Medical Laboratory Technology students from KCC won the state championship in the Illinois Association of Clinical Laboratory Sciences Academic Student Bowl. They also earned this distinction in 1980 and 2003.
Through the years, KCC’s health careers programs have distinguished themselves through program accreditation and pass rates on certification and licensure exams. For example, the most recent graduates of four health programs—Respiratory Therapist, Radiography, Practical Nursing and Phlebotomy—had 100% pass rates on their respective licensure/certification exams. Graduates of the Medical Laboratory Technology program had an 89% pass rate. The Registered Nursing program graduates from 2013-15 had an average pass rate of 92% on the licensure exam; well above the statewide rate of 85% and the nation’s 83% pass rate.
The Respiratory Therapist, Radiography and Registered Nursing programs are accredited by regional and national agencies.
Donald Zeglis of Momence was the organizing attorney for KCC in 1966. He provided counsel to the college from 1966 until his death on Aug. 22, 2000. In 1966, Zeglis was employed by County Superintendent of Schools Ruel Hall to conduct the legal work for the establishment of the KCC district, including developing the legal description of the district territory and organizing the first board election.
Following the election, the board hired Zeglis as the college's legal counsel. He was instrumental in working with the Illinois General Assembly on legislation to transfer title of the acreage upon which the KCC campus is located from the state of Illinois to the KCC board. In addition, Zeglis served as legal counsel to the Illinois Community College Board.
In June 1994, the Illinois Community College Trustees Association presented Zeglis with a Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding contributions to the Trustees Association and the state's community college system. David Zeglis was the college's legal counsel for five additional years after his father's death.
Groundbreaking is held for the first major building to be added since 1998. The Workforce Development Center features a Welcome Center and conference hall. It also has additional conference/meeting rooms, classrooms for credit courses, rooms for corporate training, and faculty offices.
The WDC, as it is known, was built more than 10 years after a $2.9 million building expansion which started in February 1992 and was completed in the spring of 1993. That project added a new one-story Prairie Building to connect the Technology Building to the main building. A three-story addition was added to the east wing of the main building, also. In all, the college gained eight classrooms, a conference room and more space for student services, the College Center/cafeteria, food service and bookstore. The 1992-93 expansion followed the construction of the athletics building (completed in 1988).
The newest building on what we now call the Riverfront Campus is the 41,000 square foot Arts & Sciences Building, opened in January 2007. A major renovation also turned former nursing and science labs into the Health Careers Center for Excellence. It opened in 2008. Building of an Advanced Technology Education Center is currently on hold due to an Illinois budget standstill.
A satellite facility to offer college services to residents of the southern portion of the district is opened. Called the KCC Iroquois County Satellite Center, the facility is located in Watseka's County Administrative Building. A variety of programs and services for both current and potential students are offered, including registration, materials and KCC classes.
On June 3, 2013, the center relocated and became the KCC South Extension Center. The new location is at 1488 E. Walnut St. in Watseka. The focus remains on offering KCC college credit, continuing education, GED and adult education classes to students and businesses in Iroquois County.
Less than four months after being elected to the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama visits KCC and speaks in the KCC gymnasium. He notes during his speech that he is the junior senator from Illinois and has less seniority than virtually any other senator. On Nov. 4, 2008, Obama was elected president of the United States.
After receiving a $400,000 grant, to be awarded in 2007, KCC and several partners will be part of the development and construction of a paved recreational bike trail from River Road near the Splash Valley water park to Hawkins Street near Aqua Illinois' offices. The project will improve access to the KCC campus as well as create an aesthetic enhancement for the college and for Kankakee Valley Park District properties.
Paving got underway in 2009, and the trail was completed in the fall of that year.
KCC's new 3,500 square foot Fitness Center, inside the OAK Orthopedic Sports Arena, is opened, and features equipment from Lifetime Fitness, the No. 1 brand of fitness equipment in health clubs worldwide.
In addition to the fitness center, the sports arena has an ice rink. On opening day, the center offered a daytime preview and business after-hours event. During the preview, everyone who attended could tour and take a slide on the ice with free open skating. Skate rental was $3. A grand opening was held Oct. 1. The arena was renamed Ice Valley Center in 2010.
KCC rolled out a new web-based tool – KCConnect, which offered modules with specific information for employees, students, faculty and advisors. Using KCConnect, students could view information including: class schedules, course availability, grades/grade point average, transcripts, degree audit and financial aid. Online registration was added the following spring and online grading in December, 2006.
The college's radio station, WKCC 91.1 FM began operation from a studio at KCC in Room L261. The format was adult contemporary, but changed to National Public Radio and classical music two years after.
WKCC began as WTKC, the nation's first tourism radio station in 1992, as a partnership with Olivet Nazarene University and the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau. KCC assumed operation and maintenance in 2005. WKCC would continue for more than eight years, until Dec. 18, 2015, when budget cuts and educational priorities led to the end of the station’s run.
WKCC officially signed off with local radio host Willie Dixon and his program, In a Mellow Tone. During its time on the air, WKCC offered a number of local programs, including the popular Friends of the Blues, which was picked up by other public radio stations. The station also hosted Reel Focus, a movie review show, Outside, an outdoor show, and Sports Report, about KCC athletes, all produced at the college.
When budget cuts forced its closure, WBEZ of Chicago purchased the radio frequency 91.1 FM and began a simulcast of its content. After final FCC approval of the license transfer in May 2016, the station changed its call letters to WBEK.
A sustainability network including four community colleges in Illinois, and coordinated at KCC, received initial funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. KCC’s effort was led by the college’s president, Dr. Jerry Weber. The $490,000 award to KCC established the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network, to include Sustainability Centers at each partner college. The centers offer electronic information and publications related to energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. In addition to KCC, the first three colleges to build Sustainability Centers are Heartland Community College in Normal, Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey and Wilbur Wright College in Chicago.
Over the years, the network expanded and is now called the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN). It includes all 39 community college districts and 48 campuses of Illinois community colleges.
KCC has truly distinguished itself as a leader in sustainability. Gov. Pat Quinn chose KCC as the only college in the state to receive a Governor's Sustainability Award for 2009. The award recognized KCC’s role in establishing the Illinois Community College Sustainability Network. In September 2010, KCC became a charter participant in the STARS (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) program to encourage sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
The college has won two national awards for its training programs in this area. In 2013, KCC Professor Tim Wilhelm received the Interstate Renewable Energy Council 3i Award for Clean Energy Trainer of the Year. A year later, KCC earned the IREC 3i Award for Accredited Clean Energy Training Provider of the Year.
In 2015, KCC was no. 23 on the list of the “greenest” colleges in the nation, and was the only community college on the list, published by BestColleges.com. The team which compiled the list reviewed more than 240 schools rated by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The college uses a range of alternative energy sources and on-site learning that includes wind-generated power; photovoltaic arrays; unique ice storage; heating ventilation and air-conditioning systems; and geothermal and solar energy.
The college’s sustainability features are highlighted at www.kcc.edu/sustainability.
The 30th edition of Prairie Fire, KCCs literary anthology, is unveiled on May 4. The annual piece showcases the poetry and short fiction works of students. Over the years, artwork from KCC students also has been included, and many times was featured on the cover.
The first president of KCC, Dr. Robert S. Zimmer, died Monday, Oct. 26, at the age of 85. Zimmer served as president of KCC from May 1967 to early 1969. He was also the first president at Allegany Community College, Cumberland Md, in 1961; and Passaic County Community College in Peterson N.J. in 1971. Zimmer was also instrumental in gaining accreditation for the Community College of the Air Force.
In an interview with Dr. James Paul, retired KCC professor, Zimmer said, "Being the founding president is always a unique role and a unique opportunity. Getting the college started, getting it off on a sound foundation financially, through a bond issue and through the legislation were things we had to go through. I think one of the things I was proudest of was the quality of the faculty I was able to attract. That has always been a source of pride for me. It was a very exciting time putting a program together and also selling the concept to the community."