two men shaking hands, while another applauds

SIU System President Dan Mahony, St. Louis Community College Chancellor Jeff L. Pittman and SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane celebrate the signing of Saluki Step Ahead. (Photo by Britni Bateman, SIU Foundation)

March 04, 2022

SIU Carbondale, St. Louis area community colleges ink agreements to improve access for students

ST. LOUIS — Southern Illinois University Carbondale strengthened its commitment to students in the city and Metro East this week with agreements to bring the expertise of a doctoral research university to qualified community college students by providing the option to earn their bachelor’s degrees remotely and at a lower cost in six academic programs.

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane today (March 4) signed an agreement with St. Louis Community  College and on Wednesday (March 2) with Southwestern Illinois College to participate in the Saluki Step Ahead program, which covers the accounting, business administration, criminology and criminal justice, health care management, psychology and radiologic sciences programs.

“Our agreements with SWIC and STLCC fit well with our Imagine 2030 strategic plan, which includes pillars for student success and partnerships,” Lane said. “We are proud of our beautiful campus and the first-rate education and unique opportunities we provide. But we understand not all students can move to Carbondale to complete their education, so we will bring SIU Carbondale to them. We are excited to welcome these students to the Saluki family.”

The signings now make 11 community colleges participating with SIU in the Saluki Step Ahead program, with more anticipated this spring. The pact with St. Louis Community College is the first Saluki Step Ahead agreement outside of Illinois.

St. Louis Community College Chancellor Jeff L. Pittman said the Saluki Step Ahead program is a “great opportunity” for its students.

“We are pleased that SIU is partnering with us to help more students advance their education, and especially being able to earn a degree online to meet the realities of the times. The SIU Saluki Step Ahead program is a great opportunity for STLCC graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree at an affordable cost, making it a win for all students,” Pittman said.

Nick Mance, Southwestern Illinois College president said SWIC is excited about the agreement.

“This program, allowing our students to transfer seamlessly to SIU’s online accounting, business and administration, criminology and criminal justice, psychology, health care management and radiologic sciences programs, is a fantastic opportunity for our students and the community.” Mance said. “It has long been our goal to prepare students to enter the workforce as highly qualified members of their chosen professions, and this program helps further our objectives.”

More education, less expense

Following graduation with an associate degree from St. Louis Community College or Southwestern Illinois College, students can go on to complete their SIU bachelor’s degrees online without leaving their hometowns. Students in the program pay the community college rate for their first two years. In the third and fourth years, they receive an annual $4,000 scholarship. The goal is to allow students to earn their degrees for $25,000 or less. For more about Saluki Step Ahead, read the press release from last fall.

Commitment to the region

The signing ceremonies are part of a larger SIU Carbondale initiative, Saluki Takeover Tour: St. Louis that began Wednesday. Representatives of SIU Carbondale visited various high schools, met with school administrators, alumni groups and other constituents to improve access for students and build partnerships in the St. Louis area. Coverage of the Saluki Takeover is available on the SIU Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

man and woman, wearing masks, holding up signed papers

Gina Segobiana, chief academic officer at Southwestern Illinois College, and Austin A. Lane, chancellor of SIU Carbondale, show off the Saluki Step Ahead agreement signed March 2. (Photo provided)