.

An enhanced flow of communications is one of the first steps necessary to maintain and improve working relationships. As previously mentioned, it is important that Iowa Lakes take a leadership role in collaborating with other government and educational entities within their service area. With each of us being taxpayer funded we can and need to figure ways in which joint ventures can be beneficial to the parties involved and cost effective to our constituents.

Local Iowa Lakes candidates speak out

By Staff | Sep 6, 2008

Janice Lund is a 34-year resident of Estherville after having moved here from Cedar Rapids in July 1974 with her husband, Dick, when he joined the Stan Young Insurance Agency as a partner.

Dick and Jan have two sons. Chris, a graduate of Iowa Lakes Community College, lives in Spirit Lake and is employed in the service department of the Okoboji GM-Toyota auto dealership. Steve is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard and is stationed with the NORAD-U.S. NORTHCOM based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. His wife, Kim, is also a lieutenant colonel and serves as deputy chief of staff for military personnel for the Colorado Army National Guard in Denver. They live in Castle Rock, Colo, with their children, Peyton Marie Lund and Jordan, Jacob and Jared Tousignaut.

1. What is your reason for running for the Iowa Lakes Community College Board of Trustees?

Serving on the board of trustees for the past 15 years has been a very rewarding experience for me and during this time, I feel I have also been able to make valuable contributions as the representative of District 2. I have worked hard to educate myself in the comprehensive mission of the college to provide quality learning and economic development opportunities in our area. I am devoted to the growth of the college and the surrounding communities and want to ensure that the college continually improves and excels to meet or exceed the expectations of our area residents and student population.

During my time as an ILCC trustee, I have come to appreciate more and more the efforts, foresight, wisdom and dedication of those trustees who have represented Iowa Lakes Community College in the past and were instrumental in making it the excellent educational institution it is today. It has been a privilege and honor for me to serve on the ILCC Board of Trustees for the past 15 years and I would welcome and appreciate the opportunity to continue representing District 2.

2. Explain how your professional experience, education and community service experience would qualify you to serve as a trustee.

For the past 15 years, I have served as a trustee for Iowa Lakes and have gained a great deal of knowledge about the college, the educational programs, quality of the faculty and staff and the role they play not only in District 2, but in the entire five-county area served by ILCC. In my time as trustee, I have been in attendance for all but two regularly scheduled or special board meetings, which I think is an indication of the respect and devotion I have for this position. I currently serve on the Iowa Lakes Building Committee and am the college’s representative for the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees. I have been vice-president of the Iowa Lakes Board for three years, and have been a member of the Iowa Lakes Foundation since 1993. I was employed by the USDA Farm Service Agency for 30 years. During that time, I had much public contact as we worked with landowners and farm producers in dealing with various government programs and policies.

3. What would your five-year vision for Iowa Lakes Community College include?

Over the last few years, we have expanded our educational and extracurricular programs to meet growing demands. During the next five years, we must continue to evaluate our new and existing programs to determine what, if any, changes or improvements may be needed to strengthen them. Our original buildings are over 40 years old so we have to be aware that some structural improvements or renovations may be needed. Technology is continually changing and we want to make certain that the college stays current with the latest equipment and facilities to ensure that our students are successful and competitive in the job market when they graduate.

4. Do you believe the there are ways in which Iowa Lakes Community College can better serve the community? Please explain.

Iowa Lakes has always tried to be active with and supportive of other entities in the communities where we are located and we continue to seek ways to expand or improve on these relationships. We have strong ties to our local K-12s and offer programming to elementary, middle-school, and high-school students. Iowa Lakes provides continuing education classes, certification classes and job retraining and area business representatives serve on our program advisory committees to help with curriculum and job readiness for our students. The board of trustees makes an annual review of the programs and services being provided in the five-county area we serve, but is also receptive at any time during the year to the consideration of other programs or services.

5. Please explain the working relationship you would like to see between Iowa Lakes and other government and educational entities such as school districts, cities and counties.

It is very important that all government entities work together for the betterment of their communities. By working together we can maximize resources, something very important in rural Iowa where declining populations, especially in our younger age group, is prevalent. Economic development is one key to turning this trend around and Iowa Lakes is poised to serve a key role in that area. I am proud of the responsiveness Iowa Lakes has shown during my tenure to the nursing shortage and the explosive growth of the wind energy industry. When area hospitals approached us expressing their need for nurses, we began an evening/weekend nursing program so we could serve more students and help meet the demand for more nurses. This fall, we have 376 pre-nursing and nursing students enrolled in our daytime and evening/weekend programs. When we began our wind energy program four years, ago, we had one instructor and 12 students. Today, we have four instructors and over 100 students along with one director/industry trainer and a secretary to field the never-ending calls for industry training at an international level. As area schools struggle to maintain upper-level math, science, English and foreign language instructors, we provide courses for high-school students to meet that need. The state requires all high schools to provide four vocational programs to their students. These programs are very expensive to maintain and often it is difficult to hire qualified instructors.

During my tenure, we started a career academy and have seven area high schools sending students to participate in over 10 different career areas through this program. We continue to work with these entities to support each other’s missions for the good of the communities.