It was quite a year for adjustments due to the coronavirus pandemic for Danville Area Community College.
Students and faculty had to work with all online courses in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic.
Coordinator of the student service loan program Carla Boyd, who also is assistant vice president of student services and chief diversity officer on campus, said in the fall that about 75 students had borrowed laptops, webcams and other technology equipment for classes.
The college purchased these laptops, headsets and other equipment through Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.
The transition to online learning and teaching was followed in May by a virtual graduation.
DACC President Stephen Nacco commends the students and staff for the combination of online, hybrid and in-person classes this year.
“The students have been amazing and resilient,” Nacco said. “The resilience of our facility, staff and students this year is something I’m going to remember for a long time.”
The college has offered discounts on classes this fall. Those financial discounts not only help enrollment, but help students keep on track to graduate.
“We’re going to treat spring (2021) like we treated the fall,” Nacco said. “We need to save enrollment.”
About half the classes are expected to be in-person starting next year, but that could change.
Welding, machinery and culinary are just some of the areas that have still been on campus. Science labs have been in smaller groups.
Nacco said they hope to have May 2021’s graduation in the new air-conditioned gym.
“We just have to keep an open mind on it,” he added about next year, saying they just have to keep on doing what they did this fall.
Construction projects at the college remain a priority.
This year, the college saw the installation of two heating-ventilation-air conditioning units on the roof of the Mary Miller Gymnasium.
Renovation plans also continue for the U.S. Army Reserve Center, which is a latest addition to DACC’s campus, for the nursing and medical imaging departments moving from the cramped lower level of the Mary Miller Complex and into what will become the college’s health science education center.
Renovations are estimated at about $5.5 million.
An expansion is needed for the William B. Black Health Professions Center which houses programs in nursing, radiologic technology, sonography and echocardiography.
The reserve building would house about a dozen classrooms on two stories, and a healthcare simulation lab which would be like a real nursing station.
Nacco said funding is being sought through private donations, including naming the center, and state funding, with money from DACC’s capital reserve to make up the difference.
He said they are almost ready to complete buildable plans. If they get major funding commitments, building plans could start by spring, with construction work starting by summer.
Other construction that is progressing is on Jacobs Hall.
“It’s beautiful,” Nacco said.
The DACC board last year approved a $1.65 million contract with Commercial Builders of Champaign for the renovation of the Dr. Alice Marie Jacobs Hall/Carnegie Library.
The 8,730-square-foot former Carnegie Library will include a lobby, gathering spaces, restrooms and storage on the main floor. The lower level will contain meeting rooms, restrooms, storage and mechanical rooms.
The college received $2 million that Julius W. Hegeler II bequeathed for the project.
“It will literally be an art gallery for student art, performances, used by the foundation...,” Nacco said about uses for the liberal arts space.
The renovated hall could open in May.
Other 2021 projects include $2.5 million rehabilitation of Clock Tower and horticulture centers; and funding support for an on-campus softball field.
Nacco said how wonderful it’d be to see a softball field, off East Main Street in the large grassy area now at the campus, with players, students and activities. Players now use Winter Park.