college officials celebrating after signing an agreement

Go Dawgs! Go Cougars! Wendell Williams, associate chancellor of enrollment management, left, and Chancellor Austin A. Lane celebrate one of the latest Saluki Step Ahead agreements with officials from Illinois Community College during a virtual ceremony on March 22. The agreement brings the expertise of a doctoral research university to qualified place-bound community college students. (Photos by Russell Bailey)

March 23, 2022

SIU Carbondale, Illinois Central College and Waubonsee Community College strengthen access for

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale strengthened its commitment to students in 15 Illinois counties with an agreement to provide an SIU education to qualified place-bound community college students.

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane during virtual ceremonies on March 22 signed agreements with Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove and Illinois Central College in East Peoria to participate in the Saluki Step Ahead Program.

Following graduation with an associate degree from either community college, students can go on to complete their SIU bachelor’s degrees online and at a lower cost in six academic programs: accounting, business administration, criminology and criminal justice, health care management, psychology and radiologic sciences.

“We look forward to welcoming more graduates from Waubonsee Community College and Illinois Central College to the Saluki family and providing another pathway to students with limited options,” Lane said. “If they cannot move to Carbondale to complete their bachelor’s degrees, we will bring the resources of a doctoral research university to them. This agreement fits well with our strategic plan, Imagine 2030, and its pillars that address partnerships and student success.”

Fourteen community colleges are participating with SIU in the Saluki Step Ahead program, with more anticipated this spring.

Waubonsee Community College has four campuses in Sugar Grove, Aurora, Aurora Fox Valley and Plano and includes parts of Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, LaSalle and Will counties.

“Waubonsee Community College is committed to removing barriers for students as they look to earn their bachelor’s degree in the most affordable and flexible way. The Saluki Step Ahead Program is an innovative agreement that demonstrates success can and does start in your own community," said Christine Sobek, Waubonsee Community College president.

Illinois Central College has campuses in East Peoria, Peoria and Pekin and serves all or parts of 10 counties in Illinois: Bureau, Livingston, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford counties.

“We are pleased to partner with another excellent institution and work together with Southern Illinois University Carbondale to provide a seamless transfer process that will benefit our students,” said ICC President Sheila Quirk-Bailey. 

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.

several people attending a virtual agreement signing

Saluki Step Ahead signing: SIU Carbondale continued to expand its Saluki Step Ahead program with an agreement with Waubonsee Community College. On hand for the virtual signing from SIU Carbondale were, from left: Wendell Williams, associate chancellor of enrollment management; Chancellor Austin A. Lane, and Amanda Sutton, interim director, undergraduate admissions.