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ICC's Erwin retires after 14 years at helm

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Illinois Central College President Dr. John Erwin retired his post on Friday, ending 14 years at the helm of the largest community college in central Illinois.

The college said its board of trustees will begin discussing its options for replacing Erwin when it meets Monday night.

Erwin was ICC’s fourth president. He started Jan. 1, 2001, replacing Dr. Thomas K. Thomas, who retired.

Erwin said he has been contemplating this move since last year and that the decision to retire now was based on several factors, including circumstances surrounding his individual retirement plan.

“I have enjoyed my time at Illinois Central College these past 14 years,” Erwin said. “I appreciate the support I have received from my board of trustees, our staff and faculty, our students and our community. I am especially grateful for the generosity our many donors to the ICC Education Foundation have shown. I am confident in the skills and dedication of the current cabinet leadership to continue to move the college forward, serving our students and community.”

During his tenure ICC experienced much growth and other changes. Among them:

  • Expansion of international study for community college students
  • Creation of a culinary arts institute program at ICC North
  • Development of class offerings at ICC Pekin
  • Growth of online and hybrid class offerings
  • Development of the Chinese Language Institute and International Center
  • Expansion of the Agricultural and Industrial Technologies Building
  • Construction of the CougarPlex and naming of the Ramsey Gymnasium
  • Construction and opening of the Leitch Career Center
  • Completion of the Technology Center
  • Construction of on-campus living
  • Development of the Lutgen’s Science Labs, the Lee Morgan School of Technology, and the Glen Barton Dealer Service Technology Program
  • Creation and implementation of diversity department and diversity initiatives
  • Expansion of intercollegiate sports, adding men’s and women’s cross country and soccer teams and overseeing three ICC teams win national NJCAA championships

Also during Erwin’s administration, ICC was recognized for excellence and began several organizational initiatives. ICC was the first educational institution to receive the 2010 Silver Award for Progress toward Excellence from Illinois Performance Excellence (ILPEx). Illinois Central College’s library was recognized as the nation’s best among community colleges in 2014 by the Association of College & Research Libraries.

Under Erwin’s guidance, ICC was one of the first educational institutions to fully embrace Six Sigma, a methodology for quality improvement. The college also was one of the first to embrace a quality-improvement approach to accreditation through the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) of the Higher Learning Commission. Erwin incorporated interest-based bargaining as a negotiation tool for ICC’s unions and bargaining units and expanded the use of strategic planning methodologies at the college as well.

Erwin served on the executive committee of the National Junior Community College Athletic Association (NJCAA); Illinois Community Colleges Council of Presidents; CEO Roundtable; Methodist Medical Center Board of Directors; Peoria Historical Society Board of Directors; Wildlife Prairie Park Board; EDC Board; the Workforce Development Board and PeoriaNext. He received the George E. Killian Award of Excellence from the NJCAA; the Illinois Community College Trustees Association – 2010 Advocacy Award; the NCMPR District III Pacesetter of the Year Award; and the Shirley B. Gordon Phi Theta Kappa Award of Distinction recognizing administrative support of students.

Erwin received PhD in American Studies and United States history and a Master’s degree in history from Indiana University. He is an ordained Methodist minister.

ICC said a farewell reception for Erwin will be planned for later this summer at the college.