The Collegian sat down with Morton College President Dana Grove about the updates on the new building expansion set to have its ground-breaking ceremony following graduation this year.
The new two-story building was first reported by the Collegian when Gov. Pat Quinn announced a $4.5 million capital investment in classroom addition. There hasn’t been any new additions to Morton College since 1975.
What new information can you share about the building explanation?
We’re going to have a total of nine classrooms in the two floors and a faculty office area, as well. Four of the classroom areas are going to be dedicated, one to early childhood education. The second one is going to be—I call them allied health but there are some programs were started to build in the area associated with health such as pharmacy technician, medical assistant and phlebotomy.
We’re going to have a GED classes and ESL classrooms, as well. Then the remaining five will be learning studios open to any kind of general education or career educational programs that can utilize the open and mobile format of a classroom.
What is the process like to bring these programs to life? Is there any programs you wish to complete?
The process starts with the faculty making recommendations for new programs, usually associated with their areas. That goes through a process with the administrators in that area, and with the deans and the provost they see actually what needs to happen. Then they start to build the programs and to build the curriculum with the faculty. Then it’s got to be approved that the board of trustees, the ICCB and the Higher Learning Commission. It is a lengthy process in order to do that for credit. It will take a year or two in order to establish a program.
We build them not because we want to but because there’s a need, and in order it to be adopted by the ICCB we have to demonstrate that there’s a need for these professions. The delight that we get is that we’re going to be training people who are going to be immediately employed within the greater Chicago area in those program areas, which will help the local economy also. So there’s a great degree of satisfaction for that.
As a college president, what can you say about your progress and time here on campus?
I would like to think that what we’ve enlisted or what we are entailing here is the goal of continuous quality improvement. That’s a simple notion that even though we do things well and even though we may be very good at some things, we can always be better, and I think that’s what is constantly going to improve education not only here but anywhere else that adopts that philosophy.
What issue do you see Morton College tackling in the near future?
The Illinois Council of Community College Presidents, of which I’m a part, passed a resolution in January arguing legislators to allow community colleges to award some baccalaureate [bachelor’s] degrees. That is huge for the future. First the legislators have to adopt it, and then the governor would have to adopt it also. It’s being done in other states and it wouldn’t be a liberal arts degree, it would be in the career technical areas, in particular nursing since more and more hospitals only accept nurses with bachelor’s degrees to work there.
If it doesn’t get passed this year, I think eventually it’s going to get passed, and that’s going to really remold community colleges in the state, including Morton College.
Going back to the new addition, you’ve mentioned before at meetings about certain areas will be dedicated to the culture surrounding the Morton College community. What are some of the ideas about that?
We worked with the interior designer, who is with the architect, and we expressed that desire to have some kind of pattern and color schemes that reflect Hispanic culture. What they came up with I think expresses that very well—if you noticed you don’t have the traditional bland black colors here. You’ve got something that very bright and vibrant—very exciting, too. I think the students would be attracted to those, too.
We’re going to be going out and looking at Hispanic works of art and other kinds of things that we can display. We’re pretty excited about that.
Photos: Demonica Kemper Architects