Rockford College leases space for classrooms, offices
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
By Cathy Bayer
Posted Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:03 PM
Last update Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:34 PM
ROCKFORD — Rockford College is expanding its campus in April to accommodate more of its adult students who enroll in evening and weekend courses.
The college is leasing office space in a neighboring building, 5100 E. State St., to offer more classrooms, faculty offices and meeting rooms.
The expansion, about 9,000 square feet, is in response to growth in the college’s master’s and accelerated bachelor’s programs, which will move to the new site.
"There’s a great market here for serving adults,” said Rockford College President Robert Head.
Workers are remodeling the space to have five large classrooms, three small classrooms and room for six offices.
The college could also expand into more parts of the building, said Jeff Fahrenwald, director of the MBA program and associate professor of business.
About 175 students are enrolled now in the college’s Master of Business Administration, about 100 are in the college’s degree completion program and about 60 students are completing undergraduate work in business.
"We’ve been running out of space at night and on weekends for the last couple years,” Fahrenwald said.
Staff could be added
As programs grow, the college will consider expanding its staff. Now, 11 business department faculty members teach full time.
Plans to expand were in the works for about a year, Head said.
First Rockford Group purchased the building in December and is leasing the space to Rockford College.
Sunil Puri, president of First Rockford Group, serves on the college’s board of trustees, and wasn’t present at the February board meeting when college trustees approved the lease agreement.
Head wouldn’t say how much the five-year lease is worth, but it’s renewable in five-year increments.
The facility — seen from East State Street — will provide additional marketing for the college, Head said. The building shares space with a few other offices, but the majority of it used to house Whitehead Realty before it moved to its current location on Perryville Road.
Jason Sage, 24, started graduate school this semester and also works in the graduate office. The Roscoe native is already looking forward to more room.
"It’ll be a nice change,” Sage said. "It’ll give us a little more room.”
The classrooms will all be high-tech with SMART boards — like interactive white boards — wireless Internet connection and additional projection equipment.
The furniture will be easily movable, Fahrenwald said, so rooms can be rearranged from a small classroom setting to a large lecture hall-type area.
The equipment will take presentations — which make up much of Sage’s grades — to the next level, he said.
"It’s good for the college,” he said. "Anytime you expand anything, it’s good.”
The new setting will provide students with a room with at least equal, if not more advanced technology, Fahrenwald said.
The expansion will also offer rental opportunities to the community.
"There’s just not a lot of available classroom space for companies or organizations that want to meet in a fairly high-tech classroom,” he said.
Rockford College’s adult education influx is similar to other colleges during a recession.
Community colleges are now facing record enrollment numbers and record projections for students entering college in the fall, said Don Sevener, deputy director for external relations at the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
Programs that offer additional certification or a nontraditional route to college typically see an enrollment boom during an economic downturn.
The Rockford College site will house the college’s accelerated Bachelor of Science in Management Studies program, which is part of the Return to College program, designed for people who already have work and family commitments, but want to earn their bachelor’s degree.
Jobs now require more and more certification and education than years past, he said.
On top of that, Illinois’ population is expected to grow more than 7 percent from 2000 to 2025, he said, which should stabilize college enrollment for the next 15 years.
"It’s fair to say we’re likely to experience stable or slightly higher enrollment for some time to come,” Sevener said.
Staff writer Cathy Bayer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-987-1395.
This story appeared at http://www.rrstar.com/carousel/x1859637299/Rockford-College-leases-space-for-classrooms-offices and at http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/89545267.html on March 30, 2010.