DANVILLE, IL, APR. 7, 2020 – In his 16-year career at Danville Area Community College, Mike Cunningham managed more than 70 construction projects on the Danville Campus and the Hoopeston Learning Center. But as Mr. Cunningham retires on June 30 from his position as vice president of administrative services, the project that may well earn him the most acclaim will be one he has yet to complete.
Along with managing capital construction, Mr. Cunningham has been responsible for campus maintenance and cleaning, security, campus-wide purchasing, property and liability insurance, food service, mail delivery, and document reproduction.
The major DACC projects he led since 2004 included the $5 million construction of a conference and workforce development center in the Bremer building; the development of the DACC’s campus quad through the demolition of three former VA buildings; the acquisition and renovation of the Hoopeston Center; the installation of a campus-wide emergency telephone and speaker system; the construction of an income-generating cell tower; the construction of the Julius W. Hegeler II Garden Gateway; the building of a greenhouse for the Julius W. Hegeler II Ornamental Horticulture Center; the $5 million renovation and building addition for the Mary Miller Complex; the $3 million addition to the Julius W. Hegeler II Technology Center; and the renovation of a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system in the Bremer Theater.
However, what DACC insiders may well regard as Mr. Cunningham’s crowning achievement will be the long-awaited installation of air conditioning in the Mary Miller Gymnasium. A milestone event took place on Mar. 25, when a 700-foot crane lowered two 9,000-pound HVAC units onto the Gym roof. Says Mr. Cunningham, “With the weather cooperating as it has, and because of the great assistance we’ve received from State’s Capital Development Board, we’ll complete the project under budget and on schedule by the original target date of May 15.”
More than a year ago, Mr. Cunningham vowed to complete the project ahead of DACC’s Commencement, which had been scheduled for May 15 but will now take place later in the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Some people were skeptical when Mike said he thought he’d get this project done on time,” says DACC Board Chair Dave Harby. “But as he’s proven over the years, Mike’s a man of his word. When he says he’ll get a job done, the job gets done.”
Air conditioning will enable the College to ramp up summer sports and kids’ camps. In addition, along with Commencement, participants and audiences in other major events like nurses’ pinning and the honors’ program for scholarship donors will welcome the comfort of a new HVAC system. Says DACC President Stephen Nacco, “From May through October, the Gym can get brutally hot. But with the two new HVAC units, Mike says we can make the Gym feel as cold as a meat locker.”
Mr. Cunningham’s experience prior to joining DACC included more than 20 years managing maintenance and utilities for the Flexel plant in Covington. He also served as general manager for Danville Steel prior to joining DACC.
President Nacco says Mr. Cunningham will be sorely missed at DACC. “Mike’s had an amazing career, but I really think what people will remember most will be him getting the air conditioning installed in Mary Miller just before retirement. It’s sort of like Ted Williams hitting a home run in his last at bat.”