The Parkland College Blog

Parkland Trustee Steps Down, Board Sets Date For Vacancy Discussion

Westfield steps down as Parkland Trustee

Mr. Jonathan Westfield has announced his resignation from the Board of Trustees of Parkland College, District 505, leaving a vacancy.

Westfield was appointed as a Parkland Trustee in October 2017 to replace a resigning member, then elected to a six-year term from 2019-2025. Mr. Westfield is a retired Champaign Police Officer and former Champaign Unit 4 School District board member. During his tenure as Trustee, he frequently called on his experience working with youth in the community and participated in community college advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels.

"We wish Mr. Westfield well in his future endeavors and have appreciated and benefited from his contributions as a Trustee of Parkland College," said President Thomas Ramage.

The Board of Trustees has set a special meeting for April 14, following the upcoming election, to discuss next steps to fill the vacancy in closed session. The individual selected to fill the vacancy will serve until the next regular election in April 2023 per state statute.

Questions can be directed to Krystal Garrett at 217/351-2533 or

Registration Opens Soon for Summer and Fall 2021

Expanded in-person options for fall

Open registration for Parkland College's Summer Session 2021 and Fall Semester 2021 starts soon! See a full listing of available courses at

The college will continue with online and hybrid courses for the summer session, and plans to add expanded in-person options for fall.

Registration for Summer Session 2021 will open March 29. Register by May 16 for classes that start May 17; by June 6 for classes that start June 7; and by July 5 for classes that start July 6.

Fall Semester 2021 registration will start on April 5, with classes beginning the week of August 23 (for full 16-week and first 8-week sessions) and later.

In-person classes will follow the CDC's COVID-19 safety guidelines established last year and are contingent upon the district remaining in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan. Students can still expect a high quality of instruction and connection with faculty through all online, hybrid, and in-person courses.

Parkland College is ready to assist and support students who may need help accessing and navigating online education. Faculty will connect with students before classes begin, providing detailed instructions for using the Cobra Learning classroom environment.

See the College Calendar for dates and deadlines, drop/withdrawal steps, tuition and fee information, and more. Students may need to meet with an academic advisor before registering. Academic advisors are available remotely, by emailing For a listing of registration steps, please visit  

Parkland College Campus Closed Friday for Police Training

Police Training on Friday, March 19

Parkland College's police department will conduct active shooter/hostile intruder training Friday, March 19, while the college is closed for spring holiday. 
Parkland College Public Safety Department Interim Chief Jared Ping said his officers will hold their training session throughout the campus, from approximately 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The main campus will be closed to all faculty, staff, and students. However, the training will not affect the Parkland on Mattis complex or scheduled athletic events.

"We want to announce this to ensure that our community members are not alarmed when they see a more active police presence that day," he said.
Please contact Sgt. Ping at 217/351-2884 for further information.

Nuclear Fusion, Energy of the Future: Kaler Talk

UIUC nuclear scientist to discuss harnessing energy driving Sun, universe

Nuclear fusion, harnessing the power of the stars, is the April talk in the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College. 

University of Illinois nuclear physicist Dr. Daniel Andruczyk will present “Why is Nuclear Fusion Seen as the Energy of the Future: The Basics of the Energy Driving the Sun and the Universe,"  on Friday, April 2 at 7 p.m.  This virtual lecture is free to the public on Zoom.

Dr. Andruczyk is assistant research professor in the Department of Nuclear Plasma and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His talk will overview the basics of nuclear fusion, why scientists and engineers are so interested in it, and two of the methods they use to control it: magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) and inertial confinement fusion (ICF).

Nuclear power plants around the world generate energy from fission, where atomic nuclei split into smaller elements. Stars such as the Sun extract incredible amounts of energy from nuclear fusion by combining atoms together. In both cases, a small amount of mass is converted to energy, as predicted by Albert Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2.

However, the nuclear fusion occurring in stars is difficult to reproduce on Earth. Scientists have studied the fusion of slightly more massive nuclei, isotopes of hydrogen called deuterium and tritium. The deuterium–tritium or DT reaction requires much less energy, but a working reactor must be a scientific and engineering marvel in order to control an energetic soup of ions and electrons, a plasma, that is over 100 million degrees! These are literally stars in a lab and if the energy released can be extracted, it would be a limitless energy source that is carbon-neutral, meltdown-proof, and leave no radioactive waste.

Dr. Andruczyk earned his BSc and BSc (Honours) in Physics at the University of Queensland and completed his PhD in Plasma Physics at the University of Sydney. In 2006, he performed postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany, where he worked on the WEGA stellarator in support of the W7-X stellarator being built there. In 2009, he spent a year at the H-1 NF national facility in Australia before coming to UIUC in the fall of 2010 as a postdoctoral researcher. In 2012, he was at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) in support of the NSTX reactor program and developing liquid lithium and liquid metal technology. In 2014, he returned to Illinois as a professor and was part of the team to secure WEGA and bring it to UIUC as the HIDRA stellarator/tokamak hybrid device. He is currently part of the leadership team for the Department of Energy’s National Liquid Metal Plasma Facing Component Program.

Following Dr. Andruczyk's Kaler lecture, the planetarium will present its Prairie Skies Spotlight on Galaxies, a tour of the night sky with a focus on the billions of homes of billions of stars throughout the universe. 

The Staerkel Planetarium offers virtual programs to the public on Friday nights and gives shows to schools and private groups. Visit the planetarium website or email for a full show schedule, links to the Zoom meetings, and links to the YouTube channel, which features recordings of past shows.

Trustees Approve New Career Certificate, NSF Grant

Board of Trustees General Meeting, March 10

Parkland College plans to launch a new Mental Health Certificate career program and use a new National Science Foundation grant to boost its nationally ranked Precision Agriculture program.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Board of Trustees received President Tom Ramage's report that the College has received its fifth NSF grant for the "Expanding Precision Agriculture Education and Certification to Secondary Students" project.

EPASS will build on the success of two prior NSF projects in Precision Agriculture and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in developing pathways for secondary students to earn college credentials while gaining hands-on industry experience. The $581,377 grant project will start July 1, 2021 and continue through June 30, 2024.

After voting to approve application of funds, the board approved the new Mental Health Certificate program, a two-course, industry-recognized certificate that will train entry-level mental health and social service workers.

Upon completing the five-credit-hour certificate, students will acquire the skills necessary to enter full- or part-time mental health support professional roles. These skills include therapeutic communication and de-escalation techniques; identification of signs and symptoms of mental illness, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities; and certification in mental health first aid, among others. Parkland's Social Science and Human Services department will offer the program.

In other business, trustees approved:

  • the purchase of:

    • digital marketing services from Clarus Corporation, $190,000

    • consulting services from McKenzie-Wagner, $130,000

    • renewal of Zoom Software, $33,000

    • services and courses from ProTrain, $70,000

    • safety training services of Grey & Associates, $30,000

    • services and courses of Black Rocket Productions, $25,000

    • training services from Rock Gate Capital, DBA 160 Driving Academy, $40,000

  • the bid from Intelligent Video Solutions for software and audiovisual equipment, $38,252

  • personnel appointments:

    • Jared Ping, Interim Director of Public Safety, Public Safety

    • Amanda Gilbert-Mohler, Bookstore Specialist, Bookstore

    • Myriah Benner-Coogan, Advising Program Manager, Counseling and Advising