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Heartland honors fourteen with President's Medallion

June 14, 2021

Heartland Community College (HCC) has recognized fourteen individuals for their integral role in expanding the College, serving its students, and paving educational pathways for the larger community. 

The inaugural recipients of the HCC President’s Medallion Award were honored on June 11, 2021, with eight of the fourteen being Heartland’s Founding Board Members: 

Vernon “Art” Adams - Founding Trustee, 1990-1993

Margaret Esposito - Founding Trustee, 1990-2003         

Jim Pemberton - Founding Trustee, 1990-1995         

Fred Ragsdale - Founding Trustee, 1990-1995

Sharon (Sullivan) Tarvin - Founding Trustee, 1990-2001

Roger Tuttle - Founding Trustee, 1990-2007

Jim White – Founding Trustee, 1990-2011

Cindy Brand - Trustee, 1991-2009 

This group was elected as the first leaders of Heartland Community College in 1990, who helped build the foundation of what the College is today, navigating a number of issues and demands to develop one of the most successful community colleges in the state of Illinois. Working from the humble origins of store fronts and church basements to our campus today, none of HCC’s achievements and community contributions would have been possible without this founding group’s tireless efforts and extraordinary vision.  

The following six individuals were also honored with Presidential Medallions: 

Willie Brown – Community Leader and Past Heartland Foundation Board Member 

Longtime Bloomington resident and State Farm executive, Willie Brown has led numerous charitable and community improvement initiatives. His work on the Heartland Community College Foundation Board in the late 1990s and early 2000s helped to highlight the important work of fundraising for local students. Under his leadership, the Foundation expanded its scholarship offerings and connected with a number of local philanthropists and businesses to create greater access to higher education for hundreds of students. 

Gregg Chadwick - Former Board of Trustees Chair 

Gregg was a long-time member of the District 540 Board of Trustees. First appointed in 2002, he was elected 4 more times and served as both the Vice Chair (2007-2009) and Chair (2009-2020). Chadwick also served as President of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) in 2020, after previously serving ICCTA as Treasurer (2009-2010), Chair of the Government Relations and Public Policy Committee (2017-2019), and Vice President (2019-2020). In July of 2020, Gregg was awarded the Ray Hartstein Trustee Achievement Award for exemplary service. 

Alan Chapman - Former Foundation Board Member and Unit 5 Superintendent

Former teacher, principal, and superintendent for Unit 5, Dr. Chapman has spent his entire career creating educational pathways. Alan embraced HCC early on and helped pave the way for college credit courses to be taught in community high schools, providing many local students with early and affordable access to post-secondary education.

Julie Dobski - Local Entrepreneur 

Founder and owner of Little Jewels preschool, Julie is widely recognized for her commitment to education. Her vision for creating early education opportunities for the youngest in our community reflects her value in lifelong learning and its transformative power. 

Alan Chapman and Julie Dobski served as the chairs for the first major gifts campaign in support of scholarships and programs at HCC. Because of their vision and tireless energy, the Foundation raised $7.7 million, which tripled the number of scholarships available to students, supported programs like the Challenger Learning Center and Information Technology programs, and established Heartland as a charitable destination for hundreds of people and companies in the district. 

Betty Pilchard – HCC Faculty 

One of the first faculty members ever hired at the College, Betty taught at Heartland for a quarter of a century. With her focus on business education, she guided and shaped the minds of thousands of students, and worked with administration to develop the system of faculty promotion. Her work on various projects, including textbook affordability, showcased her desire to support student success and teaching excellence, both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Allan Saaf – HCC Vice President Emeritus 

Allan led the growth of credit programs at Heartland for nearly two decades. During his time as Vice President for Learning and Student Success, the College developed programs in Nursing, Information Technology, Manufacturing, and Early Childhood Education, expanding the College and enhancing the opportunity for students to transfer to four year institutions. Allan was a champion of critical thinking and educated citizenry, and managed efforts to ensure those values were embedded in every Heartland program.

“We are proud to recognize these individuals who helped elevate Heartland to what it is today,” said HCC President Keith Cornille. “Each recipient of these inaugural awards exemplifies the College’s mission to enrich our community. Though their service, support and actions, this group have made a huge impact on our community and – directly or indirectly – the lives of all our students since the College’s foundation.” 

The Presidential Medallion award exemplifies the College’s aim to enrich the community, by recognizing those who share this mission and live it out through exemplary service, philanthropy, and dedication to advancing opportunities in education.

Written by: Steve Fast