Panther Shuttle driver enjoys working with community

Callie Luttman, Contributing Writer

Panther Shuttle driver Dan Icenogle enjoys evenings on the golf course or tending his small farm, but he is having just as much fun taking students around the campus and community.

“We do anything in our power to make it a good experience for the students, and we love it,” Icenogle said.

Icenogle retired from Ameren, an electric utility company, in 2007 after 37 years of work.  After getting bored staying at home, he started working as a substitute driver for Lake Land College.

Icenogle was looking for more of a relaxing job that would still allow him to work with the public.

After seeing an ad about a driver position at Eastern, he decided to apply and got the job in 2009, shortly after the Panther Shuttle began running at the university.

Icenogle now works from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Icenogle said the hours are manageable compared to when he was at Lake Land, when he would take the boy’s basketball team to games at 6 a.m., giving him a 17-hour workday.

Then, he would have to wake up at 6 a.m. the next day to take the softball team to Evansville, Ind. for a tournament.

JaLisa Smith, who works as the Panther Shuttle coordinator, said drivers do all they can for the students and their buses.

“They really love them,” Smith said.

Smith said the drivers know everything about the buses, from safety procedures, routes and cleanliness to the people who ride regularly and where they usually go.

Smith, now a graduate assistant for the University Police Department, used the Panther Shuttle when she attended Eastern as an undergraduate.

She said she could remember taking trips to Wal-Mart and back to her dorm after class.

“If it were not for the students, we would not have a job,” Icenogle said.

Icenogle said he is interested in the students and what they are doing with their lives.

“I learn a lot about some of the students, and it is sad sometimes when they graduate and move on,” he said.

Icenogle said he always remembers former students when they visit Eastern and use the shuttle again.

He added that he loves working with the public since he encounters friendly people 90 percent of the time.

“Any job you have can be enjoyable depending on how much effort you put into it,” Icenogle said. “It’s one of the top three jobs I’ve ever had.”

Callie Luttman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].