A Work in Progress
Silver Lake College plans to join Blackburn College as one of the nation’s elite work colleges. As a member of the Work Colleges Consortium, Blackburn is one of only seven work colleges in the country. Along with Alice Lloyd and Berea College in Kentucky, College of the Ozarks in Missouri, Ecclesia College in Arkansas, Sterling College in Vermont and Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Silver Lake College would be only the eighth work college in the U.S.
Silver Lake College is located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, around 400 miles north of Carlinville, Illinois. With roots dating back to 1885 when the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity established a convent, by 1935 the Holy Family College was official. Today, Silver Lake College is a Catholic coeducational liberal arts college with approximately 500 students, with an average class size of eight students and a student to faculty ratio of 7:1.
Over the past few years there have been talks of Silver Lake transitioning into a work college. Blackburn professor of biology Dr. James Bray explained that Silver Lake had initially sent a representative to look around and get an idea of how the work program works for Blackburn. Last fall, Bray, Associate Dean of Work Robert Weis, Chair of Education Dr. Kelly Chaney and Director of Financial Aid Jane Kelsey visited Silver Lake College as consultants to discuss Blackburn’s work program and offer advice. Dr. Bray remembered a part of that advice was, “you have to have a faculty that is on-board. And I mean 100 percent, gung ho, wear a t-shirt about it everyday—otherwise—it doesn’t work.”
On May 22, 2015, Silver Lake College made the decision to begin operating as a work college at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the Silver Lake College website. However, this initial change does not mean that Silver Lake is a work college. Colleges must operate as a work college for two years before applying for work college status. Silver Lake will be eligible to apply during the 2018-2019 academic year.
Upon receiving work college status, Silver Lake will have made two marks in history; one, by establishing itself among the elite work-based higher learning institutions of the country, and two, by becoming the first Catholic work college in the U.S. While Silver Lake College anticipates the transition to a work-and-learn methodology, Blackburn looks to complete its 102nd year as a work college.