BY CAROL ROEHM
DANVILLE — Danville Area Community College officials on Wednesday dedicated the newly renovated Mary Miller Complex and, at the same time, honored a longtime area legislator.
The dedication ceremony at the Mary Miller Center included naming the southern portion of the facility as the William B. Black Health Professions Center.
Black, a DACC alumnus and former administrator at the college, was honored for his efforts in securing funds for campus improvements during his tenure in office as a state representative.
“This is somewhat overwhelming for me,” Black told the crowd gathered for Wednesday morning’s festivities. “I could think of a dozen people whose name could be on this building.”
Black added he was honored to share the building’s namesake with Mary Miller, the first president of DACC.
“This has not been work for me. This has been a labor of love,” he said. “DACC has meant a lot to me and my family.”
DACC President Alice Marie Jacobs praised Black’s efforts.
“Since 1996 over $40 million has been invested in the college campus infrastructure. The funding for those projects occurred when Representative Bill Black was our legislator,” she said.
“When this latest project was funded as a result of the efforts of Senator Mike Frerichs working with Representative Black, it seemed only appropriate that a portion of the renovation and expansion project carry the name of our longtime legislator,” Jacobs said.
“Bill Black was instrumental in the development of DACC, and he has provided exemplary service to education for five decades,” she added.
“As I have shared with different college stakeholders the plan to name the new addition the William B. Black Health Professions Center, everyone has been pleased because they know how instrumental Representative Black has been in the development of Danville Area Community College,” Jacobs said.
Other dignitaries also praised Black’s commitment to DACC.
“It’s fitting that we honor Bill Black today because he really was a mentor to me,” said State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, who is running for re-election.
“I had a small part in securing the funding for this,” he said. “We’re honoring a man who has done so much for this community.’
State Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, who also is running for re-election, called DACC “the crown jewel of Vermilion County,” adding that “two out of three who seek higher education, seek it from a community college.
“I can’t think of anyone better suited to have his name on this building than him,” Hays said. “Bill Black has been a lifetime educator and is passionate about DACC. Bill Black has been a champion for DACC.”
The Mary Miller Complex houses the math, science and health professions divisions.
Health professions programs, such as nursing, radiologic technology and health information technology, have seen significant growth over the past decade as demand for professionals in those and related areas has exploded.
The three-phase renovation project and 17,000-square-foot expansion was funded with $5.2 million in state capital improvement funds and includes nine new classrooms, new space for the physical education program, state-of-the-art training equipment for academic programs and energy-saving geothermal heating and cooling technology.
Jacobs also praised Mike Cunningham, DACC’s director of administrative services and site project manager, for his oversight of the renovations.
“Enough funds were saved that we were able to do a Phase 3, which wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the stewardship of Mike Cunningham,” she said.
Cunningham said Phase 3 of the project is 90 percent complete.
“We’re still painting,” he said. “My hope is to have everything done by Thanksgiving.”