President Jack Nutt had previously
announced plans to retire in May but moved up the date because of
continuing health problems. Nutt has led Lincoln College since 1982.
During his 20-year administration the college has built a campus in
Normal and has substantially added to the Lincoln campus. Schilling
counted nine construction projects in Normal, including additions,
and 10 in Lincoln during Nutt’s presidency.
"Dr. Nutt has been an outstanding
leader and brought this campus to where it is today … a financially
secure institution with enrollment at full capacity," LC board
chairman Elvin Schmidt stated.
[Photo by Lynn Spellman]
Schilling came to the college in
mid-1984 as dean of business services. He was named provost in July
1996 and executive vice president in December 1999. Schmidt said
Schilling’s "ongoing enthusiasm for the campus and the students
makes him a clear choice" for the presidency. "Ron Schilling brings
to the position a combination of academic stature, practical
experience at several levels of administration and a clear
understanding of Lincoln College’s aspirations," Schmidt explained.
Schilling holds a bachelor’s degree in
business education from Western Illinois University; a master’s and
a certificate of advanced study, both in school business management,
from Northern Illinois University; and a certificate in banking and
finance from Blackhawk College. From 1969 to 1983 he served as
assistant dean of business services at Sauk Valley College. Prior to
that he taught business at Prophetstown High School for six years.
The new president said, "I am thrilled
to be the board’s choice to lead the campus to the next step." His
vision for the future of Lincoln College includes more construction,
a larger endowment, steady enrollment and small class size.
Plans to construct an athletic and
convocation center, called the Lincoln Center, and a new LC museum
were announced during Nutt’s presidency. Schilling said he hopes to
break ground for the Lincoln Center by late spring or early summer
at the latest. Construction on the museum may come somewhat later,
although Schilling would like to start both projects at the same
time if funding is in place. Down the road he also hopes to add to
the administration-classroom building in Normal and to enlarge the
Midwest School of Cosmetology, an LC subsidiary located on the
One of Schilling’s goals is to increase
the college endowment during the next five to 10 years. To that end
he has created a president’s cabinet to handle day-to-day
administration, enabling him to be gone more and to spend
substantially more time on fund-raising. In addition, the college is
seeking a vice president of advancement. The post has been vacant
since Bruce Clausen’s departure in May 2002.
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Schilling also aims to maintain student
enrollment within three already-defined market niches: (1) students
recruited for sports and fine arts programs; (2) local commuters;
(3) students who were excluded from prestigious institutions as
freshmen but want to prepare to transfer later to the college of
their choice. Lincoln College claims an 89 percent transfer rate for
graduates with an associate’s degree. Schilling said competition for
students is increasingly difficult because other schools are now
building what LC did five years ago.
Schilling’s fourth goal is to reduce
the student-faculty ratio, which slipped from 13-to-1 to 15-to-1 in
2002 as enrollment increased. He hopes to add one or two faculty
members this fall and others in future years if funding allows. By
increasing the number of faculty he expects to maintain or reduce
average class size, which has crept above 16 this year.
The new president praised his
predecessor’s leadership in establishing a baccalaureate program in
Normal: "Dr. Nutt has done an excellent job helping to build the
college into a first-rate institution. In fact, his most recent
accomplishment is the addition of the ‘2+2 Program,’ which offers
students a baccalaureate degree at our Normal campus." After
completing the associate’s degree, students can apply for the second
two-year program, leading to a bachelor of arts in liberal arts or a
bachelor of science in business management. The 2+2 program, which
is beginning its fourth semester, enrolled 155 students in fall
Schilling was named acting chief
executive officer on Sept. 15, 2002. In that role he has formed an
admissions committee to review all applications for enrollment. He
said the committee formalizes a previously informal procedure and
tightens the admissions process.
Schilling’s wife, Joyce, is business
and office manager for Century Dental Center in Lincoln. They have
three children: Kristin Klockenga, a second-grade teacher at
Washington-Monroe School in Lincoln; Stacy Schilling, a customer
service representative for DuPont of St. Louis; and Tony Schilling,
director of admissions at Lincoln College.
active in First United Methodist Church, Elks Club, Lincoln Rotary
Club and Lincoln /Logan County Chamber of Commerce, for which he is
a red-coat ambassador.
The video, produced by the
Looking for Lincoln committee of Main Street Lincoln, is titled
"From Surveyor to President: A. Lincoln in Logan County." It
presents significant events in which Abraham Lincoln is known to
have participated in the county. Ron Keller, Lincoln College Museum
director and curator, called the filming of this local material "a
long overdue project."
Many of those present Saturday
night at LC’s Johnston Center for the Performing Arts were watching
their own performance, or a family member’s, or even their horse’s.
Kathy Taylor of Taylorville said of the video, "I thought it was
great and very informative." Her daughter’s pony Snapple was in the
Alex Barnett, 8, of Springfield
said she enjoyed the part where she, as Nina Gillett, is giving a
look to her father John D. Gillett, portrayed by Lee Johnson. "I
also liked seeing Grandma [Gillette Ransom of Elkhart] because I
thought she was a good player as Mary Todd Lincoln," Barnett added.
Illinois State Historian Tom
Schwartz said cities sometimes overlook their greatest tourism asset
-- their own local stories. "Artifacts pale in comparison to
stories," he continued. "Ultimately it is the stories that visitors
respond to." Schwartz, a historical consultant to Looking for
Lincoln, said the project aims to help visitors experience the
Lincoln who "walked among people, not above them."
Speakers on the program
included Schwartz, Keller, Beaver, Main Street Lincoln manager
Cynthia McLaughlin and Ron Schilling in his first official act as
president of Lincoln College.
[Photos by Lynn Spellman]
[Many of the video's actors attended the viewing, including Greg
Conrady, who acted in the christening scene.]
Dean Williams of Springfield
filmed the video in late September. Narrated by Chuck McCue of Mount
Pulaski, it shows scenes in or near Atlanta, Cornland, Elkhart,
Lincoln, Middletown and Mount Pulaski. A grant from Illinois FIRST
supported the project.
Schilling praised the inclusion
of events from throughout Logan County. Many were shot in authentic
locations, such as Mount Pulaski Courthouse, Stagecoach Inn at
Middletown and the Hoblit carriage house -- now a shed -- near
Atlanta. Footage of Lincoln riding along Edward’s Trace near Elkhart
takes the viewer back to the 8th Judicial Circuit of the 1800s.
Other scenes are set in rural areas uncluttered by modern
intrusions. A surveying party crossing a stream and the christening
of the city of Lincoln were shot on the Conrady-Paulus farm near
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Greg Conrady of rural Hartsburg
plays a doctor in the christening scene. "It was fun," he said, "but
it’s not something I’d like to do a lot." Repeating the scene "again
and again and again" grew tiresome. Conrady was able to wear his own
clothes for the scene, except for his hat, which was his son Cody’s.
Gillette Ransom was in charge of costumes.
Marilyn Craig of Lincoln said
she found the video so touching she was almost moved to tears. Part
of the mystique was watching people she knew, and the historical
authenticity seemed to transport her into the time period.
Joe Woodard of Villa Grove
played the unbearded, pre-presidential Lincoln. After seeing the
completed video for the first time Saturday night, he said he
enjoyed the process of making it and was interested in how the
scenes were put together.
[Joe Woodard, who portrayed
Lincoln, and Daris Knauer, who played
"It’s something we’ve been
wanting to do for years and years," Lincoln Mayor Beth Davis said of
the project. "I’m glad we have so many dedicated people in the
county to put this together."
A reception continued through
the two showings of the video, with music provided by the Possum
At the premiere, Paul Beaver,
Lincoln College emeritus professor of history and chair of the local
Looking for Lincoln committee, announced a $5,000 gift from Bill
Lane of Portola Valley, Calif, to go toward duplicating the video
and disseminating it to schools, libraries, tour companies and
others. Lane is making the gift in memory of his parents-in-law, the
late Art and Louella Gimbel of Lincoln, and in honor of their
children, Mary Lou Gimbel (Mrs. Homer) Harris of Lincoln, Donna Jean
Gimbel (Mrs. Bill) Lane of Portola Valley and Art Dale Gimbel of San
Mateo, Calif. Bill Lane, former owner of Sunset Publishing Company,
was ambassador to Australia during the Reagan administration.
Copies of "From Surveyor to President: A. Lincoln in Logan County"
can be obtained at the Main Street Lincoln office on the second
floor of Union Planters Bank or by phoning 732-2929. The VHS version
is $15 plus $3 postage and handling, and the DVD is $20 plus $2
postage and handling.