In the coming months, five campuses will celebrate anniversaries – some marking five years as a campus, while St. Louis will soon celebrate 40 years. In May, two colleges are celebrating milestones – Columbia College-Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station turns five, and Columbia College of Missouri-Elgin, one of four Columbia College campuses in Illinois, celebrated its 15th anniversary.

The Elgin campus, which shares a partnership with the Elgin Community College (ECC), held a reception welcoming students and alumni from both schools, as well as members from the local business community.

Dr. David Sam, ECC president with student Cesar Rodriguez.

There are more than 4,700 alumni of Columbia College in Illinois, the third largest college alumni population in the nation, and in its 15 years on the ECC campus, the Elgin campus has graduated 452 of those students, some of whom came back to campus to celebrate. One such alumna was 2011 summa cum laude graduate Season Winesburg. Winesburg attended, wearing her crown, as the current Miss Illinois International.

Winesburg was on hand along with approximately 50 other guests, including Karen Beckstrom, who has been the director of the Columbia College of Missouri-Elgin campus for 11 of its 15 years. She addressed the audience, highlighting the partnership between Columbia College and ECC.

“It has been a blessing to be involved with the development and growth of this campus and partnership with Elgin Community College,” Beckstrom said. “It has been a wonderful example of two colleges supporting each other and providing educational opportunities for the community. We are looking forward to serving Elgin and northern Illinois for many years to come.”

Beckstrom was honored May 7 at the ECC Board of Trustees meeting for her role in growing the partnership between ECC and Columbia College. The ECC Board of Trustees also approved and signed its articulation agreement with Columbia College through 2016.

With in-seat degree programs in business, criminal justice, human services administration and general studies, plus myriad online classes, Beckstrom looks forward to exploring additional degree options. She also strives to increase enrollment and add to the more than 2,250 students that the four Columbia College of Missouri Illinois campuses educate annually.

Karen Beckstrom, campus director of Columbia College of Missouri-Elgin with Dr. David Sam, ECC president

The Elgin campus is not the only one with a reason to celebrate. Columbia College-Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station will celebrate its fifth anniversary May 23. It will hold a reception honoring its students, which includes service members and their dependents, veterans and Dept. of Defense workers. Several honorable guests are expected to attend, including Col. Richard McComb, commander of Joint Base Charleston; Capt. Thomas W. Bailey, deputy commander of Joint Base Charleston/Naval Support Activity; and U.S. Congressmen and local representatives.

The Charleston campus opened in 2008 as Columbia College-Naval Weapons Station Charleston, and was renamed in 2010 to reflect the weapons station’s joint partnership with the Charleston Air Force Base. Campus Director Keith McIver has been with the campus since its inception.

“We are proud to be successful in attracting students because of our convenient, flexible schedule, our online delivery, our ability to work with military and adult students, and our great customer service,” says McIver of the campus’ accomplishments. “In the next five years, I look forward to the campus having even more course offerings, a robust student roster, graduations and an alumni gathering.”

The Elgin and Charleston campuses are two of the 34 Nationwide Campuses created by the Division of Adult Higher Education (AHE), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The anniversary will be observed throughout the college on Aug. 29. The date was selected to coincide with the rededication of a remodeled St. Louis campus, which became the first Nationwide Campus in 1973.