University News

WIU-Quad Cities: A Five-Year Retrospective: Growth & Expansion Continues

October 20, 2008

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MOLINE, IL -- While Western Illinois University's presence in the Quad Cities has spanned several decades, in the past five years the WIU-Quad Cities campus has refocused its course offerings 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 center. Three years later, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich released $2.4 million in Opportunity Returns planning funds to renovate the 60,000-square-foot former John Deere Tech Center on River Drive. The total cost to renovate Building One of the WIU Riverfront Campus is $15.2 million.

Western's enrollment at its current 60th Street Moline campus continues to grow. Fall 2008 enrollment totaled 1,360, an increase over 2006 and 2007 totals, with nearly 9,000 alumni in the Quad Cities area, and the University anticipates serving more than 3,000 students once the Riverfront campus is complete, according to Vice President for Quad Cities, Planning and Technology Joe Rives.

"Western's continued growth in the Quad Cities furthers our traditions of excellence, affordability and access. We are recognized as a best public Midwest master's institution and Western has been named a best practice institution for the retention and achievement of low-income, first generation and minority students," Rives explained. "Western has also extended its cost guarantee to students who earn an associate degree and immediately transfer to WIU, and all QC students pay Illinois in-state tuition regardless of their residency."

WIU-QC currently provides 11 undergraduate programs, including new offerings in liberal arts and sciences and early childhood education; 13 master's degree programs, which include new degrees in liberal arts and sciences, educational leadership and museum studies; and five post-baccalaureate certificate programs, including the new Environmental GIS certificate, at the 60th Street campus. The recent engineering degree, which was approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education on Oct. 7, will be initially offered in leased space near the Riverfront Campus or in downtown Moline to demonstrate the University's commitment to its new QC facility and to the region, Rives said.

"Our students and members of the Quad Cities business community frequently share their ideas for new programs and course offerings. The new engineering degree was a collaborative effort between our faculty, students and administration and Quad Cities businesses, industries and economic development groups, and the Master of Arts in Museum Studies degree is also a prime example of a degree our students asked for, and that our partner, The Figge Museum, supported," he added.

"Space is at a premium at the current campus and adding new programs and enhancing services will require more space and partnerships," Rives said. "We are anxious to complete the renovations of the Riverfront Campus so we can better meet the needs of our students and of this region."

Building One on the new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus will feature 15 classrooms, a computer laboratory, an engineering laboratory, an academic support center, meeting and board rooms, a writing center and space for faculty and staff offices. While waiting for capital funding, Western has moved forward at the Riverfront Campus with asbestos abatement and an all-weather access road. A campus master plan for the WIU-QC has been completed; a fiber ring will be established in Moline; and a dark fiber connection will be installed between the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses for computing technology needs.

"Our community needs an expanded Western Illinois University Riverfront Campus. We must continue to lobby our legislators for support of this expansion," noted Steve Nelson, WIU Board of Trustees chair and a Rock Island (IL) attorney. "It is easy to understand why the growth of Western is a priority for the area, as the faculty and staff here are known for providing an exceptional learning environment."

WIU-QC has established enhanced partnerships with Renew Moline, including the development of a Midwestern Intellectual Property Institute, and WIU-QC continues its strong working relationship with John Deere and many others to help create new jobs and workforce retention, Rives added. 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 work directly with a WIU-QC academic adviser to ensure a smooth transition to complete their undergraduate degree.

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.

WIU-QC works closely with the Quad Cities Graduate Studies Center to provide graduate degree courses, and has recently 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. The University is currently reviewing expanded academic opportunities with the Arsenal, Rives added. WIU-QCs philanthropic partnerships in the past five years include establishment of the U.S. Bank Writing Center and the Rock Island County Board Room.

"We are the only public university in the Quad Cities, and our faculty provide exceptional educational opportunities to our students. Our faculty conduct research at the Shedd Aquarium and the Niabi Zoo; they are Fulbright scholars; and many volunteer such services as income tax assistance to the community at large," WIU President Al Goldfarb said. "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. We exist to provide a much-needed service and to help individuals reach their goals and achieve great success."

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing