HU Exploring a Branch Campus in Arizona

The City of Peoria, Ariz., and Huntington University are exploring the development of a branch campus in the Phoenix suburb. The 180-day exclusive negotiating agreement, approved by the city council, will give both Huntington University and the city an opportunity to explore logistics, conduct market research, and assess the community’s needs.

Huntington was recruited by the City of Peoria’s Economic Development Services Office because of its reputation for high-quality academic programs in both the sciences and the arts. Here is the City of Peoria’s press release.

“Their programs in health care particularly resonate with the city’s strong employment base in the industry and offer a perfect complement to other recent developments in Peoria,” commented Scott Whyte, Peoria’s director of Economic Development Services.

Since 2010, the City of Peoria has actively pursued attracting institutions of higher education, wanting to establish university campuses throughout the city. They see college campuses stimulating various business interests, including dining, entertainment, shopping, and services.

Huntington officials say the invitation fits the Christian college’s entrepreneurial spirit and academic strengths. Says Dr. G. Blair Dowden, president of Huntington University:

“It is with great anticipation that Huntington University explores this strategic partnership with the Peoria community. The academic programs that Peoria seeks to bring to the city parallel some of Huntington’s strongest and fastest growing programs including digital media arts, exercise science and kinesiology, and nursing. These majors demonstrate our continuing desire to respond to market demands in a high-quality manner.”

Huntington administrators traveled to Arizona in August to meet with Peoria’s economic development officials. They also sought input from HU alumni living in the region. Another site visit was planned for October.

While it may seem unusual for a Southwestern city to seek an educational partner in the Midwest, it is the result of the historical development of colleges and universities across the United States, explained Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing.

“The Midwest is fortunate to have many strong, independent colleges and universities. Indiana has 31 private colleges, but Arizona, with its similar population, has only 11,” Berggren said. “When the City of Peoria wanted new partners in higher education, it was only natural that they would look to our region.”

Berggren added that Trine University in Angola, Ind., and St. Scholastica College of Duluth, Minn., are also exploring the potential of offering programs in Peoria. Huntington administrators were introduced to the opportunity in Peoria by peers at Trine while collaborating on Fort Wayne initiatives.

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