New leadership in an organization brings new opportunities and a new way of conducting business. Many times, new leadership provides a fresh approach to implementing plans and strategies. Under the bylaws of the Peoria Med-Tech District Commission, we approved a rotating board chair and vice chair such that a representative from the institutions and a representative from the neighborhoods would alternate serving in both positions. The commissioners believe the relationship between the institutions and neighborhoods is critically important to our mutual success and certainly critical to the success of implementing our council-approved objectives.
Effective July 1, Karla Dennhardt from the Randolph-Roanoke Historic District became chair, and Bill Engelbrecht, a vice president at Bradley University, became the vice chair. Karla represents exactly what we want the future of the Med-Tech District to be. She lives and works in the district and wants her two-year-old daughter to attend schools within the Med-Tech District.
During the first month of Karla’s term as chair, four ad hoc committees have met to outline the implementation steps. Probably the most exciting activity involves the Ad Hoc Education Committee. This committee met with representatives from Peoria School District 150 including Ken Hinton, Cindy Fischer, and Guy Cahill. The district’s comprehensive master plan was discussed, as well as long-term goals and the importance of educational aspects of the future of the Med-Tech District. There was mutual exploration of the concept of a math/science/technology school within the district, and District 150 was receptive to working collaboratively toward this goal. As a result of that conversation, the Med-Tech Commission made a formal presentation to update the school board August 15 about the comprehensive master plan.
It can’t be stressed enough how important education is to our collective future. Peoria is counting on Peoria Next and the Med-Tech District as significant drivers to economic development and jobs for the future. At the core of this success ultimately lies the quality of our educational system and the students we graduate. It’s particularly important when one hears that foreign universities are graduating 10 times or more the number of science and engineering students than American universities are. There’s no doubt education is the remaining issue that has to be addressed within our region to give us the best chance of succeeding in the 21st century knowledge economy.
Another important change occurred at the August meeting. Under the bylaws, representatives of the nine neighborhood associations are re-appointed annually by the mayor. It’s my understanding that five members are to be re-appointed, and we’ll welcome four potentially new members to the Neighborhood Advisory Council. I’d like to thank the four previous members who gave their dedication and support during the planning and development stage. They were instrumental in building the initial relationships not only with the Neighborhood Advisory Council, but extending that to the commission and, in particular, the institutions. We certainly hope the four new individuals share the same commitment and passion for the Med-Tech District as their predecessors did. IBI