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By acts and accomplishments, Avendano a leader

September 20, 2018

When John Avendano retires at the end of the current school year, he will have been president of Kankakee Community College for a decade.

It has been a decade of steady growth for the college, one that saw it dramatically increase its impact in Kankakee County. Here are some examples

• Enrollment rose at the beginning of Avendano’s tenure. While it leveled off in later years, something that was attributed to the region’s dropping unemployment rate, KCC remains a prime choice for many students.

• KCC increased its level of cooperation with area business. It moved to train students for the jobs of the future. A new manufacturing technology center was added. An energy technology center is under construction now, as KCC increases its footprint to educate students for the jobs of the future in solar and wind-driven technology.

• The KCC footprint in the community increased under Avendano. Handed a prime parcel of land donated by the Karlock family along Illinois Route 50 in Bradley, KCC built a new extension center. That opens up a future for classes right in the heart of the community. It also added a center in Watseka, where students will be able to earn their associate degree.

• KCC played a key role in the creation of the new riverfront trail system, linking the campus to the community, while preserving and beautifying the riverfront.

• Moving to enrich the lives of residents, as well as educate them, KCC started a Lifelong Learning Institute, providing low cost learning for area seniors.

Finally, there is the personal example of Avendano. He was the first member of his family to earn a college degree. A one-time star athlete whose career on the baseball diamond was cut short by injury, he took advantage of the educational opportunity offered.

His professional ascent led to the president’s job at KCC. But it is hardly the only role Avendano has filled over the last decade. He has served on a number of local boards as a volunteer, including as board chairman of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County.

He blazed a trail others should follow. We sincerely wish him well in retirement.

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