Novak named 2022 Distinguished Alumnus

IV Leader Staff

Illinois Valley Community College’s 2022 Distinguished Alumnus is Dr. Holly Novak, a 1974 graduate who has gone on to an illustrious career in cardiology.

Early in her career, Dr. Novak founded a cardiac catherization laboratory and an open-heart surgery program at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington. She accomplished this before she had her first cardiology partner, working independently for five years and ‘on call’ constantly to build the practice.

Today she specializes in heart disease prevention and women’s health at HSHS Medical Group Multispecialty Care in Springfield and also sees patients in Clinton, Jacksonville and Rushville.

Dr. Novak is also one of the most significant donors in IVCC’s 98-year history and is a member of the IVCC Foundation’s 21st Century Scholars Society.

In conjunction with the IVCC commendation, she has been nominated for the Illinois Community College Trustees Association Distinguished Alumnus Award and will be honored at the organization’s annual convention and banquet in Chicago in June.

IVCC graduates will get a chance to hear from Dr. Novak and learn of her IVCC experiences when she delivers the keynote address at the college’s 56th annual commencement at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14.

Following IVCC, Novak graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1976 and Southern Illinois University Medical School in 1979 before completing her residency at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

She helped found a Springfield parents’ group for children with disabilities.

Novak attended IVCC when most classes were held in temporary east campus buildings while the permanent campus was being built.

“The majority of my IVCC career was spent in those buildings: cold in the winter, hot in the summer. It was there I learned the basics of biology and chemistry. I did not come to IVCC to find myself or to find direction. I was laser-focused on medical school,” she says.

“My most amazing memory of IVCC is that I had no car, worked two-to-three part-time jobs and did not miss class. Not sure how I did that,” she recalls. “IVCC prepared me for 300-level classes at the U of I, then medical school at SIU.

“There was never any question I would start my college career at IVCC. As the youngest of three, financially it was the best option. More importantly, it is a family tradition.”

Novak’s parents, Bill and Bernadine, met at IVCC predecessor LPO Junior College and were the school’s homecoming King and Queen in 1940. They raised three children and Bill went on to a hall of fame football coaching career at Ottawa High School.

“My father put no limitations on his children,” Dr. Novak says.

Novak’s sister, Dr. Kim Novak, went on from IVCC to become a veterinarian in Ottawa and Streator and brother Kerry attended IVCC on his way to becoming Starved Rock State Park site superintendent. He is now retired.