JJC President Dr. Judy Mitchell Delivers 4th Annual State of the College

Joliet Junior College President Dr. Judy Mitchell presented her fourth annual State of the College address on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Community members, stakeholders and local legislators attended to learn about institutional initiatives and progress the college has made over the past year.

“Our success as an institution is dependent on you, our partners,” Dr. Mitchell told the audience. “Your investment, collaboration and trust in Joliet Junior College to deliver diverse, quality opportunities to our seven-county district is why we thrive today 118 years after it was established.”

Mitchell 2019 State of the College
Dr. Judy Mitchell delivering the State of the College

Mitchell noted several accomplishments by the college, its employees, programs and students, as well as progress on new initiatives and priorities moving forward. This included updates on the college’s diversity and inclusion efforts, strategic planning, and new academic programming. The event, which was live streamed on Facebook, also included a presentation by Nursing Professor Dr. Kathy Wolz showcasing how new virtual reality equipment is enhancing learning opportunities for students.

JJC is poised to finalize a new Diversity Plan for the college based on a Diversity Climate Survey and Needs Assessment distributed in the spring. Based on the feedback from over 1,100 survey responders and 17 focus groups, JJC’s plan will focus on hiring and employment, student engagement, current employee engagement, and external outreach with business partners and stakeholders.

The data collected to form the Diversity Plan aligns with JJC’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees last week. It establishes new vision and mission statements, and outlines six goals ranging from academic excellence and student success to cultural commitments and outreach.

“The important thing to remember about our strategic plan is that it’s the ultimate plan to guide the college into the future,” said Mitchell. “It is structured to be broad enough to allow for flexibility but specific enough to provide guidance for the next several years.”

Expanding and redesigning academic programs are among the ways JJC is working to increase enrollment and meet workforce demand. This includes the establishment of a medical assisting program, which is now accepting applicants for the spring 2020 semester. The one-year certification prepares students to support medical providers in a variety of duties including prepping patients and assisting in examinations, performing tests, and managing medical records.

View Photos from the State of the College

Additional highlights Dr. Mitchell covered included:

  • 2018 Survey of Entering Student Engagement. 98% of students said “yes” to the question “Would you recommend this college to a friend or family member?”
  • JJC one of only 10 higher education institutions to make Forbes’ top 100 employers list for Illinois.
  • JJC Foundation tops $25 million in assets, the largest of any Illinois community college.
  • Upcoming installation of solar array on east side of campus, to save college $1.1 million over array’s lifetime, and prepare students for careers in clean energy.
  • $1.4 million in rebates and incentives through building and energy efficiency from 2010-2019
  • Dr. Karen Roberson named Nurse Educator Fellow by Illinois Board of Higher Education, a $10,000 fellowship given to just 19 nursing faculty in the state.
  • Cisco Professors Joseph Sullivan and William Martin earn Cisco Networking Academy’s Expert Level Instructor Excellence Award, putting them in top 10 percent of Cisco instructors worldwide.
  • Expansion of partnership between JJC’s natural sciences program and the U.S. Geological Survey on invasive Asian carp research, including recent internship stints for two students at USGS facility in Missouri. 
  • New natural sciences partnership with Loyola University researching invasive crayfish.
  • Second place finish for Culinary Competition Team at nationals. Team had earned first place honors at state and regionals.
  • Chef Tim Bucci wins Certified Master Chef designation, one of only 67 in the world.
  • Year four of five for $2.1. million Title III grant, which has helped create academic pathways for students to provide specific course sequencing to ensure they complete the right courses in an appropriate timeframe.
  • Redesigned JJC website to boost external engagement. In 2018 the website won a first place Gold Medallion award from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations.
  • President’s Ambassador’s Group, comprised of 46 employees across JJC’s district, who are actively involved in community organizations to maximize collaboration and inform college’s decision making.
  • $19.8 million in capital bill funding to support City Center Campus, which in part will go toward completion of site work around facility.
  • Monitoring legalization of marijuana legislation and possible academic programming related to new industry in Illinois
  • Hosting legislators on campus to share in academic success:
    • U.S. Congressmen Bill Foster attends STEM Fair in fall 2018.
    • State Sen. Pat McGuire and Rep. Larry Walsh hold panel discussion with students in spring 2018.
    • U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Underwood visits student veterans, TRIO program, and learns about Asian carp research and nursing virtual reality programming in August.
    • Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, State Rep. John Connor, and Will County officials visit City Center Campus in September explore culinary, adult education, and English as a second language programs.
    • State Sen. Sue Rezin attends check presentation for donation to Operations Engineering and Technician (OET) program.
  • TC Energy increases support for OET program with $250,000 donation in the summer. The program has earned strong industry support, and has returned a 100 percent complete and employment rate since launching in 2015.
  • LyondellBasell earns Business/Industry Partnership Award by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for its longtime partnership with JJC.
  • FY20 budget highlights:
    • Balanced budget for 47th consecutive year.
    • Keeps tuition and health care costs flat.
    • Expands dual credit program.
    • Creates center to support returning adult students and new university transfer partnerships.
    • Reestablishes small business development center.
  • Adult Pathways and University Partnerships Center opens this fall. Will focus on transfer opportunities for adults looking to restart their education. Coordinating with several four-year schools to offer students the opportunity to get their bachelor’s degrees through these institutions locally at Romeoville Campus. 
  • A Three-year, $140,000 grant from the American Association of Community Colleges to grow apprenticeships for students and aid the local workforce. JJC will serve 150 people over the term of the grant with apprentice programs in hospitality, culinary arts, landscape management, transportation, and manufacturing.
  • Family Literacy Grant from the Secretary of State to expand services for families in English as a Second Language classes. To be performed in partnership with Plainfield Public Library.

Mitchell concluded her speech by emphasizing the ripple effect of JJC’s accomplishments and that of its students, which rely on support from within the college and throughout the community.

“Your individual actions have certainly had far-reaching impact over the thousands of students, faculty and staff. Together, we will ensure that Joliet Junior College is not only the first choice for education, but the best choice,” Mitchell said.

For media inquiries, contact Communications and Media Coordinator Scott Harvey at 815-280-2844 or sharvey@jjc.edu