It is not unusual to see Rend Lake College President Mark Kern handing out an award or making a presentation before a large audience. However, the tables turned for him recently when he was awarded a 35-Year Service Award during the college’s annual Board-Faculty-Staff Dinner.

Kern is the fifth president of Rend Lake College. The Franklin County native began his tenure as president on Sept. 1, 1991, and has served the longest term of any of his predecessors.

Kern earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Industries from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a Master of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois.

Kern has served 22 of his 35 years at Rend Lake College in the top one or two positions. Among his accomplishments, Kern helped create RLC’s Agriculture Department and helped develop the Community Services program.

"I consider myself a very lucky person," said Kern. He said when he went to college, he did so with intentions of going into agricultural banking. Afterward, he noticed Wabash Valley College had an opening for an ag instructor and, although it was not in his plans, he decided he might enjoy it.

One year later, he came to Rend Lake College, where he eventually became head of the Agriculture Department, Dean of Community Services and eventually college president.

"You have to be a little bit lucky to be a college president, especially in your home area," Kern said.

During his tenure, the college has:

**Increased its fund balance from $600,000 to $1.9 million

**Renovated all roofs, parking lots, and the heating and plumbing system

**Added a north road, Aquatics Center, Child Care Center, an Intake Center,

the Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus and the Rend Lake College

MarketPlace (combination of classrooms/state service offices/retail stores)

**Received a 10-year North Central Accreditation (the longest possible)

**Increased Foundation assets from $120,000 to $3.4 million

**Implemented a massage therapy program and the Paul Mitchell Partner School

Cosmetology program

**Opened a new athletic facility, The Hitting Zone

**Broken ground on a new, 22,300-square-foot facility to house Agriculture,

Diesel Technology and Heavy Equipment programs

**Experienced record-high enrollments the past two years

In his spare time away from Rend Lake College, Kern operates a 660-acre farm with 100 head of beef cattle. He and his wife Lana have five children.

In addition to his 35-Year Service Award, Kern has received various other honors, including being named the Outstanding Franklin County 4-H Alumnus and Franklin County Soil Conservation "Farmer of the Year" and receiving the 2001 Commercial Producers Award.

The RLC President also makes an impact on his community. At various times, he has served as vice-president and secretary of the Illinois Council of Community College Administrators, a board member of Benton Consolidated High School and a member of the Parish Relations Committee and Administrative Board at First United Methodist Church in Benton.


Service Awards were presented at the annual Board-Faculty-Staff Dinner to full-time Rend Lake College employees who have been employed for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 35 years at the comprehensive community college located in Ina.

Recipients were introduced by Vice-President of Instruction Jim Hull. Award presentations were made by Randall Crocker, Chairman of the Rend Lake College Board of Trustees.

Rend Lake College President Mark Kern was the recipient of a commemorative platter in recognition of 35 years of service. Also receiving commemorative platters in honor of 25 years of service were Industrial Health and Safety Professor D.J. Johnson, Director of Marketing Bob Kelley, Industrial Maintenance Technology Professor Don Lynch and Electronics Professor Bob Varis.

Mathematics Professor Diane Metzger, Center for Business Services Director Ed Ruffino and Sociology Professor Dr. Sue Tomlin each received a pen-and-clock set in recognition of 20 years.

Engraved paperweights denoted 15-Year status for seven employees, 13 others were awarded 10-year pins and 24 received 5-year commemorative pins.

RLC Faculty & Staff Service Awards

Faculty Excellence Award

Patricia Bennett-Minor (Mt. Vernon)

Associate Practical Nursing Professor

Outstanding Staff Awards

Dorothy Feira (Sesser)

Textbook Sales and Rental Coordinator

Dawn Gibson (Benton)

Community Education Director

35-Year Award

Mark S. Kern (Ewing)

Rend Lake College President

25-Year Awards

D.J. Johnson (West Frankfort)

Industrial Health and Safety Professor

Bob Kelley (Mt. Vernon)

Director of Marketing

Don Lynch (McLeansboro)

Industrial Maintenance Technology Professor

Bob Varis (West Frankfort)

Electronics Professor

20-Year Awards

Diane Metzger (Benton)

Mathematics Professor

Ed Ruffino (West Frankfort)

Center for Business Services Director

Dr. Sue Tomlin (Mt. Vernon)

Sociology Professor

15-Year Awards

Cindy Corn (Benton)

Physical Education/Health Professor

Jean Huie (Benton)

Assistant to the Vice President of Instruction

Chris Kuberski (Tamaroa)

Liberal Arts Division Chair

Brenda Moore (Benton)


Sharon Richardson (Mt. Vernon)

Teen Parent Services Case Manager

Gib Sink (Sesser)


David Warner (Benton)

Land of Lincoln/Southern Seven AmeriCorps Director

10-Year Awards

Patricia Bennett-Minor (Mt. Vernon)

Associate Practical Nursing Professor

Bruce Bowen (Valier)


Barbara Crouse (Carlyle)

Associate Licensed Practical Nursing Professor

Ginger Hogan (West Frankfort)

Communications/Information Administrative Assistant

Therese Howard (Whittington)

Associate Art Professor

Steve Kennett (Carbondale)

Associate Psychology/Philosophy Professor

Cary Marshall (Ewing)

Subsidy Services Coordinator

Shannon Perkins (Harrisburg)

Associate Automotive Professor

Lisa Price (Ewing)

Counseling Director

Dennis Richards (Belle Rive)

Maintenance Technician

Mike Sevenski (Benton)

Shipping/Receiving Clerk

Roy Simpkins (Zeigler)


Nigel Thompson (Mt. Vernon)

Associate Automotive Professor

5-Year Awards

Mary Bornheimer (McLeansboro)

Institutional Research Director

Lynn Brand (Pinckneyville)

Pinckneyville Correctional Center Administrative Assistant

Mike Burris (Dahlgren)

Heavy Equipment Instructor

Wayne Caplinger (Marion)


Russell Clendenin (Rockwood)

Associate Truck Driver Trainer

Peggy Davis (Mt. Vernon)

Associate English Professor

Art Dobrzynski (Benton)

Chief of Security

Michelle Garrett (Herrin)


Dawn Gibson (Benton)

Community Education Director

Vickie Golliher (Benton)

Adult Education/Family Literacy Coordinator

Mary Hays (Woodlawn)

Subsidy Child Care/Child Care Resource & Referral Specialist

Laura Kern (West Frankfort)

Center for Business Services Coordinator

Beth Mandrell (Mulkeytown)

Reference Librarian

Steve Mandrell (Waltonville)

Construction Occupations Instructor

Curt Mowrer (Mt. Vernon)

MarketPlace/Small Bus. Dvlpmt. Ctr. Executive Director

Cheri Rushing (Pinckneyville)

Financial Aid Advisor

Bobbi Shadowens (Benton)

Retail Store Co-Manager

Chris Sink (Macedonia)

Associate Computer Networking Professor

Wendy Smith (Marion)

Business Office Accountant

Larry Thuilliez (Christopher)

Academic Computer Technician

Donnie Trogolo (Coello)

Custodial Supervisor

Joe West (Centralia)

Project Upward Bound Director

Andrea Witthoft (Anna)

Dean of Special Programs

Nancy Wood (Belleville)

Computer Technology Instructor

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