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President Jack Thomas and Gov. Pat Quinn, along with QC area legislators and dignitaries, cut the ceremonial ribbon as part of the Jan. 17 grand opening of the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus Phase I.
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WIU President Jack Thomas and VP of Quad Cities, Planning and Technology Joe Rives accept keys to communities comprising the Quad Cities from Moline Mayor Don Welvaert as Gov. Pat Quinn looks on.
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WIU-QC Riverfront Campus Opens, Funding for Phase II Released

January 17, 2012

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MOLINE, IL – If opening a new campus wasn't reason enough for celebration today (Jan. 17), Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn gave Western Illinois University even more reasons to celebrate when he announced the release of $38 million for Phase II of the WIU Riverfront Campus.

"Today, the WIU-Quad Cities Riverfront Campus became a reality as we opened our doors for classes at the new building, and our vision for the future of the Riverfront Campus complex is one step closer to happening thanks to the funding announcement made by Gov. Quinn today for Phase II," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "The support we have received from not only the state, but from Quad Cities businesses, organizations and agencies, have kept the dream of a Riverfront Campus very much alive. We are so appreciative of this community's commitment and dedication to Western Illinois University. Western extends its thanks to Gov. Quinn, the legislators and many others for recognizing the need for public higher education in the Quad Cities."

"The Riverfront campus provides vital educational opportunities and this new building will enhance the offerings that WIU can provide its students," said Gov. Quinn. "I am proud to join school officials, students and dignitaries on this first day of classes in Building One. I am also pleased to announce the release of additional funding to further expand the Riverfront Campus with another new classroom building."

According to Joe Rives, vice president of the Quad Cities, planning and technology, Phase II is a series of five interconnected buildings, and will double the size of available facilities at the Riverfront Campus. Rives said the next steps include finalizing plans, seeking bids and starting site preparation. Construction is anticipated to begin in Fall 2012. Phase II is designed to house academic programs and services from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Services, and Fine Arts and Communication, and will also include the other programs and services from the current WIU-QC 60th Street campus, including the library, WQPT-Quad Cities public television and classes offered through the Quad Cities Graduate Study Center.

"We are the only public university in the Quad Cities, and today's announcement for Phase II of the Riverfront Campus means expanded public higher education opportunities for the residents of the region," Rives added. "We remain committed to providing an outstanding educational experience to the Quad Cities and we are excited about the prospect of moving forward with Phase II of the Riverfront Campus."

In 2003, a donation from Deere & Company of 20 acres of land on the Moline riverfront provided significant momentum for an expanded WIU-QC campus. Planning began to build an additional campus on the riverfront to serve more students, and collaborative relationships were formed with the City of Moline, Renew Moline and the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, among many others, to develop the riverfront into an educational and business mecca. Three years later, $2.4 million in Opportunity Returns planning funds were released to renovate the 40,000-square-foot former John Deere Tech Center on River Drive. The total cost of Phase I was $18.4 million.

In December 2009, Gov. Pat Quinn announced further funding as part of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital bill. A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Riverfront Campus site on March 31, 2010, and construction began nearly one month later. Faculty and staff moved into the new facility Dec. 20, 2011.

The first building on the Riverfront Campus supports the College of Business and Technology, including the School of Engineering that was housed in The Caxton Building; academic and student services; and University administration. The Illinois Capital Development Board released $4 million in July 2010 for Phase II architectural and engineering design. Like Phase I, the new facilities will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, technologies and student-centered amenities, Rives noted.

"The people of the Quad Cities can be proud of this wonderful new facility. I'd like to thank the designers, contractors and skilled trades men and women who made it possible," said Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Underwood. "I'm pleased that Gov. Quinn today announced the release of funds for Phase II, which means even more construction jobs and educational opportunities for the region."

According to Rives, the new campus is expected to serve more than 3,000 Quad Cities-area students. Western has conducted classes in the Quad Cities for 100 years and currently serves approximately 1,400 students.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting and the Phase II funding announcement, the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus atrium was also dedicated as the Alvin and Elaine Goldfarb Grand Atrium in honor of President Emeritus Goldfarb's and his wife's support for Western and the new campus.

WIU-QC also kicked off its 100-year anniversary of providing public higher education in the Quad Cities. In 1912, Professor E.E. Van Cleve began teaching extension classes in various locations throughout the region, including Moline-Rock Island. The most popular extension course was the "Principles of Teaching." A year-long anniversary celebration will be held this year, culminating with a historic video of WIU in the Quad Cities over the years. The unveiling of a new Whitey's ice cream to honor WIU, "Western Rocks," also added a unique "flavor" to today's ribbon-cutting event.

"The opening of Western Illinois University Quad Cities Riverfront Campus marks a new beginning for public higher education in the Quad Cities," said Moline Mayor Don Welvaert. "Only through significant partnerships between private and public sectors, locally and at the state level, has this project been possible. Moline enthusiastically welcomes WIU to their new campus on the Mississippi River."

WIU-QC has established enhanced partnerships with Renew Moline, including the development of a Midwestern Intellectual Property Institute, as well as the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce.

"The development of the new Western Illinois University-Quad Cities campus is a great example of how a public-private partnership can achieve great success for the betterment of our area. The donation of the John Deere Technical Center site along the Mississippi River, coupled with our elected officials working diligently to secure the necessary public funding, has resulted in an impressive higher education resource for our region that will benefit the Quad Cities area for decades to come," said Gregory R. Noe, chair of Renew Moline, Inc.

WIU-QC continues its strong working relationship with John Deere, The Moline Foundation, Modern Woodmen of America, the Rock Island County Board and many others to help create new jobs and workforce retention. WIU-QC has partnered with Black Hawk Community College in Moline and Eastern Iowa Community College to allow students to enroll at their respective community college and take classes simultaneously at both WIU-QC and the community college.

"As part of its commitment to higher education and the community, the John Deere Foundation was pleased to make the donation of land that led to the creation of the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus. The project will provide additional educational opportunities to QC-area students, stimulate further development along the riverfront and contribute to the economic vitality of our community," noted Mara Sovey, president of the John Deere Foundation and director, Corporate Citizenship Center of Excellence.

"The entire Moline Foundation Board has been truly excited about this project. Since we first teamed up with the Deere Foundation, both groups wanted to show our support for the much-needed WIU Riverfront campus," said Jon Tunberg, chair of the Moline Foundation. "It is a wonderful time to enjoy the rewards of not only our efforts, but the countless hours and funds dedicated to this new project to enhance the entire Quad Cities region."

WIU-QC works closely with the Quad Cities Graduate Studies Center to provide graduate degree courses, and has signed agreements with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District to protect natural resources and enhance environmental sustainability in the region and with the Rock Island Arsenal to provide educational opportunities to civilian and military personnel employed at the Arsenal.

"I was proud to be a part of the vote that paved the way for construction of the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Riverfront Campus, a $62 million project made possible by Illinois' Capital Construction Plan, and now this facility will be able to serve more than 3,000 Quad Cities-area students," said Sen. Mike Jacobs. "This new campus will encourage students to stay within the community to attend school, as well as draw new students in with new programs and graduate studies. This campus provides a great opportunity for our children, our community and our future."

In 2006, WIU-QC joined forces with Black Hawk and the Community Caring Conference in the Quad Cities, Moline Public Schools and Rock Island/Milan District No. 41, to provide the Illinois State Board of Education's innovative teacher preparation program, "Grow Your Own," that supports nontraditional candidates to become teachers and to teach in their communities. In addition, WIU-QC shares marketing opportunities and academic and student services support resources with Black Hawk.

"It is an honor for me to have been an integral part of this project from the beginning and to see it opening to the public. Western Illinois University's Riverfront Campus will be a wonderful advantage for all students in our area, as well as an investment and economic benefit for area businesses and families," said Rep. Pat Verschoore. "WIU is a true partner in helping the Quad Cities reach our goals in providing opportunity and prosperity for the future. The hard work of many area individuals and organizations shows how far we can go when we work together."

"It has been a long time coming. I will be happy to see the newly-constructed halls filled with students from all over, bettering themselves right in Moline, Illinois," Rep. Rich Morthland said. "It's nice to fulfill the needs of this area with a four-year university. It's about time the state brought Western Illinois University to an area in need of economic revitalization."

To view architect's renderings of the proposed WIU-QC Riverfront Campus renovation, visit visit

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Office of University Relations