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New Lenox resident appointed to Joliet Junior College board

After previously serving on the board of trustees for nearly two years, New Lenox resident Patty Dieters has another opportunity to leave her mark on Joliet Junior College.

“I like the opportunity to serve the college,” she said. “I really enjoy working with the college. They’re a great resource for the community.”

Dieters will serve the remainder of a position left vacant following the resignation tendered by Trustee Andy Mihelich in November.

“I believe I represent the taxpayers well and what their interests are, and [I will] also help the college in any way I can,” she said.

Dieters was one of two candidates interviewed by the board of trustees in December to fill an open seat and is slated to serve until the April 2019 election. She and Margaret Hornung of Shorewood submitted applications and were interviewed.

“There’s a few reasons; going back we discussed one time how we should appoint a member, and we thought it would be a 14-15 month appointment,” Chairman Bob Wunderlich said of why the board selected Dieters. “We thought instead of opening the position to public, we reached out to those who ran in the last election. [Dieters] lost the election by 50 votes, and that showed voters wanted her.”

Dieters previously served as a member of the board from October 2015 to May 2017. Officials opted to select her, in part, because the same case held true for the way Trustee Dan O’Connell and Board Secretary Mike O’Connell were appointed.

“They were the highest votes, as was Patty,” Wunderlich said. “We thought with [Dieters’] experience, she’d need no orientation. She knows the ropes and how it runs. They were both very good candidates. She’s done public service; she’s outgoing; she’s an advocate for JJC. That’s some of the reasons why we appointed her.”

Dieters praised the work of the college and its president since she’s been gone.

“I think that with the leadership of [President] Dr. [Judy] Mitchell, I think the college is on the right track,” she said. “The state has our funding in a little bit better situation. … I think everything’s going pretty well with the college. The new City Center Campus is open. I think [Mitchell is] working on getting our open enrollment numbers up and making sure the college is [thriving.] That’s the most important thing.”

Dieters has an understanding for the college and the areas in which it can expand, citing enrollment and promotion of programs.

“We have a large district,” she said. “I think it’s important to get those programs out there and also programs that are beneficial to students. Not everybody has to have a four-year degree to get a good job. [Getting] those programs out there [is important.] We can offer [programs to] students, so they can get a well-paying job and they can get it at a junior college level. I think that’s not just beneficial for them, it’s beneficial for the businesses in the surrounding area also.”

Dieters said affordability, generally speaking, is one of the issues in higher education that she cares deeply for.

“It’s something that if you come and you complete your education, you’re able to go out and get a job where you can make a living,” she said.

The board has several matters of business they intend to work on in the coming months, and that includes looking at student enrollment, dual credit opportunities, student retention and a potential property acquisition.

“There are no pressing issues that need a majority of votes,” Wunderlich said. “It’s good to have a full board. [As an example,] it could be something as simple as purchasing equipment.”

Wunderlich urged Hornung to run in a future election, citing his appreciation for what she could bring to the board.

The Joliet Junior College Board of Trustees includes Bob Wunderlich, chairman; Maureen Broderick, vice chairwoman; Mike O’Connell, secretary; John (Jake) Mahalik; Alicia Morales; Dan O’Connell; and Sante Deserio, student trustee.

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