GODFREY – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined leaders from the Metro East and Lewis and Clark Community College Monday in L&C’s Reid Memorial Library to announce the release of long-awaited funding for the college’s Main Complex Renovation Project.
“This project has been a long time coming, and so the commitments across many organizations to make this possible are exciting,” said L&C President Ken Trzaska. “It never would have happened without true commitment by a team of dedicated team members here at the campus and throughout the state.”
The Main Complex includes five historic buildings (Baldwin, Caldwell, Wade, Fobes and Reid Halls), totaling approximately 170,000 square feet. Contained within that space are a number of classrooms and student service areas, including the library, bookstore, enrollment services, financial aid and more.
Planned renovations include mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades, health and life safety improvements, the replacement of the fire suppression and fire alarm systems, ADA, lighting and elevator upgrades, interior finishes, and upgrades to the roofing systems, windows and building envelopes.
“The Main Complex represents our past, but with this investment, it also brings to the forefront a critical investment to our future – a future that symbolizes a renewed model for educational access and flexibility,” Trzaska said.
The project will be partially funded by a $37.5 million investment through Rebuild Illinois, the governor’s bipartisan capital plan and the first in nearly a decade, as well as an additional $12.5 million local match from the college, which was approved by the L&C Board of Trustees at a special meeting in September 2021.
“Throughout my governorship, I’ve been very proud to increase support for L&C and also for all of our community colleges, and to make college more attractive and more affordable for students,” Pritzker said. “There’s no better time than now to put a down payment on the strongest possible future for the Metro East and the entire region. The renovations here at Lewis and Clark represent just that – fuel for growth in this region for many years to come.”
The grant was originally appropriated by the state in the Rebuild Illinois Capital Program in 2019. Sen. Rachelle Crowe recognized the need for critical renovations, particularly when L&C officials closed parts of the Main Complex in Fall 2021 due to safety concerns stemming from failing HVAC systems that created mold issues. She was instrumental in acquiring the funds, according to Trzaska.
“This is truly a great day,” Crowe, a proud L&C alumna, said through a huge smile Monday afternoon. “Lewis and Clark’s Main Complex is the heart of the campus for students, for faculty, for staff and for visitors, and I’m so relieved to see today’s investments moving forward so we can continue to operate on the main campus. This renovation offers the strongest, most cost effective path to return this historic complex to full working capacity.”
L&C Student Trustee Sam Copeland said he hopes much of the funding will be spent to upgrade classrooms and learning spaces in the historical complex.
“It’s impossible to put into words the feeling you get when walking down these historic halls that students have been walking down for years and years – thousands of students – and that’s what makes it so hard to look at how this building has deteriorated,” Copeland said.
He added that L&C faculty and administration have been pushing innovations to keep the college on the forefront of education – with things like Competency-Based Education and Blendflex course offerings – and said he hopes the classrooms and learning spaces can be upgraded to match and support those functions.
Sen. Steve McClure said the project will help continue to drive economic growth for the region.
“I don’t think people realize that people tend to stay where they go to school. Lewis and Clark has a particularly strong impact because of the trades it offers,” McClure said. “This is one of the most beautiful campuses I think in the whole country for any community college, but these renovations are going to help so much to sustain that and to bring us into the future here.”
Rep. Amy Elik echoed his sentiment.
“Lewis and Clark is arguably one of the best community colleges, not only in the state, but in the nation,” Elik said. “We will keep that reputation with these necessary renovations.”
Also in attendance during the announcement were Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick and L&C Trustees Dwight Werts and Charles Hanfelder.
Lewis and Clark Community College is a two-year higher education institution with multiple campuses, a river research center, community education, and training centers serving around 12,000 students.
More photos from today’s event available at: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzFMde
Check out a livestream of today’s press conference at https://www.facebook.com/GovPritzker/videos/1046787519553513.