Rock Valley College

Chase Cavanaugh / WNIJ

When you think of passenger air travel in northern Illinois, O'Hare often comes to mind. But Rockford's facility, officially known as Chicago Rockford International Airport, is making a greater name for itself, particularly in the realm of cargo.

In 1994, officials with United Parcel Service, better known as UPS, made a deal with airport authorities to set up a sorting hub. Since then, it's become the company's second largest air operation in the world.

GotCredit.com/CC 2.0

The increasing prospects of high college costs and a demand for more trade-based jobs are pushing more students to enroll in community college. But how do the institutions in northern Illinois stack up?

Community colleges in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin didn’t fare exceptionally well in a ranking of 728 institutions in a recent study by WalletHub – although Southwest Wisconsin Technical College took the number-three spot, and Illinois’s Rend Lake College ranked eleventh.

City of Rockford

Rockford aldermen voted in favor of a plan to secure funding for the Barber-Colman industrial campus. 

CLARCOR, a filtration and packaging-materials manufacturer, donated $1 million to the engineering program at Rock Valley College.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Earlier this year, the Chicago Rockford International Airport celebrated the opening of two hangars big enough to maintain the largest aircraft ever built. At the same time, a program expanded to teach students how to keep these planes flying.

Rock Valley College is a two-year institution that serves students across Winnebago, Boone and surrounding counties. Like many community colleges, it has degree programs in a variety of technical fields, but one of their more unique offerings is aircraft maintenance.

Rock Valley College

Rock Valley College's Board of Trustees approved a hike to next fall's tuition.  

They voted 4-1 to increase the per-credit hour rate by $15.  This bring's the rate up to $115 per credit hour. This is still below the state average of $140 per credit hour, and did not change RVC's technology or student activity fees.  

The increase was spurred by a loss of $2.9 million in state funding, along with a $1.6 million budget deficit.  College expenses are also expected to increase by $1 million.  

Guy Stephens / WNIJ News

The Rock Valley College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to lay off 28 full-time faculty in an effort to reduce a projected multi-million dollar deficit. 

The trustees voted 3-1 in favor of the faculty cut in front of the sometimes fractious crowd of about 200 packing the school’s Performing Art Room.  Judging by the comments and reaction, the vote was not a popular one. Nor was talk of a tuition hike in the offing.  But RVC President Doug Jensen says the college already had made other cuts, and there was nowhere else to go.

Rock Valley College

A group of Rock Valley College students is calling for a halt in a proposal to reduce the number of full-time faculty members.

Rock Valley College announced last week a resolution to reduce the number of faculty members by this fall. According to a news release, the College faces a $1.6 million deficit along with continued loss in state funding and a significant drop in enrollment.

Rock Valley College Chooses Next President

Sep 23, 2016

Rock Valley College on Friday named Dr. Douglas J. Jensen as the college's seventh president.

He will replace Mike Mastroianni, who is retiring after 28 years at the college -- the last three as president. 

Jensen brings to the post more than 30 years of experience at community colleges. 

He is currently president of Alabama Technology Network, which is part of the Alabama Community College System in Montgomery. 

RVC Trustees will vote to approve Jensen's contract on Tuesday.

He's scheduled to begin his duties Oct. 10.

Rockford Area Economic Development Council

One year ago, the Greater Rockford Airport Authority began construction on a 200,000-square-foot hangar facility.  At more than ten stories tall, it's capable of holding an Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8, the largest commercial airliners ever built.  

RVC Board Selects Replacement Trustee

Aug 16, 2016

The Rock Valley College Board has appointed Jarid Funderburg as a new trustee.

He was selected at a special meeting Monday evening.

Funderburg is the Executive Director of Growth Dimensions, a Belvidere-based economic development firm.

He fills the seat of Frank Haney, a longtime member who resigned in July to pursue a campaign for Winnebago County Board Chairman

Rock Valley College Trustees To Consider New Member

Aug 15, 2016

Rock Valley College’s Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting Monday to consider who will fill a recent vacancy.  

Insurance agent Frank Haney was a longtime member of the body, even serving as chair, but resigned in July to begin his campaign for Winnebago County Board Chairman. 

Member Patrick Murphy currently serves as chair, and the Board plans to deliberate over a replacement to Haney in closed session.  

Rock Valley College Opens New Downtown Campus

Aug 2, 2016
Phil Masterton/WNIJ

Rock Valley College’s six-year effort to increase education accessibility took another step forward Tuesday as the new downtown campus opened officially in the iconic Rockford Register Star News Tower.

In what once was a bustling newsroom, 13,000 square feet is now dedicated to credit-level, transferable classes formerly taught only on the main Mulford Road campus.

Rockford to Redevelop Barber-Colman Complex

Jul 13, 2016
City of Rockford

Officials from the City of Rockford, Rock Valley College, and the Rockford Local Development Corporation have announced plans to redevelop the Barber-Colman Complex in the city's southwest.  

The city purchased the industrial property in 2002, and plans to rename it Colman Village.  The centerpiece of the complex will be the Rock Valley Technical Education and Training Center.  It will house training programs in various manufacturing fields, as well as skills such as welding and hydraulics.  

IFT

 The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board on Tuesday officially certified a union for support staff at Rock Valley College. Workers filed paperwork in April with the board indicating the staff’s desire to form a union. Around 140 RVC support staff join the new Rock Valley College Support Staff Association, a local chapter of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rock Valley College’s president will step down next January. Mike Mastroianni says the time is right to retire, and he’ll still be able to wrap up a number of the school’s projects. He has been with RVC for 18 years and was named president in 2014.

Mastroianni counts an engineering partnership with Northern Illinois University and the expansion of the aviation technology program among his accomplishments.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A program designed to educate -- and keep -- engineers in Rockford officially kicked off its six-million dollar fundraising campaign Tuesday. The joint project between Rock Valley College and Northern Illinois University is already halfway to its goal.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Monday, 9:00 pm

The strike is suspended and Rock Valley College faculty and students will be back in class Tuesday. The RVC Faculty Association approved a mediator's contract proposal that had been negotiated last Friday. It appears the wrong contract was voted on and rejected at a faculty meeting Sunday night. The discrepancy was discovered today during negotiations between the two sides. A corrected version was presented to members of the union Monday night and approved.

Rock Valley College

Rock Valley College faculty members rejected a mediator's proposal that could have ended their strike.  Union members gathered to review the latest five year contract from the school and voted to reject it at a meeting Sunday night at the Unitarian Universalist church in Rockford.. 

The two sides met for 10 hours Friday and were given a plan to consider by a mediator working on the contract dispute.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Update, Friday 6:22 pm: Contract negotiations continue between striking Rock Valley College faculty members and the school's bargaining representative. They've been negotiating all day.

Classes are canceled for a second day at Rock Valley College because of a faculty strike. Now the college’s president is making a plea for them to return to work.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

  Striking union faculty members at Rock Valley College meet this morning to discuss the latest offer from the college’s board of directors. The sticking point? How much the 160 RVC faculty members will pay for health care. Joe Perkoski is the attorney representing the school. He says “What we’re simply trying to do is get employees to pay a little more toward that. At the same time, we are providing a very generous salary offer.”

Rock Valley College Teachers Begin Strike

Sep 16, 2015
Rock Valley College

Rock Valley College faculty members went on strike today after negotiators for the college declared an impasse Tuesday night without responding to the faculty association’s latest proposal on a five-year wage increase plan.

Following a meeting to plan specific strategy, faculty members started picketing at all three entrances of the college.

Community Colleges Receive Grants To Support Students

Jul 15, 2015
Rock Valley Community College

Eight Illinois community colleges will share more than $2 million in federal grants to support low-income families, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities.

The list includes Rock Valley College, Highland Community College, and Sauk Valley Community College.

According to a news release, the grants were announced Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-17, as part of the TRIO Student Support Services Program.

The colleges receiving the grants and the amounts they’re receiving are:

Flickr user Daniel X. O'Neil / "Rockford Register Star Building" (CC BY 2.0)

Rock Valley College in Rockford will move its downtown satellite center to the Register Star News Tower.

The newspaper reports trustees authorized President Mike Mastroianni yesterday to execute a 10-year lease with the newspaper.

The college will pay the Register Star about $150,000 a year to rent the space. That includes parking, taxes, janitorial services and utilities. 

The lease includes two five-year renewal options.

Rock Valley College / rockvalleycollege.edu

After a national search, Rock Valley College has gone in-house for its new president.  The College's Board of Trustees today announced it has selected Michael Mastroianni as RVC's sixth president.  

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Members of the group Transform Rockford warned it wasn’t going to be a quick and easy process. After months of community meetings, volunteers will start assembling a draft vision for the city tonight. 

Rock Valley College

UPDATE: Rock Valley College Trustees have rejected a $6 per credit hour tuition rate hike. But the discussion about the need for a tuition increase will continue next month.

Community colleges in Illinois sometimes face a disincentive for wanting to keep tuition rates lower. A potential law change might make things easier. But opponents of the current rules say they come with unintended consequences. Officials say the law is partly to blame for a possible rate hike at a northern Illinois school.

The Illinois Attorney General's office says an elected official in northern Illinois has to decide between two jobs.  But Ted Biondo won't give up any elected seat while state lawmakers consider changing a law that would make it legal for him to hold two offices.