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October 28, 2005

First Lady dedicates new University Center of Lake County at Grayslake
State contributed $19 million to the $25.6 million project, which will help Lake County residents get a college education

GRAYSLAKE – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined elected officials, University Center of Lake County board members, and other Illinois educational leaders for the dedication of the new, state-of-the-art University Center of Lake County. The new facility will allow the University Center to further its mission of offering thousands of working men and women in this north suburban area, better chances to get a college education and get ahead in life.


“Higher education can be critical to how successful and how far you can go in the workforce.  But often times, men and women have to abandon their studies to get jobs. This new facility will allow the University Center to continue making a difference for thousands of Lake County working residents, who will have even more opportunities to reach their educational goals and have better prospects in the professional world,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. 


The $25.6 million facility, which includes over $3 million in technology, equipment and furnishings, was funded with $19 million from the State of Illinois, $3 million from Lake County, $2.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education, and $906,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


The University Center of Lake County is a partnership of 17 Illinois public and private colleges and universities offering coursework and degrees to individuals who live and work in Lake County. The Center, launched in 1996 to address the educational needs of the growing Lake County population, is a not for profit organization whose budget comes from the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The Grayslake facility is the second campus of the University Center of Lake County, after the institution moved in 2004 to a permanent facility in downtown Waukegan.


The University Center is comprised of eight public and nine private institutions providing bachelor completion, graduate and advanced professional development programs to students who work and reside in Lake County.


The Center offers 50 degrees in programs in business, computer science, education, engineering, health care, human services, public administration, liberal arts, library and information science, psychology, technology and others. Students apply to and graduate from the individual college or university offering the fully accredited, degree programs. Classes are scheduled in a variety of delivery formats that appeal to working non-traditional students: evenings and weekends, face-to-face, online, correspondence, and interactive video. In the 2004-2005 academic year, nearly 5,000 students were registered at the Waukegan facility.


The University Center is comprised of the following educational institutions: Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Concordia University, DePaul University, Dominican University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Kendall College, National-Louis University, North Park University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Roosevelt University, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Saint Xavier University, and the University of Illinois system.


Construction for the University Center began in October of 2003 and students started moving into the new facility earlier this month.  The building, composed of 1,900 individual pieces of glass, over 150 steel columns, and more than 1,500 steel beams, has state-of-the art academic technology. 


The new facility is separated into five key areas, which curl around an outdoor courtyard.  The areas are comprised of three academic houses with traditional classrooms, as well as distant learning classrooms and computer labs; a multi-purpose conference wing including a 100-seat lecture hall, a “Harvard” style classroom and three combinable multi-purpose classrooms; and a central administrative house with core functions including a lobby, commons, café, computer lab, electronic library and administrative spaces.


“I am delighted that the University Center’s Grayslake facility is now open for classes,” said G. Gary Grace, Executive Director and Dean, University Center Lake County.  “Faculty and students from our member institutions provided a great deal of input in the design phase of the building and the result is a space tailored to the needs of the adult students enrolled in the degree programs running here at the University Center.  Students and teachers have been very impressed with the academic technology.  As one faculty member put it, 'I've taught in some smart classrooms, but this was the smartest!'”


The University Center builds dynamic relationships with the civic, business, educational, and social service communities of Lake County. University Center staff serves as advocates for those communities with the state’s colleges and universities. To better serve the needs of Lake County students, the University Center works closely with the College of Lake County. The University Center also leads initiatives that encourage member institutions to offer joint programs that allow students additional opportunities to continue their education.


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