Former Congressman Johnson Preps For Role Of Parkland Trustee

Tim Johnson during a 2012 press conference at Urbana High School, shortly before his retirement.

Tim Johnson during a 2012 press conference at Urbana High School, shortly before his retirement.

(Jeff Bossert/WILL)

It’s been three years since former Urbana Republican Congressman Tim Johnson held public office, but he’s about to be sworn into a different kind of role.  

Two weeks ago, Johnson was elected to his first non-partisan office, that of Trustee for Parkland College in Champaign. 

He and former Tuscola school superintendent Jim Voyles will be sworn in as trustees at next Wednesday's meeting.  They bested former Champaign County Board member Brendan McGinty for two vacancies on the Parkland board.

These days, more students are taking their first two years of college at places like Parkland, before transferring to a four-year school. Johnson calls it a challenging time for everyone in higher education.

“The state and federal share of dollars have gone down at a community college level," he said.  "There’s been declining enrollment across the board.  And that means that tuition, and other sources of income become more and more pressured.  And so it really does put a particular responsibility on the trustees and administration to wisely deal with the dollars that we have.”

Johnson said although Parkland College is in Champaign, it’s easy to forget that 11 other counties and about 230,000 people make up its district.

He hopes to recruit more students from the outlying region, in areas like Ford, Piatt, and Douglas Counties.

The former Congressman says campaigning for Parkland trustee ‘livened his competitive juices’, visiting cities he hadn’t seen in a while.  

Johnson has also served in the Illinois House and on the Urbana City Council, and recently taught at the University of Illinois, and Illinois State University.

The Parkland College Board of Trustees' next meeting is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29 in room U325.

Story source: WILL