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SWIC getting $6.1 million for early childhood center

BELLEVILLE – Gov. Pat Quinn has announced a $6.1 million investment to build an Early Childhood Education Center at Southwestern Illinois College.

The announcement was made as the governor was joined Thursday by school and local officials to dedicate SWIC’s new Veterans and Career Services Center, and to celebrate the prestigious LEED Gold certification for the college’s Liberal Arts Complex.

“There’s nothing more important than an investment in our children’s education, and this new center will increase badly needed services for Metro East families,” Quinn said. “Study after study has shown that high-quality early childhood education provides the highest return of any investment we can make – more than $7 for every dollar invested. I am also pleased to join SWIC in dedicating a new facility to serve our men and women who have borne the battle for our nation. Their service means that all citizens, including the children who will attend this Early Childhood Education Center, can continue to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of our great nation.”

The 16,000-square-foot, one-story building will be designed specifically for the care and development of children as well as an educational space for SWIC Early Childhood Education students.

It will contain multiple children’s classrooms, a motor skills area, a multi-purpose room, observation room and an isolation room for sick children, as well as office space, storage and separate adult and child restrooms.

The investment comes through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and is part of Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! Capital construction program.

“This news could not have come at a better time. In an era when students are juggling classes, work and family, reliable child care is crucial to the learning environment,” SWIC President Georgia Costello said. “The Child Development Center will be designed as a safe, nurturing atmosphere that meets the unique needs of growing children and the educational needs of our Early Childhood Education students.”

Quinn also helped dedicate SWIC’s new Veterans and Career Services Center, a facility that makes SWIC the only community college in the state with combined veterans and career services in one location.

Providing career services to veterans is a critical part of transitioning them from academia into careers. SWIC serves the largest population of active duty military and veteran students of any public college or university in Illinois, approximately 1,800 veterans and 900 dependents.

The new Veterans and Career Services Center is home to SWIC’s VetSuccess On Campus counselor and a variety of other services for veterans. They are one of only 94 VetSuccess On Campus institutions in the nation.

The dedication included a memorial salute to former SWIC student and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Edwin Dazachacon, who was killed Feb. 13, 2006, while serving in Afghanistan.

Dazachacon is among the Illinois service members memorialized in the “Portrait of a Soldier” exhibit on display at the Veterans and Career Services Center through November 17. The exhibit, established in 2004 by Governor Quinn and created by artist Cameron Schilling, features a series of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the 326 Illinois men and women who have died while serving our country since September 11, 2001.

Quinn also joined the campus in celebrating the LEED Gold certification for the school’s new Liberal Arts Complex, making it the first higher education facility in the region to achieve this prestigious designation that reflects its energy efficient and environmentally-friendly design. The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the college Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status for the complex, the second highest designation awarded by the council.

The $19.1 million investment for the Liberal Arts Complex came through DCEO. In addition to space for all English, Reading, Speech, Literature, Foreign Language, Philosophy, Film Studies and Mass Communications classes and faculty, the Liberal Arts Center is home to the Success Center, Testing Center, Starbucks coffee shop, the Kamm Student Lounge and a 5,400-square-foot covered terrace. The 320-space parking lot also includes charging stations for electric cars.

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