Mesa's quintet of new colleges, universities welcome students this month - East Valley Tribune: Back To School

Back to School Mesa's quintet of new colleges, universities welcome students this month

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Posted: Monday, August 5, 2013 5:20 am | Updated: 4:16 pm, Wed Dec 3, 2014.

Years of hard work, preparation and planning in Mesa will fall into place in a matter of weeks as the city’s newest colleges and universities welcome students.

The city worked over several months to lure higher education groups. The result: Albright College, Benedictine University, Upper Iowa University, Westminster College and Wilkes University now call Mesa home.

Some classes started earlier this year, but a larger number of students are picking out classes, buying books and debating their majors as they become freshmen this fall.

Westwood High School graduate Francisco Reyes is one of them.

In the spring, as Reyes, now 18, prepared to accept an offer from Northern Arizona University, another offer came forward: He was awarded a $10,000 annual Mesa Educates U scholarship to attend Benedictine University, which will hold classes at 225 E. Main St., beginning Sept. 3.

“It’s a brand new school. I get to set the tone. It’s going to be cool to see 50 years from now what this turns out like. I can say, ‘I was the first to go there,’” Reyes said.

Reyes learned about Benedictine through his high school. Then he saw the large “B” go up on the student services building when he ran in the area during wrestling season.

He thought, “Why not?”

So he put an application in, not knowing what would happen. Now he will be one of a half-dozen friends attending the school.

Benedictine’s target is to have 100 students enrolled when classes begin, said Elliott Peppers, spokesman for the school. He did not release current enrollment figures.

“Everyone has been extremely welcoming,” Peppers said of Mesa. “The students we have enrolled are excited to be in the first enrollment class. “... We have a lot of bright students.”

There’s been such an interest in student life outside of class that Benedictine announced this week it will launch its athletics program this fall, several years earlier than originally planned.

Wilkes University vice president Michael Speziale visited Mesa this week from Pennsylvania, where the main campus is located.

“It has been an excellent process working with the city creating this vision,” he told the Tribune.

Wilkes began offering creative writing and business classes for graduate students months ago out of the Phoenix/Mesa Marriott, Speziale said. In August, Wilkes and Westminster will move into space at the Mesa Center for Higher Education at 245 W. Second St. Both schools have signed a five-year lease.

“It’s going to be a great place to teach and learn, having that center and having potential students will help with recruiting,” Speziale said.

Wilkes will offer a master’s in business administration program, as well as graduate degrees in engineering, creative writing and engineering.

“My long-term vision is this will grow. The potential is for this to grow into a standalone campus,” he said, adding future students from Pennsylvania may come to Mesa for classes, to do research or take part in internships.

Classes begin this fall for students at Westminster College. One of its first students will be former Mesa Community College student government president Andrew Kuhn, who plans to study transnational studies.

“It provides more opportunities for students,” Kuhn said in a press release. “It will be interesting to see what develops in the downtown Mesa area.”

Albright College will offer three programs: informational systems, business administration and organizational behavior/applied psychology. The school touts an accelerated degree completion program, specifically for working adults.

Classes are being held in the Bank of America building at 1201 S. Alma School Road.

Upper Iowa University classes are being held at 1361 S. Alma School Road, in the building formerly occupied by a Borders bookstore. A grand opening will be celebrated Aug. 5.

Eleven majors are being offered on site, with classes in the evenings for adult learners, according to its website. Students can also blend on-site classes with distance learning for other majors.

Benedictine’s Reyes said the introduction of more colleges and universities to Mesa will help create a new environment — and image — for the city.

“We need to liven up the place. Why not college students?” he said.

Albright College

Mesa Financial Plaza, LLC

(Bank of America Building)

1201 South Alma School Road, Suite 5400, Mesa

Contact information: (480) 659-3608

Classes start: Ongoing

Bachelor’s programs offered: business administration, information systems, organizational behavior/applied psychology

Wilkes University

Wilkes will operate at the Mesa Center for Higher Education at 245 W. 2nd St., Mesa. Temporarily, Wilkes is operating at 20 W. 1st St., Suite 107.

Contact information: (800) WILKES-U Ext. MESA

Next classes start the week of Aug. 26. MBA students began in January. New MBA students will start this fall.

Master’s programs offered: Business administration, classroom technology, creative writing, engineering management, mechanical engineering, teaching English as a second language

Benedictine University

Student Services Center

51 E. Main St., Suite 105, Mesa

Classes will be held at 225 E. Main St.

Contact information: (602) 888-5500

Classes begin Sept. 3

Bachelor’s programs offered: Fine arts, criminal justice, communication arts, psychology, theology, nutrition, business administration in management and organizational behavior

Upper Iowa University

1361 S. Alma School Road

(480) 834-4620

Next classes begin: Aug. 26

Bachelor’s programs offered: Elementary education, nursing – RN to BSN, business (accounting, business administration, human resources management, and management), criminal justice, human services, psychology, public administration (general, law enforcement or fire science emphases), and social science

Westminster College

Westminster College will operate at the Mesa Center for Higher Education at 245 W. 2nd St., Mesa. Temporarily, Wilkes is operating at 238 W. 2nd St., Mesa

(480) 747-3863 or 800-888-WCMO (9266)

Classes begin Aug. 22

Bachelor’s programs offered: Transnational studies, international business, environmental science/studies and English, along with pre-med and pre-law minors.

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