Google IT Pilot, Cybersecurity, Hemp and More Discussed by SIC Board

October 30, 2019

The Southeastern Illinois College Board of Trustees met Thursday, Oct. 24, to discuss a number of new opportunities for the college, policy changes, cyber concerns, dual credit and finances among others.

SIC has been chosen for a new pilot program to offer a Google IT Assistant microcredential. Jobs For the Future (JFF), acting on behalf of Google, has formed two consortia for Illinois community colleges. One is with the City of Chicago schools. The second consortium is with Parkland College serving colleges outside of the Chicago area. SIC has been invited to participate in the Parkland Consortium with five other community college, including Parkland, to offer the Google IT curriculum.

“Working with JFF and the Google curriculum, SIC will be able to offer an online IT microcredential starting in the spring semester,” said SIC Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Karen Weiss.

The Lake of Egypt fire department has offered to donate a fire truck to the college for use with its training programs.

“This is a newer truck, than the current one we have, and could be used for diesel training, fire training and also for the mine rescue skills event that we hold on-campus annually,” stated Lori Cox, Associate Dean of Workforce and Community Education. “This addition comes at an opportune time for the College as we are preparing to host the National Mine Rescue Skills event next fall. Having a secondary truck for use during this event will be advantageous for the participating teams.”

The new SIC Learning Commons reconstruction of the Melba Patton Library, Dana Keating Student Success Center, and Media Services area is nearing completion, in large part to community donations that have neared $50,000 for designated areas. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held in January for the public to see the new space. Major sponsors thus far include Banterra Bank, Harrisburg Medical Center, Clearwave Communication, Ferrell Hospital, Gary Jones, Richard Clark, and the SIC Foundation. Other sponsors include Tri-State Business Equipment, Michael Tison, and the Cave-In-Rock Ferry.

A new course has been designed to serve students interested in starting a business in the hemp industry called, “The Business of Hemp.” This course is designed to provide students with information about the laws and regulations surrounding industrial hemp. Information about agronomic production, hemp economics, planting sources, and business resources will be provided in the class.

The board also heard of the statewide career agreement that is a system program sharing initiative to reduce duplication of programs and offerings for fiscal savings and student access.

“This agreement was modified and enhanced to help foster a systematic approach to educational offerings in Illinois, for both online and face-to-face courses and programs,” said SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice.

This cooperative agreement has been in place for several years. The agreement has recently been updated to clarify language.

Cybersecurity updates were provided regarding how the college’s phishing security tests have improved. Cybercrime is a serious threat to everyone, and many colleges have fallen prey to malware and ransomware.

“Chiefly, an organization is only as strong as every employee is strong. All it takes is one employee to open the door and it’s like leaving the back door open for a thief,” said Rice. “Our information technology (IT) department takes cybersecurity serious and improves daily. That has to happen.”

Rice said a college out east recently had $1 million stolen by internet thieves.

“All it took was one person who let in the thief,” he said.

A standard precaution is to call a sender of an email or text if there is any suspicion regarding the message or the request involves money or access codes. Employees are encouraged to contact the IT department if a suspected phishing attempt is made.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Association, and Illinois State Board of Education have implemented a credential certification for high school teachers qualified to teach dual credit. As such, this qualification, which has to meet the Dual Credit Quality Act and accreditation standards will automatically allow high school teachers to teach dual credit classes in alignment with statute. The administration informed the Southeastern Illinois College Education Association (SICEA, faculty union) of this as it could have implications for teaching assignments and load.

Fiscal year 2021 budget projections demonstrate a deficit year unless modest revenues and reductions are implemented. The administration has been charged to bring recommendations for the board to mitigate any potential shortfall for next fiscal year.

The board approved a bid proposal by FW Electric regarding a Public Health and Safety Project for energy efficient lighting in B, D, E, and F buildings on the Harrisburg campus. The project will begin in November.

Revisions of numerous policies per changes in statute this past year, such as prevailing wage law. Additional policies were passed regarding the college logo and copyright compliance. Numerous policies will be up for action in December including security clearance, reporting child abuse, and closed session.

In personnel, the board accepted the resignation of student resource assistant Anne Eisenhauer and approved a number of adjunct faculty.

The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. in the Rodney J. Brenner Board Room at SIC. More information about SIC can be found at