April 16, 2007

SIUC to offer automotive program in Chicago

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University Carbondale will bring its nationally recognized automotive technology program to Chicago starting this fall.

Chicago-area students will be able to obtain a bachelor's degree in automotive technology through an off-campus program at Harry S. Truman College. The off-campus offering is a "2+2 program," in which students complete an associate of applied science degree in automotive technology from Kennedy-King College or Truman College and then transfer into SIUC's automotive technology program, where SIUC faculty will teach upper-level automotive technical and automotive management courses at Truman College.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend a news conference at 2 p.m., Friday, April 20, in the faculty dining room at Harry S. Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago. Among those expected to attend are interim SIUC Chancellor John M. Dunn, SIUC College of Applied Sciences and Arts Dean Paul D. Sarvela, Truman College President Marguerite E. Boyd, Kennedy-King College President Clyde El-Amin, Jack S. Greer, chair of SIUC's automotive technology department, and Jerry Cizek, president of the Chicago Dealers Association, along with representatives from General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and Toyota.


Classes begin in August for up to 20 students. The automotive technology program is a part of SIUC's College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

A news conference discussing the initiative is set for 2 p.m., Friday, April 20, in the faculty dining room at Harry S. Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago.

"I am very proud of our University and our respective academic units and their efforts to partner with community colleges and, in turn, serve the many students who want to access SIUC and our excellent programs," interim SIUC Chancellor John M. Dunn said. "The relationship with Truman College and Kennedy-King is yet but another example of the actions SIUC is taking to respond to the needs and interests of students throughout the state of Illinois."

Paul D. Sarvela, dean of SIUC's College of Applied Sciences and Arts, said the venture is important for several reasons, including providing an opportunity for students interested in automotive technology careers who are unable to attend classes in Carbondale.

"This allows us to bring a truly world-class automotive technology program to place-bound students in the Chicago area," Sarvela said. "It also represents another step in our cooperative relationships and agreements with the community colleges — something that Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard and SIUC Interim Chancellor John M. Dunn are emphasizing.

"We are locating the program in an area that has tremendous diversity — Harry S. Truman College — and we are pleased to offer this program to such a diverse set of students," he said.

SIUC faculty and adjunct faculty from the Chicago area will teach the classes on the weekends, said Jack S. Greer, who chairs SIUC's automotive technology department. The courses are the same as those taught at SIUC.

The initiative is a good fit for the program, Greer said. About one-third of the University's on-campus automotive technology students currently come to SIUC as transfer students. There are approximately 184 students in the automotive technology program.

In addition to the three semesters of management and technical courses offered through SIUC, students will also need one semester of university-core courses at a Chicago-area university to complete the bachelor's degree, said Judith A. Rawls, a clinical assistant professor who manages the College of Applied Sciences and Arts' off-campus academic programs. There will be an on-site SIUC program adviser to advise students and assist with applications and financial aid questions.

"We are really excited about the opportunities," she said.

Another benefit is more students will be able to receive "an outstanding education that is recognized by the industry," Sarvela said.

The program comes after about two years of work involving SIUC and the two City Colleges of Chicago schools. The arrangement is unique among universities that offer automotive technology degree programs, said Greer, who knows of only Ferris State University in Michigan offering a similar program.

"We are opening the door to more students to come into the program," he said.

In 2005, SIUC's automotive technology program received the Automotive Industry Planning Council's Award of Excellence — the third time the program earned the honor. SIUC was judged to also have the nation's top program in 1991 and 1999; national winners cannot compete again for the award, which started in 1984, for five years.

Many significant factors go into the strength of the program, including faculty, staff, students and manufacturer's support, according to Greer.

There is a large diversity of jobs within the automotive service industry for graduates, including area service manager, field service engineer, service adviser, dealership service manager, technical training specialist, zone service manager and technical writer. The average starting salary for graduates is between $42,000 and $47,000, and students graduating in May regularly receive job offers in December, Greer said.

For more information on SIUC's automotive technology classes, contact Greer at 618/453-4024. For information regarding the college's off-campus programs, contact Rawls at 618/453-7275.