Waubonsee Community College's new $50 million downtown campus is just more.
More space everywhere, from the library to the bookstore to the classrooms. Thirty percent more classrooms. More computers. More library materials. More student services available for more hours. More classes to be taken.
"So obviously more space, more opportunities, more students," said Stephanie Wennmacher, marketing communications manager, while giving a tour during an open house and dedication Friday afternoon.
The building is at 18 S. River St., on the west bank of the Fox River. It replaces a campus housed, since 1986, in the old Carson Pirie Scott and Stanley buildings a block east.
Students may appreciate the free parking; the college is paying $400,000 a year to the city of Aurora for them to use a city lot.
They will also appreciate being able to complete degree programs at the campus. Before, students had to take some of their classes at the main campus in Sugar Grove, or at the Copley campus in southeastern Aurora.
That's important to nursing student Alyssa Del Toro of Aurora, who plans to get her bachelor's degree at WCC, then pursue a master's degree in nursing at Northern Illinois University. She's studying while caring for a 15-month-old son and preparing for the birth of another baby in August.
For many Aurora-based students, "Sugar Grove might as well be Iowa," Wennmacher said, noting it isn't accessible by public transportation.
"We really feel like this splits the difference (between Copley and Sugar Grove). It is vital to be in the heart of the district."