Kaskaskia College kicked off its fundraising campaign for
the expansion of the Nashville Education Center at the site of the future
building on Highway 127 north of Nashville on Friday, October 11.
The outdoor event, held under a large tent, was well
attended by KC personnel and community members, including the mayors of
Nashville and Okawville and State Representative Charlie Meier. Representative Meier also provided a pork
chop luncheon for those in attendance.
As part of its capital campaign master plan, Kaskaskia
College plans to expand the Nashville Education Center from its current
location with 3,500 square feet of leased space to a building to be constructed
on the Highway 127 site with 12,000 square feet of instructional and community
The three acre site, currently planted in soybeans, was
purchased by the College for its frontage on the highway and easy access to
students coming from all around the southern portion of the College
District. The site is large enough to
not only allow for a sizeable building and ample parking, but also for possible
future expansion, according to KC President Dr. Jim Underwood.
The site was purchased from Bruce and Brian Heckert, who
made the largest donation to date when they refunded half of the purchase
price, or $175,000, back to the fundraising campaign. Brian Heckert, founder and wealth manager for
Financial Solutions Midwest, LLC, will also serve as the campaign co-chair,
along with Sheila Burcham, CEO of the Community Trust Bank.
The fundraising campaign has a goal of raising $1,285,000
through private donations, which combined with the KC Board of Trustees
allocation of $1,770,000, from previously extended bonds, will pay for the
project’s estimated cost of $3,055,000 without a tax rate increase.
Speakers at the event included Dr. Underwood, Board of
Trustees Chairman Bill Hawley, Mayors David Jasper of Okawville and Ray
Kolweier of Nashville, and Representative Meier, along with a number of KC
personnel directly involved in the campaign. Campaign Co-chair Brian Heckert
spoke to the gathering from Arizona via computer using the “Facetime” program.
Each of the dignitaries expressed strong support for the need for the expanded
educational opportunities represented by the project.
Also on hand to speak were three Nashville Education Center
students or graduates, who were introduced by Ruth Barczewski, Director of the
Nashville Center. Mark Keller, a
lifelong resident of Washington County, is a 2007 graduate of KC who utilized
the Nashville Education Center as a student before going on to earn his
Bachelor and Masters degrees in Accountancy.
He works as a CPA in Nashville.
Mark spoke warmly about how he came to KC without a plan for the future,
and how the low tuition and convenience of the Nashville Center allowed him to
decide on his career path without undue financial stress. He thanked KC for setting him on the path to
success. “I will never forget and always
appreciate what Kaskaskia College has done for me,” he said.
Jill Brown of Oakdale is a current KC student who decided to
attend KC at the same time as her son.
She was very appreciative that the convenience of the Nashville Center
allows her son to work full time in Nashville and attend classes without the
need to travel. Jill also expressed her
appreciation of the Nashville staff, Ruth Barczewski, Marlene Hawkins, and Pat
Mefford for helping her, when she was unsure of what to do, to navigate her way
successfully into the classes she needs.
Jill plans to become a nurse through KC, which has long been her dream.
Jesse Higgerson, originally from Pinckneyville, now lives in
Nashville and attends classes at the Nashville Center. He is a combat medic for the Illinois
National Guard, and has attended the Nashville center for two semesters and
plans to move on to the Nursing program in January of 2014. Jesse spoke of the drawbacks of attending
classes in the small spaces the current Center has, including being so close to
another class that students are distracted by other lectures, a class space
that doubles as a hallway to another classroom, and having to wait in line for
a limited number of computers in order to do classwork. Jesse believes that the problems will be
eliminated with the new building, and even made a donation to help make it
Kellie Henegar, Dean of Arts and Sciences for KC, introduced
the various team members who were tasked with the planning the educational
space of the new building. These spaces
will include classrooms and Nursing and Science laboratories, along with
computer class rooms and a Distance Learning classroom. The highlight of the spaces will be a block
of four classrooms that can be opened up into one large space that can
accommodate seating for 108 at tables or 246 in open seating, which will allow
for larger gatherings and seminars. The
new building will also have an open computer lab for community as well as
student use, and three Business Incubator offices that will house three small
business startups, with technology and administrative help to get off the
After several early gifts to the campaign were acknowledged,
attendees were encouraged to make gifts of their own, which many did. Representative Meier, who made a pledge to
the campaign, said that he was to be reimbursed by the College for the cost of
the luncheon he prepared, but had decided to donate the cost in the name of his
parents, Barbara and Alfred Meier. By
the end of the day, $330,000 had been pledged to the campaign!
The campaign for the Nashville Education Center Expansion is
expected to run into Spring 2014, and the new Center is expected to be finished
in the Spring of 2015.