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Gov. Quinn taps Alexi Giannoulias to head state community college board

Alexi Giannoulias

Alexi Giannoulias

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Updated: September 11, 2011 12:48AM

Gov. Quinn on Wednesday will name Alexi Giannoulias chairman of the Illinois Community College Board.

Quinn regularly plugs Illinois’ network of 48 community colleges — the country’s third-largest community college system. For every student at at a public four-year-college in Illinois, two attend a community college, Quinn notes.

Giannoulias, 35, served as state treasurer and narrowly lost a race for U.S. Senate last year to Republican Mark Kirk. Giannoulias ran just two percentage points behind his Democratic ticket-mate, Quinn.

Since losing, Giannoulias has been putting together a political science class he will teach at Northwestern University this fall called “Campaigning versus governing.” He said Tuesday he plans to announce next month a full-time job he’ll be taking.

The part-time post as chairman of the community colleges board is unpaid.

“I’m incredibly excited to help reform our community colleges here in Illinois,” Giannoulias said. “Putting Americans back to work is the single greatest challenge facing our country. A well-educated work force is crucial to that. This meshes my two passions: education and creating jobs.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the appointment, saying, “I want to commend Gov. Quinn for choosing Alexi Giannoulias for this critically important job. Alexi is a passionate believer in public education, and I’m confident that his leadership will help the community colleges of Illinois do a better job of preparing young people to compete in the global economy.”

Among Giannoulias’ goals are creating advisory councils of business leaders for each college to suggest curriculum most helpful for tomorrow’s workforce.

Giannoulias, a graduate of Boston University and Tulane University’s School of Law, will replace outgoing chairman Guy Alongi,

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