Joliet Junior College President Judy Mitchell delivered the annual “State of the College” address Tuesday in front of local officials and stakeholders.
In her address, Mitchell touted JJC’s sustained economic stability with a balanced budget along with growth in programs and opportunities for students.
“To grow JJC, we must invest in JJC,” she said.
While the JJC Board of Trustees passed a balanced budget for fiscal 2020, tuition and health care costs also remained flat. JJC also will expand its services toward adult students, with a new center at its north campus in Romeoville, where it’s partnering with other schools such as Eastern Illinois University, DePaul University and DeVry University.
The college has also worked to expand student research opportunities.
“Our goal is to have our students start their junior year with formal research experience already under their belt,” Mitchell said.
A team of JJC students helped develop ways to curb the invasive Asian carp population in the Des Plaines River. This research led to two JJC students being the first from a community college to intern at the U.S. Geological Survey Environmental Research Center in Missouri.
She also touted JJC’s Culinary Department’s accomplishments, such as its student team earning recognition in a national competition and professor Tim Bucci achieving “certified master chef” designation.
Mitchell also touched on JJC’s growth, such as a new medical assisting program accepting applicants to begin in January 2020. Employment in the industry is expected to grow 29% through 2026. JJC will be partnering with Silver Cross and Edward hospitals with the program. JJC also saw new sources of investment over the past year, including a three-year, $140,000 grant to grow registered apprenticeships. Mitchell has said the college is working to prepare thousands of qualified workers in hospitality, culinary arts, transportation and manufacturing fields.
The college will receive $19.8 million through the capital bill the state legislature passed. That money will go to complete site work at JJC’s City Center Campus.
Mitchell also mentioned that JJC may be one of eight Illinois colleges to support academic programming to train people in the business of marijuana. When the state passed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, it allowed for up to eight community colleges to be awarded a license for a cannabis vocational pilot program. Mitchell said the college will be keeping track of how the law plays out.