NORMAL — State Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, is teaching a political science class at his alma mater, Illinois State University, this fall.
And retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, may not be far behind him. Johnson, who will end his 12-year career in Congress in early January, also plans to teach at ISU.
"He's fairly certain he's going to be teaching there, probably a 300-level course, probably sometime in the second half of the second semester," said Johnson spokesman Phil Bloomer. "There's nothing signed yet, though."
As soon as Johnson, 66, announced in April that he would not run for re-election, he expressed an interest in teaching at a local university.
Meanwhile, Barickman, 37, is teaching a 200-level U.S. State and Local Governments class at ISU. It is a three-credit-hour course taught from 6 to 9 p.m. on Mondays.
Barickman said he did not know how much he would be paid, but that it would be based on the salary schedule of a non-tenure-track adjunct professor at ISU. He also said he would not be eligible for the State Universities Retirement System pension as well as the General Assembly Retirement System.
And he said he wasn't sure if his legislative schedule would allow him to teach next spring. Further, Barickman and his wife, Kristin, are expecting their second child in February.
"Yeah, we just figured we didn't have enough to do," he joked.
Barickman said the course he is teaching this fall has about 20 students, mostly juniors and seniors.
"I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed my first night of teaching," he said. "It's an amazing experience to be on the other side of the classroom at the school I attended."
His students, he found, aren't much different from Illinois voters.
"I asked about their view of Illinois politics and I believe all 20 said there is some frustration with state government, and that most believed that it is corrupt," he said.
After receiving his bachelor's degree at ISU, Barickman went on to earn a law degree from the University of Illinois.
Although Barickman is on the ballot this fall, he is unopposed in the new 53rd Senate District that includes all or parts of six central Illinois counties: Ford, Iroquois, Livingston, McLean, Vermilion and Woodford. He defeated Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, in a Republican primary race in March.
While at ISU, Barickman was president of the student government.
"We welcome Representative Barickman back to campus as a member of the ISU faculty," said Illinois State President Al Bowman. "Our students will benefit from the knowledge of an outstanding alumnus who is a respected working member of the Illinois Legislature."
Barickman said he hopes "to be able to use my experiences to encourage students to get involved and stay interested in local and state government. Too often the young men and women of our country feel that politicians ignore their concerns.
"When teaching this course I want to show students how important their opinions are in shaping society, and that they must get involved in government if they hope to influence the decisions our government makes on their lives."