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WIU-QC Riverfront Campus Groundbreaking
March 31, 2010
MOLINE, IL – History was made today ( March 31 ) as the official groundbreaking for the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Riverfront Campus took place at Building One along River Drive in Moline.
Businesses, industries, local organizations and higher education have banded together over the past few years to lobby for the new campus, and have been met with support from the State of Illinois to expand educational opportunities for the Quad Cities region.
"This unique regional coalition is a role model for the rest of the state. We have come together with a shared, common goal and through persistence and cooperation, the WIU-Quad Cities Riverfront Campus has become a reality. Partnerships are the key to moving this state forward and I am most appreciative of our many Quad Cities partners," noted WIU President Al Goldfarb.
"Today's groundbreaking is a victory not only for all our partners - University officials, lawmakers, community advocates, teachers and parents - who worked tirelessly for many years to make this project happen," said Gov. Pat Quinn. "It is also a victory for the 1,400 students who attend WIU-Quad Cities today and the more than 3,000 students who will be able to attend this fine Quad Cities campus when this project is completed."
While Western Illinois University has been a presence in the Quad Cities since 1913, in the past six years the WIU-Quad Cities campus has further intensified its mission to better meet the needs of students and the region and has forged numerous community partnerships to further enhance public education in the region.
In 2003, a donation from Deere & Company of 20 acres of land on the Moline riverfront provided significant momentum for an expanded WIU-QC campus. Planning began to build an additional campus on the riverfront to serve more students, and collaborative relationships were formed with the city of Moline, Renew Moline and the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, among many others, to develop the riverfront into an educational and business mecca. Three years later, $2.4 million in Opportunity Returns planning funds were released to renovate the 60,000-square-foot former John Deere Tech Center on River Drive. The total cost to renovate Building One is $15.2 million.
In December 2009, Gov. Pat Quinn announced further funding as part of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan. Bids for the renovation of Building One were announced after the first of the year, followed by bond sales at the end of the first quarter. The bid process is currently underway, and will be announced later this spring. Construction is anticipated to begin May 1.
"We are the only public university in the Quad Cities, and our faculty provide exceptional educational opportunities to our students," Goldfarb added. "Throughout the years, Western has provided the residents of this region with a quality, affordable and accessible education. We are committed to continuing to provide an outstanding educational experience to the Quad Cities."
Building One, the former John Deere Tech Center, will support the College of Business and Technology, including the School of Engineering that is currently housed in The Caxton Building; academic and student services; and University administration. Building Two will allow for the continued growth of the Quad Cities campus and enable academic programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Services and Fine Arts and Communication to be part of the Riverfront Campus.
"The Riverfront Campus expansion allows WIU-QC to further its mission as a comprehensive public university for the region. We are excited that we will serve more than 3,000 Quad Cities-area students when our new campus opens," said Joe Rives, vice president of the Quad Cities, planning and technology. "We look forward to completing the renovations of Building One and beginning operations on the Riverfront Campus, as well as the release of planning funds for Building Two."
Western has conducted classes in the Quad Cities for nearly 50 years and serves more than 1,400 students at its current 60th Street campus in Moline and in rented space in other facilities. The current building was opened in 1997, and by 1998, the University was renting space to meet additional course demand. The City of Moline is also revitalizing the area surrounding the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus into an Urban Technology Corridor.
"Today is a celebration of a lot of hard work by leaders in the public and private sectors who worked as a team, in this city and throughout the region, to build a campus on this beautiful riverfront," said Moline Mayor Don Welvaert. "The first phase, the College of Business and Technology, will help prepare our students and our workforce for the jobs of the future. This riverfront will help reshape our community and our region in a very positive way."
WIU-QC has established enhanced 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 many others to help create new jobs and workforce retention. WIU-QC has partnered with Black Hawk Community College in Moline and Eastern Iowa Community College to allow students to enroll at their respective community college and take classes simultaneously at both WIU-QC and the community college.
"I join the chorus of community voices in deep appreciation to both the governor and the Illinois General Assembly for passage of the capital bill, without which we would not be celebrating this groundbreaking. Today marks yet another exciting chapter in our regional effort to redefine both our regional economy and educational landscape, and we celebrate the positive results of having a devoted and determined private and public sector partnership," said Renew Moline Chair/CEO Tom Robinson.
"On behalf of the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, I am deeply grateful to Gov. Quinn and members of the Illinois General Assembly for their devotion to ensuring that this Riverfront Campus becomes a reality," said Rick Baker, president/CEO of the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce. "We will all continue to work as a team to make this happen. Increasing our educational opportunities will increase our economic competitiveness, our quality of life and our prospects for a brighter future."
WIU-QC also works closely with the Quad Cities Graduate Studies Center to provide graduate degree courses, and has signed agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District to protect natural resources and enhance environmental sustainability in the region and with the Rock Island Arsenal to provide educational opportunities to civilian and military personnel employed at the Arsenal.
"What began with the generous donation of land by Deere and Co. has resulted in this historic day," said Sen. Mike Jacobs. " Today is the beginning of the QC region's effort to reinvent itself through new educational and economic development opportunities, and today is the beginning of a renewed effort to attract and retain talented young people in this region."
In 2006, WIU-QC joined forces with Black Hawk and the Community Caring Conference in the Quad Cities, Moline Public Schools and Rock Island/Milan District No. 41, to provide the Illinois State Board of Education's innovative teacher preparation program, "Grow Your Own," that supports nontraditional candidates to become teachers and to teach in their communities. In addition, WIU-QC shares marketing opportunities and academic and student services support resources with Black Hawk.
"There are a lot of winners today . But the biggest winners of all are our young people throughout the Quad City region who benefit from increased, affordable public educational opportunities. This Riverfront Campus will help our region retain talented young people who will have access to four years of public higher education for the first time in Quad City history. And this Riverfront Campus will put the men and women of organized labor to work by creating hundreds of new jobs and economic opportunities," said Rep. Pat Verschoore.
"I want to thank Gov. Quinn who, along with many others, never gave up the fight for the state funding necessary to build this campus. We jointed this cause for the sake of education and economic development and moving this region forward. I am proud of the efforts that have brought us to this occasion today and I'm confident this new campus will help move this region forward," said Rep. Mike Boland.
To view architect's renderings of the proposed WIU-QC Riverfront Campus renovation, visit wiu.edu/qc/community/campus.php and wiu.edu/users/caitwp/planning/plan/riverfront/index.html
Posted By: Darcie Shinberger, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606