City Colleges of Chicago
Joliet Junior College, IL
City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Wayne D. Watson is himself the product of a community college. He says, "Community colleges were built for the Wayne Watsons of the world."
Watson tried out for the U.S. Olympic team in 1964. He did not make the Olympic team, but his outstanding performance attracted attention from college coaches. Recognizing his potential, one coach suggested he brush up his academic credentials at a community college.
"For two years they nurtured me, tutored me, walked me through situations. They never once said, ‘You can’t do it because of your grades in high school,’" he said of Joliet’s personnel.
Since Watson took the helm at Chicago three years ago, the City Colleges have led a K-16 initiative that has brought the community college faculty together with professors from Illinois’ public universities to align the colleges’ course competencies with the entrance criteria of upper-level courses. Partnerships with the Chicago public schools have also increased to improve high school students’ college preparation so that all students have an opportunity at higher education.