Suburban colleges net $61.1 million for campus improvements

  • Harper College in Palatine is receiving $42 million in state funds to help build a "one-stop" center for hospitality, student life and admissions, a project that has been on hold for more than five years.

      Harper College in Palatine is receiving $42 million in state funds to help build a "one-stop" center for hospitality, student life and admissions, a project that has been on hold for more than five years. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, July 2008

 
 
Updated 8/6/2020 4:22 PM

Three suburban community colleges are receiving a combined $61.1 million in state grants to help fund infrastructure improvements on the campuses.

Harper College in Palatine is set to receive $42 million to fund construction of a "one-stop" building for hospitality, admissions and student life. McHenry County College was awarded $15.8 million for construction of a 52,000-square-foot career, technical and manufacturing center. And College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn will receive $3.3 million for grounds and retention pond improvements including bank stabilization of three ponds and construction of observation platforms, according to a release from Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office Thursday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The funding is part of a larger $103 million infrastructure grant program that will see the remaining funds split among 12 other community colleges.

In addition, Pritzker said the 15 community colleges will receive an additional $34.5 million in local investments.

"Community colleges are vital hubs that provide advanced and continuing education, career and technical training, distance learning and workforce development," Pritzker said. "As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the economy of every state in the nation, it is more critical than ever that we continue to invest in the state's educational institutions so they can continue to provide resources that advance livelihoods and spur the economy."

The Harper building has been in the works for years, but was halted in 2015 due to a lack of funding when the state went without a budget for more than two years.

"This project will help us take a more comprehensive, holistic approach to supporting our students," said Harper College President Avis Proctor. "By modernizing and consolidating student support services, we're working to accelerate our students to achieve their educational and career goals, and to remove barriers that may impede their progress."

The funds come from the state's $45 billion Rebuild Illinois program that Pritzker championed after taking office in 2018. The earmarked dollars came with a series of tax increases, fee hikes and tax credit eliminations as well as a massive gambling expansion designed to raise revenue for the plan.

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