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 state funds to complete construction of its Liberal Arts Complex, a $19.1 million project that will yield a three-fold financial return, and $8.3 million in grants for a project to improve vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic at the Belleville Campus.
  • 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 that go above and beyond basic services. 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 currently serves on the Board of Trustees at McKendree University, is co-chair of the Higher Education Council for the St. Louis Regional Chamber, is on the Advisory Board for United Missouri Bank and is a Lifetime Member of the Girl 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.