Morton College, the second oldest community college in Illinois, was founded in 1924 to meet the educational demands in the growing communities of Berwyn, Cicero, Forest View, Lyons, McCook, Stickney and other near western suburbs which were a national hub of economic activity.
As the community grew, so did Morton College. Originally housed at Morton East High School, the College was governed by the Morton High School Board of Trustees from 1924 until district residents voted to form the independent, Community College District No. 527 in 1966.
Finding a home of its own became the greatest challenge for the new independent college. It took several years to find the right site in a built-up community. In the meantime, the College leased classrooms at Morton East, storefronts and in community churches.
Construction began on the current Morton College campus at Pershing Road and Central Avenue in 1973. Twenty-one months later, the campus opened and quickly became the pride of the community. Long-term residents as well as aspiring young immigrants attended the school to realize their dreams.
Over the decades, Morton College’s university transfer program has become known state-wide for academic excellence. The College’s curriculum and mission also has expanded to include career, community, continuing and adult education programs. Just as the College started in 1924 with 11 teachers and 76 students dedicated to a future-oriented philosophy, the College renews that commitment at the beginning of the 21st century with a series of renovations and upgrades to ensure that the College continues to be the pride of the community for future generations.
The renovated, award-winning Library opened in 2005 with triple the number of computers, wireless access, group study rooms and a cyber-café. Science and computer laboratories were upgraded to state-of-the-art facilities that rival any in the country. A new Student Success Center, which houses a number of important student services such as tutoring, placement testing and career assistance, opened in 2007. Students also are able to relax between classes in the Center, which is equipped with contemporary technology.
And finally, to tie it all back to the College’s start in 1924, the College honors the rich industrial past of the community through the 2007 opening of the Hawthorne Works Museum and Heritage Hall which pays homage to the thousands of individuals who lived and worked in the community.
From a remarkable beginning to a bright, promising future, Morton College continues to move forward in welcoming new and future students wanting to find meaning in their lives and prosper through higher education.