What new plan would mean for higher education in Lake County
The College of Lake County and the University Center of Lake County are exploring a plan to have CLC employees operate the University Center starting at the end of the 2022 fiscal year.
Officials began studying an integration plan this month and intend to present the idea to the state for approval next summer.
CLC Board President Amanda Howland said officials will craft a plan that strengthens the college's position to offer a seamless transition from earning an associate degree at CLC to earning a bachelor's degree with a University Center partner.
Through classes hosted at campuses in Grayslake and Waukegan, the University Center allows students to earn degrees from 13 four-year public and private colleges and universities, including DePaul University, National Louis University, Roosevelt University, Northern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. About 350 students earn degrees annually through classes at the University Center.
UCLC Board Of Trustees Chair Luis Fuentes said the partnership is critically important to Lake County residents.
"Maintaining equitable access to affordable education is at the heart of both our organizations and strategically combining our resources will create a future-ready workforce to drive economic growth," Fuentes said.
Ali O'Brien of CLC said at a presentation last month CLC's top priority is to keep to that mission by retaining local access to Bachelor's Degrees for Lake County residents and to meet the workforce needs for Lake County employers.
The two educational institutions have a close partnership already. Not only do they share police and custodial services and even some classrooms, CLC owns the building that the University Center operates out of and the land it's on.
The University Center is the only institution of its kind in Illinois. It was created by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in the late 1990s and became an independent organization in 2001. The idea resulted from a two-year study that determined the state wasn't in a position to create a new public college in the suburbs but found there was a need for suburban working adults to earn a degree.
Once the integration plan is complete, officials intend to pitch it next summer to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, which controls funding and other critical aspects of state education.