We were quite surprised to see the press release sent to area media outlets last week regarding the new duties of Shawnee Community College (SCC) President Dr. Peggy Bradford effective June 15. The joint statement from her and the Board of Trustees stated the resignation was her idea and she would be focusing on community involvement after June until the end of her contract next year.
Her reign at SCC lasted a little over two years after being appointed to succeed Dr. Tim Bellamey. The fact that she was a southern Illinois native and had received her associates of arts degree from SCC and bachelor’s degrees from Southern Illinois University (SIU) painted the perfect picture.
Right out of the gate problems and tensions began to rise. A month after her employment professors and employees started voicing concerns of her leadership skills saying she was not putting the students first and was not spending money wisely. During her tenure as president she received the first ever inauguration ceremony held on campus.
The road continued to be bumpy as long-time faculty members retired, resigned or were let go. The Southern Illinoisian newspaper reported in July 2018 that nearly 23 percent of full-time faculty were no longer employed at SCC according to the union president at that time.
The organizational work flow chart was abruptly changed, employee morale plummeted and classes with minimal amounts of students were dismissed at the main campus as well as the extension centers. Bradford said this was to eliminate overload pay to professors, meaning the extra pay the professor receives above their normal salary to teach the extra class. According to Bradford in the Southern article, over the past decade enrollment had dropped but there was not a decrease in the overload pay expense.
The negative publicity SCC has received the past two years over the tensions have undoubtedly put a dark cloud over the college and the community as faithful employees and board members defended Bradford and her actions.
It’s time for everyone to move forward now that the cloud has been lifted.
Southern Illinois is fortunate to have SCC which is accredited as a Higher Learning Commission and covers Massac, Alexander, Pulaski, Union and portions of Jackson and Johnson counties. The college is governed by a seven member Board of Trustees that also has a student trustee.
SCC offers certificates and associate’s degrees; dual credit and escrow programs with area high schools; a partnership with Southern Illinois University (SIU) allowing students to earn a baccalaureate degree from SIU while taking classes on the SCC campus; and numerous community and professional development classes.
The college is extremely community focused. Under Bradford’s leadership, SCC opened its fourth extension center at Vienna High School. Other extension centers are in Metropolis, Cairo and Anna. The college offers summer camps for children, business development courses and works with other organizations on economic development.
The hiring of Bradford was approved by the Board of Trustees, as will the hiring of the next president. Currently Massac County has two representatives on the board – Randy Rushing and Maxine Russell. In the coming April 2 Illinois primary election board member positions for SCC are on the ballot. If you don’t feel the board is making the best decisions for our communities and our students, then go vote.
There is no denying SCC just went through a few unsettling years. We hope it can bounce back and enrollment will continue to increase to keep students furthering their education in their home state.
Look past the cloud and stare at the sunshine. The future looks bright