The WIU Quad Cities-Riverfront Campus: A History – Western Illinois University

The WIU Quad Cities-Riverfront Campus: A History

March 23, 2022

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories about the 10th anniversary celebration of WIU’s Riverfront campus. We will highlight other historical aspects, as well as students and alumni of Quad Cities programming.

MOLINE, IL — Western Illinois University has a long history in the Quad Cities region. While the University began offering undergraduate courses in Macomb in 1912 and moved temporarily to the Quad Cities 60th Street campus building in the 1990s, the current Riverfront campus is celebrating its 10th year in 2022.

The push for new and improved academic space in the Quad Cities began when a need for a larger campus, with the ability to provide new, state-of-the-art equipment and lab space to accommodate advanced courses in the fields of science, as well as engineering, has been felt by students, faculty and the University.

After years of lobbying by Macomb and Quad Cities leaders, former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn provided initial funding for the project in 2010. About $62 million was released to enable construction began at the Riverfront Campus, and the groundbreaking ceremony was held March 31, 2010., at 3000 River Dr. in Moline, IL. With the donation of 20 acres of property from John Deere and Company, Phase I was completed in 2012. Groundbreaking for the campus took place on January 17, 2012.

When it opened, Phase I of the WIU-Quad Cities Riverfront Campus expanded the presence of the only public university in the Quad Cities. WIU maintained partial use of the 60th Street building until 2014, when the board unanimously voted to sell the property for $1.4 million. An exception was made for funds to be allocated to various stipulated costs, including future construction, infrastructure, landscaping, historic preservation and leases.

In 2014, Phase II of the Quad Cities complex was completed. This phase cost $42 million and included a 94,800 square foot classroom complex located along the Mississippi River. The complex now houses academic programs in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Services, and Fine Arts and Communication. In addition, the Quad complex also houses a branch of the University Libraries, WQPT-TV, an on-campus fitness center, an eSports room, science labs, and houses community partners Mercado on Fifth and Robert Young Center offices. .

Today, the campus remains the only public university in the region, providing educational opportunities for students who call Quad Cities home, as well as regional, national, and international students. By retaining current residents, while recruiting new students from outside the region, WIU contributes to the economy and labor needs.

In addition to academic program offerings and student services, Riverfront Hall and Quad Cities Complex buildings are LEED certified for environmental sustainability, and campus spaces feature state-of-the-art technology for hands-on learning experiences and connectivity around the world. The riverside location provides teaching, learning, and research opportunities centered on the environmental, cultural, economic, and social aspects of one of the Quad Cities’ greatest assets, the Mississippi River.

For more information on the WIU-Quad Cities Riverfront campus, visit

Posted by: Rachel Greene ([email protected])
University Communications and Marketing Office

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