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Back to School

Kishwaukee College starts its 50th academic year

MALTA – At 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 20, Collin Good of Sycamore entered through the glass double doors of Kishwaukee College, 21193 Malta Road in Malta, with feelings of both excitement and nervousness.

Carrying a backpack full of books and school supplies, Good crossed the threshold into his first day of college classes.

“Being a freshman is scary and exciting, but I’m ready for it,” Good said. “I chose Kish because it’s close to home and for financial reasons. After graduating in two years, I want to transfer to [Northern Illinois University]. I’ll be staying out of debt, and I hope to make some new friends along the way.”

Monday, Aug. 20, was the first day of class at Kishwaukee College as the school celebrates its 50th year.

Students bustled through the hallways and gathered to chat in the cafeteria before classes started, and the campus bookstore was full of students buying last-minute supplies.

Members of the National Society of Leadership and Success helped direct new students to their classes.

“Our goal is to help new students feel more welcome and accepted on campus,” Christine Newman-Askins, the society’s president, said. “I love that our school isn’t too big and that it’s easy to transfer to a four-year university.”

Steve Irmen of Cortland, a second-year student, stopped into the bookstore to buy folders for class.

“I’m looking forward to the start of a new school year and classes, but not the homework,” Irmen said. “It’s great to have the college here in the community for 50 years and that I can be a part of it.”

To celebrate the start of Kishwaukee College’s 50th year, numerous events have been planned.

The Kougar Kick-off will be held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22. The college’s student activities fair will be held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, and Thursday, Sept. 6. Both events will be held in the campus courtyard between A and C wings or inside the student center in the case of inclement weather.

Celebrations for the college’s 50th anniversary will continue throughout the year: homecoming with a home men’s soccer game, food and family-friendly activities will be held Sept. 15; the Foundation Gala on Nov. 3; “Faces of Kish” Art Exhibition from Nov. 14 to Dec. 11; and a 50th anniversary closing celebration Dec. 11.

Kishwaukee College serves most of DeKalb County, much of Lee and Ogle counties and small parts of other adjoining counties. Since 1968, the college has had 24,077 unduplicated graduates.

In its first year, Kishwaukee College offered 62 courses, including both transfer and vocational-technical options, and 994 students attended the college. This fall semester, the college offers 285 courses with many having multiple sections. At this time, there are 797 new students for this semester. Official enrollment numbers will be available after the 10th day of classes.

When Kishwaukee College’s first classes started in the fall of 1968, five temporary buildings were built on 120 acres of Ralph and Bertha Byros’ farm in Malta at the intersection of Malta Road and Route 38. The location was in the middle of the community college district, ensuring that no district resident would drive more than 30 minutes to campus.

In 1971, the farm’s barn was remodeled. A theater with seating for 150 people was added to the barn loft, a bandstand with dancing space was located downstairs and an art gallery was placed in the silo.

Through the years, the college has completed multiple phases of construction. The college opened in the fall of 1968 with five temporary buildings, while the main building’s spine was being constructed. From 1972 to 1974, three additional wings (A, B and V wings), a greenhouse and the Caukin Building were added. The college continued to grow, adding the C wing and a maintenance building in 1986, the D and E wings in 1993 and the conference center, therapeutic massage clinic and expansion of the Caukin Building in 2002. The latest phase in 2011 added a ring road, remodeled classrooms and added a new campus operations building and student center. The Yvonne A. Johnson Science Wing was dedicated in 2013 and the Terry and Sherrie Martin Health Careers Wing opened in 2014.

“The first day of the new year is always exciting,” Kishwaukee College President Dr. Laurie Borowicz said. “We’ve worked hard over the summer to make our campus community an even better place for our learners – from campus upgrades to new and upgraded courses and programs – we look forward to the start of the fall semester.”

Excitement about the start of Kishwaukee College’s 50th year has spread to not only the students and administration, but also the school’s faculty and staff.

“Summer [vacation] went fast, but I’m excited to getting back into the classroom and the swing of things,” Professor Jim Robar said. “I always look forward to the first day of school, meeting new students and seeing my old students return. The first day of school is all about covering the syllabus, talking about our summers and introducing ourselves to one another. It’s going to be another great year.”

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