MOLINE, Illinois -- Western Illinois University has announced new academic programs at the Quad Cities campus and online. WIU President Jack Thomas said the school was turning the corner.
"Western Illinois University is on the move," said Thomas in a speech introducing the new courses.
Beginning Fall 2019, the QC campus will offer a minor in mathematics and a bachelor's degree in psychology. WIU also announced that it would begin accepting applications to its new online graduate degree programs in music and music education.
Rebeccanne Ruddell is the first student to be enrolled in the psychology bachelor's program. Now in her junior year, she said she hopes to work as a counselor helping victims of human trafficking when she graduates.
"As a college student, I don't make a lot of money, so I can't afford the gas to go to Macomb," said Ruddell. "So it's really a blessing to have college so close to home and I don't have to go as far to get the education that everyone deserves," she said.
But, the move comes amid several tough decisions administrators have had to make in recent months. Weeks ago, WIU announced it would be closing decades-old dorms at the Macomb campus beginning Fall 2019.
It also comes after a letter from President Thomas in November that outlined some the structural budget deficit faced by the university due to declining state support and lower enrollments.
"We're turning the corner, we're making those tough decisions," said Thomas. "Sometimes maybe unpopular decisions, but we have to do what is in the best interest of our university. We've been here 118 years and we'll be here another 118 years," he said.
The new major and minor at the QC campus, along with the new online offerings are part of a mix the university hopes will make the difference.