Administrators still figuring out details of Arizona initiative

By Jaime Hillegonds

Administrators are still in the process of developing plans for a possible satellite branch in Peoria, Ariz.

They have continued investigating the possibility by analyzing funding and making trips to Peoria. The six-month time period allotted time period the City of Peoria gave to the university to formulate plans ends in April, according to the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement between the parties.

Illustration by Clarissa Hunter

“[These six months] give us time to study the higher education landscape in Arizona and to figure out what we want to do out there and how we would do it,” Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing, said.

Del Doughty, Ph.D., interim senior vice president of academic affairs, said finances are one important consideration.

“Of course, there’s the question of funding,” he said. “But when is it that people don’t wonder where the money for their projects is going to come from? We are doing cost analyses right now, and that’s exciting, but then we sometimes have to stop and ask ourselves, ‘OK — how is it that we’re going to fund this?’”

While the answer is not yet clear, Doughty said it is a “problem certainly worth solving [because] this is a great opportunity for HU, the best in years — perhaps the best ever.”

The committee is in the midst of the 180-day planning period, a “fact-finding, market research and discussion stage,” Ann McPherren, Ph.D., senior vice president for strategy and graduate and adult programs, said.

“We gave an update to our board of trustees at the January meeting,” she said. “We know that by the April meeting, we will need to have a proposal.”

The committee is putting a proposal together that will present what a campus in Peoria could look like. Berggren said plans include focuses in animation, film, exercise science and nursing programs.

Once the proposal is presented, the board will need to pass it before the City of Peoria can approve the new campus branch.

“We’re going out there physically every two months or so to explore relationships and look at different sites as we build this proposal,” Berrgren said. “It’s ongoing, and we think by the end of the spring semester, we’ll be able to answer the question, “Are we going to Peoria or not?”

Berggren, Doughty and McPherren said that God’s hand has been on the process from the beginning. They said they have seen God work through institutions and individuals, including Trine University, which has already received a promise of $2.5 million in assistance from Peoria to potentially begin classes later this year, according to HU’s website.

“It’s opened a door beyond what I could even imagine,” McPherren said.
This opportunity is too good to pass up, she said.

“We shouldn’t be thinking small,” she said. “We serve an awesome God who has a mission for us.”

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