Community colleges have the broadest mission in our education system and are uniquely American institutions. They are charged with serving everyone. They offer the widest variety of degree and certificate programs while educating students with the largest range of academic preparedness.
Because of this, it is highly likely that you know someone who has benefitted from their local community college in some capacity. Perhaps it is that aunt of yours who went to Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) to finish a nursing degree so she could get a better job, the couple across the street who took their children to College for Kids last summer, or your auto mechanic who was trained there. Maybe you earned your associate degree before heading off to the University of Illinois. Regardless, there isn’t another institution that has helped as many from so many different backgrounds as community colleges. It is for this reason that politicians from both parties will cite community colleges as at least part of the answer when confronted with our society’s most difficult questions.
In addition to the uniquely broad mission, LLCC is responsible for the largest community college district in Illinois in terms of land mass, stretching from Petersburg to Mt. Olive and from Nokomis to Beardstown. It comprises all or part of 15 counties in central and southern Illinois and covers 4,115 square miles. It would be impossible to serve this enormous region and the approximately 17,000 students annually with our Springfield campus alone. As the associate vice president for educational outreach, my primary focus is ensuring that people who may not reside in Springfield still have access to quality LLCC offerings.
In addition to myriad online courses, LLCC has made a solid investment in buildings and facilities in Jacksonville, Taylorville, Litchfield, Beardstown and Hillsboro. These centers reflect the dynamic nature of our district and attempt to meet the needs of the students in these five cities and their surrounding areas. Because of these centers, students are able to overcome transportation obstacles that would for many be insurmountable otherwise. Students love these centers, and they play a vital educational role both for the college and their communities. The institutional investment in physical classroom space in these areas has resulted in safe, clean, modern learning environments that reflect the quality found on the Springfield campus. LLCC recognizes that students who live in rural areas also deserve high quality facilities. With these tremendous educational centers in place and enrollments remaining strong throughout these areas, in many cases our single greatest challenge is finding qualified instructors to teach the courses. LLCC relies on a combination of full- and part-time (adjunct) faculty to teach the courses at the centers.
Like our students, our adjunct faculty come from a range of backgrounds. Some work during the day and teach a course one or two nights a week. Some are retired, and teaching fulfills a personal goal for them. Some feel the experience will be of some use in reaching their ultimate career goals. Regardless, they all share a passion for student learning and the community college mission, providing our district with high quality, affordable higher education.
I began my career in higher education as an adjunct instructor. Because I found the work incredibly rewarding and my students so inspiring, I decided to pursue higher education as a career path. Perhaps you or someone you know share this passion as well or at least would like to talk to someone about the prospect of teaching in an adjunct capacity. If so, I encourage you to visit www.llcc.edu/hr for a list of teaching opportunities at the centers and in Springfield.