Rock Valley College’s six-year effort to increase education accessibility took another step forward Tuesday as the new downtown campus opened officially in the iconic Rockford Register Star News Tower.
In what once was a bustling newsroom, 13,000 square feet is now dedicated to credit-level, transferable classes formerly taught only on the main Mulford Road campus.
“The lion’s share of the classes offered here are liberal arts and science transfer programs,” said RVC President Mike Mastroianni. “So these are people coming here to get classes that they would normally get on main campus for a little bit easier access.”
Offerings also will include some unique programming like digital design that will be available only in the computer lab located in the News Tower facility.
State Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, expressed particular interest in the accessibility of the facility.
“My constituents reside on the West Side of Rockford, and it was two bus transfers to get to the main location on Mulford,” she said. “But now individuals will not only have access to one of the most affordable and one of the most academically rigorous community colleges in Illinois, they will also now be able to get there quickly and have access all hours. This is just amazing.”
Mastroianni says outreach efforts like the new downtown location have helped RVC quadruple enrollment over and above the 20 percent growth in the engineering program rolled out in conjunction with Northern Illinois University.
Construction on the facility actually began in February, a month before plans to locate RVC classes in the News Tower were announced. RVC staff moved into their offices last month, and college-credit classes will begin August 20.
- WNIJ's Victor Yehling contributed to this story.