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SIU Carbondale inks agreement to improve access for IECC students

Wendell Williams and Chancellor Austin A. Lane
Russell Bailey
SIU News
Saluki Step Ahead partnership: Southern Illinois University Carbondale officials (from left) Wendell Williams, associate chancellor for enrollment management, and Chancellor Austin A. Lane celebrate the signing of a Saluki Step Ahead agreement with Illinois Eastern Community Colleges. In the bottom photo from Eastern Illinois Community Colleges (from left) are Alyssa Maglone, assistant dean of academic services; Ryan Gower, chancellor, and Eva Fatheree, coordinator of curricular reporting and articulation.

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale strengthened its commitment to students in eastern Illinois on March 13 with an agreement to bring the expertise of a doctoral research university to qualified community college students by providing the option to earn their bachelor’s degrees remotely and at a lower cost in 10 academic programs.

SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane and Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Chancellor Ryan Gower signed an agreement for the Saluki Step Ahead program. Established in 2021, the program enables students who graduate with an associate degree from partnering community colleges to complete their SIU bachelor’s degrees online in accounting, business administration, criminology and criminal justice, early childhood, elementary education, health care management, history, nursing (RN to BSN), psychology and radiologic sciences.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Illinois Eastern Community College to provide another option for place-bound students in this region,” Lane said. “If these students cannot come to Carbondale to complete their education, we will bring the experience and resources of a doctoral research university to them.”

Lane added this Saluki Step Ahead agreement fits well with the university’s strategic plan, Imagine 2030, and its pillars of student success and partnerships.

The new Illinois Eastern Community Colleges agreement brings SIU Carbondale to a total of 43 Saluki Step Ahead pacts that the university has with community colleges in Illinois, Missouri and Texas so far.

“The Saluki Step Ahead program will benefit many IECC graduates who are place bound by giving them another option to earn a four-year degree,” IECC Chancellor Ryan Gower said. “This partnership will expand and strengthen our transfer pathways and gives our alumni an accessible option to earn a bachelor’s degree in a number of high demand programs.”

Founded in 1969, Illinois Eastern Community College District No. 529 serves more than 17,000 students each year through transfer, career and technical, and workforce development programs. The district, which is made up of Frontier Community College in Fairfield, Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Olney Central College in Olney and Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, spans 3,000 square miles and covers all or part of 12 counties, serving approximately 111,000 residents. Students attending IECC have 120 degree and certificate programs to choose from to prepare them to transfer or enter the workforce when they graduate. All four colleges have earned state and national recognition for educational excellence.

Students in the Saluki Step Ahead program pay the community college rate for their first two years. In the third and fourth years, they receive an annual $4,000 scholarship. For more about Saluki Step Ahead, read the press release announcing the initiative.

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