Understanding Illinois: Four-Year Degrees From Two-Year Colleges?

NowlanJuly 30, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

For the past decade, College of DuPage (COD) president Bob Breuder has been pushing state lawmakers to allow two-year community colleges to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees in technology-oriented fields.

Breuder makes a good case. Expect another push in the next session of the state legislature.

Since Joliet (IL) Junior College became the first such college in the nation in 1901, Illinois has been a leader in the community college movement.

When I was a legislator in the late 1960s, public two-year colleges had dotted the mushrooming suburbs and major downstate cities, covering the whole state.

Today there are 39 community college districts and 48 campuses, enrolling 42 percent of all higher education students in the state.

The two-year colleges have advantages over the older, more traditional colleges and universities. First, many located in population-dense markets, while small colleges often constructed their “Old Main” a century earlier in frontier towns that never blossomed.

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