Southwestern Illinois College hopes to play a major role in the planned expansion at Scott Air Force Base.
According to SWIC President Georgia Costello, the school "is poised to help the community and Scott Air Force Base with any and all training needs" associated with the recently announced $16 million U.S. Air Force investment in two new cyber squadrons at the metro-east military base.
The Air Force projects 320 new military and civilian jobs will be stationed at the base in relation to the squadrons.
"The most important role we will continue to play is offering 'stackable' credentials, which allow our students, many of whom find gainful IT-field employment while still pursuing a degree or certificate, to build their resumes as they go," Costello said. "Stackable credentials are also enticing for full-time IT professionals who may want to enhance their employment value and compensation."
Although higher-level cybersecurity jobs require advanced post-secondary education, all the foundational work in information technology can be accomplished at SWIC at the lowest tuition. SWIC also anticipates forming IT and cybersecurity transfer partnerships with other local colleges and universities, according to Costello.
SWIC currently offers a Network Associate certificate requiring 16 credit hours of Cisco network training, which prepares students to take the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification exam. The college also offers stackable coursework beyond the certificate to help those completers meet Cybersecurity Specialist requirements. These courses prepare students to take additional certification exams such as: CCNA Security, Microsoft Technology Associate Windows Server Administration Fundamentals, Security+ and Windows Server Network Infrastructure Configuration.
"The stackable-track benefit is completing Network Associate certificate training, gaining employment with that certificate, earning additional certifications and then coming back for more courses as professionally required or personally desired," Costello said.
Costello also sees a financial-incentive connection to its military students, as SWIC serves the largest veteran and active-military population among public colleges and universities in Illinois.
"Cybersecurity work often requires the highest military clearance, and many military personnel already have such clearance," Costello explained.
The estate of Patricia and Charles "Chuck" Leemon has given a $2.73 million legacy gift to McKendree University.
The gift establishes a $500,000 endowed scholarship in Leemon's name for students pursuing a degree in business. More than $2.2 million will help fund renovations to the Voigt Science Building.
Leemon, who passed away in 2007, was a businessman in the hotel and hospitality industry and a member of the McKendree Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1991. His wife Patricia Leemon passed away April 29.
The couple received honorary degrees in 1999. During their lifetime, the former Marissa residents contributed nearly $1 million in direct gifts to McKendree for its Heritage, Heart and Hope Campaign; the New Dimensions Campaign; the Patricia Leemon Endowed Scholarship for Marissa High School graduates who attend McKendree; improvements to and naming of Leemon Field on campus; and annual support to the university.
The athletic field was named in honor of their daughter, Jackie Leemon, a 1985 McKendree graduate and current member of the university board of trustees who resides in Florida.
Jesse Dixon, former special assistant to the superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, is the new director of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center.
"I feel both honored and thrilled to be taking on this director role for the SIUE East St. Louis Center," Dixon said. "The Center has demonstrated a decades-long commitment to providing quality educational services to students and families in and around East St. Louis. With the wide range of effective programs for students, from birth through college, I see tremendous opportunities to accelerate our impact and serve more families in the region."
Dixon replaced Andrew Theising who was named director of the center in September 2012. He said his first order of business is to get to know the hardworking staff at the center while also reaching out to the key stakeholders at the university and throughout the metro-east community.
"I was drawn to work at the center for several reasons," Dixon said. "First, I am impressed with the quality of services being offered here. I applaud the partnership and backing of a premiere university to ensure that a wide range of opportunities exist for the community.
"The center is a place where infants, toddlers, teenagers and adults can get dental care, receive nursing services and have their future shaped by effective and committed educators," Dixon said. "There are very few places in the country that offer this range of services."