August 21, 2007

SIU, Southwestern announce partnership

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University, in conjunction with Southwestern Illinois College, today (Aug. 21) opened an SIU System Service Center aimed at helping students achieve their higher education goals.

The center, operating on the SWIC campus in Red Bud, will better integrate and expand education opportunities for area students by streamlining cooperation between SWIC and the SIU system. The SWIC site is the second 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 goals in several ways. The University officially opened its first such center Friday, Aug. 17, on the Southeastern Illinois College campus near Harrisburg.

"My thanks to Southwestern President Elmer H. Kirchoff and his outstanding staff 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 Southwestern and SIU can use to help our students achieve their educational and career dreams."

Workers at the service center will advocate for the University, SWIC 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 SWIC to the SIU system. They also will assist students with dual enrollment, taking classes at both SWIC 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, SWIC and the local Regional Office of Education also are exploring offering SIU classes on the SWIC campus at night and on weekends. The service centers also will help coordinate that effort and assist students with enrolling in those classes.

Wayne Collmeyer, director of the service center, has one student worker on his staff. Collmeyer said his goal is to help all students reach their potential at SWIC and SIU.

"We intend to offer students a way of getting information about their college education in an efficient manner," said Collmeyer, a two-degree graduate of SIU Carbondale, where he also earned school administrator and school superintendent certifications. "We also hope to help young people who haven't yet made up their minds about where they're going to go to school, and hopefully persuade them to go two years at SWIC, followed by two years at SIU."

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.

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

"Southwestern Illinois College was among the first community colleges in the state to draft and establish dual-admission agreements with those quality four-year institutions our transfer students are most likely to attend, including Southern Illinois University," Kirchoff said. "Dual-admission programs allow students to simultaneously consult with counselors at both schools to make sure their academic programs are on track and everything transfers as it should. SIU President Poshard and I agree this is a win-win situation for both of our institutions, but even more importantly so for our students."

The center is located in the Success Center on the Red Bud campus, 500 W. South Fourth St. It will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Thursday. Call 618/282-6682, extension 8174 for more information.