Board Members Will Work Closely with New President to Move Lincoln College Forward

LINCOLN, IL — Five new Trustees have been named to the Board of Lincoln College, as the College continues its sesquicentennial celebration and moves forward with a new president.

The new Trustees are Lynn Paulus of Lincoln, Paula Kaler and Guy Fraker of Bloomington, John Edwards of Palos Heights and Laura Beltchenko of Libertyville.

“I am very pleased that we were able to persuade such a talented group of professionals to join the Board of Trustees,” Lincoln College President John Blackburn said. “They come to the board from very different backgrounds but each has demonstrated a deep commitment to education and to community that will serve the College well.”

The new Trustees began their service at the May 8 Board meeting and all will serve as Trustees-at-Large. Lincoln College, which has campuses in Normal and Lincoln, is celebrating its 150th anniversary year. It was the first institution named in honor of then-President Abraham Lincoln and the only institution named after Lincoln while he was alive.

They will soon work with a new president as Blackburn retires in June after many years of dedicated service to the College. He will be replaced by Dr. David Gerlach, who comes to Lincoln College after a distinguished career leading higher education advancement in upstate New York.

The Lincoln College Board of Trustees appoints the President and major administrative officers of the college. Board committees oversee finances, development, planning, academic affairs and student services, among other duties. All salary and tenure decisions must also be reviewed and approved by the Board.

Here is a look at the backgrounds of the five new board members:

Lynn Paulus

Lincoln resident Paulus is the owner/manager of the Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Baymont Inn and Suites in Lincoln, as well as Holiday Inn Express hotels in Evansville, Indiana and Bloomington, Illinois; Wingate by Wyndham in St. Charles, Missouri; and the Carpenter Street Hotel in Springfield. She is also the Treasurer/Business Manager for Hotel Ventures Management Co. of Illinois and Business Manager for McDonald’s of Springfield.

In addition to her business interests, Paulus has been an active volunteer and supporter of local sports programs such as West Lincoln Broadwell and Lincoln High schools; has been a board member of the Illinois 4-H Foundation; a sponsor of the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival; a member of the Logan County Farm Bureau and a Logan County 4-H Volunteer.

Paulus is a 1988 graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign. She and her husband Kent have three daughters, Ashley, Michelle and Emily.

“With her extensive business experience, Lynn Paulus will bring an important perspective to the Board of Trustees. I am very pleased that she has agreed to serve as a Trustee,” Blackburn said. “Her background and record of success will serve the College well as we move into our second 150 years.”

 

Paula Kaler

Kaler, a longtime resident of Lincoln, recently returned to central Illinois after living in DeKalb and Sycamore since 2007. As Agency Manager for Country Financial in Bloomington, she led the agency to become the Number One performing agency in the state and was named to the company’s Executive Club for her performance as one of the top 10 agency managers in the nation.

Kaler began her career with Country Financial in 1998 in Lincoln. Before that she was owner and operator of Bylines, a marketing company, and was manager of Main Street Lincoln from 1993 to 1998.

“Paula Kaler will be an excellent addition to our Board,” Blackburn said. “Her experience at Country Financial as well as her ties to the Lincoln community will both be important assets that we can use on the Board.”

 

Guy Fraker

Fraker has been an attorney in Bloomington since his graduation from the University of Illinois in 1962. In addition to his law practice, he has been active in the community for many years, including serving as the President of the McLean County Bar Association in 1994 and 1995 and was awarded its first annual Lincoln Award for Excellence for community service in 1997.

He is the author of “Lincoln’s Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit” and was a consultant on and participant in the award-winning documentary “Abraham Lincoln: Prelude to the Presidency,” produced by WILL-TV (PBS). He is also the co-curator of Prologue to the Presidency, a permanent exhibit at the David Davis Mansion state historical site in Bloomington.

He also served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy from 1995-1996 and worked as Director of Land Protection from 2000-2001, acquiring over 13,000 acres of Illinois landscape for protection during his tenure. He has continually served on the Board since 1990. He is a founding Board Member of Parklands Foundation, a land trust, and has served on that board for more than 40 years. He has also held leadership positions in the Jaycees and Bloomington United, a downtown advocacy group.

“Guy Fraker will be an excellent addition to our Board. His distinguished legal career, deep community involvement and extensive research of Lincoln’s legal career made him a perfect candidate for the Board,” Blackburn said. “His experience will serve the College well as we move into our second 150 years.”

 

John Edwards

Edwards, a Palos Height resident, specializes in advising college and university business officers and has helped more than 140 colleges and universities better manage their finances.

For over ten years, he served Midwestern colleges and universities through his work with Nelnet Business Solutions, a Lincoln, Neb., based financial management and eCommerce technology provider.

He also currently serves as House Captain for Rebuilding Together – Metro Chicago and from 1992 to 2002 was treasurer for Primo Women’s Children’s Center of Chicago.

Edwards has had an extensive career in the financial services sector, working for JP Morgan Chase Bank, Manufacturers Bank, PNC Bank among other companies since 1978. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill.

His ties to Lincoln College stretch back for decades, as his father Robert Edwards served as a Lincoln College trustee from 1976 to 1988, and then his mother Shirley Edwards followed Robert on the board from 1988-2014.

“As a consultant, John Edwards is helping more than 140 colleges and universities better manage their finances. His deep understanding of higher education financing will be invaluable to the Board of Trustees as we prepare to meet the challenges of the next 150 years,” Blackburn said.

 

Laura Beltchenko

Beltchenko is an education consultant from Libertyville with extensive teaching and administrative experience in school districts in Illinois and Michigan.

Beltchenko currently operates Read, Learn, Achieve, LLC, Laura Beltchenko Educational Consulting. The North Cook Intermediate Service Center, a branch of the Illinois State Board of Education, contracts with Beltchenko as a Foundational Services Facilitator supporting school districts with standards implementation, assessment design and creating student learning objectives.

Beltchenko currently serves as chair of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Gifted Education Advisory Council and a member of the ISBE Foundational Services for Common Core Standards. She is also on the Board of the Illinois Association of Title I Directors.

In addition to her teaching experience, Beltchenko served for 24 years as an elected member of the Libertyville District 70 Board of Education.

Beltchenko previously served as Associate Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction, as Wauconda CUSD #118. She also worked as an administrator or teacher in school districts in Gurnee, Deerfield, Lake Forest School District, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Vernon Hills and in New Baltimore and Brown City, Michigan.

“Laura Beltchenko has been a classroom teacher and an administrator and now operates her own educational consulting business. Her lifelong commitment to improving education and helping students achieve their full potential will be an ideal match for Lincoln College,” Blackburn said.