State Representative Chad D. Hays is proud to be a community college graduate and says he’ll “talk about it to whomever will listen; I never miss an opportunity to talk about community colleges – from the house floor to the rotary club.”
Rep. Hays completed an Associate of Science degree at Danville Area Community College in 1983. He is the 2014 DACC Distinguished Alumnus and is the College’s nominee for the statewide honor from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association.
“Danville Area Community College has had a profound and lasting impact on my life, my family, and my constituents,” he stated. “DACC was a high quality affordable conduit to higher education for me.”
Rep. Hays says he was blessed in his upbringing and home life. His parents were strong advocates for higher education and encouraged their three children to pursue college degrees. The difficulties arose when all three – and their mother – were in college at the same time. In order to alleviate some of the cost burden, Rep. Hays enrolled at DACC and started a work-study program at Hyster, Co., where he attended classes full time and worked 20 hours each week during the academic year, and then worked 40 hours per week during the summer. After completing his Associate degree, Rep. Hays transferred to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and graduated with his Bachelor’s degree on the same day that his mother received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois.
After graduation, Rep. Hays distinguished himself as a healthcare administrator, serving as Vice President of Development and Mission Services for Provena United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville. In this capacity he also served as the Executive Director of the Provena USMC Foundation and raised more than $18 million for hospital services and community outreach programs. Many of those outreach programs were regionally and nationally recognized for their accomplishments.
In addition to the demands of a full-time career, Rep. Hays served as the Mayor of his hometown, Catlin, from 1991 to 1999. When he was first elected at age 28, Rep. Hays was the youngest mayor in the state. During his tenure as Mayor, he chaired the Vermilion County Mayor’s Council.
Rep. Hays was elected to the Illinois General Assembly as the State Representative for the 104thDistrict in 2010, following in the footsteps of long-time State Representative William B. “Bill” Black. Though admittedly a “hard act to follow,” Rep. Hays quickly distinguished himself from Rep. Black and moved into a surprising number of leadership roles in a very short time.
Rep. Hays serves on a number of House committees and is the Republican Spokesperson for both the Higher Education and Health Care Availability Access committees. He is the Assistant Minority Leader and is a House Republican Floor Leader, both tremendous honors that traditionally go to legislators with considerably more tenure. He is respected by his peers on both sides of the aisle. Rep. Hays credits his career history and connection to DACC with giving him valuable insights that may have contributed to his selection for these roles.
“As a community leader I have witnessed ﬁrst hand the extraordinary role that DACC plays in not only educating recent high school graduates, but those returning to higher education from the working world and/or those displaced from the workforce,” Rep. Hays stated. “As a member of the Illinois General Assembly I speak with pride and passion about DACC as the crown jewel in Vermilion County.”
Appreciation for the benefits of DACC is a tradition Rep. Hays has shared with his children. His oldest son took a DACC course, post-bachelorʼs degree, that was needed to enter a Doctoral program in Physical Therapy. His son described the rigor of the Physics course as the most demanding of any class he has ever encountered. The youngest Hays son starts each day on the campus of DACC as a participant of Project Lead the Way, an early engineering program offered as a partnership between DACC and Vermilion Advantage that provides both high school and college, or dual, credit. He has taken other dual credit courses, as well. The dual credit program allows an Illinois student to accumulate college-level credit while still in high school with free tuition.
In his role as State Representative, Hays continues to advocate for DACC both in the General Assembly and in the community. He is a frequent guest and speaker at DACC events. “I am a ﬁerce and enthusiastic supporter of our Community College system because I know it to be the pathway to brighter futures. I need no prompting on this subject matter . . . . .I have lived it, and it works!”