MCC forming partnerships to offer degree programs in Woodstock

By Ken Keenan For Chronicle Media

McHenry County College is partnering with several universities to offer degree programs, beginning with Aurora University. (McHenry County College photo)

McHenry County College recently announced that it intends to launch the University Center at MCC, providing an opportunity for students to obtain a four-year degree or higher from partnering universities without having to travel or live out of state.

Located in a historic building in the heart of downtown Woodstock, the University Center has been the home of Aurora University Woodstock Center since 2009. In cooperation with Aurora University, MCC is purchasing the space and will transition it to the University Center at MCC, adding additional partner universities while continuing to collaborate with AU in offering degree programs already in place.

“Students finishing their associate’s degree at MCC, or community members who have stopped (studying) to work or raise families after completing parts of degrees, deserve a local opportunity to complete their degrees,” said MCC President Clint Gabbard. “Instead of ignoring the barriers facing folks in dealing with work, family and distance barriers, this University Center at MCC will build an exciting, essential bridge to degree completion in the heart of our community.”

Once the transformation is completed, AU will be MCC’s first partner to offer several degree programs designed to help students prepare for some of the county’s most in-demand occupations, including elementary education and social work, both of which will be offered in the upcoming fall semester.

“Aurora University’s leadership deserves so much of the credit for beginning this idea of planting several AU undergraduate and graduate degree programs in our community,” Gabbard said. “We will be forever grateful for their vision, and for the tremendous partnership and support we have received from the AU Board and administration.”

John Ammons, Chair of Aurora University’s Board of Trustees, said, “AU is proud to have provided educational opportunities to students at the Woodstock Center since 2009. We are honored to be a founding member in this exciting new initiative with MCC, and we look forward to building our legacy of academic excellence in the region.”

In addition to the partnership with AU, MCC is finalizing agreements with several other universities in Illinois. Each of those institutions will offer their own degree programs, and the University Center at MCC will provide on-site resources to help transfer students succeed, including advisers to assist in the transfer planning process.

Northern Illinois University entered into the University Center fold in April, offering coursework — beginning in the fall 2024 semester — in psychology, business administration, computer science, health sciences and early childhood education. NIU courses offered through the University Center at MCC will be open to both MCC students and community members, and the classes will be taught by NIU faculty.

“We’re proud to support McHenry County College in its efforts to remove the sometimes overwhelming barrier of having to commute or relocate to pursue a bachelor’s degree,” said NIU President Lisa C. Freeman. “This partnership leverages the advantages and expertise of both of our institutions. We are excited about bringing high-demand NIU courses to place-bound learners who can’t easily travel to DeKalb for classes because of work and family obligations.”

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale is also on board and will offer classes (beginning in fall 2024) in accounting, industrial management and applied engineering, and information technology.

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