Southwestern Illinois College President Georgia Costello has been asked to co-chair a bi-state council created by the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce to better train and educate the area workforce.
Chamber president Joe Reagan said the goal of the council is to try to make St. Louis one of the top 10 best educated metropolitan areas in the United States.
"The St. Louis area, if you include the entire metropolitan area, is the 15th largest community in the country," Reagan said. "We're 14th in the percentage of adults who at least have a bachelor's degree. So, in a sense, we're outperforming our size. But we want to be in the top 10 most prosperous regions. And to do that we need to have the educated work force that employers who will bring jobs here want to see."
Reagan said, by getting area higher education institutions to work together to offer the programs and services necessary to make them a top quality work force, the St. Louis area will attract new business, new jobs and workers here will command higher salaries.
Costello will co-chair the council with Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble.
The SWIC president said she thought it was important to have a metro-east voice on the committee.
"It's a tremendous honor to be asked to do something like this," Costello said. "It's part of my job to show people on the Missouri side of the river what Illinois has to offer to the region."
Reagan agreed that it is important to have the metro-east represented.
"We want to be intentionally inclusive so we're not unintentionally not inclusive," Reagan said.
But he said there were many other reasons why chamber leaders wanted Costello involved.
"We have asked Dr. Costello to co-chair for three reasons: First, she has been very active in this movement and she is very insightful and very supportive of the goal. Second, community colleges are essential not only in helping people in this region toward getting a four-year college degree, but also in lifelong learning. They work with veterans and with people trying to get stackable credentials. We believe Dr. Costello will bring that voice and perspective. Third, quite frankly, she is a force of nature. She gets things done because of her knowledge and her enthusiasm. We need that kind of force to make education a number one priority."
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has announced capital investments of $3.8 million in Lewis and Clark Community College's Godfrey campus.
The funds will help construct a Montessori childcare and school building and a maintenance building and to control storm water runoff.
The announcement is part of Gov. Quinn's agenda to improve educational opportunities in Illinois, create jobs and drive the state's economy forward.
"Lewis and Clark has a rich history of innovation and service to the metro-east area, training students for in-demand careers," Quinn said. "These investments will improve the campus, make life easier for students and staff, and set a sustainable water management example for the Midwest."
Lewis and Clark Community College President Dale Chapman said the new buildings are sorely needed.
"We are so pleased to receive these funds, which will allow us to replace two of our aging, temporary buildings on campus, as well as allow us to further our sustainability initiatives in storm water management on our Godfrey campus," Chapman said. "These two buildings were once established to be temporary structures, but due to a lack of funding over the years, they have outlived their intended purposes. We have outgrown both structures, and know that these funds will serve to enhance efficiencies and needed storage for our facilities and grounds crews and will provide an ideal educational environment for generations of children."
A new 16,000-square-foot educational and day care center building will be constructed to serve the children of Lewis and Clark students, faculty and staff. The existing 9,000-square-foot building will be upgraded and moved from the west to the north side of the Godfrey campus to improve access for parents dropping children off and picking them up.
Construction will be funded with $1,663,000 from Gov. Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program and $1,705,169 from the college. Design work is currently underway, with bids to be released this fall and construction to begin in 2015.
The new, 12,800-square-foot maintenance building will be constructed at Lewis and Clark to house the college's maintenance, security and grounds crews and equipment. The construction will be funded with $1,536,600 from Illinois Jobs Now! and $512,200 from the college.
Fourth-year Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Dental Medicine students Mark Hobbie and Vance Knauer assisted the Illinois Department of Public Health in giving free dental screenings at the Illinois State Fair.
The free exams conducted by SIU students counted as the state required exams for school-aged children.
The dental exams included checking a child's lips, feeling the soft tissues and checking the physical conditions of their teeth and gums. Oral health professionals determined whether tooth eruption and loss was on schedule according to developmental guidelines. They also observed tooth abnormalities, plaque and tooth decay.
Two dental professionals were present during SIU's screenings. Dr. David Miller, chief of the division of oral health within the Illinois Department of Public Health, and SIU alumnae Dr. Samantha Arnold frequented the tent to help Hobbie and Knauer with their screenings.
The SIUE School of Dental Medicine students manage approximately 35,000 patient visits each year at its patient clinics in Alton and East St. Louis. In addition, students offer oral health treatment, screenings and education to more than 10,000 people annually through a wide variety of off-campus community outreach events. These opportunities provide students the training they need to graduate and become highly-skilled dentists. The School of Dental Medicine is a vital oral health care provider for residents of southern and central Illinois and the St. Louis metropolitan region.