Pritzker helps open CLC's new $48 million student center in Waukegan

  • Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke Monday at a ribbon-cutting event for the College of Lake County's new student center at its Lakeshore Campus in downtown Waukegan.

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke Monday at a ribbon-cutting event for the College of Lake County's new student center at its Lakeshore Campus in downtown Waukegan. Courtesy of Vashon Jordan, Governor's Office photographer

Updated 1/30/2023 7:30 PM

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other public officials gathered Monday in Waukegan for the ceremonial opening of the new student center on College of Lake County's Lakeshore Campus.

The 62,692-square-foot, six-story building houses support services, a library, a welcome center and a career placement office, as well as adult education classes aimed at connecting nontraditional students to new careers.


The state put up $35.9 million for the project through the Rebuild Illinois capital plan. The remaining $12 million cost was paid for by the college.

"By combining state and local resources, we open doors for universities and colleges to embrace growth in new ways," Pritzker said at the ceremony.

One goal of the project is to create more of a collegiate feel at the Waukegan campus, which consisted almost entirely of buildings the college purchased and renovated in the city's downtown. The student center is connected to existing buildings on the second and third floor, and the project also included enhancements to campus sidewalks, parking and landscaping.

"With the building's completion, the college looks forward to advancing its efforts to create the vibrant urban campus to support students and the communities of Lake County," CLC President Lori Suddick said.

Like other recent CLC buildings, the student center was designed with several green features. They include windows that tint during the day to block out excess sunlight. The glass also has tiny dots embedded throughout to deter bird strikes, which officials said is an important feature because migratory birds fly through Waukegan.

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One key feature is the space on the top floor called the Eleanor Murkey Community Center, named after the first dean of the Waukegan campus. The space features a balcony overlooking the lakefront and will host college-sponsored community engagement events, business meetings and special gatherings, officials said.

The project first was announced in 2013 by then-Gov. Pat Quinn, but the plan was shelved in June 2015 because of the state's financial turmoil. It was further delayed by the pandemic, but construction finally began in February 2021.

"This expansion represents more than just a building -- it celebrates the success of our community," said Jesus Ruiz, dean of the Lakeshore Campus. "The student center is bringing an air of unity and collaboration to us all."

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