The Parkland College Blog

GEER Up at Parkland College

Parkland College Announces New "GEER Up" Program

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Parkland College announced a new tuition-assistance program, called GEER Up, which aims to expand access to Dual Enrollment classes for low-income, underrepresented, and/or first-generation high school students within District 505.

Funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), the program will support Parkland College’s efforts to serve new and existing students from underrepresented groups throughout the COVID-19 crisis and ensure that they are able to access and find success in Parkland career programs. GEER Up aims to help these students transition smoothly to higher education through academic support, access to academic advising, and financial literacy coaching.

GEER Up will assist current high school students interested in Dual Enrollment classes but unable to participate due to extenuating circumstances and increased financial restraints. For students interested in selective admissions Health Professions programs, GEER Up presents an opportunity to meet required prerequisite or placement criteria. The program will provide eligible students up to $2,500 in assistance for tuition, fees, and books/technology in an award package determined by the student’s program of choice.

“Part of our mission as a community college is to ensure that all members of our community have access to the tools for success, no matter what barriers there might be,” said Stephanie Stuart, Vice President for Communications and External Affairs. “We know that the financial burden of this pandemic has not impacted families equally, and that access to dual enrollment for low-income high school students has become much more limited. With GEER Up, we want to provide the opportunity for all students to get a head start on college and successfully transition into post-secondary education and training so they can achieve their dreams.”

As part of the program, students can enroll in one or more Parkland courses plus 3 credit hours of student support coursework including First Year Experience (FYE), which will help students transition from high school to college. The program will serve 100 total students for the Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 semesters.

Applications for the GEER Up program are due December 11. While all high school students may apply, first priority will be given to high school seniors. Applications will be accepted after December 11 based on space left in the program. Applications are available and submitted at Courses begin in January. Academic advising is available to students immediately upon application.

For more information, please visit or contact the Early College Office at or 217/353-2663.

Parkland Professor Wins Statewide Community College Faculty Award

Dr. Franklin Gallo Awarded 2020 "Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member"

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Parkland College choral director Franklin Gallo, DMA, has been selected by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) as the 2020 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member Award.

Gallo was one of three recipients of the 2020 ICCTA Outstanding Faculty Awards in October. Parkland’s Faculty Professional Development Committee had selected Gallo to be Parkland’s ICCTA Outstanding Part-Time Faculty winner earlier this spring, which nominated him for statewide consideration. Gallo will be presented with this statewide award during Parkland's October 21 Board of Trustees meeting.

Gallo is the director of Parkland’s Chamber Singers, a group that has grown from six students to more than 25 in three years and includes music majors, non-majors, high school students and adult community members. Gallo described the benefits students receive from participation in the musical group.

"In classrooms where the three artistic processes—creating, performing, and responding—are central to the enacted music curriculum, students develop lifelong musical skills and understandings that foster social and cultural understandings, respect, and self-awareness,” he said.

Beyond his work with the Chamber Singers in the rehearsal studio and on stage, Gallo teaches Introduction to American Music and Music Appreciation courses. He has provided professional development for primary and secondary educators, recently presenting sessions at a state choral music conference for pre-service educators at the University of Illinois and attending an international symposium on music education.
An accomplished instructor, director, and composer, Gallo led mass choirs at Parkland’s first-ever High School Choral Festival in January 2019 and again in January 2020. He has initiated and helped to implement two innovative programs used by the college’s music department for recruitment, ongoing collaboration with local high schools, and as a charity fundraiser.

Parkland College Releases 10th Day Enrollment Report

Official 10th-day enrollment numbers for the Fall 2020 semester

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Parkland College has released official 10th-day enrollment numbers for the Fall 2020 semester.

The report shows strong enrollment gains in the final weeks leading up to classes. Originally trending 30 percent down two weeks before the start of the semester, Parkland's 10th-day figures show final fall enrollment down 11.5 percent with a total headcount of 5,758 students. Kristin Smigielski, the college’s dean of enrollment management, explained the school’s rally on enrollment figures.

“Uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic caused students and prospective students to delay decision making,” Smigielski said. “As fall deadlines neared, we saw more students making the decision to register for classes.”

In response to the pandemic, the college budgeted for a 20-percent enrollment dip this fall and shifted delivery modes to online and hybrid formats. Final enrollment numbers have exceeded the budgeted projections by over 8 percent.

Additionally, while most student-population ratios remained steady from last fall, the report presents a 12-percent decline in the High School population, representing a drop in early-college enrollment from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020.

“We know that for many high school and home-schooled students, enrollment in early college classes is the first step in their journey to becoming a full-time college student,” Smigielski said. “We are monitoring this shift in enrollment and will continue to work toward finding ways in which Parkland College can provide additional access and support to students during these uncertain times.”

Smigielski also noted that the percentage of diverse student populations held steady in relation to other enrollment populations compared to Fall 2019. “We are glad to see these percentages did not dramatically shift. We want to ensure we are serving the community across all student groups, and particularly in low-income and diverse students populations that may be harder hit in times of health and economic crises.”

A full 10th-day enrollment report for fall 2020 may be viewed at the website under Institutional Accountability and Research.

Parkland College students and area residents who have not completed their Parkland College degree and/or certificate are invited to a special event Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Degree Completion Day will be held on Zoom starting at 10 am and streamed on Parkland's official Facebook page. During this event, past and current students who want to finish their Parkland College credentials will be able to chat with an academic advisor to:

  • learn how to track their progress toward a degree or certificate

  • determine which courses are needed to complete their credential

  • see which universities guarantee junior-level transfer status with a completed Associate in Arts degree

  • complete a Petition to Graduate form, if applicable

The event will take place on Zoom at and streamed on the Parkland College Facebook page. The Petition to Graduate form can be found here

For more information on Degree Completion Day, please contact the Office of Admissions at 217/351-2482 or

Parkland College will be adding a COVID-19 Dashboard to its official website to better track coronavirus cases.

The Parkland College COVID-19 Dashboard displays cases that have been self-reported within Parkland’s faculty, staff, and student population. Numbers reflect total cases both on and off campus. Off-campus cases will include individuals who may be working or learning virtually and have not recently visited the Parkland Campus. Fall semester case reporting began the week of August 10, 2020, two weeks before the start of classes for the Fall 2020 semester.

"We are pleased to release the COVID-19 Dashboard today in the spirit of transparency and as an extension of our efforts to ensure the health and safety of our campus community," said Michael Trame, Vice President for Student Services. "Our COVID-19 Response Team has been working diligently to assist CUPHD in its contact tracing efforts and ensuring that the college is rapidly responding to cases as they occur. The data suggests our mitigation and response efforts are working and we commend the entire campus community for their role in that success."

Data reflected in this dashboard is provided by the Parkland College COVID Response Team. The dashboard will be updated every Friday with the previous week’s data. For more information on how to report a case, please contact To view the dashboard, visit