Enrollment exceeded expectations for the first year at Waubonsee Community College's downtown Aurora campus, which opened in June 2011 at 18 S. River St.
Roughly 9,500 students enrolled in classes at the campus, which topped expectations of about 6,000 students, or 3,000 a semester, spokesman Jeff Noblitt said.
Enrollment this fall is up 10 percent compared with last year's fall enrollment, making the new facility "an unquestioned success," he said.
The 132,000-square-foot, $50 million campus offers more degree-level programs and classes in fields such as health care, legal interpreting and real estate sales than were available at the college's previous downtown location.
"The great growth has been in these credit and degree-seeking students," Noblitt said, although adult education, community education and workforce development programs that have been offered in downtown Aurora since 1966 still are available.
City officials, including Mayor Tom Weisner, have promoted the campus as an important element of downtown redevelopment. The block-long building replaced a line of blighted storefronts with an environmentally conscious facility featuring permeable pavers and a white roof to reduce heat buildup.
Weisner said the increase in educational opportunities offered by the college helps boost the economy.
"You very much serve a purpose in our community of allowing people to go to school or back to school," Weisner said to Waubonsee officials at a recent city council meeting. "There is no bigger key to economic development in our community than education of our residents."