Education is one of the five essential pillars of the Leadership Council and one of the initial foundation committees of the organization in 1983. Founding members of the Leadership Council recognized this field as a key component of development in Southwestern Illinois. The Education Committee has established several key initiatives to create a strong voice for educational institutions and business connected efforts:

  • Serving as an education advocate for regional issues and school construction funding
  • Developing a regional communications network between education and business to address specific job needs and career tech programs
  • Identifying new opportunities between business and education to meet job skill shortages
  • Developing an education directory on Leadership Council website for industry specific resources and training

Higher Education

McKendree University


McKendree University is the oldest higher learning institution in the State of Illinois and it has been positively impacting the region’s economy for the last 187 years. The university has used its $56.5M yearly budget to improve its facilities and education programs for the benefit of its student population of over 3,100 students. McKendree now offers 53 undergraduate programs, and has renovated its academic, fine arts, athletic and dining buildings. McKendree University also has been honored as one of the country’s “Great Colleges to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education for five straight years, employing nearly 300 part-time and full-time workers. McKendree University continues its longtime tradition of delivering a quality undergraduate education for the benefit of Southwestern Illinois and its future workforce.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University has seen tremendous growth over the years, leading to a greater economic impact in Southwestern Illinois. The student body has increased from a total of 900 students in 2009, to more than 2,300 in 2015. To keep up with demand, Lindenwood has constructed two new dormitory buildings for its growing student population. The university is proud to be a yellow ribbon school and was named a Top School in Military Advanced Education’s 2015 Guide to Colleges and Universities. What used to be an extension center offering only a handful of evening classes, Lindenwood University now offers 35 degree programs and has launched the school’s intercollegiate athletic program. Lindenwood University is providing an economic boost for the city of Belleville and will continue to grow for the betterment of Southwestern Illinois and its students.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) registered an all-time record high enrollment of 14,265 students in Fall 2015. The university has a large economic impact on the region with nearly 3,500 employees, making SIUE the 2nd largest employer in Southwestern Illinois. SIUE’s economic impact only continues to grow, reaching $514M in FY14. The university's growth is due to its excellent facilities including a regional STEM center, an outreach center in East St. Louis, a nursing complex in Springfield, a School of Dental Medicine in Alton, and a research and technology park. Strategic investments and growing enrollment and staff have SIUE ranked inside the top 15 Midwest regional universities and was also included in the 2015 list of “up and coming” Midwest regional universities. With a budget of $270M a year, SIUE will continue its growth and impact on the economy of Southwestern Illinois.

Junior Colleges

Lewis and Clark Community College

Lewis and Clark Community College (Lewis and Clark) is one of the fastest growing community colleges in the nation with a rise in student population from 3,000 to more than 14,000 over the last 18 years. Lewis and Clark graduates are staying in Southwestern Illinois after graduation, creating an economic impact of $338M in the region. The community college has invested more than $180M on projects such as the N.O. Nelson campus in Edwardsville and the construction of the Templin Nursing building, which has tripled the size of the College’s nursing program. In 2015, Lewis and Clark invested an additional $20M to improve its humanities, advanced technology, workforce training, sustainability, early childhood education and adult education programs. Lewis and Clark has made substantial improvements to its campus and education programs that will have a direct impact on the economy of Southwestern Illinois.

Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC)

Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) is one of the finest community colleges in the State of Illinois. It has the highest student enrollment and is dedicated to investing in the future of its student population of over 10,500. In 2015, SWIC completed the construction of its $19.1M new Liberal Arts Complex and is set to break ground on a $6.1M Early Childhood Development Center project. The college also obtained $8.3 million in grants for a project to improve vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic, further enhancing accessibility for its Belleville campus. As a founding member of the Illinois Green Economy Network, SWIC has received grants that have led to establishing a top class manufacturing facility at its Granite City campus. SWIC’s dedication to its veteran programs, new facilities, large student body and strategic investments have led it to become one of the best education values in Southwestern Illinois.

Kaskaskia College

Kaskaskia College (KC) is one of the few community colleges in Illinois to experience enrollment growth over the past two years, bucking a trend most institutions of higher education are experiencing across the state. Much of that credit goes to a hardworking and dedicated faculty and staff who believe in the college’s mantra that “Every…Student…Matters!” KC recently opened its $4 million dollar Nursing Education Center and renovated the former State of Illinois Animal Disease Lab located on the main campus to house its successful Agriculture program. In addition the College has spent in excess of $6 million modernizing its labs and digital infrastructure to enhance student learning. KC strongly believes in the “community” in community college, developing partnerships with area community and business leaders to ensure programs are providing the training needed by employers. KC also engages communities through participation in organizations and events throughout its district.
KC’s focus on students is also shown in its completion numbers with 92% of its transfer and 85% of its career and technical students completing their degrees early or on time. KC’s success has been recognized by many state and national organizations, recently being ranked second among community colleges in Illinois by WalletHub for the third straight year. Serving more than 8,600 individuals annually, student focused, and community minded, Kaskaskia College is poised to meet the needs of workforce today and beyond.