Sandburg honors 2024 Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Staff Member of the Year Award winners

GALESBURG — Carl Sandburg College recognized the 2024 winners for Faculty of the Year, Adjunct Faculty of the Year and Staff Member of the Year during its 56th annual commencement Thursday evening on the Galesburg campus.

Stacy Bainter was selected as Faculty of the Year, Fred Visel was named Adjunct Faculty of the Year and Francis McKillip was chosen as Staff Member of the Year.

2024 Faculty of the Year
Stacy Bainter
A 2000 graduate of Sandburg's nursing program, this is the second time Stacy Bainter has received Sandburg’s Faculty of the Year honor.

Bainter previously won the award in 2020 and has taught at her alma mater since 2008, when she started as a practical nursing lab instructor. She became an adjunct instructor in the associate degree nursing program in 2011 and has been a full-time instructor since 2015. Bainter also spent time as the coordinator for the basic nursing assistant program and practical nursing, and she served as a health occupations teacher at the Galesburg Area Vocational Center from 2011-2015.

Prior to her teaching career, Bainter worked as a registered nurse from 2000-15 in long-term care, holding positions of floor nurse, charge nurse, supervisor, MDS coordinator, assistant director of nursing and director of nursing.

After graduating from Sandburg, Bainter went on to earn her bachelor’s in nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2007 and a master’s in nursing (nurse educator track) from McKendree University in 2015. In 2016, she was inducted into McKendree’s chapter of Sigma Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Sandburg nursing instructor Stacy Bainter (right) shakes hands with President Dr. Seamus Reilly after receiving the 2024 Faculty of the Year Award during the college’s commencement Thursday on the Galesburg campus.

2024 Adjunct Faculty of the Year
Fred Visel
As Fred Visel made the trip from his home in Cleveland for his first semester of teaching at Sandburg, one thought entered his mind.

“I drove through these cornfields,” Visel said, “and I remember clearly saying to myself, ‘I'm here two years, max.’ That was in the fall of ’71.”

Visel never followed through on his promise and, 53 years later, is still going strong as an adjunct history and geography instructor.

Born in what’s now Slovakia, Visel didn’t know a word of English when his family immigrated to Cleveland in the early 1950s. He majored in history at Bowling Green University and spent five years in the Army, including two combat tours as an infantry officer in the Vietnam War. He went on to reach the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.

Visel heard about an open history instructor position at Sandburg through a friend from Cleveland who attended Western Illinois University and — despite the pledge he made during his arrival — has never left.

“It’s so comfortable living out here,” said Visel, who also has master’s degrees from the University of Iowa and Illinois State University. “I liked what I did and had enough to eat and had a roof over my head, and so I just kept on keeping on.”

Visel taught full-time until 1984, when he took over as dean of learning resource services in the library. He remained a part-time instructor through the time he retired from that position in 1999 and has stayed on as an adjunct instructor in the years since. He also spent part of his time at Sandburg as a grant supervisor, and in 2006 he was designated as the college’s historian.

“I just like the fact that I think I'm passing on to students who care to listen and learn why it's important to know what happened before them,” Visel said. “I just love to study history, and every year history grows longer and longer.”

Sandburg history and geography instructor Fred Visel (right) looks on as he is introduced by President Dr. Seamus Reilly as the 2024 Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award winner during the college’s commencement Thursday on the Galesburg campus.

2024 Staff Member of the Year
Francis McKillip
Known for his humility and generosity, Francis McKillip has been employed at Sandburg since 2018. McKillip started as a second-shift custodian before moving to a daytime shift four years ago. He splits his time working at the CME on the Galesburg campus and at the Annex downtown. It’s not unusual for McKillip to bring in a spread of snacks for students in his work areas, making sure they have ample energy to get through their day.

A Galesburg native, McKillip spent 30 years with the former Econofoods in his hometown, working his way up from a bagger to a management position. He then spent nine years in a management role at Waterworks Car Wash before coming to Sandburg.

“There's a phenomenal staff that works at the college. I have never not been around nice people here,” said McKillip, whose late wife, Racheal, worked in the business office at Sandburg before she passed away in 2017. “Everyone at the college has been amazing to me, and the students have been fantastic. I can think of a lot of people at the college who deserve this. I do work hard, but I love what I do. This is the happiest I’ve ever been in a job in my life.”

Francis McKillip (right) looks on after receiving the 2024 Sandburg Staff Member of the Year Award from President Dr. Seamus Reilly (left) during the college’s commencement Thursday on the Galesburg campus. McKillip has been employed as a custodian at the college since 2018.