Exley at first Parkland board meeting since heart attack
CHAMPAIGN – Less than two months after a heart attack and subsequent major surgery, Parkland College President Robert Exley was back in his seat at the board of trustees' regular meeting Wednesday.
He expressed his thanks for all the help he and his family members, who accompanied him to the meeting, received during the ordeal just four months into his tenure as president.
"It was certainly a surprise to me," Exley said of the heart attack he suffered during a fundraising basketball game with students Nov. 8.
"The board expressed its support in a variety of ways," he said. "The vice presidents and others in the college did their jobs well. And I had plenty of time to think about new things."
He said he'll start work full time again in January but will also spend several hours a week in cardiac rehabilitation biking, lifting weights and doing other exercises to strengthen his heart. He's also paying close attention to his diet.
Exley said at Carle Foundation Hospital, where he was treated, he experienced the same thing his predecessor, Zelema Harris, did when she had a serious illness.
"Nationally, 50 percent of health care workers will have attended community colleges," Exley said. "From the EMTs who worked on me to the surgical technicians, nurses and other health care workers I encountered, I found many Parkland graduates.
Board members Wednesday approved bills for emergency infrastructure work at the college. And Vice President Jon Surma said they probably haven't seen the last of emergency roof repair bills like the one for $47,882 to remove a cupola from the gym roof and repair concrete roof panels and about 4,000 square feet of tiles.
"There are some issues with the overall roof situation on campus," Surma said. "They revolve around the cupolas. Water leaks inside and deteriorates the subroof. We'll have trouble until they're replaced."
Jim Bustard, director of the physical plant, said there were 52 mainly decorative cupolas on the college buildings. Three of them have been replaced, at a cost of about $20,000 each, because of leaking problems.
A second emergency repair was necessary when the boiler system failed in the Parkland Theater, so it had no heat. Surma said the theater had a separate heating system, but the repairs tied it into the main college system,at a cost of about $21,150.
Also Wednesday, the board approved three new programs recommended by Vice President Tom Ramage. All three will start in the fall. They include:
– A personal fitness training certificate that prepares students to take the certification exam so they can work as personal trainers at fitness centers or as freelance trainers. Ramage said program planners did extensive research in the community, and the need is there for trainers, who earn about $25 an hour.
– A short-term concrete specialist certificate to add onto the laborer's certificate program.
The certificate requires completion of four courses.
– An ironworkers certificate program that requires participants to complete nine courses and supplements several construction trades certificate programs.