November 01, 2007

System service center opens at Rend Lake College

by Tim Crosby


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University, in conjunction with Rend Lake College, today (Nov. 1) opened another SIU System Service Center aimed at helping students achieve their higher education goals.

The center, operating on the RLC campus in Ina, will better integrate and expand education opportunities for area students by streamlining cooperation between RLC and the SIU system, officials said.

The RLC site is the fourth of seven planned for various local colleges in Southern Illinois. This summer the University also opened centers at the Southeastern Illinois College campus near Harrisburg. John A. Logan College in Carterville and Southwestern Illinois College's Red Bud campus.

SIU officials also opened a service center at Olney Central College this afternoon, bringing the total number of official openings to five.

The new service centers represent innovative partnerships between the University and area colleges that will help students pursue their goals in several ways, said SIU President Glenn Poshard.

"My thanks to Rend Lake College President Mark S. Kern and his outstanding staff for partnering with us," Poshard said. "This center, like the others before and those 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 Rend Lake College and SIU can use to help our students achieve their educational and career dreams."

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

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.

Ron House, director of the centers at both RLC and OCC, said the effort will enrich both students and communities served by SIU and the colleges.

"The mission of both centers is to create a link that will facilitate students transferring to the University after they finish their classes at the local colleges," said House, a three-degree SIU graduate with a long career in Southern Illinois education. "The folks at SIU are well tuned into these centers and will give excellent service to students who make inquiries. It is a seamless operation.

"In addition, once these centers are going at full speed they will provide a vital link between the communities and their colleges," House said. "They will take an active role in things like economic development, community service and community development. It is about more than attracting students."

RLC President Mark S. Kern said the cooperative effort helps students, the college and SIU.

"I think the idea of the Southern Illinois University System Service Center is wonderful," Kern said. "This facility should provide SIU an edge in encouraging students to take advantage of the programs SIU has to offer. We're happy to strengthen the partnership between our two institutions of higher learning for the benefit of our students."

The center is located in the student services office in the administration building on the RLC campus. It is open at various times during normal business hours and by appointment. Call 618/437-5321, Ext. 6651, for more information.