People seated around a table. They are all smiling.

Top: Southern Illinois University Chancellor Austin Lane (center) signs a Saluki Step Ahead agreement with Illinois Valley Community College today (May 8) during a virtual ceremony with Wendell Williams, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management; Sheryl Tucker, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs; Sarah Jiter, director of undergraduate admissions, and Josi Rawls, associate director for transfer relations. Bottom: Illinois Valley Community College President Tracy Morris (right) signs the agreement as Mark Grzybowski, vice president for student services, looks on.

May 08, 2024

SIU Carbondale inks agreement to improve access for Illinois Valley Community College students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale strengthened its commitment to students in northern Illinois with an agreement to bring the expertise of a doctoral research university to qualified Illinois Valley Community College students by providing the option to earn their bachelor’s degrees remotely and at a lower cost in 12 academic programs.

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane and Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC) President Tracy Morris signed the agreement for the Saluki Step Ahead program today (May 8) during a virtual ceremony.

Established in 2021, the program enables students who graduate with an associate degree from partnering community colleges to complete their SIU bachelor’s degrees online in accounting, business administration, criminology and criminal justice, early childhood, elementary education, health care management, history, industrial management and applied engineering, information technology, nursing (RN to BSN), psychology and radiologic sciences.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Illinois Valley Community College to provide another option for place-bound students in this region,” Lane said. “If these students cannot come to Carbondale to complete their education, we will bring the experience and resources of a doctoral research university to them.”

Lane added that this Saluki Step Ahead agreement fits well with the university’s strategic plan, Imagine 2030, and its pillars of student success and partnerships.

IVCC’s roots go back to 1924 as the second oldest community college in the state. Today, IVCC has 21 associate degree programs, 59 certificate programs and four transfer degree options.

IVCC’s district is more than 2,000 square miles and encompasses all of Putnam County, a majority of La Salle and Bureau counties, and portions of DeKalb, Grundy, Lee, Livingston and Marshall counties. About 145,000 residents live in the college district. The college’s enrollment for the spring 2024 semester is nearly 3,700 students, with 70% enrolled in for-credit programs.


“This is such a great opportunity for our students to complete their baccalaureate degree completely online — and for our community, this will create even more access to bachelor’s degrees,” Morris said.

Jim Moskalewicz, an IVCC counselor, added that Saluki Step Ahead “offers discounted options for place-bound students seeking a high-quality online baccalaureate degree.”

The Illinois Valley Community College agreement brings SIU Carbondale to about 50 Saluki Step Ahead partnerships the university has with community college campuses in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas so far. That includes pacts with 43 of the 48 community colleges in Illinois.

Students in the Saluki Step Ahead program pay the community college rate for their first two years. In the third and fourth years, they receive annual $4,000 scholarships.