The Parkland College Blog

Parkland College, in collaboration with the Illinois Community College Board and State Rep. Carol Ammons, has launched a new program that will provide free, short-term training to underserved populations in the college's district.
Backed by a $1.5 million Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative grant, Parkland's new Support for Workforce Training (SWFT) Program aims to help more than 150 district residents move into high-demand careers with family-sustaining wages within a year or less. The WEI grant aims to address historic underrepresentation of African Americans in high-demand, high-wage careers, thus requiring African Americans to comprise 60 percent of the population served by the SWFT program. 

Parkland President Tom Ramage described the program's potential impact.

"This is an unprecedented opportunity for Parkland College to remove barriers for those wishing to upgrade their skills with short-term programs and move into high-demand careers," he said. "These students will have the opportunity to change, not only the trajectory of their lives, but that of their families. We commend our legislators for supporting this innovative approach to expanding the skilled workforce, growing businesses, and ensuring the continued growth of the local economy."  

The initiative was spearheaded by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus with strong support from State Rep. Carol Ammons. 

"I am proud to support a program that creates ample opportunities in a realistic way," Ammons said. "Participants may receive a number of scholarships, waivers, and stipends, for the necessary classes and training to further their careers. These resources also include childcare, transportation, and other non-monetary tools that will ensure that 'life' doesn't get in the way of making life better.

"I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus for their work to find workforce training programming that will help to increase wages for people in our community. This program will help people become certified for careers where there are skill gaps and workforce shortages in our region. I am honored to have fought for this money on behalf of those looking for work, and I look forward to working with Parkland College to maximize this grant money and its impact on our community."

Along with providing tuition and fee waivers for training and stipends to help tackle higher education-access barriers, the initiative will address local workforce gaps and employment barriers in an effort to prepare skilled workers to move into employment upon program completion. Participants who are eligible for the program also will receive wraparound support services, such as academic counseling and mentoring.

Students may select from 22 Parkland College degree or certificate programs in four technical career categories: construction and manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and distribution, and business and IT services. Career options vary widely and include industrial maintenance and welding; office assistant, Microsoft Web, and Google IT professionals; phlebotomy and pharmacy technicians; practical nursing and CNA; and truck driver CDL and highway construction, among others. Most programs can be completed in a year or less.

Those eligible for the incentives may include incumbent workers, unemployed persons, members of underrepresented minority groups, those receiving SNAP benefits and other need-based aid, recently incarcerated persons and ex-offenders, those receiving housing assistance, and others demonstrating financial need. 

Parkland College was one of 15 community colleges selected to take part in the $18.5 million WEI, which aims to train 1,500 adults statewide for jobs in areas with a high demand for workers. The grant period begins October 2019 and extends through September 2020. State officials notified Parkland College of its award in mid-September.

For more information, please visit or contact the SWFT Program office at 217/353-2149.

Parkland College has received high marks for financial soundness from external auditors and is enhancing career and technical programs at the college through a recent increase in federal grant funds. 

The Parkland College Board of Trustees officially accepted the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) from Martin Hood, LLC, at its meeting Wednesday. The report presented the college with an unqualified "clean" opinion of its FY 2019 financial statements, the best type to receive from independent review. The audit highlights the college's exemplary fiscal management and includes reports on Parkland's schedule of expenditures of federal awards and its internal control over financial reporting and compliance.

Also at their meeting, trustees received an update on how a $643,000 Carl D. Perkins grant Parkland received for AY 2020 is being used to strengthen career and technical programs and support students in underrepresented groups. Through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the US Dept. of Education is providing more than $1.2 billion in federal aid this year to bolster CTE programs across the country. 

Pamela Lau, Executive Vice President, reported that the Perkins funds are being used in several major ways. First, they will help develop an apprenticeship office at Parkland College; this effort will accelerate the development of apprenticeships with the College, which has obtained status as a US Department of Labor intermediary, one that proactively addresses workforce needs for both employees and employers. The funds will also allow the college to provide career-exploration software, soft-skills training, summer camps, and other work-based learning tools for students. Under the leadership of Bobbi Scholze, Parkland's dean of career and technical education, the College will continue expanding pathways to obtain CTE credentials in collaboration with Parkland's Adult Education and Community Education units. Finally, Parkland will make capital equipment purchases and lab and software upgrades that help boost CTE program technology.

In other business, the board approved the following:

  • purchase of body-worn cameras and associated hardware and software from WatchGuard, Inc., Allen, Texas, $22,355;

  • purchase of a 15-passenger commercial bus from Midwest Transit Equipment of Kankakee, $50,628;

  • retaining Henneman Engineering, Inc. of Champaign for the development and design of the campus electronic door lock upgrade, $509,850;

  • purchase of the pre-exposure rabies vaccine administration from McKinley Health Center in Urbana for veterinary tech students, $21,420;

  • receipt of funds from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) Workforce Equity Initiative. College officials publicly announce the grant award on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 10 a.m. in the Student Union atrium.

  • personnel appointments:

    • Gerald Lighty, Faculty, Ag/Engineering Science Technologies

    • Carrie Harris, Program Manager, Community Education

    • Josh Houston, Maintenance Tech/Electrician, Physical Plant

    • Jenna Hooker, Police Officer, Public Safety

Trustees Approve Budget, Administrative Transition

Dr. Pamela Lau appointed executive vice president

The Parkland College Board of Trustees approved its FY 2020 budget and officially announced plans to promote the college's chief academic officer to executive vice president as part of an executive transition plan.  

At their regular meeting Wednesday, trustees promoted Dr. Pamela Lau to executive vice president, with plans to appoint her as president upon the retirement of Dr. Thomas Ramage. Ramage, a 21-year employee of the college, has served as president since 2007.

Trustees met during a closed session last month to discuss Ramage's retirement and next steps, after which Board of Trustees Chairman Gregory Knott issued the announcement to Parkland employees.

"Community college trustees from across the country talk about the importance of transition planning and how critical it is to the stability and success of their respective institutions," Knott said. "We are taking proactive steps to put it into action here at Parkland College.

"Over the next three years, Dr. Ramage's role will remain unchanged, but he will be bringing Dr. Lau alongside him in the process to learn the complexities of the college presidency. We have set Parkland up for a seamless transition, and the institution will be stronger because of it." 

Lau joined the Parkland College faculty in 1995 as a teacher in its developmental reading program; she became director of the program in 2003. In 2005, she led the task force that coordinated the school's academic support services into the one-stop Center for Academic Success (CAS), serving as CAS's founding director. After her promotion to dean of academic services in 2010, Lau was fundamental in obtaining the third Title III grant in Parkland’s history. In 2015, she became interim vice president for academic services at Parkland College and accepted the permanent position the following year. In 2017, she won an Emerging Chief Academic Officer Award from the National Council of Instructional Administrators.

The board also adopted the final budget for the 2019-2020 year, which includes a $282,504 operating surplus. Chief Financial Officer Chris Randles first presented the tentative budget in July, and the budget was on display for public review and input starting Aug. 1.  

In other business, the board approved the following:

  • the revised employment contract for President Ramage that extends through June 30, 2023;
  • the employment contract for Dr. Lau through June 30, 2023;
  • Environmental Control Solutions, Inc. of Springfield's bid to install a new Building Automation Control System, $151,295; 
  •  to renew the annual agreement and purchase of WinPRISM and PrismWeb software from PrismRBS, LLC of Lincoln, Neb. through June 2022 for a total of $53,271;
  • use of Protection, Health, and Safety funds for a campus-wide door lock upgrade, $2.2 million;
  • K.K. Stevens Publishing Co. of Astoria's bid for printing and mail preparation services for Community Education, $24,947.21; 
  • funding of the S Building renovation through the State of Illinois Capital Development Board, $126,840;
  • funding of the Campus Fountain Courtyard/Service Drive Improvement project through the State of Illinois Capital Development Board,  $425,000.
  • personnel appointments:
    • Suzanne Jones, Director of Counseling Services, Student Services
    • Amanda Briggs, Aviation Team Leader, Institute of Aviation
    • Jonathan Moore, Aviation Team Leader, Institute of Aviation
    • Laura Sutter, Veterinary Technology Faculty, Health Professions
    • Tracey Burgess, Selective Admissions Associate, Admissions & Records
    • Ricky Deer, Technical Support Specialist, Campus Technologies
    • James Kiser, Technical Support Specialist, Campus Technologies
    • Nicole Olmo, Accounts Receivable Accountant, Cashiers Office
    • Gabrielle Rodmaker, Graphic Designer - Media Communications Specialist, Marketing & Public Relations
    • Brandy Smith, Police Officer, Public Safety


Parkland on Mattis has Received ALL CLEAR

This is a Parkland College Alerts update (as of 9:33 a.m. CDT on Sunday, June 16, 2019):

Parkland on Mattis, 1307 N. Mattis Ave., has received the ALL CLEAR and will reopen for normal business hours on Monday, June 17.

This has been a Parkland College Alerts message from Parkland College Public Safety, 217/353-3300.

Construction Reroutes Planned at Parkland College

Resurfacing work on B1, B7 lots and entry walkway to begin May 28

Drivers and pedestrians approaching Parkland College's B wing will need to take detours due to summer-long construction on the campus's southeast parking lots that begins the morning of Tuesday, May 28.

Parkland College will be resurfacing its B1 and B7 parking lots and installing new LED parking lot lights in all of the B parking lots. The entry walkway from the B lots to the X2 doorway and the surrounding courtyard areas will be reconstructed at the same time. (Map: With this work:

  • The B1 and B7 parking lots will be closed for the summer, along with the walkway and courtyard leading to the X2 doorway.

  • Employees and students are free to park in the other B lots or the C or M lots.

  • The walkway from the outer B lots will remain open for foot traffic to and from the campus, with access to the B wing through the B1 and B2 entry doors, and access to the Union through any of the entry doors.   

  • Access to the Central Receiving (main loading) dock will be limited to incoming truck traffic only; all other traffic will not be allowed in.

  • For persons with disabilities, mechanical doors are available at the U, C, D, M and X-wing entrances.

  • The school’s perimeter road (William W. Froom Way) will remain open.