It has undoubtedly been an exciting Spring for JALC! Watching our Men’s Basketball team go all the way this year was great fun! The team pulled together and brought home the championship. Watching them and their coaches come into alignment this year with a defined goal of making it to the top was a joy. I know that everyone is so proud of their accomplishment, and we look forward to next season, setting their sights on a repeat! In addition to the heart-pounding excitement in Basketball, our Baseball, Softball, and Women’s and Men’s Golf teams are also competing at the national levels, a true testament to the talent of our student-athletes. In fact, we have quite a bit of talent here on campus; our students performed a fine rendition of “Snoopy, the Musical” this spring, and Phi Theta Kappa inducted 11 new members to the honors society. Our student ambassadors assisted in the clean soil project helping clean up our highways and byways; students participated in the Civil leadership academy, led by Professor Bryant, and much more. Overall, it has been a great spring that has focused on student success and engagement.
Our faculty and staff have also been busy with extracurriculars; our Leadership Academy was a success this year, team-taught by our Assistant Provosts, Christy Stewart, and Stephanie Hartford. We have been getting back to conferences and presenting at them as well! Jeremy Sargent and Nathan Arnett presented at the League of Innovation on the importance of aesthetics in learning environments. Faculty and staff members attended the annual Higher Learning Commission in Chicago, keeping us abreast of the latest trends and criteria for our upcoming HLC site visit. We also traveled to Denver for the annual American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) conference. We attended sessions on innovations in higher education, Federal higher education regulatory meetings, and workshops. Our Communications office placed first and second in the Television Commercial Category at the District 3 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada) National Council for Marketing and Public Relations conference.
Patrick Idzik (Speech/Communications) has been named Faculty of the Year, and Sarah Ritcheson (English), the Adjunct Faculty of the Year. They will be honored at the ICCTA meeting in June. We successfully selected our next Provost, Dr. Stephanie Hartford, and are currently interviewing for our VP of Business Services & CFO and AVP of Human Resources positions. We were lucky to host excellent speakers for Humanities Day with Jerry Mitchell and Don Cochran; a big thanks to Professors David Cochran and Matt Garrison for inviting them to present a thought-provoking session on justice during the Civil Rights movement and beyond.
Overall, a hectic and productive spring semester, and as we approach its end, I encourage you to all take a moment to reflect on all the excellent work done in service to our learners and our community. You should all be proud of your contribution, as everything you do helps move our College and community toward a brighter future. The work doesn’t end, and we will face challenges and change, but as we work to align our goals and focus our efforts, John A. Logan College and all it stands for will continue to be a beacon of hope, learning, and renewal.
I want to wish everyone a restful summer; the work goes on, but take some time to rest, spend time with family, and go on a vacation (I will be going on my first vacation in five years!); graduation is just around the corner, one of my favorite times of the year, I look forward to the celebration with each of you.
Kirk Overstreet, PhD.
President, John A. Logan College
The John A. Logan College Men’s Basketball team captured the program’s first national title with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over defending champion Northwest Florida at the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchison, Kansas. The victory was the 31 straight win for the team under first-year head coach Tyler Smithpeters.
Sophomore Quimari Peterson was named tournament MVP, and Curt Lewis and Isaiah Stafford were named to the All-Tournament Team. Coach Smithpeters was named the Outstanding Coach. In his first year as a head coach, Smithpeters guided the Vols to a 33-2 record. In addition to his national coaching honor, he was named the GRAC and Region 24 Coach of the Year.
Smithpeters never doubted what his team could accomplish.
“These guys believed that they could win a championship, and throughout the season, they never lost that focus,” said Smithpeters. “No matter what situation they have been in, they have kept their composure and found a way to win. They deserve all the credit and have been a pleasure to coach.”
Center KJ Debrick carried the pain of losing last year in the tournament with him throughout the season, and his clutch play down the stretch in both the semifinal and championship games helped propel the Vols to victory. With less than a minute left, Debrick dove to the floor to save the ball from going out of bounds. The play resulted in Debrick scoring while getting fouled and making the ensuing free throw. The Vols held a three-point lead with seconds left as their defense held NW Florida to desperation three that missed the mark as the seconds ticked away.
The team was welcomed back to Carterville by over 200 supporters and police and fire department escorts. As Smithpeters and players mingled with fans, he told local media members that the moment with fans was what the whole season was about.
“This is what it is all about,” said Smithpeters. “Our players have connected with these fans all year, and they all deserve this the players, the fans, and the entire College.”
In April, the NJCAA announced awards for the 2022-23 basketball season. Smithpeters was named the Men’s Division 1 National Coach of the Year, and sophomore Curt Lewis was named the Men’s
Division 1 Player of the Year. This marks the third time in four years that a John A. Logan College player has won the prestigious award. Current NBA player Jay Scrubb (2020), and Sean East (Mizzou) were the previous winners.
Athletic Director Greg Starrick said both Smithpeters and Lewis deserved the honors.
“Congratulations to Coach Smithpeters on this well-deserved honor. As a first-year head coach, his demeanor on and off the court and his relationship with his players was the recipe for success throughout this magical season,” said Starrick. “Curt Lewis has been a team leader since he stepped onto campus. He had clutch performances throughout the season when his team needed him most. But what I admired most about Curt was his willingness always to put the team first. Winning a Championship was always more important to him than individual honors.”
Nationwide stories about declining enrollment and retention at community colleges are not in short supply. The pandemic, inflation, and the ever-changing model of higher education have left community colleges looking for answers to reverse the enrollment decline. Over the past two years, John A. Logan College has implemented several goals and tactics to not only reverse the trend but also find ways to serve students better and increase completion rates by helping students address academic and non-academic barriers. This past fall, the College addressed this area of concern by adding a Student Liaison position to serve students as a confidential, independent, informal, and neutral resource who listens to student concerns, explores next steps, and identifies resources.
The College did not have to look far to fill the position. Dr. Adrienne Barkley Giffin was an Associate Dean in Student Services, working primarily in Student Life. As the Student Senate and Phi Theta Kappa advisor, Dr. Barkley Giffin has already worked closely with students navigating work and life with college course loads and extracurricular activities.
For Barkley Giffin, the new position is about getting to help students.
“I really like the idea of getting to help students short-term and long-term. I get to serve students by helping them with any issues or concerns they have with services, classes, fellow students, or anything they may not know how to start resolving,” said Barkley Giffin. “One thing I want to emphasize with students is that they can contact me to simply talk about their issues even if they decide not to take action.”
The Student Liaison also helps students find services both on and off campus.
“I help students who have any kind of need, whether that is services the College offers, that the students are just not sure who does what or where they should go,” added Barkley Giffin. “Or they may have needs that community resources can address, but they are unsure where to start, and I can help them with that as well.”
As Barkley Giffin settles into the new position, she already sees the benefits of the position.
“If I can help students resolve issues at the lowest level, then others at the College can focus on other work that benefits students. Long-term for the College and the students, this helps us see patterns of issues that could be coming up repeatedly and what we can do to prevent them in the first place.”
Students can visit the Student Liaison Office in C214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a confidential meeting to explore options and help them think through problems. The Student Liaison can further assist students by facilitating communication between parties, identifying resources, and clarifying policies and procedures.
After a nationwide search, John A. Logan College has named Dr. Stephanie Chaney Hartford Provost. John A. Logan College opened the search in November for a chief academic and student affairs officer to replace Dr. Melanie Pecord, who will retire in June.
A clean financial audit report was recently delivered to the JALC Board of Trustees by the Kemper Group of Marion. The findings indicated no adverse results with how the College administration accounted for and utilized the funds entrusted to it by the federal, state, and local governmental bodies.
John A. Logan College Business Professor Dr. Jason Tanner was recently named the National Business Education Association Post Secondary Teacher of the Year at the National Convention in Kansas City.