Arizona is focusing on Education to serve its residents and grow economically. Bringing part of that education to the mix is Westminster College in Fulton.
Mesa public officials are working to implement what they call “the HEAT initiative” — healthcare, education, aerospace, tourism and technology. Westminster College is opening a campus in Mesa, just outside of Phoenix, helping them expand their education options.
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith says dozens of schools were considered, but it came down to a select few where a partnership seemed right.
He says they chose Benadictine College in Chicago — Arizona is one of the few states in the union that does not have a Catholic College — and Westminster in Fulton, one of the two schools in the nation with degree in transnational studies.
Westminster plans to negotiate a 5-year lease in downtown Mesa with classes beginning in the fall 2013 semester. Projected enrollment for year five is 560 students.
Smith says the greater Phoenix area, and Arizona as a whole, is a fairly young state in comparison to Missouri and farther east. He says that means educational institutions have not grown organically there as they have here.
“We really are a state with three very large state universities, a couple of private colleges, but not a whole lot over that, and we believe we have room in the market for more. Not only from a marketing standpoint but from a community develpment standpoint. Many of our best and brightest who did not choose the offerings we have here … were leaving the state to experience smaller, liberal arts colleges, either to California, or they headed east, which were their options.”
The campus will open next year in downtown Mesa, just five miles from Arizona State University in Tempe, in an old city courthouse. Smith reminds folks in Missouri that “old” in Arizona means about 30 years.
Westminster Vice President Carolyn Perry says this opportunity to take their Westminster education to Mesa opens up a host of opportunities to students in the Midwest and the Southwest. She says the programs offered will Fulton students a chance to come to Mesa for a semester, summer, or year, “to engage in an urban experience, take special classes and take part in outstanding internships.”
“Westminster will be one college with two campuses, both of which will offer students a superior grounding in the practical liberal arts,” she says.
Westminster plans to offer major programs in three areas at its Mesa campus — International Business, Environmental Studies and Transnational Studies. Minor programs in pre-med and pre-law will also be offered.
Dr. Robert A. Seelinger, Westminster Professor of Classics, will serve as Dean of the Mesa branch campus.
Westminster College was founded in 1851, which Smith says is one reason the college was so appealing to the selection committee. He says they didn’t want new schools to open branches in Mesa, but rather colleges with longstanding traditions, proven success and deep roots.
The details of the agreement:
· The MOU is a non-binding document intended to establish a period of negotiation between City of Mesa and Westminster College to reach an agreement to locate in the Mesa Center for Higher Education at 245 W. 2nd Street in downtown Mesa.
· The goal is to negotiate a 5-year lease with classes beginning in the fall 2013 semester. Projected enrollment for year five (5) is 560 students.
· Initially, Westminster is proposing to offer the following programs:
— Transnational Studies – One of only two programs in the US, transnational studies develop students’ abilities to discover interdisciplinary and flexible approaches and solutions to global problem solving and decision-making. Students take course work in global economic development, environment and health, global justice and human rights, international relations and diplomacy, international institutions, and global cultures.
— International Business – In addition to the traditional focus of a business administration major, the international business major provides a solid background in history, philosophy, politics, religion, sociology, and international studies. Students also have the opportunity to study a foreign language to prepare them to effectively communicate in a global society.
— Environmental Studies – Emphasizes political, economic and social/cultural aspects of the human impact on the natural environment, while still grounding students in fundamentals of the natural and earth sciences.
— Westminster also plans to offer minor programs in pre-med and pre-law. All programs will have a global/international focus.
· 245 W. 2nd Street is the former Mesa City Court building. It is approximately 53,000 square feet with adjacent parking for faculty/staff and students.