My name is Mike Smith and I am seeking election to the McHenry County College Board of Trustees on April 9th. I would consider it a privilege to serve MCC in this capacity and I am humbly requesting your vote. Please select one of the links below to learn more about me.
#1 - Restoring Public Trust
I have always been a passionate supporter of the vital role of the community college, having personally gone down an educational path that included attending community college before I went on to ultimately earn an MBA from DePaul University. I firmly believe that community colleges are the future of the national, state and local economies. They provide a quality education at an affordable price to both traditional students, as well as to those who seek to upgrade or reengineer their skills in order to remain competitive.
As I enter the fourth year of my volunteer service to the college on the foundation board, I recognize that there is an opportunity to improve the public perception of MCC by restoring public trust. Establishing and maintaining trust requires an understanding that McHenry County College serves an extensive list of stakeholders with interests as diverse as the county itself, from students to faculty, administration and taxpayers. I will actively seek input to understand the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders and demand full transparency as the Board discusses and debates ways to address these needs. I will show respect for public input and feedback as I consider every Board decision.
I envision McHenry County College, as an institution, becoming viewed as the cornerstone of our community and I look forward to taking actions that restore public trust and reshape the positive image of the college across the region.
#2 - Legislative Advocacy and Intelligent Policy Development
I look forward to playing an active leadership role as a steward of the institution through participation in legislative advocacy and intelligent policy development for McHenry County College. Identifying opportunities to actively represent the college at the national, state, and local levels will be a top priority during my service as a trustee. The five strategic areas where I will focus my on-going commitment include: recognition and advocacy for McHenry County College; student access, learning, and success; McHenry County College leadership development, economic and workforce development, and global and intercultural education.
As a 25-year resident of McHenry County and President of the college foundation, I have developed personal and professional relationships within a variety of organizations that provide a venue for legislative advocacy, including: the Illinois Community College Trustees Association and members of the Illinois General Assembly, the American Association of Community Colleges, the McHenry County Council of Governments, the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, and a collaborative effort between the Board of Trustees and the Friends of MCC Foundation Board. I look forward to leveraging these relationships to help inform intelligent policy decisions and secure resources that will benefit McHenry County College.
#3 - Private Funding for Capital Expansion
There has been a controversial effort underway, initiated by a Board of Trustees’ supported feasibility study, to determine the viability of an aggressive expansion plan with corresponding financing scenarios. Projections are as high as $42 million. One of the proposed funding options, which appears to be driven by a desire to circumvent the requirement to go to referendum, would involve Alternative Revenue Bonds. In fact, Alternative Revenue Bonds do not eliminate the exposure to financial risk for the taxpayers, and I would not support such a financing option. The issuance of debt certificates has also been discussed, and again I would not support such a direction without public input, since the funding would be derived from the college’s operating budget, which is subsidized primarily through local tax dollars.
I would support a referendum for any and all initiatives of this magnitude which directly or indirectly require public funding. If any feasibility study establishes a value proposition that proves to be in the public’s best interest, I believe it should prove to be compelling enough to capture the necessary taxpayer support to move forward. I have heard comments from some of the leadership that infers that the current board would not move forward with an Alternative Revenue Bond approach if they weren’t totally assured that there would be a revenue stream generated from the proposed capital project that would insulate the taxpayers from financial risk. I would contend that nobody has a crystal ball, and moving forward with these assurances would be a breach of fiduciary duty and obligation to the taxpayers of McHenry County.
As the feasibility study will likely conclude, there are a number of industries experiencing or projecting talent shortages that would benefit from the expansion of educational services in these industries. Based on my 4 years of experience on the college foundation board, and extensive experience in sales, finance and fund raising, I am confident that private funding opportunities exist for any expansion that is supported by economic need.