The Lake Land College Board of Trustees honored Dr. Leland McNeill, Charleston, with the Clem G. Phipps Exemplary Trustee Award. Dr. McNeill accepted the award during the March board meeting.
The award is named after Clem G. Phipps, first chair of the Lake Land College Board of Trustees, to recognize former trustees who have demonstrated leadership and dedication to Lake Land College and the community.
Dr. McNeill was a charter member of the Lake Land College Board of Trustees. He was elected to the board on Nov. 22, 1966 and served through April 13, 1970.
Bob Johnston, Dr. McNeill’s nominator and former trustee, said that foregoing the establishment of Lake Land College more than half a century ago, Dr. McNeill was instrumental in convincing Mattoon area residents that the development of a community college was an appropriate investment. A growing concern at the time, acknowledged by state legislation, was that young adults were lacking education and specialized training beyond high school. During an essential moment in American growth, further education and training was a necessity for the growing workforce—community colleges were proposed to meet this need. Dr. McNeill, being a college educated, rural medical professional living in Toledo, was aware of the positive impact a community college would have on the area and was actively involved in the campaign to impose a property tax for operations and buildings.
“Dr. McNeill knew hundreds of locals on a first name basis, and his reputation was a signal to voters,” Johnston said.
As the initial development of the college took way, Dr. McNeill was instrumental in considering various programs and educational needs for the college district. His expertise and enthusiasm toward all aspects of the college and board made him a highly respected board member, Johnston wrote.
“Among his contributions were dedicated time and study to founding policy development, selection of people for key leadership positions and faculty members and a willingness to take the time and be helpful in all aspects of the organization,” Johnston said. “He was always ready with a quote or other observation that brought wisdom, and occasionally, a laugh to the board table when tensions ran high.”
“When the local community needed a trailblazer for higher education in the area, Dr. McNeill stepped up to the plate without hesitation. Lake Land College is the respected institution that it is today because of the outstanding dedication and insightful leadership by former trustees like Dr. McNeill,” Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said.
At the regional level, Dr. McNeill assisted in the growth and development of medical services in the area. He was a charter member of the Charleston-Mattoon Area Medical Planning Council (CMAMPC), a voluntary group made up of area healthcare professionals, and a Public Information Committee (PIC). The two organizations eventually brought about the introduction of a new regional hospital between Mattoon and Charleston, known as Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System.
Following the creation of the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Dr. McNeill transitioned from the Mattoon Memorial Hospital to the new center and became a medical staff member from 1979 through 2005. Throughout the years, he held several leadership positions including chief of family practice, chair of the bylaws committee, president of medical staff and the medical executive committee. He also served on the board of directors for Area E-7 Hospital Association dba Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. Today, Dr. McNeill holds the honor of an emeritus staff member.
“Dr. McNeill did yeoman work. We are thankful for his dedication, efforts and lasting impact to East Central Illinois and Lake Land College,” Johnston said. “Awarding Dr. McNeill the Clem Phipps Exemplary Trustee Award for his significant contributions in founding Lake Land College is an honor well deserved.”