February 22, 2018

February 2018 Letter to the Editor from Dr. Laurie Borowicz

Kishwaukee College: Celebrating 50 Years, Looking to the Future

This is a great year for Kishwaukee College, as we celebrate being an integral part of the local communities since 1968.

The College campus looks very different than it did 50 years ago. Over the years, the taxpayers have supported the growth and expansion of campus spaces to best serve the students. Our learners are fortunate to have the quality facilities and technology available at Kish.

Enrollments also look different than they did in 1968, with 994 students attending the first year the campus was open to the approximately 5,750 students that will attend classes this year.

When the Community Colleges first opened their doors in Illinois, funding was to be evenly shared between three sources - tuition, local property taxes, and state aids. Over the years, less state aids have come into the colleges. The result at Kish is that over 50% of the College budget comes from student tuition dollars. Enrollments become that much more important as they generate the revenue needed to ensure the College is able to offer a quality education to all students.

Kishwaukee College is like most other colleges in the state of Illinois, and indeed across the nation, with declining enrollment. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse, over a 5-year period between 2011 and 2016, enrollments in higher education in the United States dropped by 2.4 million students. Much of this decline is attributed to changing demographics in our country.

In Illinois, it is worse. Among recent Illinois high school graduates attending four-year institutions, 46 percent enrolled in out-of-state schools in 2016, compared to 29 percent in 2002, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Illinois has the second highest out migration of college bound students. New Jersey is the only state that loses more students than Illinois.

The long-term effect of the net out migration is devastating for all of us. Studies from the Illinois Board of Higher Education found that, of Illinois residents who study in their home state, approximately nine out of 10 graduates start careers in Illinois. But of those studying out of state, approximately one-third don’t return to Illinois to start their career.

Given these realities, we need to continue to work together as a state and communities to ensure a bright future for our current and future residents. We are hopeful that our leaders in Springfield consider the long-term consequences as they begin planning the next state budget and developing public policy. We need a budget that is done timely and supports higher education. Let’s show our students that we want to keep them here in Illinois.

Kishwaukee College has been your Community College for the past 50 years, and as we are celebrating our rich history this year, we are looking forward to the next 50 years of providing quality education locally. To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kish.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
Kishwaukee College