Celebrations at Parkland College today opened two new facilities, formally renamed buildings after local philanthropists, and honored an important date in the college’s history.
College officials held ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the school’s new Applied Technology Center (ATC) on its northwest side and the new Fitness Center adjacent to its gymnasium complex. State and local dignitaries joined in the festivities, which featured remarks by administrators, refreshments and open houses with tours.
Additionally, a group of the school’s 1967 employees gathered in Parkland’s William M. Staerkel Planetarium for a reunion that included a campus tour, a review of the college’s history, refreshments and music in the Parkland Art Gallery lounge. Sept. 25, 1967, was the date on which Parkland College held its first classes, housed in temporarily facilities in downtown Champaign.
“This is truly a special day for our campus, and we are honored to welcome our original employees from 1967 to share in this good news with us,” Parkland President Thomas Ramage said. “Parkland is proud to have come so far in 45 years to be opening these state-of-the-art spaces for our students in the kinesiology and fitness training fields as well as in fields such as automotive and industrial technology, welding, and collision repair, which have a great impact on our job market.”
Parkland’s Applied Technology Center received its official name, the Parkhill Applied Technology Center, during the ceremony. It was renamed to honor the Bergen Parkhill family, who recently donated $500,000 to the Engineering Science and Technologies programs that now occupy the space.
“The Applied Technology Center will create skilled construction jobs in the near future and in-demand jobs for Parkland students in the long run,” said Josh Weger, deputy director of construction for the Illinois Capital Development Board. “I’d like to thank Governor Quinn for including the project in his Illinois Jobs Now capital construction plan.” The state partially funded the $17 million project through its CDB.
Also speaking at the ATC event was student Eric Miller, an Industrial Technology sophomore and U.S. veteran taking classes through the G.I. Bill. Having served as a student worker in Parkland’s welding lab and machine shop for four semesters, he calls the new space “a thousand times better than what we had before.”
“As a Navy veteran, I have been involved with many projects I can look back on and be proud of, and being involved with this facility that will educate so many of my peers ranks right up near the top,” Miller said. The Arcola native hopes to find an industrial maintenance position in a local manufacturing facility after Parkland.
Built to green performance standards, the 67,000-square-foot ATC features $1 million of new equipment and a larger auto lab area that mirrors the operation of a modern service center. It was included in Phase I of a two-phase Campus Master Plan, designed to improve and expand existing space for instruction and student services at the 40-year-old campus.
Phase II construction included the new Fitness Center, a state-of-the-art facility containing kinesiology/dance/aerobics class space; athletic training/strength training/workout areas; an indoor walking track; new locker rooms and team rooms; and coaches’ offices. The college also renovated the lower level of the athletic center as part of the project.
The Fitness Center ribbon cutting also formally dedicated the remodeled athletic complex, which was renamed for local philanthropist Donald C. Dodds Jr. in April 2011.