Illinois Central College: 45 Years of Growth
2012 marks ICC’s 45th year of operation in the Greater Peoria area.
ICC’s roots are in the community college movement, which had its beginnings in Illinois with the opening of Joliet Junior College in 1902. Additional legislation in the state encouraged the growth of community colleges, culminating in 1965, when the Illinois General Assembly created today’s system. In 1966, the constituency in and around Peoria voted to form Illinois Central College, and in September of the following year, ICC welcomed its first students.
Today, ICC boasts nearly 250 degree and certificate programs, with more than 19,000 students enrolled each year. In addition to the lowest tuition rate in the Peoria area, students benefit by receiving more than $31 million of financial aid in the form of federal and state grants annually. The ICC Educational Foundation alone awards more than 800 scholarships each year, including the Peoria Promise scholarship.
ICC offers four physical locations: East Peoria (1 College Drive); Downtown (Adams Street); ICC North (5407 N. University in Peoria); and ICC South (225 Hanna Drive in Pekin). In addition, ICC’s virtual campus offers students an online option as well.
Green and Healthy
Keeping in line with community, state and national demands for an emphasis on sustainability and wellness, ICC opened the CougarPlex in 2011. Not only does the new facility offer fitness and wellness programs for ICC’s students, staff and community, it is LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The CougarPlex sports a “green roof”—literally a roof that is covered with plants that wicks away the heat generated by buildings. Renewable materials and energy savings systems were also used in the 63,000-squarefoot addition. The CougarPlex fitness center features top-of-the-line equipment, an indoor running/walking track, and a three-court recreation gym.
Academically, ICC now offers an associate degree or a certificate in “green building.” These programs prepare students to provide “green” energy alternatives in building management and construction. The college also has a certificate program in photovoltaic (solar) systems, and the Board of Trustees recently approved another certificate in solar heating, which now goes to the state for final approval.
On the wellness side, ICC added certificate and associate degree programs for those aspiring to become personal or fitness trainers.
A Virtual Campus
Physical growth is only part of the ICC story. Building on a strong history of online classes, the college recently launched a fifth “campus” online. ICC initiated online learning in 1998 and today schedules more than 200 sections of online classes. To provide students with a trusted, affordable web-based alternative, ICC joined an online consortium with nine other community colleges. These colleges not only provide students with a cost-effective virtual option, but have also developed relationships with four-year institutions to ensure that coursework can be counted toward bachelor degrees. ICC maintains active associations with its state-level colleagues through two organizations, Illinois Community Colleges Online (ILCCO) and the Illinois Online Network (ION). Through both organizations, ICC faculty and staff are afforded opportunities to collaborate with colleagues state-wide.
ICC currently offers online services for academic advising and course planning through telephone and online chat; web-based tutoring; online access to library resources, including reference librarians; and online writing consultation.
To meet the needs of those 55 and older, ICC’s Adult Community Program division introduced Prime Plus. The initiative works with an advisory committee to develop programs and events for this age group. One of the basic tenets of the community college is a commitment to lifelong learning, a need which Prime Plus meets through classes on re-entering the workforce, volunteering, caring for aging parents and family members, exercise, investments and travel.
On October 12th, in conjunction with Methodist Medical Center, Prime Plus will sponsor a day-long community event entitled “Aging in Place,” featuring nationally known speaker David Baxter, contributing author of the book Longevity Rules. Participants will have the opportunity to understand what longer lives and a growing population of citizens over age 65 could mean to the Peoria community. Participants will also have the opportunity to help define the goals and strategies to maximize the quality of life for this age group in Peoria.
Ten years after its acquisition, ICC North continues to attract credit students, as well as those who seek professional development or recreational learning. ICC’s Professional Development Institute and Adult Community Programs just completed their first full-year of operation in Hickory Hall.
To meet the demands of continued growth at the location, ICC plans to move all of its health careers programs to the campus in the next three to five years. To serve the burgeoning student population, the college will add a student center to the campus, which will include space for student services, food services, and library and learning resources. iBi