The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s Oral History Program will release a new collection of interviews telling the story of an important and often-overlooked part of Illinois’ education system: community colleges.
“Education is Key – Community Colleges” features 62 interviews with faculty, administrators and legislators who helped build a network of colleges serving nearly one million students each year. The interviews cover the creation of the community college system 50 years ago and touch on a multitude of issues, including its role in civil rights, educating women and serving older students. Included in “Education is Key – Community Colleges” are interviews with Bob Johnson, current chairman of the Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees, and Terry Martin, retired biology faculty and one of the college’s original faculty members when Kishwaukee opened its doors in 1968.
Volunteer Philip Pogue, former superintendent of the Greenville School District, conducted the interviews in 2013 and early 2014. He traveled the entire state and visited every community college district, including the Kishwaukee College district.
“Phil has done a great service for the people of Illinois,” Mark DePue, director of the presidential library’s Oral History Program, said in a news release. “His hard work preserves the voices and memories of those who saw the need for colleges that would provide an affordable education and enrich their communities.”
Illinois has 39 community college districts operating 48 individual colleges and one consortium. The colleges ensure a quality education is available to Illinois residents throughout the state. In fact, more students are enrolled in community colleges than in the state’s many four-year institutions.
Community colleges perform many functions beyond preparing students for traditional four-year institutions. These include worker retraining, adult education, and certification programs. They are a point of pride for communities across the state.
“As we prepare to recognize our 50-year anniversary as a system in 2015, we want the people of Illinois to recognize the value of our excellent community colleges,” Karen Anderson, executive director of the Illinois Community College Board, said in the release. “Illinois community colleges touch the lives of almost one million students each year. We are fortunate to have the best community college system in the world right here in Illinois.”