For many years the residents of Southwestern Illinois lacked convenient, affordable access to higher education. To address this situation, Southern Illinois University opened residence centers at the former Shurtleff College in Alton and in East St. Louis in 1957. Enrollment at the two residence centers during 1957-1958 exceeded all expectations, and continued to increase dramatically. In 1960, Illinois voters approved a statewide Universities Bond Issue that included $25 million designated for an Edwardsville campus of SIU. Situated on 2,600 acres of Illinois hills northeast of St. Louis, and featuring buildings designed by architect Gyo Obata, the beautiful campus opened in September of 1965. Within five years, enrollment surpassed 13,000. Since 1957, SIUE has become the largest university in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and has produced more than 70,000 graduates. The university today offers 83 degree programs to students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Business, Engineering, Dental Medicine, Nursing, and Education.