Plans for Peoria campus continue to move forward

By Jaime Hillegonds

(Illustration by Hannah Hochstetler)

(Illustration by Hannah Hochstetler)

Administrators are continuing to push plans for a satellite campus in Peoria, Ariz. to open for student enrollment during the 2014 fall semester. Before further decisions are made, a proposal will be presented to the board of trustees Oct. 17.

“We’re targeting towards having students enrolled next fall, so obviously it’s in everyone’s best interest, including the city, to get things moving ahead so we can meet that timeline,” Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing, said. “Things could get rolling pretty quickly after the board meeting in October.”

The past three months have been fairly uneventful regarding the possible Peoria campus, Del Doughty, Ph.D., interim senior vice president of academic affairs, said.

“It’s kind of a slow time in our cycle and a slow time in their cycle,” he said. “It’s all coming together. It’s just that it was a slack time.”

Anticipating the arrival of President Sherilyn R. Emberton, Ed.D., was part of the reason for the slow progress during the summer months. The administration wanted her to experience Peoria first hand after taking office June 1.

“We were waiting for Dr. Emberton to come, get settled in and to have specific conversations with her about Peoria,” Berggren said.

Berggren, along with Emberton and Ann McPherren, Ph.D., senior vice president for strategy and graduate and adult programs, visited Peoria Aug. 14 and 15. While there, they met with many different people, including the mayor of Peoria and the superintendent of Peoria schools.

The group also visited a few possible locations for the campus while visiting Peoria, allowing them to “target a few options,” McPherren said.

“One of the big things we have is to decide where the best site for us physically to start with,” Berggren said. “That allows us to kind of fine tune our proposal to the city.”

Even though the trip was short, McPherren said it was beneficial for Emberton.

“The good thing is that having gone and visited, I think Dr. Emberton feels good about the opportunity, at least certainly [enough] to take the next step,” Berggren said.

As the university gets further into the process of guaranteeing the Peoria campus, they are working on refining a proposal for the city. This report includes information such as programs that will be offered and economic impact that will be made.

From there, both the board of trustees and the city council of Peoria will need to approve of this proposal.

Applications to the Arizona Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association also need to be submitted. These applications require information such as programs, facility location, a hiring plan and a marketing plan.

“We’re really moving to the point where we can feel good about the parameters,” Berggren said.

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