While supporters of Lindenwood University-Belleville toured the improvements to the building and grounds of the West Main Street campus Wednesday, school leaders announced new additions to the school's programs and activities.
Lindenwood-Belleville campus President Jerry Bladdick said three new degree programs were approved by the Illinois State Board of Education this week: a bachelor's degree in education studies, an education studies specialist in education administration, which Bladdick described as between a master's and a education doctorate degree, and a master's of arts degree in school counseling.
"Five years ago we had 13 degrees, now we have 39," Bladdick said.
Bladdick also announced new sports programs: Men's and women's hockey, swimming and diving will be added to campus extra-curricular activities this fall.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said he is thrilled by the growth at Lindenwood.
"Every time I drive by I am amazed about the constant progress," Eckert said. "You just have to smile as you look around."
Donors and supporters toured the Belleville campus Wednesday morning with a highlight being a just-finished project to renovate the cafeteria. Bladdick said it's the second time the space has been redone in the last three years to better accommodate a rapidly growing student population.
The new product looks more the food court people would expect to see at a high-end shopping mall than a high school cafeteria. It has several different food stations where students can get a variety of different kinds of meals as opposed to a single cafeteria line that only offers a couple of different entree choices.
According to Bladdick, Lindenwood this fall will have more than 2,200 students, which include resident undergraduate students, part-time night students and graduate students. About 200 of the residents are being housed in area hotels because there isn't enough dormitory space available until the new men's dorm across West Main Street from the campus opens in October.
That's an increase of about 250 residential undergrad students from the 2013-14 school year, Bladdick said.
Other projects at the university in its more than 10 years of operation in Belleville are the complete renovation of the campus football stadium, classroom buildings, gymnasium and auditorium and the construction of two new dorms, a welcome center, a radio and television broadcast center and the creation of dozens of new offices for faculty and staff.
The university named the cafeteria building three years ago in honor of the late Alan Dixon, former U.S. senator from Belleville. And the new men's dorm is being named in honor of Fred J. Kern, father of St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.