August 17, 2007

Students will benefit from innovative partnership

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University, in conjunction with Southeastern Illinois College, today (Aug. 17) opened its first SIU System Service Center.

The center, operating on the SIC campus in Harrisburg, will better integrate and expand education opportunities for area students by streamlining cooperation between SIC and the SIU system. The SIC site is the first of seven planned for various local colleges in Southern Illinois and marks an innovative partnership between the University and area colleges that will help students pursue their educational goals in several ways.

"My thanks to Southeastern President Ray Cummiskey and all of the outstanding folks here for partnering with us," SIU President Glenn Poshard said. "This center, and the others that will follow, exemplify our longstanding commitment to serving the needs of our entire region. I like to use myself as an example of how education can transform a life, and this innovative approach is yet another tool Southeastern and SIU can use to help our students achieve their educational and career dreams."

Workers at the SIU System Service Center will advocate for the University, SIC and students. They will broker student services and act as ombudsmen and liaisons between the schools for both students and faculty. They also will create innovative new approaches to help students and the schools work together for common good.

The service center also will assist with the existing "2 plus 2" program, designed to help students make efficient use of their community college education so that credits easily transfer to SIU. Under the program, SIU counselors monitor such students and provide ongoing feedback on their transcripts to facilitate their continuing education at the University.

Service center workers will help students who want a bachelor's degree to easily make the transition from SIC to the SIU system. They also will assist students with dual enrollment, taking classes at both SIC and SIU at the same time, if necessary. Officials also are exploring giving dual-enrollment students the option to use SIU facilities and participate in SIU programs on a fee basis prior to their arrival on campus.

SIU, SIC and the Regional Office of Education No. 20 also are exploring offering SIU classes on the SIC campus at night and on weekends. The service centers also will help coordinate that effort and assist students with enrolling in those classes.

JoAnna Lane, director of the service center, has two student workers on her staff. Their goal is to help all students reach their potential at SIC and SIU.

"We work hand-in-hand with the SIC counselors to help students make the transition to SIU as easy as possible," said Lane, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees and a guidance counselor certification from SIU. "Any problem that would arise, we have the contacts to take care of that."

SIU officials hope the service centers also will increase the University's visibility within the region, encouraging local students to consider its programs in conjunction with local community colleges. It also will help the University identify students who express an interest in attending SIU early in their higher education career, allowing SIU counselors to help them achieve their goals.

Cummiskey said the service centers will promote solid educational opportunities for local students.

"This is a great opportunity to enhance our relationship with SIU, which in turn will improve the transition of our students to SIU," Cummiskey said.

The center is located in the Harry W. Abell Administration Building and is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and at other times by appointment. Call 618/252-5400, ext. 2123, for more information.