Arizona State University officially opened its downtown Phoenix campus on Tuesday morning after two years of work to extend its reach into urban neighborhoods.
Classes are to begin next week at the campus for the colleges of Nursing and Public Programs, which have been shifted from the university’s main campus in Tempe. The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is to follow them in 2008.
The downtown campus will begin with 4,000 students and 600 staff and faculty members.
ASU President Michael Crow said the campus, with its main offices at 411 N. Central Ave., will not be a separate institution or inferior to the rest of the university.
“We’re not building branch campuses,” Crow said during a ceremony attended by hundreds of state and local officials and students.
The downtown campus is part of a massive effort to establish ASU as a presence in every section of the Valley, making higher education more available to the region’s swelling population. The university has long operated a campus in Glendale and is now expanding ASU Polytechnic in Mesa while building a major research center, SkySong, in Scottsdale.
“We’re now distributed throughout the community. Some people say too much, too many schools,” Crow said.
Crow, who has dubbed his vision for ASU the “New American University,” argued that relocating segments of the university away from the main campus will allow the university to serve its mission: Providing an elite academic experience available to anyone who meets the requirements.
Crow’s vision aside, Megan Wilson, a first-year nursing student, said the move downtown makes sense for her college because of the close proximity to several hospitals. Plus, “it’s a nice change of pace to get off the main campus.”
On Thursday, the downtown campus’ residence hall, formerly the Ramada Hotel at the southwest corner of First and Polk streets, will open its 250 beds to students. Some students attending classes at the Tempe campus might move to the downtown dorm, said Diane Medina, an ASU spokeswoman.
The university’s Tempe residence halls will be filled to capacity, she said. Students began moving into main campus dorms Tuesday.