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Dozens of staff, students and local dignitaries attended the Black Hawk College Quad-Cities Campus ribbon-cutting and open house for the Building 1 addition Thursday, August 29, 2019. The $17.8 million project began in March 2017 and concluded in August with the completion of a 20,000-square-foot, two-story addition. The entire project covered 68,000 square feet of renovations over three floors, including 29 offices, 23 classrooms, a new HVAC, lighting and fire suppression system.

Black Hawk College's Building 1 may not have a jazzy new name ... yet.

But we suspect that the students, faculty, administrators and community leaders who were on hand last week to celebrate the remake of the Moline campus's first building could find more creative and appropriate ways to describe it.

For example, beautiful, innovative, modern, flexible, well-equipped and cutting edge spring quickly to mind regarding a $17.8 million makeover that included a new two-story addition with 20,000 square feet, eight new classrooms, and a big, inviting courtyard perfect for student gatherings.

The project was two years in the making but worth the wait because it should help ensure that the face BHC shows the world matches the great things that go on inside of a venerable institution that is a critical part of our community's higher-education system.

"What this addition says, what this renovation says, is that we’re competitive with any college,” BHC President Tim Wynes said at last week's official unveiling. “We have a learning studio that rivals any in the Quad-Cities.”

Wynes also said the project stands on its head the stereotype that community colleges are cheap rungs on the ladder to better places. And the rebirth of the busiest building on campus has created a space that provides “just as good, just as flexible, and just as great learning environments as what Augie has to offer.”

Thanks to this project, a campus designed to serve 20th century students is better equipped to prepare 21st century students for life in the modern world.

That has been the mission of the institution since it was first organized in 1946 as Moline Community College to serve World War II veterans seeking higher education, according to www.bhc.edu In 1961 it was christened Black Hawk College and became the first county-wide junior college in Illinois. The Moline campus was built shortly after Illinois passed a law creating the state's community college system in 1965.

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As Student Government Association member Bre Bahan told reporter Graham Ambrose last week, thanks to the new-old building, the "campus feels more welcoming now. It shows we’re keeping up with the times. As President Wynes said, we’re just as good as Augie. Students can start here and succeed anywhere.”

Wynes right about something else, too.

"One of the things I would suggest down the line is that we find a sexier name than ‘Building 1,” he joked, “but that’s another conversation.”

Why wait until another day, especially with such a great catalyst for getting it started?

We, too, believe that the buildings that make up a community college that does so much for so many Quad-Citians ought to be identified by more than just numbers.

Besides, numbers do nothing to humanize a campus. Names do, and we suspect there are many worthy lights to consider when choosing new monikers. And don't forget the fundraising possibilities that building names can represent. Of course, campus buildings also don't have to be named for people to be memorable. Many higher-education institutions boast an "Old Main," for example, that serves as the symbol of the institution.

In short, there's lots to talk about, so let's get this long overdue conversation started today.

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