President's Biography

Appointed in 2008, Georgia Costello, Ph.D., became the first former student and the first woman to be named president of Southwestern Illinois College since it opened in 1946.

Under her leadership, Southwestern Illinois College: 

  • Secured $19.1 million in state funds to complete the LEED Gold-certified Liberal Arts Complex; $8.3 million in grants to improve vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic at the Belleville Campus; and $6.1 million in state funds to build an Early Childhood Education Center.
  • Became a founding member of the community-college driven Illinois Green Economy Network, attracting grants to construct one of three regional sustainability centers at the Belleville Campus.
  • Helped the Illinois Green Economy Network secure a $20 million U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant (one of 32 awarded nationwide and the only one in Illinois), along with a $13 million second round split equally among 19 colleges. These funds have helped SWIC create one of the finest advanced manufacturing training facilities at any U.S. college at its Sam Wolf Granite City Campus.
  • Received the Governor's Award for Excellence in Education for veterans programs, including designation as a VetSuccess on Campus school, just one of 94 nationwide to host a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs counselor on campus full time. SWIC serves the largest population of student veterans of any Illinois public institution.
  • Maintained its commitment to Information Technology, providing students with state-of-the-art tools to excel in the classroom, via online instruction and beyond.

Dr. Costello first attended then Belleville Area College in fall 1967. She earned 60-plus credit hours while starting her family, then transferred to McKendree College (University) to finish her bachelor's degree in 1977. In 1994, she earned her Master's degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she also received her doctorate in 2007.

As a teacher in Belleville Grade School District 118 from 1977 to 1990, Dr. Costello later served the district as Dean of Students (1997-98) and principal of Central Junior High School (1999-2000). From 2000-2005, she served as assistant superintendent at the St. Clair County Regional Office of Education. Pre-SWIC, Dr. Costello served on the Illinois Governor's Education Accountability and Education Excellence Task Forces, and the St. Clair County Child Advocacy Board. She is on the Board of Trustees at McKendree University and the Advisory Board at United Missouri Bank, serves as co-chair of the Higher Education Council for the St. Louis Regional Chamber and is on the Board of Directors at the Saint Louis Zoo. She is an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Girl Scouts of America and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boy Scouts of America.

The daughter of George H. (deceased) and Eloise Cockrum (deceased) of Sesser, Ill., Costello and her husband are the parents of Illinois State Representative Jerry Costello II (Lori), Gina Costello and John Costello (Lindsay); and the grandparents of Jay, Jerry III, Victoria, Austin, Rorey, Danielle, Ireland, John Patrick Jr. and Camryn Rose.