The city of Peoria, Ariz., gave unanimous approval Oct. 9 for Huntington University to explore the development of a new campus branch in Peoria.
HU will seek to establish nursing, pre-med, math and visual arts programming in Peoria, according to the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) between the city of Peoria and the university, signed by HU President G. Blair Dowden, Ph.D., Aug. 24.
The purpose of the ENA is to give both parties involved the opportunity to determine the project’s framework, including the financial obligations, student enrollment goals and partners for the project, said Scott Whyte, economic development services director for the city of Peoria, during the city council meeting.
“The exclusive nature of the agreement means that we are not going to talk to other universities during the negotiating period for those programs, and they are not going to shop other cities for those programs,” Whyte said.
The ENA will allow the city to go through their due diligence process with the university to determine how the program would be laid out before being brought back to the city council in an Economic Development Agreement, Whyte said.
Trine University, who HU has partnered with through the Life Science Education and Research Consortium of Northeast Indiana, entered into a similar agreement with the city of Peoria in June.
The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn. was also given approval to pursue a new branch in Peoria during the Oct. 9 meeting.
“Among Trine and now potentially Huntington University and St. Scholastica,” Whyte said, “we’re starting the building of consortial models for universities in Peoria.”
Whyte said that all three schools could potentially share a campus in Peoria.
“The universities should have time to establish their brand and grow their enrollment,” he said. “The vision is that by year three, maybe year four, to be in a position to build a consortial campus model, a new facility in the city of Peoria that would be the ultimate home for these three universities and then keep growing it as we can add more and more to it.”
Trine has already identified a preferred location, but HU and St. Scholastica have not, Whyte said.
Peoria is a desert community northwest of Phoenix with more than 154,000 residents.
A time frame for the Peoria project has not been announced.
“Plans continue to be made for the future which will bring much needed revenue and extend Huntington University’s mission to new areas and programs,” Dowden said in a September 2012 annual report. “The potential for new programs in Fort Wayne; a new campus in Peoria, Ariz; a for-profit venture; and the expansion of existing on-campus programs point to Huntington University’s future as a strong and viable Christ-centered institution.”
The ENA can be viewed here. The pages referring to HU are 88-102.
Jared Huhta, Laura Good, Brad Barber and Josh Lanphier contributed to this report.