In the last 18 months, many students, faculty, staff and visitors have given the College of Lake County high marks for three new additions/renovations to the Grayslake Campus: Café Willow, the Welcome and One Stop Center and the "Student Street." But fundamental to the new projects is another high mark: a rare, Aaa bond rating from Moody's Investor Services.
CLC first received the Aaa rating--the highest possible--in 2012, and the rating was re-affirmed in 2013, when the college announced sale of $28.8 million in General Obligation Bonds. The bond sale was part of the plan to finance the $163 million cost of a Sustainable Campus Master Plan approved by the Board of Trustees in November 2012.
The rating indicates that CLC's bond obligations are considered to be of the highest quality, subject to the lowest level of credit risk. Moody's cited the college's healthy financial reserve levels, conservative financial management team and its strong internal controls, which are key, given CLC's relatively modest reliance on state funding (about six percent of CLC's budgeted operating revenue).
"Our Aaa rating has been great news for the college and our taxpayers," said Board Chair Richard A. Anderson. "CLC is one of only a handful of community colleges in the nation to receive this designation. In a time when Moody's was downgrading the bond rating of several Illinois institutions, we've been gratified by Moody's confidence in our fiscal management. Through budget cutting and careful use of revenues, the college has been able to maintain about $35 million, or roughly 30 percent of our budget, in reserves. And those reserves have been the key to our high bond rating, which allowed us to sell the bonds at a lower interest rate."
The financing paved the way for campus improvements, which have made a big impression on students such as Hansel Lopez of Waukegan. "The new Welcome and One Stop Center has eased the process for students to succeed. I appreciate taking care of registration, financial aid and tuition payment all in one location, and the counselors are close by, too," said Lopez, a student trustee who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering with a minor in business.
"Since Café Willow and the Student Street opened, I've noticed that more students want to stay around longer on campus and be a part of the community. The sunlight coming into Café Willow brightens the mood for everyone, and when I look through the glass to see the beautiful Willow Lake, I feel relaxed, more creative and I'm able to refocus on my priorities," Lopez said.
For details on the master plan, a capital improvement project that also has involved additions and upgrades at the Waukegan (Lakeshore) and Vernon Hills (Southlake) Campuses, visit www.clcillinois.edu/masterplan.
To discover more extraordinary things you might not know about CLC, visit www.clcillinois.edu/topten throughout the 2017-18 academic year.