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Dr. Kirk Overstreet, President of John A. Logan College

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Office of the President

May 27
(Memorial Day) - No Classes
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In The Know – Archive

February 2024

It is hard to believe that the semester is almost halfway over. February has been busy, highlighted by Black History Month and CTE Month. We have had some great workshops and guest speakers for Black History Month, including an outstanding presentation by our own Dr. David Cochran on “The Language of the Unheard: The Persistence of Racism in Post-Civil Rights Era America.” I want to thank Toyin Fox and the Diversity Committee for their hard work organizing these important discussions.

As we celebrated the value of Career and Technical Education and the achievements and accomplishments of our outstanding program at John A. Logan College, we welcomed Illinois Community College Board Executive Director Dr. Brian Durham to campus to tour our CTE programs and meet with faculty and students. We were excited to have Dr. Durham on campus to show him the state-of-the-art equipment that our students are using, and we were able to share with him the architectural drawings of the CTE building renovations and construction.

We held an informational forum on Tuesday, February 20, where four insurance brokers shared presentations and answered questions from the Insurance Committee. I want to thank everyone for your quick response to the survey. Two brokers selected to present proposals to the college are USI and Clemmens. Our goal and the brokers’ responsibility are to find insurance carriers that can provide a plan equal to our current plan with additional options, including opting out of coverage if your spouse or partner has insurance coverage under which you can be included.

February will close with Humanities Day and the John A. Logan College Foundation’s Annual Italian Dinner on Wednesday, February 28. Over 200 students are expected to be on campus for Humanities Day. The Italian Dinner will include a spaghetti dinner prepared by Joe’s Pizza. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children. They will begin serving at 4:30, and carryout meals will be available. Dinner tickets include admittance to the Men’s Basketball game vs. Kaskaskia at 7 p.m.

March will be equally as busy, with several events planned on campus. On March 1,2 and 3, the Spring Musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee!” Tickets are available at

Best-selling author Eric Litwin will be on campus on Saturday, March 2. The event is sponsored through the ECACE grant. Litwin, author of the Pete the Cat series, will present his book, The Power of Joyful Reading: Help Your Young Readers Soar to Success! Early Childhood educators and students from the region will participate in this event. Nearly 200 participants have pre-registered to attend the event on our campus.

Registration for the summer and fall semesters will begin on Monday, March 4, and the Annual Job Fair will take place on Wednesday, Mach 27.

The Eggstravaganza, an Easter Egg hunt specialized for Neurodiversity sponsored by the Nursing Department, will take place on March 23 from Noon to 2 PM.

Six of the College’s seven athletic programs will compete throughout February and March. I wish Men’s and Women’s basketball good luck as they begin postseason play and good luck to baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s golf as their spring seasons get underway.

The February Board of Trustees Meeting was held on Monday, February 26. The entire Board Agenda Pack was available on the John A. Logan College website. This will be standard procedure moving forward. At the Board meeting, the College received a clean financial audit. I want to thank everyone on campus for continuing to be good stewards of our financial resources.

I also want to congratulate Jason Stutes, Applied Technology; Andrew Carr, Business, Computer Science, and Mathematics; and Rebecca Corbit, Life and Physical Science, on their appointments as Department Chairs. I also Want to congratulate Wade Dover, Hannah Henson, Torrey Holland, Patrick Idzik, Sumar MacDonald, and Connie Robinson on receiving tenure.

The retirement requests of Debra Russell, Professor of Practical Nursing, and Karla Tabing, Director of Logan Academy, were approved effective June 1, 20204. The retirement request of Susan May, Director of Legislative Affairs and Special Assistant to the President, was approved effective January 1, 2025. I can’t begin to thank each of them enough for their contributions to John A. Logan College, and I wish them the best as they start this new chapter in their lives.

In closing, I want to share my commitment to John A. Logan College with our community again. In an email sent to campus last week, I shared with you my concern that there had been a rumor that I was a candidate for another position. I want to assure you again that it is false. I am very excited to be here at Logan. Our work to enrich lives and uplift our community is the most rewarding venture I have ever participated in in my professional career. We have accomplished much over the last three years, and I look forward to our continued work.

Kirk Overstreet, PhD. 
Kirk E. Overstreet PhD. signature
President, John A. Logan College

No Debate About It: New JALC Speech Team is Off to a Fast Start

Last year, Instructor of Communications Pat Idzik approached John A. Logan College President Dr. Kirk Overstreet with an initiative to build a competitive speech team. Idzik wanted the College to start a Forensics team to compete state-wide and nationally in public speaking, oral interpretation, and reader’s theater. Overstreet knew he had the right person to start the program and gave him a simple charge. Do it!

“I know there has long been a desire to start a team at the College, and I knew Pat was the right person to get the program up and running. So, I told him there is no time like the present. Let’s get a team together and give it a shot,” Overstreet said.

Idzik hit the ground running by recruiting current and former students and getting the help of staff members who had competed as students.

“We already had a lot of talented students on campus that had high school experience,” said Idzik. “We also had two staff members in our IT department with experience willing to coach, which was a huge help to me. It allowed us to go from talking about doing this to competing in the fall.”

The first call went to Jon Gunzel, a technology support technician in the Information Technology Department who had competed for Southeastern Illinois College’s storied forensics team.

“Jon had experience as a competitor, and he still had contacts that could help us start competing immediately, so I knew he would be the perfect person to serve as the head coach and mentor to our team,” said Idzik. “We had a second staff member in IT with experience in Dustin Myers, who also agreed to help coach the team, and Anthony Zarinana, adjunct faculty in Communication. These volunteer coaches have contributed hundreds of hours to the new team’s success.”

With coaches in place, Idzik’s next move was to recruit someone to be a team captain, and he knew that Kellen Colson from Marion was the first call he made.

“I had Pat as an instructor my first semester at JALC, and he knew about my experience competing in high school and at a college I had previously attended, so he reached out to me over the summer to see If I would be interested in starting a team here at John A. Logan College,” Colson said. “Essentially, it all started small with recruiting the team at Club Day and with signs around campus. Once enough students were interested in competing, the next step was doing the leg work to get us in some competitions.”

According to Gunzel, other programs around the state were extremely helpful in getting the team ready to compete.

“Teams around the state, especially SIC, have been extremely supportive in helping us know what we need to compete, how to get scripts, how to dress, and how to sign up for tournaments,” said Gunzel. “The other coaches have encouraged us and have really been excited for our students as they have placed in events.”

Being the new kids on the block does not mean the students or coaches are not expected to do well. They have decided to go to every competition to place, which is just what they have done in their first year of competing.

At the recent IIFA State Virtual Tournament debate, Mischa O’Connell and Alberta Grinston competed against two- and four-year schools. 

Mischa O’Connell has secured first or second place in Illinois’s 2-year International Public Debate. The official results will be revealed at the tournament’s conclusion on March 3. 

In addition to O’Connell, several team members recently placed at Pioneer Trails Open Digital Tournament. Kellen Colson and Marissa Bogdansky placed second in duo. Colson also finished fifth in dramatic interpretation and sixth in poetry. Emily Nelson placed fifth in informative, and Bogdansky finished sixth in Prose. The team finished third in Sweeps (awards given to the top teams based on the entire team’s performance at a tournament). D’Kazia Taylor is also a member of the team.  

President Overstreet could not be prouder of the group’s quick success.

“We are so proud of what they have accomplished in such a short time. I think they have exceeded everyone’s expectations, and I know they will do well at the remaining tournaments and into the future.”

The team will next compete at the IE tournament in Chicago Heights, where 5 of the members will compete in individual events. For more information, visit

Members of the John A. Logan College Speech Team

ICCB Executive Director Visits JALC

Illinois Community College Board Executive Director Dr. Brian Durham visits welding class at John A. Logan College.

Illinois Community College Board Executive Director Dr. Brian Durham toured John A. Logan College on Thursday, visiting the College’s Career and Technical Education programs. Durham met with college officials to discuss the governor’s proposed budget and toured the College to see the state-of-the-art equipment JALC students use for training. 

Assistant Vice President of Construction, Planning, & Facilities Management Jeremy Sargent unveiled the current architectural renderings of the 8-million-dollar CTE building renovations and additions project. The College is expected to break ground later this year on the facility, funded partially by a 4.2-million-dollar grant that the College received from the Economic Development Administration in 2022. 

February is Career and Technical Education Month, a public awareness campaign that takes place each February to celebrate the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs across the country. 

The tour’s highlights included welding demonstrations, auto body paint simulators, and criminal justice training simulators. A tour and demonstration of the College’s new state-of-the-art mobile ambulance. A tour of nursing classrooms, tutoring room, and the College’s Habitat for Humanity Construction project. 

The visit came just days after the Illinois Community College Board announced that John A. Logan College is one of 12 community colleges to receive a grant to help implement virtual reality equipment into existing Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the state. 

Overall, the funding will allow recipient colleges to purchase VR hardware and software to recruit and instruct students in various workforce training programs for industries including but not limited to healthcare, criminal justice, manufacturing, and HVAC. John A. Logan College will receive $49,840 to purchase equipment for the criminal justice program. 

Engineering Students at JALC Can Transfer Seamlessly to U of I with the Engineering Pathways Program and Help From the STEM Scholarship at JALC

Studies have shown that students who begin at a community college do better in their final two years at university than those who start at the university. With an Engineering Pathways Program at the University of Illinois, students can take foundation courses at John A. Logan College that form the building blocks for more advanced STEM courses. Current and former engineering students at JALC are finding success at the University because of the foundation they are getting in physics, chemistry, and mathematics at John A. Logan College.  

John A. Logan College is participating in the University of Illinois Engineering Pathways, offering students interested in beginning their college education at an Illinois community college a streamlined transfer experience and guaranteed admission to The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Students admitted to the Pathways program must follow a designated plan of study, earn a B or better in required courses, maintain a 3.5 GPA overall and in technical coursework, and participate in a mandatory advising program.

According to Dr. Prachi Parashar, Assistant Professor of Physics and Engineering at John A. Logan College, her students are leaving John A. Logan College prepared to succeed at the University.

“We teach the basics in mathematics and physics and give students the experience they need in the core courses,” said Parashar. “I am really very proud of our students. They have been transferring with a high success rate after completing their Associate’s degree at John A. Logan College, and it is exciting to see them succeed.”

Parashar added that the environment at John A. Logan College has been one of the keys to her students’ success.

“I absolutely love teaching in a smaller environment. I can connect one-on-one as we progress through the course, which is important in these courses.”

Brennen Thomas of Carterville began taking classes at John A. Logan College while still in high school. He will graduate from the University of Illinois in May with a degree in chemical engineering. After graduation, he will pursue his doctoral degree in biomolecular and chemical engineering. He has fully funded acceptance offers from Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, John Hopkins University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“John A. Logan College taught me the strong work ethic needed to succeed in an engineering curriculum at a university. I felt much more prepared because I had taken classes at John A. Logan College before my freshman year at U of I,” said Thomas. 

Thomas added that it was the instructors that made the difference at JALC.

“The instructors were always available after class and wanted to ensure you grasped the material before moving on.”

Mason Norris of Marion is a current student at John A. Logan College. Norris is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and plans to transfer to the University of Illinois next fall. Norris is confident that attending JALC first was the best decision he could have made, both academically and financially.

“My instructor for all my Physics courses, Dr. Prachi Parashar, cares so much about us learning and understanding the material. She isn’t here to get us through the classes. She really loves for us to be in the classroom and constantly learning,” said Norris.

In addition to the excellent instruction, Norris believes attending John A. Logan College made the most sense financially.

“With the number of scholarships and other opportunities like student work, I not only feel prepared academically but also financially to transfer to U of I.”

To learn more about the Pathways Program at the University of Illinois, visit To learn more about John A. Logan College STEM majors or to schedule a tour, visit

Institutional Effectiveness and Research

Results of recent surveys, including the spring Kick-Off survey and data that has been collected, can be found at To obtain results, click the IE SharePoint link on the left side of the page.

Human Resources

The College will host Mental Health First Aid training on March 8, and March 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To register, visit A list of current open positions at JALC is listed at

Business Services

Facilities and Construction

January 2024

The Spring Semester is underway, and we survived the first round of winter weather in southern Illinois. We opened the semester with a new look, Kick-Off. It was a bit unorthodox, and I appreciate everyone’s willingness to hang in there during our all-campus session in the morning. I also want to thank everyone who completed the survey following our session. Your input at the session, as well as the survey results, are extremely important.

As I stated at the event, I am committed to uplifting this community through education, including all of you. My efforts, the design, and the purpose of the morning session were specifically meant to be an inclusive event where we, as a team, came together to explore the overall direction of the College, along with discussing what we need to address as a group and to develop a road map to our collective success. The data collected from the walls and the survey have been published on the IER intranet (link). There are some great constructive comments on the survey. I encourage you all to review and consider this feedback and the stop, start, and continue data as you develop your tactics and goals for the upcoming strategic/tactic planning for 2024/2025.

As the semester progresses, I intend to hold several brown bag events where we can explore the stop, start, and continue data and refine some of these ideas into tactics for next year’s strategic planning. Please join me as we continue developing these ideas.

On Tuesday, January 16, we held our first Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Breakfast. We wanted an event celebrating his life and legacy and allowing our students and community to attend. The event was an overwhelming success! Over 250 people attended the breakfast. Our speakers and performers were incredible and well-received. This will become an annual event at the College on the Tuesday following Martin Luther King Day. I want to thank everyone involved in planning for all their hard work organizing this great event.

Together, we can continue to lead Logan and our community to new heights. Again, thank you for your input and devotion to our mission. I intend to keep the dialogue progressing positively and look forward to hearing from each of you as we work to uplift our community and enrich lives.

Kirk Overstreet, PhD. 
Kirk E. Overstreet PhD. signature
President, John A. Logan College

The Board of Trustees met in regular session on Tuesday, January 23, at 6 p.m.  President Overstreet reported on the spring Kick-Off event on January 11. Overstreet discussed the format change that focused on “why we do what we do.” According to the President, overwhelmingly, faculty and staff stated that they are student-driven and focused on improving the lives of our students and the community through teaching and services at the College.  Overstreet shared that part of the Kick-Off event involved asking faculty and staff what the College should: Stop, Start, and Continue. He stated that there were a lot of great comments, that the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness was currently tabulating those comments, and that they would be reported to the entire campus in the near future.

Provost Dr. Stephanie Chaney Hartford reported on the success of the recent Saturday Sign-up event and the start of the fall semester. Dr. Harford also announced that the College was recently awarded $483,508.00 to develop more EV programs, purchase EV equipment, and possibly two vehicles, a Ford Lightening and a Tesla. The funding also provides professional development opportunities for our Automotive faculty.

“JALC is now part of the Development of EV (electric vehicle) Expansion Cohort across the state. We will be part of a group of colleges who will be participating in an EV Network,” said Hartford. “This will allow the college to help create pathway mapping for dual credit and other training as well as develop new programs or courses in our Automotive programs.”

Vice President for Business Services and CFO Dr. Susan LaPanne reported that the staff in Business Services enjoyed the shared collaboration theme of the spring Kick-Off event. Dr. LaPanne also reported that her staff is finalizing training modules for the upcoming budget process.

“It is our goal to help simplify the process and allow individuals and departments to align a specific budget request to a goal or objective for the coming year,” said LaPanne. “It is also our goal to start the budgeting process earlier in the year to allow us to present the budget to the Board of Trustees with adequate time for review and revision.”

Dr. Jane Bryant spoke on behalf of the Faculty Association and echoed the sentiment regarding the spring Kick-Off event. Dr. Bryant also reported on the accomplishments of several junior faculty members and said that the college’s mentorship and orientation efforts for new faculty are working well.

The Board approved a laptop purchase for Health Science and Nursing Students. The Pipeline for the Advancement of Healthcare Workforce Program (PATH) Grant has budgeted and been approved to purchase 50 laptop computers for health science and nursing students in the classroom setting. These laptops will be utilized in the classroom for taking quizzes and exams. Laptops are essential in the classroom because state board licensure exams are computerized. The Board of Trustees approved this purchase on November 28, 2023; however, when the College placed the approved laptop order, the laptop price increased, so the College reduced the purchase quantity to 42 laptops to stay within the approved spending limit. The Pipeline for the Advancement of Healthcare Workforce Program (PATH) Grant has adequate funding to purchase eight (8) laptop computers at a total cost of $7,197.28 so that 50 laptops are available for healthcare programs. In addition to the Health Science and Nursing laptop purchase, the board approved the purchase of 20 laptops for the welding program through the Strengthening Community College Training Grant. The total cost for the Dell Laptops is $28,804.60

A Digital Media Technology Certificate was approved for fall 2024. The request was made to train aspiring digital designers so they may be equipped with an exciting career in digital design, video production, motion graphics, or programming for the web. The demand for digital media technologies is high in Illinois and the United States. The certificate program will also prepare students to enter the Digital Media Technology degree program and award students with a stackable credential.

The purchase of the Anthology Software Suite through November 30, 2026, was approved. The Anthology Course Evaluation and Outcomes tools will continue to provide the institution with a means for conducting course evaluations (student feedback from each course) and student learning assessments required by our regional accrediting body. The combined contract allows John A. Logan College to use an updated course evaluation platform to incorporate data from both applications and save the IT department time required for manual data uploads. The Board approved the Anthology Outcomes software in January 2023 on a four-year contract. John A. Logan College already had a five-year contract with Anthology for Course Evaluations. In September 2023, John A. Logan College was presented with an amendment to our Anthology course evaluation software that merged the two applications into one annual bill. At the time, this amendment was not considered a change in the contract. However, after further review and internal discussion, this merged amendment does constitute a new three-year contract for the remainder of both software applications. The previous contract for Anthology Outcomes was a 3-year and 10-month contract with a total of $66,885. The previous contract for Course Evaluation was a 5-year contract with a total of $53,278. The new contract is a three-year contract with a total of $80,080.

The following personnel items were approved: Phillip Brewer, Coordinator of Recruitment; Kassandra Teal, Aquatic Coordinator; Dr. Keith Oates, Perkins Support Coordinator; Stephanie Jarvis, Full-Time Temporary Biology Instructor; Isaiah Blades, Campus Safety Officer.  The retirement request for Richard (Rick) Layne was approved effective April 30, 2024. The resignations of Josh Starks, Coordinator of Recruitment, and Sarah Carter, Aquatics Coordinator, were accepted.

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Overstreet recognized Trustee Jake Rendleman. The Carterville Chamber of Commerce had recently featured Rendleman on their social media sites for his years of dedication to John A. Logan College and the city of Carterville and southern Illinois. Overstreet also thanked Richard (Rick) Layne for his years of service to the College.

“Rick was one of the first people I met at the College. He is a fixture here and has been a vocal leader of the Teamsters and supporter of the College. He now has the opportunity to spend more time with his grandchildren who live in northern Illinois, and we wish him all the best on his retirement.” Chairman Bill Kilquist announced that the date of the February Board meeting has been moved to Monday, February 26. For more information, agendas, and other Board of Trustees Information, visit

Large Crowd Attended First JALC Martin Luther King Day Celebration

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toyin Fox with Terance Henry

Over 200 community members, John A. Logan College faculty and staff, and students attended the first annual John A. Logan College Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The breakfast event was held on Tuesday, January 16, in the College’s Conference Center.  College officials chose the day after Martin Luther King Day to allow more students to be able to attend.

“We wanted to have an event that allowed as many of our students to attend as possible,” said President Dr. Kirk Overstreet. “Our students do not live on campus, so by having the event today, they were able to attend some of the other events in the region yesterday and join us today for our event.”

Terance Henry, a local entrepreneur and the IT director for the City of Marion, was the keynote speaker. Henry spoke about his commitment to continuing Dr. King’s dream and how everyone is responsible for following those principles.

John A. Logan College Speech Team members Kellen Olson, Alberta Grinston, and Mischa read excerpts from some of Dr. King’s speeches. The JALC choir led attendees in a rendition of “We Shall Overcome,” and JALC Music Faculty and Choir Director Chris Thornton sang Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Other speakers included John A. Logan College President Dr. Kirk Overstreet, Reverend Wad Halva, local music group Houze of Hope, and members of Carbondale United’s Violence Interrupters.

The first Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Alexis Anders during the ceremony. Alexis is working towards her Associate in Arts Degree in Criminal Justice.

President Overstreet Announced plans to continue the event annually on the Tuesday following Martin Luther King Day. “I could not have been more pleased with the large crowd and the program that our Diversity and Inclusion Committee put together,” said Overstreet. “This will be an annual event for us to continue on the Tuesday following the holiday.”

View our photo Martin Luther King Day Celebration photo gallery on Facebook.

Logan Fitness Celebrates 20th Anniversary

January 2024 marks 20 years of operation for the Logan Fitness Facility on the John A. Logan College campus. The facility has seen remarkable growth and offers a variety of classes for all ages. In 2023 alone, over 4,000 individuals visited the facility and hosted several family events, in addition to offering 35 various fitness and aquatic classes this spring. The facility employs 55 full and part-time employees and will expand to a 24/7 facility later this spring.

John A. Logan College broke ground on the Community Health Education Complex in 2002, and construction was completed in late 2003. An open house was held in January 2004 when the facility was officially opened. By 2009, the facility needed expansion when the fitness center doubled in size; a walking track was added along with several fitness classrooms. In 2015, the facility began to offer multiple new services, including Silver Sneakers, day passes, private swim lessons, and personal training. In 2016, the Student Activity Fee was approved giving automatic facility access to JALC students. In 2017 a free weight room was added, and the facility expanded to include Sunday hours. In 2018, the facility was re-branded as Logan Fitness.

Logan Fitness is a 48,000-square-foot facility with over 150 pieces of fitness equipment that has expanded to meet the community’s needs and John A. Logan College.

“We continue to look at ways to serve our community best, and to offer classes and equipment that will help meet their fitness needs in a state-of-the-art facility that is warm and inviting to individuals of all fitness levels,” said Logan Fitness Director Dr. Bradley Griffith. “We are excited to have the opportunity to expand to a 24/7 facility, which will give our community even more opportunities to meet their fitness goals.”

To learn more about Logan Fitness, visit

College Calendar

The College website has a new calendar feature. For some time, we have wanted to overhaul our public-facing calendar. We needed something that was easy to update, searchable, filterable, and visually appealing. We found a calendar that met all these needs and integrated it with our Microsoft calendars system. You can reach this calendar from the calendar link on the right side of the homepage or by going directly to Contact Phillip Lane if you have any questions about how to post information to the calendar.

Institutional Effectiveness and Research

Results of recent surveys, including the spring Kick-Off survey and data that has been collected, can be found at To obtain results, click the IE SharePoint link on the left side of the page.

Human Resources

The College will host Mental Health First Aid training on January 31, February 22, March 8, and March 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To register, visit A list of current open positions at JALC is listed at

Business Services

Facilities and Construction