From the Pritzker Administration:
IDOC Celebrates Northwestern Prison Education Program’s Inaugural Graduating Class from Stateville Correctional Center
Crest Hill, IL – Yesterday, Stateville Correctional Center hosted a graduation ceremony for 16 students who earned their Bachelor of Science degrees in Social Sciences through an educational partnership with Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP).
The students were presented with diplomas during the history-making ceremony inside Stateville’s theater, attended by family and friends of the students, Northwestern faculty, IDOC leadership, government officials, and current NPEP students.
The commencement marked the first cohort of individuals in custody in the United States to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from a top-ten university.
Acting Director of IDOC Latoya Hughes opened the graduation ceremony with welcoming remarks.
Special guests at the ceremony included Professor Jennifer Lackey, NPEP Director; Kathleen Hagerty, Provost of Northwestern University; and Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, Juliana Stratton. Governor of Illinois,
JB Pritzker, delivered a virtual address to the graduating class.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, award-winning author and journalist, delivered the commencement address.
In her remarks, Acting Director Hughes congratulated the Class of 2023 for “overcoming significant hardships to manifest excellence out of adversity’ and emphasized the importance of higher-education programs in correctional settings.
“As a graduate of this program, each of you is also an ambassador for the concept of college-in-prison across the State of Illinois”, said IDOC Acting Director Latoya Hughes.
“We hope your journey will provide a roadmap for what the statewide expansion of additional educational opportunities for individuals in custody can look like.
“Your success bears testament to the transformative power of education and demonstrates that this is an investment worth making.”
Launched in 2018, NPEP was the first program to offer a comprehensive, degree-granting liberal arts curriculum to incarcerated students in Illinois. In partnership with Oakton College and the Illinois Department of Corrections, NPEP offers an Associate of General Studies degree conferred by Oakton Community College.
Upon completion of this degree, students are eligible to apply to Northwestern University for a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in social sciences from Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies.
Northwestern admitted this inaugural class of NPEP students in January 2022 after they completed coursework required to receive associate degrees from Oakton College.
Applications for NPEP are available to incarcerated men across the state of Illinois.
Accepted applicants at other facilities are transferred to Stateville Correctional Center, a multi-security prison in Crest Hill, Illinois, to participate in NPEP.
Along with Stateville, NPEP offers this program at Logan Correctional Center, a multi-level security state facility for women located in Lincoln, Illinois.
All NPEP courses are credit-bearing and taught by faculty members at Northwestern and Oakton and by advanced graduate students at Northwestern with content and expectation equivalent to those on the Chicago, Des Plaines, Evanston, and Skokie campuses