Upper Iowa University announced Thursday it has opened an education center in Mesa, becoming the fifth new college to join the city in the last year.
The school will start classes in October in about 3,000 square feet of rented space in the Mesa Unified School District’s Student Services Center at 1025 N. Country Club Drive, city and university officials said. The school’s administration, including the newly named center director, Barbara Murdock, will also be located there.
Upper Iowa University plans to look for a permanent location that “supports the City of Mesa’s plans for economic development and redevelopment efforts in west Mesa,” Upper Iowa University President Alan G. Walker said in a news release.
“We are fully committed to supporting local communities,” he added. “In our home location of Fayette, Iowa, we partner with the city on economic development initiatives, grant writing, downtown restoration, and even creation of new business. We understand the importance of maintaining a vibrant community, and we look forward to working with the City of Mesa.”
Four other higher education schools announced in the last year that they would open in downtown Mesa: Benedictine University, Westminster College, Albright College and Wilkes University.
The city decided to put a focus on adding liberal arts colleges to the area when it saw a need for that type of higher education, city officials have said. The colleges are part of the city’s HEATT initiative to boost Mesa’s economic base: health care, education, aerospace/aviation, technology and tourism.
“Upper Iowa University is another legacy institution that has decided to locate in Mesa," Mayor Scott Smith said in the release. "We welcome them to Mesa and applaud their long-time commitment to their students and connection to the communities they serve."
Upper Iowa University has 18 other education centers located around the world, as well as its main campus.
“Having Upper Iowa University in Mesa is another example that Mesa is a destination educational location,” Mesa’s economic development director Bill Jabjiniak told the Tribune on Thursday.
The school plans to offer majors in elementary education; a bachelor’s of science in nursing program; business (accounting, business administration, human resources management, and management); criminal justice; human services; psychology; public administration (general, law enforcement or fire science emphasis areas); and social science.
The academic calendar does not follow the traditional system, but instead operates on six, eight-week terms year-round.
“Admission is on a rolling basis, so no one is ever more than eight weeks from starting class,” Murdock said in the release. “In addition, our online and independent study programs allow students to find additional options for their coursework.”
Jabjiniak said Upper Iowa University’s offerings and focus would add another layer of higher educational opportunity to Mesa.
“Focusing on the adult leaders, they provide a wide variety of opportunities. While this overlaps in majors, the target market is a little different than the other institutions,” Jabjiniak said.
All the new colleges and universities will participate in the first Mesa Higher Education Conference and Expo on Sept. 21 at the Mesa Arts Center's Piper Theater. The event, from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., is open to the public. Registration required. For information, see mesaaz.gov/economic/conferenceandexpo.aspx
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