50 Influencers: Dr. Barbara Luchsinger, exemplification of caring

INA, Ill. (Feb. 26, 2017) - Barbara Luchsinger began teaching at Mt. Vernon Community College in 1956 and served as the Department Chair from 1965-1975. Luchsinger was one of the first educators to be granted tenure by the college. She was one of 18 that the Board of Trustees awarded with the designation during their June 18, 1968, meeting. She was also the co-founder of the RLC Writing Lab.

She received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Iowa in 1969.

During the second year at Mt. Vernon Community College, Luchsinger sponsored the publication of the college’s first yearbook. In addition to playing a major role in the establishment of the college’s writing and reading programs, Dr. Luchsinger also served as sponsor of the student newspaper and advisor for the Rho Xi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college scholastic honor fraternity. She also was a patron for many years of the literary magazine published by the Arts and Communications Department. In later years, she was active with the RLC Foundation, working with and presenting special classes for the Institute for Learning in Retirement.

An excerpt from a piece to commemorate Luchsinger’s 25th anniversary with the college:

she comes close to having helped start two different colleges.

She arrived at Mt. Vernon Community College the second year of its existence and, except for time off for good behavior (to pursue a doctorate degree from the University of Iowa), has been a mainstay ever since.

“Those first years we were determined to make the college ‘go.’ To get teaching load down, we both taught classes for nothing. Others did the same.”

“Rend Lake College did not spring full grown from an oak tree,” Dr. Luchsinger continued. “The Mt. Vernon Community College never intended to be a permanent institution. Always it was to be absorbed into an area college, although the area was not defined.”

“Since I’ve been around longer than the college, much of my life reflects the history. I won’t ‘heave my heart into my mouth’ to recap the early days. Often I was on campus from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. I’m thankful for the part I was allowed to play.”

barbara luchsinger WDr. Barbara Luchsinger

She was a graduate of Mt. Vernon Township High School and Lindenwood College in St. Louis. Both of her graduate degrees are from Iowa, with some work at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a workshop in Economics from Northwestern University.

When the RLC Foundation began handing out its “Faculty Excellence Award,” Dr. Luchsinger was the sixth person so honored.

It wasn’t just time that Dr. Luchsinger gave RLC and its students. She also donated her 246-acre family farm in Dix to the RLC Foundation.

In addition to her official work with the college, Luchsinger was also active in the lives of her students. In 1996, she was selected as “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Human Services Club because of her eagerness “to help any student who comes to her seeking advice – academically or otherwise. She even took time to call an ailing student at home to wish her well.”

She passed away November 17, 2005, at the age of 75. She had been involved with Mt. Vernon Community College and Rend Lake College for almost 50 years in total.

Former RLC President Mark S. Kern said of Luchsinger, “We have a lot of caring people at Rend Lake College, and if anybody exemplifies that more than Barbara Luchsinger, I don’t know who it would be. Her heart is as big as this room.”

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