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Board of Trustees news: CLC's laser/photonics/optics program is unique in Illinois

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jan 25, 2018

The Board of Trustees received an update Jan. 23 on the college’s laser/photonics/optics career program, the only one of its kind in Illinois.

Dr. Ali O’Brien, interim vice president for educational affairs, said the program, which uses light for applications ranging from manufacturing and medicine to laser light shows, launched a certificate in 2011 based on feedback from area employers and a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). With the help of an additional $900,000 NSF grant, an Associate in Applied Science degree begun in 2015.

Laser and photonics lab in new Science buildingThe continued success of the program stems from a strong partnership with 10 laser-related companies in the Chicago area, said Bill Kellerhals, department chair.

“Our partners have either donated or loaned equipment, participated in advisory committees, served as adjunct instructors, offered internships or employment opportunities or provided guest lectures or company tours,” he said. “One of the employers, Domino North America, has so far hired 20 CLC students for full-time positions or internships. Another partner, Alliance Lasers, has donated a high-wattage laser used in the new Science and Engineering Building.”

Some 134 employers in Illinois use lasers and precision optical technology, O’Brien noted. “Key sectors in Lake County include manufacturing, defense and medicine,” she said. “Although CLC’s program is designed for students seeking a career in two years or less, students also can transfer the credits to four-year optics or photonics programs. Our graduates have transferred to the University of Arizona and the University of Rochester.”

New management structure

Karen Hlavin, who has served as associate vice president for student development since October 1999, was promoted to vice president for student development. “I am thrilled that we have returned to an administrative model that gives our students a voice at the VP level,” said Board Chair Richard A. Anderson.

The position of provost was removed, and a search for a vice president of educational affairs will begin after Dr. Lori Suddick assumes her role as president May 1. The board approved the appointment of O’Brien as interim vice president for educational affairs, who will serve until a search process is completed and a board appointed replacement can begin employment. Interim President Dr. Rich Haney, former provost, will retire May 4.