Midstate College celebrates 125 years

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From humble beginnings in which business office skills were the only thing taught, Midstate College has come a long way.

At 125 years old, it still is fulfilling the specific needs of its students but the college now offers much more than those early years and expanded academic programs are in the offing, the private owned school's president and CEO said Friday.

"We've got some big things planned for our future. Unfortunately I cannot say much about them right now but we soon will be offering opportunities and services to Peoria that aren't here now. It will be exciting," Meredith Bunch said.

Midstate held a celebration of its 125th year on Thursday, with a couple hundred in attendance at its small but growth campus on Northmoor Road. Bunch and her father, Dale Bunch, who is chairman of the Midstate College Board, placed a special commemorative brick in the garden marking the occasion.

Dignitaries on hand praised the college, which began as Brown's Business College and occupied space in a building in downtown Peoria.

The Illinois State Senate had a plaque presented to the Bunch family by State Sens. David Koehler, D-Peoria, and Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, lauding the school for the vital role it has long played in the Peoria community.

Bunch said the brick she and her father planted "represents the hard work of my family, the faculty and staff and the students of Midstate College. We have always taken pride in being involved with progress in the community and we look forward to staying involved."

The college was founded in 1888 by G.W. Brown and at the start offered classes in such business applications as accounting and management. At the time, Bunch said, completion of the classes led to a certificate because degrees were not part of the mix or considered necessary for that type of work.

Today, the programs offered are much broader in scope and the school now offers bachelor degrees and associate degrees in several fields. Most of the growth, including the physical growth in the move from downtown to Northmoor Road in the late 1990s, has occurred since the Bunch family acquired the college more than 50 years ago.

"We've had tremendous growth through the year and look forward to the future with excitement," Bunch said. "I wish I could say more but the most I can tell you is that we are involved in a large consortium of other schools and businesses that is going to be cutting edge. New programs are being developed now and it has been gratifying to be involved in the planning."

In the meantime Midstate will continue adding programs where appropriate for the region and while physical expansion is likely in the future, it also will continue expanding its online education programming, Bunch said.

Enrollment at Midstate is about 550, including those enrolled in online classes, and the college has 65 instructors; 23 full-time and 42 adjunct. The average on-campus class size is 10 students, which Bunch said enables a close relationship between the instructor and the student, which she added can be critical to the success of some students.

Enrollment is underway for the fall term, which begins Aug. 19.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).