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Illinois community college system marks 50th anniversary


From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois community college system is 50 years old. State legislators and higher education leaders celebrated a half-century of achievement on Aug. 12 at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, birthplace of the nation’s community college movement.

“The Illinois community college system is not the education of yesterday, but it’s the education of tomorrow,” said Dr. Karen Hunter Anderson, executive director of the Illinois Community College Board. “The system is one of the largest community college systems in the country and without question the best system in the world.”

illinoiscommunitycolleges50“We don’t offer shop classes or teach key punch anymore. We teach nanotechnology and photon therapy,” she said. “We partner with local business and industry to develop skills that will be necessary for jobs of the future.”

Anderson also presented a proclamation from Gov. Bruce Rauner declaring July 15, 2015, through July 15, 2016, as “The Year of the Community College” in honor of the Illinois system’s 50 years of student success.

Since July 15, 1965, when the Illinois Public Community College Act was signed into law, the system has expanded across the state into 39 community college districts and 48 campuses. Illinois community colleges now serve approximately one million people each year.

State Sen. Pat McGuire, chair of the Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee, also congratulated the Illinois community college system on its 50th anniversary. He encouraged parents and students to “take our focus off selectiveness and focus on effectiveness” in education.

“So you know what? For my money, those exclusive joints on the East and West coast that send their graduates to Wall Street, let them be as smug and as self-satisfied as they want,” said McGuire. “I’m sticking with Joliet Junior College and Illinois’s other community colleges.”

Illinois Community College Trustees Association President Andrew Bollman commented that “Over the past 50 years, community colleges have strengthened this state and nation by providing workers in all fields of study, from healthcare and law enforcement to alternative forms of energy.

Joliet Junior College President Dr. Debra Daniels said that as the nation’s first public community college, Joliet Junior College was honored to host the launch of the 50th anniversary observance of the Illinois Public Community College Act.

Organizations participating in the 50th anniversary observance include the Illinois Community College Board, the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents, the Illinois Council of Community College Administrators, the Illinois Community College Faculty Association, and the National Council of Public Relations and Marketing.

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