Senator Dick Durbin awards Illinois College $911K grant for nursing program


On April 25, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) visited campus to hold a press conference announcing a $911K grant to further support Illinois College’s mission to combat the national nursing shortage.This grant is just one of the many ways that IC is fostering success and academic excellence in its nursing students.

From left: Kent Siltman, Catharine O'Connell, Stephanie Chipman, President Barbara Farley, Senator Dick Durbin, Ed Curtis, Marsha Prater, Angela Bentley

Important leaders on campus and in the community were in attendance when Durbin made the announcement awarding the nursing program $911K. These funds will directly impact current and prospective nursing students through the renovation of facilities on campus to strengthen the program’s excellence and expand enrollment. 

During the press conference, Senator Durbin stressed the need for medical professionals. A recent national survey stated that 100,000 nurses left the medical field during the pandemic. IC is working extensively with the local community to prepare students for the field. 

The success of the IC nursing program has grown exponentially. So much so that qualified applicants at IC are admitted to the nursing program with no waitlist, allowing students the opportunity to begin their education without worrying about program capacity limitations.

I want to congratulate and thank Illinois College for establishing and working on this new nursing school. This morning I met with some of the leaders of Illinois College with President Farley and they talked about their goals. America would be proud to hear that Illinois College is part of the future, not only in Jacksonville and central Illinois and the Midwest, but the national effort to make sure that Americans have the best healthcare in the world.
Senator Dick Durbin

Last year, IC announced a partnership with Memorial Health to combat the growing nursing shortage in the area. This partnership includes scholarships for eligible residents from 38 surrounding counties interested in pursuing a career in nursing, covering the cost of tuition for the first two years at IC. In years three and four, students have the opportunity to continue receiving support while working part-time at any Memorial Health site, allowing them to gain hands-on experience while continuing their education. These nursing scholarships are in addition to Illinois College’s Advantage Plus Program, which covers 100% of financial need for Illinois residents.

Illinois College is dedicated to nursing education. The federal support announced today will support the expansion of our program to recruit and educate the future nursing workforce.
Illinois College President Barbara Farley

Funds from this federal grant will directly impact current and prospective nursing students in addition to a generous grant from Memorial Health. The IC+MH academic partnership announced in June 2023 included a $4.2 million grant to renovate facilities, provide scholarships to nursing students, and support student success. 

The renovation project, slated for completion by August 2024, focuses on expanding the nursing program labs. This reaffirms Illinois College's dedication to delivering a high-quality, hands-on education that prepares students for the evolving demands of the healthcare industry.

This endeavor creates additional state-of-the-art learning environments in Baxter and Parker Halls, providing nursing students with increased opportunities for hands-on learning and cutting-edge training.

Ed Curtis, Memorial Health president and CEO, gave remarks at the conference about the important partnership between IC and Memorial Health. “[In the healthcare field] we continue to say that health care was the first in the pandemic and the last out. Why? Because of the labor issues and the impact the pandemic caused, accelerating retirement rates even further and leaving the profession. We have worked to increase the number of graduate nurses, and we're doing that successfully because of Illinois College.”

In addition to the four-year BSN, the College added a fully online MSN program in 2022 after securing federal Community Project Funding sponsored by Congressman Darin LaHood.

To learn more about the nursing program at Illinois College, visit

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932, the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Visit for more information.

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