Lake Land College will posthumously award the 2018 Distinguished Service Award to Robert K. Luther, the fourth president of Lake Land College, during the college’s 50th anniversary commencement on Friday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. This award acknowledges an individual who has rendered outstanding service to the college.
Luther served as college president for 18 years, the longest term of any Lake Land College president, beginning in 1988 until his retirement in 2006. During those years, Luther became the leading force in raising the college’s finances and student enrollment. He was also considered a trailblazer in online learning, technology usage and state-of-the-art academic programming. His leadership led the college to receive numerous state and federal level awards for innovation, teaching and technology.
Luther’s path to excellence had a huge hand in expanding and improving the college grounds by adding six new buildings and leading a beautification campaign on campus. The Lake Land College Board of Trustees recognized Luther’s exceptional professional contributions in April 2011 by renaming the student center in his honor as the Robert K. Luther Student Center.
After his retirement in June 2006, the Board of Trustees’ chairman at the time, Mike Sullivan, said, “Luther provided the leadership that has allowed Lake Land College to emerge as one of the fastest growing and most respected community colleges in Illinois and the nation. Lake Land College is fiscally sound, its faculty and board of trustees are united and the beauty of its campus and furnishings has become an icon for the central Illinois community college. Many Illinois community colleges look toward Dr. Luther and Lake Land for guidance and leadership in innovation, technology and statewide issues. He is well respected among Illinois community colleges, state legislators and the business community.”
During his time as president, Luther was a top advocate for the college, both state and nationwide, by joining countless committees and organizations. Even after his retirement, Luther’s contributions and dedication to the college continued. Beginning in 2011, Luther was elected to the Lake Land College Board of Trustees. He offered knowledge, wisdom and thoughtfulness to the position until 2017.
In his nomination, Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said, “There are few people associated with Lake Land who have left such a positive and permanent mark on the college and the community it serves. Dr. Luther was a humble public servant whose passion for Lake Land continued until the day of his passing. I can think of no one more deserving of the Distinguished Service Award than Dr. Robert Luther.”
Prior to joining Lake Land College, Luther had past experience in leadership as president at Greene Community College in New York and president and vice president at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Illinois University and a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan.
He and his wife, Judy, have two grown daughters, Kari and Dana, and four grandchildren.