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our History

The University Center of Lake County was established as the Multi-University in 1996 with 12 member institutions and the University of Illinois serving as managing agents.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education folded the Multi-University operation into the University Center of Lake County.

$25.7 million in county, state and federal funds were identified to build a permanent facility. A site on the Grayslake campus of the College of Lake County was selected and donated by the College of Lake County.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education appointed an independent Governing Board consisting of 5 public community members, 4 representatives of member institutions, a representative of the College of Lake County Board of Trustees, and a student member.  Also, planning began for a permanent University Center facility on the College of Lake County Grayslake campus and $1,000,000 was appropriated in 2000.

The Center sought and received tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Founding Executive Director and Dean G. Gary Grace was appointed in August 2001 and the initial staff was hired in Spring 2002.

Educators’ Center launched in Fall 2003 providing professional development for Lake County’s K-12 teachers.

In cooperation with the College of Lake County, the University Center acquired the building at 1N. Genesee St. in downtown Waukegan and opened a permanent site in the Spring of 2004.

Construction of a 91,146 square foot Grayslake building was completed in October 2005, with a formal building dedication ceremony held on October 28, 2005.

Benedictine University was admitted as the University Center’s 18th member institution. The University Center’s second strategic plan was adopted in March of 2006. A Director of Distance Learning Library Services was hired and began providing library services to students and faculty. A Manager of Conference Services & Facilities Marketing was hired and a conference center operation begun.

A Joint Task Force on Collaborative Partnership was established with membership drawn from senior administrative staff at the College of Lake County and from the University Center’s member institutions. A Recruitment Specialist/Advisor was added to the staff. The University Center marked the 10th anniversary of service to the region.

Governors State University and Roosevelt University withdrew from the consortium.  The addition of Eastern Illinois University and Olivet-Nazarene University kept the membership at 18 institutions.

Western Illinois University was admitted to membership, bringing the total to 19 institutions.

Elmhurst College was admitted to membership, bringing the total to 20 institutions.

Saint Xavier University withdrew, returning the membership count to 19.  The University Center, in partnership with Lake County Partners and Elmhurst College, began an affinity group for Supply Chain managers.  In the 2013-14 academic year, 1,349 students generated 4,897 registrations in 934 courses.  In the same time period, UC’s pre-admission advisor met with 493 prospective students.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville was admitted to membership, returning the total to 20 institutions.

Trinity International University was admitted to membership, raising the total to 21 institutions. 

Webster University was admitted to membership.  Illinois State University and The Chicago School of Professional Psychology withdrew. The University Center received the Innovative Initiative Award from the Illinois Council on Continuing Higher Education (ICCHE) at ICCHE’s 42nd Annual Conference on Thursday, February 9, 2017. The award recognized the University Center’s “First Generation College Outreach Program.”

Western Illinois University and Kendall College withdrew, returning the total to 18 institutions.

G. Gary Grace retired and Joel Williams was appointed Executive Director.  The University of Illinois at Chicago and Trinity International University withdrew, reducing the total to 16 institutions.



Roosevelt University was admitted as member.

Joe Kane replaces Joel Williams and serves as Interim Executive Director. C. Myra Gaytan-Morales is appointed Executive Director & Dean.


St. Augustine College and Oak Point University were admitted to membership bringing the total number of institutions to 13.

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