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WIU-QC Riverfront Campus Phase II Groundbreaking
August 29, 2012
MOLINE, IL -- From the initial groundbreaking for Phase I in March 2010, to a ribbon-cutting and grand opening of that first building in January 2012 to the start of the fall semester last week at the new campus, the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities campus has been expanding over the past two years. Today (Aug. 29) added even more to the growth of WIU's presence in the Quad Cities as the official groundbreaking for Phase II of the Riverfront Campus took place at at the campus' River Drive location in Moline.
Throughout the years, businesses, industries, local organizations, government leaders and higher education have worked together to support legislation and funding for the expanded Riverfront Campus.
"We are so thankful for our many partners. Because of these relationships and the support Western Illinois University has received from a variety of constituency groups, we have moved the expansion of Western Illinois University's Quad Cities campus forward to provide the region with outstanding public higher education opportunities," said WIU President Jack Thomas.
"Today, I'm pleased to once again mark a milestone in the 100-year history of the Western Illinois University's Riverfront Campus," Gov. Pat Quinn said. "This investment will create jobs now and in the future by expanding the educational opportunities that are so vital to our students competing in the 21st century economy."
In addition to the grand opening of Building One and moving forward with Phase II, Western marks another milestone in 2012: the 100th anniversary of Western's presence in the Quad Cities. In 1912, Professor E.E. Van Cleve began teaching extension classes in various locations throughout the region, including Moline-Rock Island. The anniversary celebration with the WIU-Quad Cities Founders' Day Tuesday, Sept. 25.
"We have provided affordable, accessible public higher education opportunities for 100 years. Western truly is the public choice for the Quad Cities," Thomas added.
According to Joe Rives, vice president for Quad Cities and planning, the Riverfront Campus expansion allows WIU-QC to further its mission as a comprehensive public university for the region by serving more than 3,000 Quad Cities-area students. The City of Moline is also revitalizing the area surrounding the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus into community and University-friendly development. The Quad Cities campus currently serves more than 1,300 students at its current 60th Street campus in Moline and at the Riverfront Campus.
"We are truly proud of Building One. It's an exceptional facility that represents the very best of the Quad Cities. We will continue to build and support high quality educational opportunities based on regional needs and partnerships. Together, we have accomplished many things and we should all be proud," said Vice President for Quad Cities and Planning Joe Rives.
Phase II will allow for the continued growth of the Quad Cities campus on the 20 acres of donated land and allow Quad Cities academic programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Services and Fine Arts and Communication to relocate to the Riverfront Campus. The $42 million project is funded by the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. According to Bill Brewer, assistant director of the physical plant - Quad Cities maintenance, single prime construction bids for Riverfront Phase II are due Sept. 26. Following receipt of bids, the State of Illinois Capital Development Board will review, process and submit to state procurement for award, with a contract to immediately follow. The Phase II project is expected to be completed by Spring 2015.
"The WIU Riverfront Campus continues to create construction jobs and to prepare students for in-demand careers. These short- and long-term benefits are a boon to the Quad Cities economy, and we are proud to be a part of this ongoing campus improvement," said Jim Underwood, executive director of the Capital Development Board, the state's construction management agency.
Building One, the former John Deere Tech Center, which was donated to WIU by Deere & Company in 2003, supports the College of Business and Technology, including the School of Engineering; academic and student services; and University administration.
"The presence of Western Illinois University in the Quad Cities helps define who we are. Knowledge is power. Raising the bar on the education level in the Quad Cities area identifies us as a community with a highly skilled workforce and an appreciation for higher education," said Moline Mayor Don Welvaert.
WIU-QC has established partnerships with Renew Moline, including the development of a Midwestern Intellectual Property Institute, and the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, and WIU-QC continues its strong working relationship with John Deere, The Moline Foundation, Modern Woodmen of America, the Rock Island County Board and other Quad Cities businesses and organizations to help create new jobs and workforce retention.
"I congratulate Western Illinois University on its new state-of-the-art campus where, as the Quad Cities' only public school, it will bring quality, affordable education to thousands of young people in northwestern Illinois. Several years ago, I secured $1.2 million for River Tech Boulevard, a critical access road running through the River Tech district, designed to withstand any future flooding of the Mississippi River and improve students' and professors' access to the campus. Pursuing a higher education is part of the American Dream, and it's great to see Western Illinois University bringing that dream to an ever-growing number of students," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.
WIU-QC has also partnered with Black Hawk Community College in Moline and Eastern Iowa Community College to allow students to enroll at their respective community colleges and take classes simultaneously at both WIU-QC and the community college. This fall, the University also introduced freshman/honors cohorts at the Quad Cities campus.
"The construction of Phase I of Western Illinois University's Riverfront Campus was a significant turning point for the University, redefining not only its place, but also its role in the Quad Cities landscape for decades to come," said Gregory R. Noe, chair of the Renew Moline Board and corporate secretary and associate general counsel for Deere & Company. "As we celebrate the groundbreaking for Phase II, Renew Moline is pleased to be a partner of both WIU-QC and the City of Moline in securing funding and support for the campus and working in tandem on the development of this campus and the adjacent, city-owned property. Together, along with our many other local and regional partners, we have created a place to live, work, play and now learn, in the downtown riverfront."
"The business community is thrilled to see Phase II of the WIU Quad Cities campus taking shape," said Tara Barney, president and CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce. "Employers in all industry sectors are excited about the expanded offerings for students and employees as well as the business opportunities this phase of riverfront development will spark in our region. An educational initiative of this scale has tremendous economic upside for the Quad Cities and we thank the State of Illinois and WIU for their partnership in supporting the economic growth of our community."
WIU-QC also works with the Quad Cities Graduate Studies Center to provide graduate degree courses, and partners with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District to protect natural resources and enhance environmental sustainability in the region.
"President John F. Kennedy provided lasting advice to educators, parents and elected officials when he said 'Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.' As a father and grandfather, it's important to me that our educational system is the best in the world, and that America remains a world leader. The Riverfront Campus is one of the Quad Cities many treasures, but most importantly will be invaluable in developing the minds of young adults pursuing quality higher education now and into the future," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling.
The University has also established an agreement with the Rock Island Arsenal to provide educational opportunities to civilian and military personnel employed at the Arsenal.
"The continued growth of WIU-QC will encourage students not to leave the community in search of schools and it will also help to draw new students to the region with new programs and graduate studies," added Sen. Mike Jacobs.
"Despite tough economic times and scarce resources, Sen. Jacobs and I are proud to have secured $64 million in capital funding for the Riverfront Campus project. This is a win for the local economy and for students from the region, who will have even more options to further their education. The hard work that got us here is a model for what we can accomplish when people work together," said state Rep. Pat Verschoore.
"We are not just breaking ground a new building, we are breaking ground on the future of the Quad Cities. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when leaders from both the public and private sector come together and work for a common goal. I am grateful for all of the hard work that went into this worthwhile project," noted Rep. Richard Morthland.
To view architect's renderings of the proposed WIU-QC Riverfront Campus development plan, visit wiu.edu/qc/riverfront_campus.