Message from the President

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Congratulations on choosing Rend Lake College!

On behalf of the faculty, staff, administration and Board of Trustees — it's my pleasure to welcome you to Rend Lake College. Our mission is to provide you access to a great education. That goes for the new graduates of our 13 in-district high schools, as well as for those looking for a fresh start. You might be a community member looking for lifelong learning, or an area business that needs a training program or apprentice. Each one of you is a part of our mission.
Across this website you'll find our classes, certificates and degrees — along with the tools to help you chart a path to your goal. You'll also find the services and individuals who are vital to your success. Use them. Give them a call. Send them an email. You'll be glad you did.
The past year has seen unprecedented challenges for us all, with COVID-19 forcing a shift toward greater remote learning and work. Necessity is the mother of invention, and adapting to this virus has proven that. We've transformed our classes — increasing our online offerings while still maintaining socially-distanced labs that are critical to career technical education programs — and we've improved virtual advisement and other services.
As I write this in late 2020, there is news of vaccines on the horizon, and I hope you are reading this while planning a campus visit or sitting with one of our advisors in the Baker Administration Building, working on your perfect schedule of in-person or online classes — or a convenient combination of the two. You can always email our team at [email protected] edu for the answer to any questions you have. We're all here for you, and that goes for me too. Any student can schedule a time to meet with me. My office can be reached at extension 1243.
The support and commitment to our students, shown by every member of our faculty and staff, has always been RLC's greatest strength. Lately, it's been especially admirable, and their dedication to your educational journey from start to finish is why RLC continues to be a highly accredited college, recognized statewide and nationally for its value and effectiveness.

Best wishes and good health as you start your journey with us at Rend Lake College.

Welcome to Rend Lake College.

Terry Wilkerson


President's Contract & Evaluation Instrument

President's Goals & Responsibilities

1. Provide overall leadership and unity of efforts for the total college program
2. Oversee and maintain the financial well-being of the college
3. Assume overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an adequate public relations program
4. Oversee preparation for Higher Learning Commission review of the college and subsequent accreditation
5. Provide adequate information and opportunity for board development and preparation of supporting materials

We sat down with past and current leaders of Rend Lake College. They talked about their experiences, looking back over 50 years since RLC was established in 1967.

We Are Nationally Accredited

Rend Lake College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1969. Accreditation is extremely important because it ensures that RLC programs are effective and that we are delivering on our guarantees of educational quality. It also helps us identify things we do well, things upon which we can improve and how to go about making those improvements. Accreditation is critical for participation in many state and federal programs which benefit higher education.


RLC Mission Statement


The mission statement is the essential purpose of the college from which all college activities originate:

Rend Lake College provides educational opportunities across cultural and economic boundaries to the diverse student population we serve. We are committed to our students’ success in achieving their educational goals and to meeting our community-focused program objectives. With Rend Lake College, student journeys start here.

Value Statement

In serving our students and community, we strive to be student-focused, authentic, and resourceful.

Institutional Outcomes

Rend Lake College has adopted four essential learner outcomes, fundamental learning objectives embedded in every program of study, that all degree-completing students should be able to demonstrate. They are as follows:

Critical Thinking: Demonstrate the ability to think in a self-directed, reflective manner when understanding, evaluating and solving problems.

Problem-Solving: Demonstrate the ability to resolve computational problems.

Oral Communication: Demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively through verbal and non-verbal language.

Written Communication: Demonstrate the ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively through written language.

Who We Are and Who We Serve

Who We Are and Who We Serve

Who We Are

The College history defines the College from the perspective of organization and assets; however, the personnel who operate within the college systems and manage those assets are the primary element for successful education. Rend Lake College believes all employees, regardless of their job description, are part of each student’s education. Administrative, community outreach, student service, and physical plant personnel all support the student learning process. Our instructors are primary points of contact with the Rend Lake College educational experience. These educators are generally organized into five divisions: Allied Health; Applied Science & Technology; Community & Corporate Education; Liberal Arts; and Math & Sciences. Whether in a supporting role or as a direct point of contact, each college employee draws upon professional expertise and academic accomplishment to promote the success of every student.

Who We Serve

Student-centered colleges are best defined by who they serve. An understanding of the distinctiveness of our College’s student population allows us to effectively meet the goals of our programs and succeed in our mission.

Diversity of Culture

Traditionally, Rend Lake College can be characterized as serving a relatively homogenous, rural, small-town culture. This population’s cultural distinctiveness is centered on age and socioeconomic status more than diverse ethnic origin. As global connectivity broadens, so too do Rend Lake College’s program offerings. We continue to serve groups with diverse characteristics, such as:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • National origin
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Special populations

Diversity of Purpose

Rend Lake College provides general, transfer, and career technical education to both traditional and non-traditional students through the use of reciprocal agreements; regional, state, and national education programs; dual-credit high school classes; and the endorsement of international students to help broaden our base. Rend Lake College offers skill and trade opportunities for students seeking employment and economic mobility. Additionally, Rend Lake College provides professional and personal fulfillment as well as growth through community and corporate education classes.

Often, an individual’s purpose for engaging with the college is a combination of factors such as:

  • Discovery/Curiosity
  • Educational Requirements
  • Enrichment / Hobby
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Life-long learning
  • New/Enhanced skills
  • Retraining

Definition of Equity

Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups.

Common Outcome

Regardless of the diverse cultural backgrounds, purposes or origins of our constituents, Rend Lake College serves each individual equally with an open admission policy and an opportunity for success. Furthermore, Rend Lake College is united by the shared commitment of students, faculty, staff, and community to meet its institutional, educational, and program objectives.

RLC History

Rend Lake College has been the place “where learning never ends” for many years, serving thousands of in-district residents annually.

The college was founded in 1955 as Mt. Vernon Community College and officially became Rend Lake College when it was organized December 20, 1966, under the Illinois Junior College Act (Illinois Revised Statutes, 1967; Chapter 122, Sections 101-1 to 108-2).

Mt. Vernon Community College initially was approved by an overwhelming 25-to-1 vote and was under the supervision of the local high school board, with boundaries the same as those for High School District No. 201. The purpose of this two-year college was to provide postsecondary educational experiences, primarily university-parallel curricula, for the graduates of Mt. Vernon Township High School. Faculty and facilities were provided by the high school.

The first classes of Mt. Vernon Community College began in September 1956, with an enrollment of 124 day and 79 evening students. Expanded curricula offerings in both the baccalaureate and vocational areas, plus the establishment of a School of Practical Nursing in 1961, eventually attracted students from surrounding communities, and by 1966 the college’s enrollment stood at 721 students.

Rend Lake College became a reality shortly after the announcement of the Master Plan for Higher Education in Illinois. Dramatic changes in educational purpose and curricula accompanied the name change.

Voters of the eight-county district approved the establishment of Rend Lake College by nearly an 8-to-1 margin on October 22, 1966, a new governing board was elected from the district in December of that same year and on July 1, 1967, Rend Lake College assumed the assets, liabilities and responsibilities of Mt. Vernon Community College. The purpose of the new college was to provide university-parallel, occupational and general and adult education for the citizens of this new district. District 521 includes the majority of Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson and Perry counties, parts of Wayne and White and even reaches into Washington and Williamson. Included are 13 high school districts – Benton, Christopher, Hamilton County, Mt. Vernon, Norris City-Omaha-Enfield, Pinckneyville, Sesser-Valier, Thompsonville, Waltonville, Wayne City, Webber, Woodlawn and Zeigler-Royalton.

In its early stages, Rend Lake College was located on the campus of Mt. Vernon Township High School. When it began operation on July 1, 1967, the college had a staff of 29 full-time and eight part-time faculty members, two full-time administrators and a librarian.

The Board of Trustees of the new college later selected a 350-acre site near Ina and employed architects to begin planning a new campus. The campus was located between Interstate 57 and Rend Lake. On November 18, 1967, voters approved a bond issue of $3.1 million, which represented the local share of the $9.5 million total. The Illinois Community College Board allocated $2,230,000 for construction of the initial phase.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for Phase I construction were held March 27, 1969 ... the same day the college received word of its first North Central accreditation. Phase I consisted of five buildings – Academic, Science, Gymnasium, South Oasis and Maintenance – and was ready for occupancy by August 1970, with classes on the new campus beginning that fall. Agriculture, Automotive, Cosmetology (Beauty Culture) and Practical Nursing programs were still housed in off-campus facilities in Benton, Bonnie and Mt. Vernon. Permission was then obtained from the Capital Development Board and the ICCB to incorporate Phase III construction with Phase II. Construction of five more buildings – Administration, Vocational, North Oasis, Student Center and Learning Resource Center – began in Spring 1971. Administration and Vocational buildings were finished in September 1973, and by 1975 Phase II and III construction was complete. Rend Lake College thus became the first community college in the state to complete its entire facilities master plan.

A Stran-Steel building also was erected in 1974, next to the Maintenance Building, and was equipped for the Mining Technology program; three separate expansions of this facility later occurred, along with construction of a new Maintenance Building. In 1989, a new automotive wing was added to the Vocational Building and the technology building was renovated.

An Aquatics Center adjoining James (Hummer) Waugh Gymnasium opened on campus in February 1998. The Aquatics Center is available for public use and is equipped to fill rehabilitative needs of area residents. It includes a six-lane, 75-foot by 45-foot pool which features a ramp for the physically challenged and ranges from 3 feet 6 inches in depth to 7 feet 6 inches. A 10-foot by 20-foot therapy pool and a whirlpool 10 feet in diameter add to the usefulness of the facility. In addition to classes, the pool is open during certain time periods daily for recreational use, and memberships are available to the public.

A Children’s Center to serve the child care needs of RLC students and staff, as well as the educational laboratory needs of the Early Childhood Education program, opened in Fall 1998. Funding for the Children’s Center was provided entirely by the RLC Foundation.

Major remodeling of the Administration Building took place during 1999-2000 and nearly doubled its size. This new “Intake Center” centralizes almost all Student Service functions in one building. In 2014-2015, the entryway to the Administration Building was renovated and upgraded by the RLC Foundation’s Pathways to Success project.

In 2002, major off-campus changes occurred with the addition of the Rend Lake College MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon and the Rend Lake College Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus. In 2003, The Hitting Zone, a baseball / softball training facility, began operations, and was renamed in 2014 as the RLC Recreational Center and repurposed.

In Fall 2005, the Mark S. Kern Applied Science Center opened on the southwest corner of campus. This 22,300-square-feet facility houses the Agricultural Business, Agricultural Production, Agricultural Mechanics, Heavy Equipment and Diesel Technology programs.

Opened in Fall 2009 was the the 20,000-square-feet Coal Mine Training Center. It includes operational coal mining equipment and a mock mine with movable walls and other components. The following year, the adjacent Mine Rescue and Fire Training Facility was completed.

In Fall 2011, the Science & Computer Center was added to the Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus, allowing students to earn a complete associate degree in many disciplines there without the need to travel to the Ina campus.

A new shooting range, built for concealed carry and other firearms training, was constructed in 2013. In 2014, an addition to the Art program facility, located in the Theatre building, was completed. In 2015, the Fire Rescue training facility was established.



Historical Texts


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The First Fifteen Years

Howard Rawlinson’s “The First Fifteen Years” spans 1956 - 1971. It chronicles the establishment of Mt. Vernon Community College and how it grew into Rend Lake College on the Ina campus. 

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The History of RLC

Bob Kelley’s compilation, "The History of Rend Lake College," picks up where Rawlinson left off. This unabridged collection of our college's history goes into great detail about leadership, accomplishments, concerns, athletics, students and much more.     


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“Fifty” is rich with photos and historic information covering our first 50 years. Buy your copy today and have it shipped to your door. A portion of the purchase price goes to support our efforts at RLC. 




Making A Mark


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The official Rend Lake College seal was designed in 1967-68 by Architectural Technology student Ross John Wakefield, a sophomore from Shelbyville, for a contest among students of Art Instructor Jim McGhee. The seal was favored in a vote by both students and faculty. Wakefield’s rendering features a lamp of learning and compass - representing vocational programs - imposed over an outline of Rend Lake. Used as the college's main mark for years, Wakefield's seal is now RLC's ceremonious symbol.

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In 1980, a new college logo -- depicting a sun, waves and the initials RLC in block lettering -- was developed to replace the traditional college seal when a more modern, less official approach was appro­priate. Whenever possible, the RLC lettering would remain solid gold, with a second color coordinated but varied — blue, orange, green, etc.

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In 2009, the college comissioned Arthur Agency to design a new logo. An RLC Branding Committee, made up of a cross section of the college, worked with Arthur on the project. The iconic RLC Clocktower was ultimately chosen as the central image in the new logo. The logo was unveiled in February of 2010. Read more.

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RLC's 50th Anniversary logo was created in 2017 by the college's marketing department. The logo combines the Ina campus skyline with elements of Rend Lake. The 13 stars represent the 13 in-district high schools that feed into the college. The 7 lines depicting water represent the 7 presidents who have led RLC from 1967 to 2017.   




We are Award Winning

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Terry Wilkerson
[email protected]
Administration Building Room 126
Phone Ext. 1242
President's Contract Documents

President's Goals & Responsibilities

1. Provide overall leadership and unity of efforts for the total college program
2. Oversee and maintain the financial well-being of the college
3. Assume overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an adequate public relations program
4. Oversee preparation for Higher Learning Commission review of the college and subsequent accreditation
5. Provide adequate information and opportunity for board development and preparation of supporting materials


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Angie Kistner
Vice President of Finance & Administration
[email protected]
Administration Building Room 163
Phone Ext: 1221

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Lori Ragland
Vice President of Instruction & Student Affairs
[email protected]
Administration Building Room 136
Phone Ext: 1200


Smoke-Free Policy

Rend Lake College campuses are smoke-free as of July 1, 2015.
The Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act, signed in 2014 by former Gov. Pat Quinn, does not allow smoking on any public college or university campus, whether that is indoors, outdoors, or in parking lots. Staff, students, and visitors are prohibited from carrying, smoking, burning, inhaling, or exhaling any kind of cigarette, cigar, e-cigarette, or other smoking equipment. The one exception is for those who wish to smoke inside a privately owned vehicle.  

Read more ...

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Spring Classes Start January 10th. Book Your Advisement Appointment Today!