The Parkland College Blog

Fall Greenhouse Plant Sale This Week

Poinsettias, kalanchoes, more, make nice holiday gifts

Parkland College invites the public to its fall Greenhouse Plant Sale, Dec 5–7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This annual event will include poinsettias, succulents, and house plants and kalanchoes. Plants can make great holiday gifts or make a home more inviting.

Parkland College's greenhouse is located on the west side of the Tony Noel Agricultural Technology Applications Center, on the west side of campus.

Cash or checks only, please. Proceeds support greenhouse operations and student activities. For more information, contact Theresa Meers at

Faculty, Staff Excellence Winners for 2018

Employees provided superior instruction, service during 2018 academic year

Parkland College employees were honored with campus and regional awards for superior instruction and service during the school's 2018 academic year. Most were nominated through Parkland College's Professional Development Subcommittees for Faculty and Staff.

Kaizad Irani, Horticulture and Agriculture
2018 Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Award, Illinois Community College Trustees AssociationKaizad Irani

  • A Champaign County Master Gardener, Irani has taught at Parkland College since 2002

  • Has led teams that designed healing gardens locally at Carle Hospital and at St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis

  • His team's design was chosen for the World Trade Center Heroes Park that will be built near Ground Zero in New York

  • Described as a creative force and an enthusiastic, generous, and purposeful professor who instills confidence in every student

  • Expert on topics as varied as Transforming Chaos and Conflict, Mind Mapping, and changing negative thought patterns

  • Has served on the college's Curriculum Committee and Sustainable Campus Committee

Tracy Dotson, Composition
2018 Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award for Parkland College, Illinois Community College Trustees AssociationTracy Dotson

  • Described as a deeply caring and committed teacher

  • Has established an engaging curriculum and productive classroom community in which students learn from her and from their classmates

  • Valued contributor in departmental meetings, grant-funded assessments, and developmental composition meetings

  • Well-regarded mentor who acclimates new part-time faculty to policies, procedures, expectations, and culture of Parkland College

Chris Warren, Kinesiology
2018 Parkland College Teaching Excellence AwardChris Warren

  • Associate professor and program director of the Kinesiology program, Warren oversaw the development of Parkland College's state-of-the-art training and athletics facility

  • Helped develop the college's Certified Personal Fitness Training program

  • Expanded the Kinesiology curriculum to include four transfer pathways

  • Known as a dedicated and encouraging teacher; students say he creates a fun and engaging classroom environment

  • Assists trainers and clients at Parkland's Fitness Center and monitors many Parkland athletes' training 

Kendra McClure, Communications
2018 Online Teaching Excellence AwardKendra McClure

  • Associate professor of communication, McClure has served at Parkland College since 2010

  • Her online courses stand out because of her attention to detail, clear expectations, and personal interactions with her students

  • Uses feedback from anonymous surveys to make adjustments and continually improve student learning

  • A founder and faculty advisor for Applied Media Promotions (AMP), a student-staffed strategic communication firm on campus

Manuel Rodriguez, Chemistry
Dr. Joseph Cipfl Faculty Workshop and Research Grant Winner

  • Associate professor of chemistry, Rodriguez has served Parkland College since 2010

  • The Illinois Community College Faculty Association (ICCFA) Executive Committee has awarded him one of its four $2,500 competitive faculty grants for 2018

  • His research project is "Introduction to Undergraduate Research for Community College Students"

  • ICCFA, an advisory body to the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), endeavors to promote excellence in teaching and learning in Illinois community colleges


Kris Murray, Accessibility Services
2018 Outstanding Staff Gold Award (5+ Years) Kris Murray

  • Responsible for day-to-day operations in the Office of Accessibility Services, which serves 500+ students

  • Recognized as consummate professional who communicates with students in a caring, respectful, and positive manner

  • Maintains the office's systems and extensive inventory of assistive technologies

  • Works closely with faculty and staff to meet educational needs for students with disabilities

  • Adept knowledge of ADA compliance issues, technology for student accommodations, and community/campus resources

Sarah Hartman, Admissions
2018 Outstanding Staff Green Award (>5 Years)Sarah Hartman

  • Admissions advisor and first contact for prospective students and parents

  • Named to the 2018 Emerging Community Leaders program by United Way of Champaign County

  • Referred to as the office cheerleader whose positive attitude finds solutions and the bright side to any situation 

  • Educates office staff on new procedures, trains them on new software, and helps improve their customer-service skills

  • Extensive services include EEO representation, Parkland College Association (senator), Job Evaluation Committee, Parkland Gives365 group, Policy and Procedures Management Team, and SOAR Vision Committee

Explore Parkland College academic programs, campus life, support services and more during the school's annual Fall Open House.

This event will take place Friday, Nov. 2 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Student Union atrium and in the L and H buildings for its Health Professions programs.

Designed for high school students, parents of college-bound students, and community members, the Parkland College Fall Open House allows visitors to tour the campus; have their questions answered from admissions, financial aid, and counseling representatives; view student demonstrations and explore the college's innovative features. Breakout sessions on financial aid and the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program also will take place during the open house.

For those interested in criminal justice or forensic science, the Parkland College Forensic Science Lab in Room X104 will be open for public viewing from noon to 2 p.m. that day. The science behind criminal investigation is more challenging and satisfying than popular media portray. Students can view the tools of the trade including fingerprinting techniques, DNA gels and skeletal remains, and an instructor will be on hand to talk about the chemistry of it all.

The Health Professions portion of the open house will take place in the L wing of the main campus and at the H building located in Parkland on Mattis, 1309 N. Mattis Ave. in Champaign. The Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care, Surgical Technology and Veterinary Technology programs will be featured in the L wing, while the Nursing, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Service, Massage Therapy, Medical Assisting, Nursing Assistant, Occupational Therapy and Practical Nursing programs will be featured at the H building. Visitors can enjoy chair massages from Massage Therapy students, get their vitals taken from Medical Assisting students and view lab demonstrations from Nursing and Occupational Therapy students in the H building.

For more information about the Parkland College Fall Open House, contact Admissions and Records at 217/351-2482 or

Parkland College Among Top 20 in Nation for Precision Ag places Parkland at No. 2 among nation's community colleges

Parkland College's Precision Agriculture program has been named No. 2 among the nation's community colleges by

Earlier in the year, released its Top 25 Colleges in the U.S. for Precision Agriculture, which comprised four-year institutions; it released its Top 20 Two-Year Colleges list in early September, with Parkland's program ranking second on the list.

Parkland College offers the most comprehensive Precision Agriculture associate’s degree in the state of Illinois. Students learn precision ag technologies, such as precision hardware and software systems, through industry-backed curriculum. With a 20-year history of precision agriculture education, Parkland College has built a strong regional reputation with employer partners eager to hire Parkland graduates. 

About PrecisionAg:
PrecisionAg is a diversified, independent media enterprise serving the global community of precision agriculture through the media outlets of, PrecisionAg Professional UpdatePrecisionAg Institute, and PrecisionAg Professional Magazine.

Alum-Designed Memorial for Missing UI Scholar Underway

Garden dedicated to Yingying Zhang now under construction

It would be one of the most daunting challenges of her career: Design a memorial garden dedicated to missing Illinois scholar Yingying Zhang. But Phyllis Williams knew what she had to do.

She had to draw on her arsenal of Parkland College Horticulture training. After all, she was "one of Kaizad's kids."Memorial Garden for Yingying Zhang

A Champaign County Master Gardener since 2009, Williams first hesitated after receiving her organization's request this summer. It could be "risky" to create a memorial fitting enough to honor the Chinese graduate student, feared dead after being kidnapped from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus over a year ago. Zhang's story was international news, and the tribute garden would be the first of its kind for a student at the campus. 

But then Williams realized that HRT 256, the Landscape Planting Design class she had taken with Horticulture program director Kaizad Irani last spring, held more relevance than ever before. In fact, his class had prepared her for just this moment.

For that semester, Irani, a world traveler, had chosen Chinese gardens as the class focus.

"I thought, 'Well, this is why I took the class—this is it—and so, step up a be a little bit brave," said the longtime Urbana resident and UIUC retiree from Paris, Illinois. "I felt like I had the tools to say, 'Yeah, I'm gonna work on that project.' My toolbox had been packed."

A collaboration of the CCMG, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and other student groups at Illinois, the 600-square-foot memorial garden will sit at the corner of North Goodwin Avenue and South Clark Street in Urbana, near Campbell Hall. It will lie just behind the spot where Zhang was last seen, as captured on campus video June 9, 2017.Spot for Zhang Memorial Garden

Construction on the garden began Sept. 7 with the pouring of a concrete platform that will hold its granite bench; the platform will also contain the handprints of the student volunteers who are helping with the garden build.

"It's quite emotional, and yet the students really seem to like that element," Williams said. 

Two other poignant elements in the design, ideas contributed by fellow Master Gardener Christine Nordholm, are the garden's color palette of white and green and its winding walkway of "disappearing steps." White is a mourning color in Chinese culture, while green symbolizes purity. The walkway into the garden will include large grey pavers that start out covering the path but then become scarce as they lead visitors toward the bench and platform.

"So basically, by the time you get just over halfway on the path, you'll run out of all but just a couple, and then you'll get to the pad," Wiliams explained. Incidentally, Nordholm, a former art student at Parkland, has also taken Irani's landscape design classes. 

Irani said he was impressed with Williams' design, which includes plantings favored in Chinese gardens: a weeping cherry tree and a white azalea; various types of junipers, hydrangeas and hostas; boxwoods; and more. The plants were selected for beauty, zone heartiness and disease resistance. 

"You have a little bit of color and year-round interest; I thought, 'I couldn't have done any better at all,'" said the professor, who began Parkland's Horticulture program 17 years ago and is set to retire this spring. "This is your goal: you want students to supersede your teaching and take it to a whole other level, and she has."

For Williams, it was Irani's training that brought her Master Gardener skills to the level she needed to compete for landscape design proposals like Zhang's garden. 

"I've learned a lot from the Master Gardeners—botany, plant care, integrated pest management, things like that," she said. "By the same token, I felt like, 'but there's a design element I need to bring to bear.' I really wanted to help plan for success rather than just be surprised if I got it! So, I took Kaizad's classes. Parkland is so accessible."

Now, with the garden's hoses laid and the platform foundation ready, the planting will soon begin. Once the garden is completed, UIUC students and CCMG volunteers will need to maintain it, which could present a challenge, Williams said.

"You don't get a lot of sunshine; it's a bit of a tough site," she explained. "But we couldn't pick the ideal site; we're working with the site that fate gave us."

Yet she hopes the garden will be a point of pride and an important community expression. 

"We're plugging safety to everybody's child who comes here," she said. "It makes a difference." 

A memorial garden dedication is being planned for October.