Four-year Parkland effort a success

CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College's four-year fundraising campaign will conclude Dec. 31 with about $14 million in pledges, double the amount planners expected to raise.

President Zelema Harris, who will retire from the college in June, said that's an upbeat way to wind down her career. But Harris doesn't take credit for the success of the campaign that started in 2001.

"It was a success because of the leadership," she said. "We had people running the campaign who were well connected to the community, people who were highly respected and believed in Parkland. And we had a person in charge of the Parkland Foundation who also believes in Parkland, to whom Parkland is a passion, not a job."

Foundation director Carl Meyer said a feasibility study before the campaign said the college could expect to raise $5 million to $7 million.

"Privately, we had a goal of $10 million, but a year ago we moved it to $14 million and we're going to make that," Meyer said. "We had some significant needs and we believe we have accomplished several things."

George Shapland, co-chairman of the campaign, said the campaign and the response show the community values Parkland and its leadership. "It's a great place for the community, for economic development and people want to support it," Shapland said. "But they need to be asked, to see plans. We had to identify people interested in college programs. "

The money raised in the major gifts campaign will pay for scholarships and for building programs at the campus like one now under way, construction of three greenhouses adjacent to the Tony Noel Center, which was dedicated in 2001 at the beginning of the campaign.

Bruce Henrikson, chairman of the Business and Agricultural Industries Department, said the Noel Center gave his programs new college and community potential.

"It's allowed us to offer continuing education opportunities with the computer lab and large meeting room, and it provides facilities for agriculture organizations and businesses that need a place to meet and educate," Henrikson said.

He said one wing gave the college space to offer an new diesel technology program, a program that turned out to be so popular, plans are already under way to expand it.

Henrikson said weather has delayed greenhouse construction a little, but crews plan to work through the winter and complete it by March 1. Photos of their progress are at the department's Web site at www.Parkland.edu. Click on Business and Ag Tech, then on Greenhouse.

He said the campaign also underwrites scholarships for a large number of students in the department. "Some of them couldn't be here without the scholarships," Henrikson said.

Greg Lykins, who was co-chairman of the lead gift committee with Richard Noel, said he's proud of Parkland's prospects.

"I attribute the incredible success of our campaign to the quality of the organization," Lykins said. "What I believe has happened is we're building a foundation of awareness and consciousness of the true impact of Parkland on the lives of people in the area and in the community.

Donald Dodds, co-chairman of the campaign, said a donor named Lois Dickson gave the campaign an unexpected boost by leaving about $2.7 million to the college, a gift made because caregivers of two family members had been Parkland students. That gift came "out of the blue," Dodds said.

"It's a lot easier when the institution is as good as Parkland is," Dodds said. "And Dr. Harris has taken it beyond what a normal community college is supposed to be. We're certainly the best in the state, and we're one of the best in the country, and that speaks to the good work of the faculty and staff."

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