SWIC trustees hear update on campus redesign plans, mourn death of Dr. Rybicki

Trustees at Southwestern Illinois College on Wednesday heard an update on plans for renovations of the school’s Belleville campus.

Representatives from Ittner Architects of St. Louis unvelied plans to put a large amphitheatre into the vacant quad area between the Belleville campus main building and its new liberal arts complex.

“It’s a large event venue that really stitches the whole campus together,” Ittner president Dennis Young said of the plans.

At previous meetings, SWIC leaders said they believe the improved quad area will serve as a venue where concerts and festivals will eventually be located.

Ittner representatives also unveiled updated plans for the school’s Early Childhood Center.

In addition to plenty of rooms in which to play and learn, the center will feature a shelter from tornadoes complete with wind-proof windows.

“You could actually watch a tornado coming from a safe place,” Young said.

The amphitheater is expected to be built in phases with the initial work expected to cost about $1.65 million, Young said. $830,000 would come from the state Capital Development Board, $510,000 would from SWIC’s 2014 Public Health and safety fund while $314,000 would come from the 2015 Public Health and Safety fund.

The Early Childhood Center is expected to be a 16,000-square-foot, one story building to be located on the southeast side of the Belleville campus, SWIC spokesman Mike Fleming said. It’s designed to be a place where children who are infants through 12 years old will be cared for.

The cost of the center is projected to be $8.1 million with $6.1 million coming from an Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant and $2 million coming from SWIC matching funds.

Ittner leaders say the Early Childhood Center designs are 100 percent completed and it’s up to the state to approve a budget so SWIC can collect funds previously approved by the Capital Development Board.

In other business:

SWIC president Georgia Costello at the beginning of the meeting spoke briefly about school physician Dr. Kenneth Rybicki who died Wednesday morning.

After a moment of silence, Costello said Rybicki was a very giving person who, in the 1980s and 1990s was one of the first area physicians to open his practice to AIDS patients when other doctors treated victims of the disease like leppers.

Rybicki raised thousands of dollars for the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, organizing several charity marathons and half-marathons.

“That’s truly what kind of man this person was,” Costello said. “He was a true humanitarian.”

Costello said Rybicki had recently been in remission from pancreatic cancer, a disease he was diagnosed to have in 2002.

According to the doctor’s family, he died of an infection due to a digestive issue, not a recurrence of cancer.

There was an item on the board’s agenda Wednesday to appoint Rybicki to new term as SWIC’s Belleville campus physician.

Fees were approved to help fund two courses, Health Information Technology Advanced Coding and Advance Data Analytics. The fee for the courses will be $90.

The board will also approved spending $323,925 to purchase a replacement computer storage network and spending $300,302 to renew a licensing agreement to use Oracle PeopleSoft software.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or 618-239-2626. Follow him on Twitter: @scottwuerzBND.