Below are some frequently asked questions about Westminster's plans to open a new campus in Mesa.
Westminster College officials recently joined city officials in Mesa, AZ to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that would bring the first ever new campus of Westminster to downtown Mesa in fall 2013. The initial announcement was made Monday, April 23, and the City of Mesa approved the MOU on Thursday, April 26.
What is the Mesa campus?
Westminster College and the City of Mesa have entered into a nonbinding agreement to develop a second Westminster campus in downtown Mesa, Arizona, which would open in the fall semester of 2013. We are in the initial planning stages of this project.
How did this project originate?
In a major economic development initiative to expand the educational options available to area students, breathe new life into their downtown, and generate new high paying jobs, the City of Mesa sent invitations to over 1,000 colleges and universities to apply to develop a campus in Mesa. They selected a dozen submissions for serious consideration. Westminster was selected because it has a long, established rich history of tradition and success and is offering to bring in a private not for profit educational option and programs currently not available to Mesa students.
Where will the new Mesa campus be located?
Westminster plans to establish its new campus at 245 West 2nd Street, a 53,000 square foot facility in the heart of downtown that was formerly the Mesa City Court building. Called The Mesa Center for Higher Education, the building will be a shared academic space with Westminster the first institution of higher education to occupy it. Adjacent parking is available for faculty, staff, and students. A light rail system currently runs from the airport to the outskirts of the downtown. Plans are in place within the next 3-4 years to bring light rail into the downtown area.
What programs will be offered at the new Mesa campus?
The Westminster campus in Mesa will offer programs in international business, environmental studies, transnational studies, pre-law and pre-med. Another major within the humanities is being considered-most likely, English or history.
What is the initial concept for what structure the Mesa campus will take?
Under the strategic plan of the City of Mesa and our original agreement with them, four different colleges or universities will come into the Mesa downtown. Each institution will have its own niche, offering separate academic programs that are needed in the Southwest and do not compete with each other for students. Two of these institutions have already been announced-Westminster College and Benedictine University of Chicago. Benedictine will have its own space, and Westminster will share academic space in the Mesa Center for Higher Education with the other two institutions yet to be announced. As we continue our planning, we look for opportunities for additional collaborations between these institutions and the City of Mesa.
What will the new Mesa campus be called?
The agreement is the first step in a long process. No potential names have even been proposed.
Why did Westminster want to open a second campus in Mesa?
A major part of the Westminster strategic plan is to expand into other student markets aggressively in the light of the competitive market higher education has become. As the third largest city in Arizona and the 39th largest in the nation, Mesa offers Westminster the opportunity to extend its mission into a large and growing market.
- The entire Southwest and Western sections of our country have been outpacing the population growth in other areas for over a decade.
- Arizona alone has an overcrowded public education system with no strong private college options in the state.
- A large number of private high schools and international baccalaureate programs in the area have the potential to provide a substantial pool of prospective students interested in what Westminster has to offer.
- The Mesa public schools system is the largest in Arizona and the 44th largest in the country. Many of their 73,000 students might consider a private school education in their future.
- The Maricopa Community College system in the area is one of the largest in the country. Many in this enormous pool of students should find transferring to an in-state private liberal arts college to be a strong option.
- Statistics show that 65% of students attend college within 250 miles of their hometown. A radius of this size around Mesa encompasses a quickly-growing market and very minimal competition.
Ultimately, having a base in the Southwestern United States allows Westminster to be strongly competitive in an entirely new market.
Why put this money in a second campus when we have needs on the Westminster campus?
No resources have been lost by the Fulton campus because of this expansion, and plans are that the Mesa campus will be financially self-sustaining once classes begin. The generous donors who have stepped up to the plate to fund the Mesa campus have taken this action, specifically because of their strong belief in how Mesa will strengthen the future and expand the vision of Westminster. This is money that would not have been donated to the College for other uses, and the donors remain committed to the upcoming comprehensive campaign for Westminster.
Are there economic advantages to opening a second campus in Mesa?
The City of Mesa is willing to support this new model with the capital to make it effective. Mesa will cover the cost of the infrastructure changes that are necessary to turn what used to be a court building into the Mesa Center for Higher Education. They are already talking about partering with local developers to make the investment in residential housing for a new student population. Because Westminster will be sharing academic space with two other higher education institutions, once the other partners are identified, we will begin discussions with them about what services it makes financial sense for us to share for our students.
Won't the extra burden of a second campus dilute the resources, staff, and quality of education on the Westminster campus?
President Forsythe is committed to maintaining the same high standards of academic excellence, staff, and resources that is the hallmark of a Westminster education and establishing those same high standards for the students in Mesa. While Fulton professors may have the opportunity to teach a class in Mesa and Fulton students may have new academic and experiential educational opportunities in Mesa, the quality of a Westminster education will remain the same wherever a student chooses. Westminster will be one college with two campuses.
How can students on the Mesa campus receive the same quality education students receive on the Westminster campus?
While the quality education Mesa students receive will take a different form because the academic, leadership, experiential, service, and personal educational opportunities are different in an urban, Southwestern setting, Westminster programs will be structured with the same small class size and personal attention for which Westminster is known, the holistic approach to student development will still be the model, and the Mesa campus will have the same mission to prepare leaders in a global community.
How will students benefit from a new Mesa campus?
Having two campuses, one in a rural setting in the Midwest and one in an urban setting in the Southwest, allows Westminster to greatly expand the global and experiential opportunities that we encourage our students to explore. We envision Fulton students studying in Mesa, engaging in an urban and much different cultural experience, taking special classes, and participating in exciting new internships that are available in Mesa. The same holds true for Mesa students who can come to Fulton to experience Midwestern culture, enjoy the beautiful campus and the National Churchill Museum, and take internships in fields not available in Arizona.
Hear President Forsythe and Mesa City Officials Discuss the Project
See What Others Are Saying about Mesa