Candidates profile for Kishwaukee College District 523 trustee

By Zachary Brictson

Sheela Goral: Candidate for Kishwaukee College District 523 trustee

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Phoenix

Experience: Goral said it’s important to clearly understand what the responsibilities are for board members. Goral started her banking career 24 years ago, and since that time, she has been heavily involved in the community by contributing her time to numerous boards and various organizations. Goral’s experience as a commercial banker will provide assistance to ensure strong financial management as well as a positive voice between the college and the community, she said.

Biggest Issue: Goral said based on the financial issues facing the state of Illinois, funding provided by the state would be a significant challenge in trying to manage Kishwaukee College’s budget.

Gerald Foster: Candidate for Kishwaukee College District 523 trustee

Education: Graduated from Shabbona High School

Experience: Foster said he has over 20 years of business management and ownership experience in various sectors including manufacturing and service related businesses. Foster said he is a dedicated husband and father of two sons; one son who is currently enrolled at Kishwaukee College and another also enrolling there for the fall semester. Foster was born and raised in DeKalb County, was a business development officer for Resource Bank and said he is very active in the local business community. Foster said has a solid grasp of the challenges local business people face today and the solutions that Kishwaukee College can provide.

Biggest Issue: Foster said he believes the biggest short-term challenge is the completion and implementation of the growth plans put forth in support of the recent referendum. Foster said they have a duty to the taxpayers, and they must be frugal and thoughtful with their money as they move ahead with the construction of new facilities and the implementation of new programs for their students. State funding has become unreliable and unpredictable, and while Kishwaukee College’s percentage of state funding is well below most community colleges in Illinois, Foster said they still need to work to decrease their need for state funding. Foster said the biggest long-term challenge is keeping Kishwaukee College affordable while offering the courses and programs necessary to help the college’s students and local businesses meet their goals.

Robert Hammon: Candidate for Kishwaukee College District 523 trustee

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history from Western Illinois University; master’s degree in education from Western Illinois University; doctorate in education from University of Iowa.

Experience: “I have been a high school teacher, assistant high school principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools. I have been a resident of the Sycamore community for 26 years. I have been a consultant for public schools and other public agencies for strategic design and leadership development. For six years, I was a consultant for Kishwaukee Education Consortium – Career and Technical Programs and Alternative Education programs. My entire life has been involved in education, 43 years, with 42 years in various administrative positions. I have worked with and for boards in the public and private sectors. I understand the role and function of governing boards.”

Why he is running: Hammon said the college is always in a state of ongoing improvement, and believes such improvements and changes need to be reflected in the college vision and mission. Hammon said he feels all of the candidates for the board of trustees are worthy of being selected. However, he said what distinguishes him from the others is his 43-year background in education at all levels, pre-kindergarten through 12 and higher education, in addition to his experience working with and for a variety of governing boards, both public and private.

Role of a trustee: “I think the role of a trustee is to help establish policy, and it’s up to the administration to carry out that policy.”

Biggest issue: “As with many public institutions, the primary challenge is to be able to continue/develop new/sustain programs with limited resources. The challenge becomes how do we provide excellent, innovative and affordable education for our increasing student population. To achieve those goals, an institution must remain focused on its vision and mission.”

Robert Johnson: Candidate for Kishwaukee College District 523 Trustee

Education: Bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from University of Illinois, master’s degree in agricultural engineering from University of Illinois.

Experience: “I have served as a Kishwaukee College trustee since 2005 and as board chair for the past three years. I was a director of the Kishwaukee College Foundation from 1992 to 2006 and served on the college’s facility planning committee in 1998 and the presidential search committee in 2000. I have been a farmer and businessman for 40 years and have served on various non-profit and corporate boards. My business experience has helped me provide fiscal oversight to the college.”

Why he is running: Already having served as a trustee, Johnson said he has already surpassed the learning curve required to be effective at the position. Although he believes the other candidates are all very qualified, Johnson said his experience is what would most distinguish him.

Role of a trustee: “A trustee is the representative of the taxpayers and the students. We set policy, approve policy, approve budgets, and hire and interact with the president.”

Biggest issue: “The greatest challenge we now face is the financial uncertainty caused by Kishwaukee’s reliance on approximately $4 million in annual payments from the State of Illinois, which is about 18 percent of our annual budget. As we all know, Illinois owes many schools and suppliers of services billions of dollars that the state does not have. It is very difficult for those that rely on those funds to budget for the future. Kishwaukee College has always been very fiscally responsible and does not spend funds that it does not have, but planning for the future is a challenge.”