Jill Feinstein, far right, leads a science lab at Richland Community College. The campus, which dates to the 1980s, is poised to undergo a wide-ranging renovation project. 

An investment in education is an investment in a community. Decatur has been a recipient of such investments by a pair of our city's higher learning institutions.

Richland Community College is planning new, state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories. The plan, which calls for major upgrades to science classrooms and laboratories, the expansion of health science classrooms and other renovated areas on campus, could start as soon as next year.

Whether it's been Progress City, construction and expansion of the main building or the Workforce Development Institute, the look of the campus is ever-changing. Newer, shinier, better and cutting edge are the things most likely to attract students, and the latest effort takes another step in that direction. The renovations will centralize all of the science rooms to the south wing of the main building's first floor.

The full scope of the master plan is vast and includes renovations throughout campus as well as the potential new construction of a student recreation center. The entire project would be implemented in several phases, and Richland is presently looking only at the first two phases of the plan.

The Richland Community College board approved a $15 million bond for campus improvements. So what's planned?

More than a century on from him founding it in 1901, James Millikin would recognize some pieces of the university that bears his name. But even those who left the university as recently as five years ago might be taken aback to see the changes. Even those who left last spring come back to new architecture.

The $5 million Workman Family Baseball Field opened during homecoming weekend last month. The $29 million Center for Theatre and Dance is scheduled to open in 2020. Millikin is ranked in the top 10 for musical theater programs in the country and there is strong demand as a result. The Exercise Science and Sports Pavilion is open.

$5.4 million Millikin University baseball complex dedicated

The schools have even expanded partnerships. Millikin and Richland Community College signed a nursing transfer agreement in May. With the city and country's shortage of medical professionals, Millikin and Richland further expand their offerings for the betterment of mind and body.

Their optimism about Decatur's future is an example to us.

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