written by: NIHA URSANI
For most of us college students, it’s hard for us to see who the president of the college is because they usually spend most of their time within their office. This is not the case with Mr. Mance.
You will see him walking in the hallways as a regular person. You will see him engage with students like a normal human being and he considers this as a way to communicate with students and as a way to make them comfortable while they are at SWIC.
“Usually when I am walking around the campus, students come up to me and ask, ‘Oh, you are the president right?’ I like to engage with the students and faculty. I enjoy walking around the campus.”
Mr. Mance has been living in Illinois for his entire life and has received his education from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE).
“I graduated from SIUE. I have a degree from SIUE in Accounting with emphasis in Management Information Systems. After graduating from SIUE, I took the CPA exam to become a Certified Public Accountant,” said Mr. Mance.
Before becoming the president of SWIC, Mr. Mance served as a trustee on the college’s Board of Trustees.
“I have been on the Board of Trustees for the last 25 years. My very first job was in the steel mill industry which is now known as the National Steel Mill in Granite City. In 1981, I started a CPA practice and I continued doing that until 2015. After that, I started working as a Chief Financial Office (CFO) in East St. Louis School until I came to SWIC in 2018.” As the member of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Mance also mentioned that he has always been concerned about the college as he believes that education is the most important thing in our life.
As the member of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Mance also mentioned that he has always been concerned about the college as he believes that education is the most important thing in our life. Mr. Mance believes that every student should be encouraged to do better so that they can be successful in life.
He says that the reason why he is so ambitious towards education is because of his past. He also mentions that his parents were the most influential people in his life.
“My past gave me ambition and that’s one thing that wanted me to be more successful. My parents were the most influential people in my life till they past away. What influenced me the most about them was their work ethic, they had a very good work ethic. Now that I think about what is more important to me in my life, I think about my family. My wife and my kids are the most important people in my life.”
When it comes to talking about our college, SWIC, Mr. Mance also shares some of his ideas about what he plans to do with the future of our college. He says that his focus right now is that he wants to concentrate on the decline of the enrollment.
“Community colleges have been having a rough time. Our economy is doing well which means that there are more jobs which means that people are spending more time working than going to school. I think that some of the things that we want to look at are the scholarships. Our Foundation provides scholarships and we are also promoting them. Our tuition rate is less than 25%, as compared to other colleges and we are trying to keep it reasonable. We are trying our best not to increase taxes.”
As far as the buildings and the environment of SWIC goes, Mr. Mance also mentioned some of the future contributions to the environment of SWIC.
“We are looking at improving our buildings as well. We have started taking an assessment on the buildings and the rooms and we are trying to make them look better. We also have an efficient capital plan, which also means that we are trying to concentrate on the distance between our buildings, so that the students are not running around between their classes. We are also looking at the security of SWIC. Security is very important, and we are trying to move public safety to a more prominent place, and we are putting more surveillance cameras around the campus”
Mr. Mance also says that our enrollment might also improve once the buildings and the environment of SWIC are more appealing.
“I am focusing on the grounds of SWIC as well. It is easier for people to spot me when I am looking at these building, hence why we plan on doing that when we don’t have that many students around the campus. I think that people want to come to a college that is more appealing, and we’ve been working on it. The aesthetic and the environment of the college are very important. It should look inviting.”
One question that most of us college students ask ourselves is that, will SWIC ever be a 4-year college?
Mr. Mance said regarding this question, “There has been talk about making SWIC a 4-year-college. There have been a lot of mixed feelings regarding this topic. It can be a good thing and a bad thing. Like I said earlier, as the economy goes up, the employment rate goes up, which means that fewer students want to complete their education. At this moment, the Board has been addressing this issue, but I believe that it should remain a2-year college for now.”
This year, a lot of SWIC’s faculty is retiring, probably more than the previous years. Mr. Mance describes the procedure of hiring new faculty members by saying the following, “There are a series of events that take place to hire a new faculty member. The first step is that we set up a search committee that sends out the job offers. We then receive resumes and from those resumes we invite some people for the interview. After the interview process has been completed, the Board approves all hire recommendations.”
Mr. Mance, after his interview, walked me around his office and introduced me to some of the people. All of them had good words to say about him.
Beverly Fiss, who has been working with Mr. Mance since 2001 said, “I can’t say enough good words about him. When I started, he was the Board Chair. The two of us have a great working relationship and I hope that we do good things for SWIC.”
“It was an opportunity to interview Mr. Mance. I remember how nervous I was and the moment I started talking to him, my nervousness just went away. He is a very friendly person and is definitely the biggest inspiration that any college student can come across of.”
Words cannot describe how great of a man Mr. Mance is. He is the kind of the person with whom you can easily start a conversation. He gives the best of advice and he really has the best interest of SWIC and all of us cannot wait to see what improvements he brings to SWIC.