October 16, 2017

SPRINGFIELD — Jacob “Jake” Rendleman of Carterville made Illinois history more than a decade ago. Now, he’s leaving behind a legacy of hard work and commitment to community colleges and their students recognized by many throughout state.

In 2005, when lawmakers passed legislation that allowed a sitting college trustee member to be appointed to the Illinois Community College Board, Rendleman — who has been serving on the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees since 1997 — was the first to be chosen.

It’s a seat he has held for 12 years. This week, Rendleman announced that he was retiring from the statewide post.

The announcement sent shockwaves throughout the state, especially among those who worked with Rendleman in the area of community colleges.

“An ICCB without Jake Rendleman? He’s made such great contributions to the state for so long now, who could have imagined this?,” said Geoffrey Obrzut, who retired from the ICCB in 2013 after more than a decade as its CEO. “Jake was a major contributor, make no mistake about it. I can think of no board member who worked harder.”

Obrzut added, “Jake represented the community college system well. When he was speaking, you knew he was speaking for the entire state, but you also knew he cared deeply for colleges in Southern Illinois and made a strong voice for those colleges to get their share of state resources.”

The Illinois Community College Board consists of eleven members throughout the state appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate for six-year terms. Rendleman served two terms.

During the holiday season, Obrzut noted, Rendleman brought peaches and apples from Southern Illinois to Springfield for ICCB employees. “No one is ever going to forget that,” Obrzut said. “That’s something you couldn’t wait for Jake to arrive with.”

Glenn Poshard now serves with Rendleman on the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees. Poshard, a retired congressman and state senator, knows the commitment it takes to serve on a statewide board.

“The miles you drive and the hours you spend — especially in Jake’s case where he served 12 years — it’s impossible to calculate all that goes into it,” Poshard said. “I don’t believe there is anyone in this state who doesn’t realize how great of a champion Jake has been for the community college system, how hard he has fought, and how much he has given.”

Guy Alongi, who is mayor of DuQuoin and has also provided longtime service on the ICCB, including as chairman, said Rendleman’s top priority was always students and college affordability.

“Jake never let up on how important it is to keep community colleges affordable,” Alongi said. “He was always in the ears of those at the governor’s level to provide as much funding as possible to benefit students. People throughout this state know Jake Rendleman and they know what he has stood for.”

Dr. Ron House, president of John A. Logan College, knows this to be true. House was named the interim president of John A. Logan College in October of 2015, and in September 2016 was named permanent president. “One thing I learned very quickly, people at all levels of service in this state know the name ‘Jake Rendleman,’” House said. “And the reason they do is because he’s been out there so long working so hard. He’s given so much, he and his wife, Carolyn, have traveled this state and dedicated so much time for our state’s community college system, it’s amazing.”

Rendleman has been fielding phone calls and emails from persons throughout Illinois who have voiced their appreciation for his service to the state. Suzanne Morris of Grayslake — also a longtime member of the ICCB — wrote Rendleman noting, “You will be missed.”

Rendleman will continue to serve on the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees. He is a past president of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. He has also been presented with numerous awards for his service including the Ray Harstein Trustee Achievement Award.