Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Campus is almost ready to offer its students the full, four-year public university experience.
Construction on Phase II — which includes three interconnected buildings and a traditional "quad" — on the scenic campus at 3300 River Drive in Moline is nearing completion and on track to open by the first day of classes on Aug. 25.
The addition to campus joins the 60,000-square-foot Riverfront Hall, which opened in January 2012 and features 18 classrooms with video conferencing capabilities, engineering labs and the College of Business and Technology.
Kristi Mindrup, WIU assistant vice president for Quad Cities and Planning, said the expanded space allows the college to grow its programs, give students a public university experience, and attract a broader scope of students to campus.
“Over the years, we’ve had a lot more nontraditional students who are transferring to us after they complete the community college,” Mindrup said. “But, we’ve heard from the community and the region that there is a need for public higher education. This space allows us to do that.”
The university currently has 1,500 students enrolled. Mindrup said officials hope the new campus will help the university reach an enrollment goal of 3,000 students.
The expansion allows Western to vacate its 60th Street campus. Officials have said the building will be put up for sale.
The $42 million Phase II project was awarded to general contractor Bush Affiliates, LLC, of Davenport and was funded by the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program.
Most of the work on the south building is finished, and some administrators have started to move in, said Bill Brewer, the university's architect and director of facilities.
The building features a large atrium, welcome center, student services office, admissions, and a counseling lab.
More work needs to be done on the two north buildings, which will feature state-of-the-art interdisciplinary classrooms and science labs, faculty offices and a library.
Mindrup said the college currently has a small library at the 60th Street location.
WIU senior Mila Ribbeck, 23, of Moline, a Parks and Recreation major, said she is looking forward to having a larger library on campus.
The newly expanded campus will allow the university to add a doctorate of environmental science program, as well as more general education course offerings for freshman and sophomore students, Mindrup said.
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Mindrup and Brewer said the university gathered input from students, faculty and the community when designing the new buildings and quad area.
Mindrup said many students said they wanted more spaces where they can be outside of class to study or get together with peers.
“We really want to engage students on campus,” she said. “The new layout gives us the ability to keep students on campus, whether it’s in the labs, interacting with faculty, studying in the library or hanging out on the quad.”
Ribbeck and Sam Trei, 26, also of Moline, are part of the student worker program and have helped staff move into the new buildings.
Trei, an English major, said she likes that the buildings are more “stream-lined."
“It feels like a campus, rather than the bits and pieces they had before,” she said. “It’s great to have for the city of Moline, for the students, for everyone.”
University officials are still discussing the concept for Phase III of the campus construction project.