Southern Illinois University’s interest in East St. Louis began on November 15, 1956, when the SIU Board of Trustees responded to the community’s request for more educational opportunities in the local area and agreed to establish area residence centers here.
Months later on January 17, 1957, the old East St. Louis High School located at 10th and Ohio Streets, was converted into one of two residence centers. Classes began in East St. Louis in late September 1957 at the Morrison School. By September 1958, all classes were being held at the old East St. Louis High School. In 1965, the Edwardsville campus opened, and classes were offered at SIUE.
In 1966, SIUE officially began an East St. Louis special program named “Experiment in Higher Education”. This program was established through federal funding and provided financial support to disadvantaged students for their first two years of college. During those first two years, courses were offered through SIUE’s general studies program. State funding was received until the end of the EHE program, which was June 1982.
The EHE program was a higher education program that committed faculty and resources required to establish and maintain a total program of college education for the disadvantaged students. The program was described by one program instructor as, “a program with an approach toward finally resolving (1) effective educational programming for low-income students and (2) development of a curricular process which promises to work for all freshmen and sophomore students regardless of economic or academic status.” With the close of EHE, SIUE’s focus in East St. Louis extended to more community and public service and other educational opportunities (i.e. Katherine Dunham Center for Performing Arts, child development, science awareness and Head Start).
In September 1970, SIUE leased the Stadium Motor Hotel, formerly known as the Broadview Hotel at 411 E. Broadway, in order to consolidate its operations in the city. SIUE made its home there for many years.
In 2001, a $27 million renovation and construction project began at the campus then known as the East St. Louis Community College Center, and a new home for the East St. Louis Center was a significant part of the plan. In July 2003, the East St. Louis Center completed its move to the new location – the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus – at 601 James R. Thompson Blvd. The campus consists of two newly constructed building and four renovated buildings. Sharing the property with SIUE is the East St. Louis Community College Center and other community partners.