Plans for the Peoria, Ariz. branch campus have shifted to a digital media arts school. The university has selected a pre-existing set of buildings for the campus.
The university is planning to open the branch campus in the fall of 2015, President Sherilyn Emberton, Ed.D. said.
Jeff Berggren, former vice president of enrollment management and marketing, moved to Arizona over the summer and now serves as an advocate between the city of Peoria and the university.
“DMA had emerged as the lead program over the past two years of discussion with the city and exploration on the part of HU,” he said.
Berggren said they wanted to establish one degree before discussing more programs at the campus.
DMA, being the biggest program at the Huntington campus as well as having a national reputation, confirmed to the university that this was the best program to begin with, Ann McPherren, Ph.D., vice president for strategy and graduate programs, said.
“It might be best to concentrate on an area of strength rather than spread ourselves thin,” she said.
Berggren said high schools in Arizona encourage digital media arts, but there are “not many options for those students to continue to college after [high school] graduation.”
The university is putting together a proposal to the City of Peoria, describing what a campus in Peoria, Ariz. would look like and how a Christ-centered institution would benefit the city.
“[In the proposal] we talk about how the programs we will offer help meet the goals and expectations of the city in many of the areas,” Berggren said.
Those on the committee will also ask the city for funding to help establish the program and the institution, he said.
McPherren said she hopes the committee will have the proposal complete by the end of December or the beginning of January.
“We are also working on regional accreditation and state approval for this new location of HU at the same time,” Berggren said. “Those aspects can take some time so we want to make progress while the proposal is in process.”
Once the proposal is accepted, they will focus on the state approval and on the accreditation steps. They will promote the program to potential financial supporters and to prospective students.
The university will rent out a facility called the Arrowhead Innovation Campus in a location “nearly perfect for what HU wants to do with DMA,” Berggren said. The lease comes with an early-exit clause.
“It is a centrally located facility, located directly off a major highway,” Berggren said. “It is one block away from each of those and has a relaxed quiet feeling around the facility.”
Because the buildings are unfinished, the DMA program will have the freedom to build the specific studio and lab space that the program will need.
“The fact they all have high ceilings and interior load-bearing walls is great for DMA,” Berggren said. “Other sites we explored did not have many of those elements or none in some cases. The property also has a section that has yet to be developed so as the program grows there is ready expansion space already in place.”
Berggren left the university after 20 years and moved to Arizona this summer to be closer to family. He has also worked more closely with the development of the possible campus.