The 2010 census solidified Aurora’s position as the second-largest city in the state. It didn’t take this news to confirm what many already knew — Aurora is a city on the rise. The heart of Aurora, its downtown, is beating louder and stronger than it has in years. The list of exciting projects in Aurora’s downtown includes a vibrant restaurant scene; plans for a new, modern public library; the recently announced expanded slate of locally produced Broadway shows at the Paramount Theatre; and the start of construction on RiverEdge Park. One other project particularly close to my heart is Waubonsee Community College’s new downtown Aurora Campus, which opens June 1, 2011.

When Waubonsee’s state-of-the-art 133,000 square foot new Aurora Campus opens at 18 S. River St., students will be able to access all Waubonsee has to offer — all in Aurora. The comprehensive campus offers full associate degrees and certificates, one-stop student services, the training and workforce skills companies need to grow, and so much more. The campus features cutting-edge classrooms and learning environments, a library, college bookstore, two science labs, eight computer classrooms, and the addition of beautiful green space on the Fox River. Waubonsee’s sign language/interpreter training, health information technology and health care interpreting programs all are based at this campus, which will replace our current downtown Aurora Campus.

The numerous resources available to businesses and individuals through Waubonsee’s Workforce Development department will be housed at our new Aurora Campus. This includes the Illinois Small Business Development Center, where entrepreneurs can learn the ins and outs of starting or growing their business. For many in our community, picking up one critical job-related skill or certification can open the doors to opportunity and new careers. These classes and services will be available as well.

The newest Aurorans and those with the least educational attainment can also find their path at Waubonsee’s new Aurora Campus through the services of the college’s Adult Education department. Every year individuals from dozens of countries come to Waubonsee to learn English. Committed staff and volunteers also help area residents complete their GEDs and learn basic educational skills, including learning to read. These classes provide the foundation for local residents to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Waubonsee’s history is deeply entwined with that of Aurora. Some of the college’s first classes took place at a number of sites throughout the city. In 1986 we opened our first permanent extension campus outside of Sugar Grove in downtown Aurora. Housed in two historic buildings on Stolp Island, this campus served us and our community very well for nearly a quarter of a century. Now, we mark the next chapter of Waubonsee’s history in Aurora. Community members are invited to join us to formally celebrate the grand opening of our new Aurora Campus from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on June 3. The following Monday, June 6, classes begin, and students will be able to access all Waubonsee has to offer — all in Aurora. More information on the new campus and grand opening can be found at