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The Board of Trustees of Oakton Community College has given the school’s president, Joianne L. Smith, a new three-year contract with a first year pay increase of 3 percent.

Smith, who started at Oakton last year, said she plans to donate her salary increase to the college’s foundation, to provide scholarships and grants to students.

Under the new contract she’ll earn $272,924 this year and will be eligible for annual pay increases based on performance.

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Board Chair Ann Tennes said Smith “has done an exemplary job,” and has proved to be a “dynamic, focused, dedicated leader.”

Last year Smith set a goal of improving year-to-year student persistence by 9 percent and the school this year saw a 3 percent improvement

Changes to encourage retention included simple ideas such as employees reaching out to new higher-risk students to welcome them to campus as well as a more complicated faculty initiative for student persistence.

“This is a very aggressive institution that is trying to help students succeed, and I think we’ve got a great leader to do that,” said Trustee William Stafford, who chaired the committee that selected Smith as president. “I think this is a real sign of the board support—a three year contract—our support for the president, our support for the work she has done and will continue to do.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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